The Altra Vanish-R is a racing flat, first and foremost, which makes it different than any other style of shoe that Altra offers. As a racing flat, this shoe is very lightweight, provides minimal support, and fits (by design) fairly snug.
Altra Vanish-R General Info
The Vanish-R is Altras first attempt at a road racing flat, and for the most part, the shoe performs as you would expect.
My first impressions of this shoe were mixed. I was impressed with how light and flexible the shoe is, which are both positives traits for a racing flat.
However, the shoe looked very small to my eye and the first attempt to put the shoe on was not a pleasant experience.
It seemed as though the shoe was running at minimum a full size small, but upon doing some research I learned that the Vanish-R comes with two different insoles.
In many cases, both insoles are in the shoe when it ships, and in order for the shoes to fit properly, one of the two insoles must be removed.
Once I removed one of the insoles from both shoes, the Vanish-R fit as intended. The fit of the Vanish-R is quite snug compared to other Altras that I’ve worn, but as a racing flat, that snug fit is by design.
Altra Vanish-R Sole Unit
The sole of the Altra Vanish-R is quite thin, with only a 14mm total stack height. The outsole features a pair of laminated rubber pods, one under the big toe and one near the heal.
These pods, specifically the one under the great toe, provide a good surface to push off from with each stride. The midsole of the Vanish-R is made up of EVA foam and includes a “propel plate.”
These two components combine to provide a slight bit of cushioning and a little bit of spring with each step.
As would be expected in a shoe with only a 14mm stack, the Vanish-R produces an excellent ground feel and a very smooth ride.
The outsole of the Vanish-R is not likely to stand up to a lot of miles. As you can see from the photos, the shoes (except for the rubber pods) are already showing a substantial bit of wear and tear after not a lot of miles.
That isn’t a negative, as the Vanish-R isn’t designed to be a regular training shoe, but something to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase a pair of Vanish-Rs.
Altra Vanish-R Upper Info
The upper of the Altra Vanish-R is a very thin mesh that almost feels more like a sock than a shoe. The upper is seamless and I didn’t experience any issues with rubbing or hot spots at all while wearing this shoe.
The Vanish-R breathes quite well, as would be expected due to the thinness of the material and the fact that it is a mesh upper.
The one issue that I experienced while wearing the Vanish-R has to do with the heel. The heel cup is slightly rigid, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But when wearing low cut sucks that fell below the height of the top of the heel this shoe rubbed the back of my ankle raw. When wearing longer socks, I didn’t experience any issue at all.
But when my shorter socks slid down slightly, these shoes became really uncomfortable to run in.
Altra Vanish-R Conclusions
The Altra Vanish-R is great for what it is: a racing flat. It’s lightweight, flexible, and provides a great ground feel and a very smooth ride.
And as long as I am wearing socks that stay up above the lip of the heel of this shoe, this will be my racing shoe for any road races of half marathon distance or shorter that I am planning to really race hard.
My one real concern with the Vanish-R is it’s durability. If you only wear it for races and an occasional speed/track workout, durability won’t be an issue.
But if you’re on a budget and are looking for a shoe that you can get some good training miles in as well as race fast in, there may be some better Altra options available.
That said, and as I stated above, this is a racing flat not an all-purpose shoe. And as such, the Altra Vanish-R absolutely delivers as advertised.
We purchased a pair of Altra Vanish-R from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.