Altra Paradigm 5.0 Intro
Altra is a company founded on the idea that running is intuitive and should be done as natural as possible.
They create shoes utilizing a zero drop midsole (where your heel and forefoot sit at the same height) and a wide toe box.
These aspects set them apart from other running brands. Add max cushioning and you get the Altra Paradigm 5.
Altra offers two stability/support trainers, the Provision and the Paradigm. The Provision is their mid cushioned option while the Paradigm offers maximum cushion.
The Paradigm offers the most technology and greatest amount of cushion of any Altra offering.The Paradigm 5 has undergone some small and subtle changes since the 4.5.
The Altra Paradigm 5.0 competes with the Hoka One One Gaviota, New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo, Mizuno Wave Horizon. The Paradigm retails for 150 dollars placing it right in the middle of the max tier stability trainers.
Altra Paradigm 5.0 First Impressions
When I opened the box my instant thought was, “Wow, these are large shoes!” The Hoka One One Gaviota came to my mind because the Paradigm were on par with them in terms of size and weight.
Even though they are large they don’t feel that way once you slip them on. They were instant plush with bounciness and a hint of responsiveness underneath.
The different shades of blue throughout the shoe were soothing. It makes the accents of white and red in the logo really pop.
The maiden voyage of the Paradigm 5 was a hilly 4-mile road run. They provided a tennis ball-like bounce from the first step. I liked it because of the amount of energy return I felt.
I had to stop to re-tie my laces because of the unstructured feeling from the upper. Once I did this it was more secure.
Altra Paradigm 5.0 Sole Unit
There have been a few small changes to the midsole of the Altra Paradigm 5.0. Let’s start from the ground up.
The traditional FootPod makes up the outsole. This serves as a map for your foot bones and tendons to help it bend and move naturally. The material of the outsole is a thin blown rubber.
After about 75 miles it has shown some wear in high impact areas. It was a little slippery in wet conditions.
Sitting at 31mm high, the midsole of the Paradigm is quite the sight. Altra’s Ego midsole compound makes another appearance. This material, designed for a high energy return, provides your stride with a tennis ball-like bounce.
The energy return is there on every run and doesn’t drop even when you get into triple digit mileage in the Paradigm.
Although the midsole is quite large and heavy the midsole doesn’t feel like it out on your runs. Underneath that bounce is a responsive foundation.
After making their first appearance in the 4.0, the guide rails have undergone a slight change for the Paradigm 5.0.
Incorporated into the midsole, they are dynamic guide rails, which means they only provide support when you need them. They are bigger on the medial side and smaller on the lateral in the newest edition.
Another small change to the midsole was to the StabiliPods. Like the guide rails the StabiliPods have been made just slightly bigger.
There are 3 dual density foam pods in the midsole, two on the medial side and one on the lateral in natural areas to increase stability. The heel was rounded as well to provide the Paradigm smooth landings during your stride.
Altra Paradigm 5.0 Upper Unit
The upper has undergone a slight change to the materials used for it. The knit upper has been replaced with an engineered mesh. The engineered mesh is more supportive and flexible than the previous knit upper.
It is breathable allowing for air to get in and allowing for your feet to breath. It is seamless and has no points of irritation.
Like other offerings from Altra the Paradigm has a snug heel and midfoot area while widening out for the foot shaped toe box. This allows for your toes to splay out naturally.
The foot shaped toe box is a strength of the upper because it gives your forefoot plenty of area for robust toe offs.
The upper of the Paradigm is less structured than other stability offerings out there. The heel counter in particular doesn’t have much cushioning.
While the new engineered mesh is flexible, it comes across as flimsy at times. These results in a looser fit. I was able to remedy that by tying the laces tighter than what I usually do.
The tighter fit enabled the guide rails and midsole to provide me with the stability I needed.
Altra Paradigm 5.0 Conclusion
Altra was always a brand on my running bucket list when I started reviewing shoes. Earlier this year I checked them off the list by reviewing the Altra Provision 4.0.
Now with Paradigm, my second experience, I can honestly say I am converted to the Altra experience.
The Paradigm is a large trainer, the most cushioned one from Altra. Luckily, when you slip them on and hit the pavement they don’t feel bulky.
The cushioning has a tennis ball like bounce to it with a hint of firmness at the foundation. This combination provides ample energy return along with a smooth ride on any distance.
Longer distance runs are where these shoes excelled as a result of the size and feel of this midsole. The zero drop adjustment period was shorter in the Paradigm, I believe this was due to how cushioned the shoe is.
Altra is a firm believer in dynamic stability. This was evident with the substantial changes made to the Provision earlier this year and small changes in the Paradigm 5.0.
The adaptable guard rails have been enlarged slightly in the Paradigms. They only engage when you need stability. This means the Paradigm has appeal to both neutral and stability runners.
When I ran in them I was able to tell when they provided that stability I needed.
To dial in that stability I had to tie them tighter than what I am used to in other trainers. This was because the upper of the Paradigm is slightly unstructured. Like the zero drop this may take some time getting used to.
The updated engineered mesh used in the upper is both breathable and flexible. There was some tightness felt in the midfoot area while I ran in them.
A strength of the Paradigm is the FootShape toe box. This wide toe box allowed my toes to splay out naturally throughout your stride.
I have had the opportunity to review a few of the max stability trainers in the last couple of years like the Saucony Hurricane, Hoka One One Gaviota.
The Altra Paradigm is just as good as any other max stability trainer out there. They took care of my feet and I kept coming back to them.
The Altra Paradigm is a stability trainer equipped with maximum cushioning and unique features. Unfortunately, unique doesn’t mean the Paradigm is going to be the best trainer for everyone.
But, trust me, if you are willing to take time to adjust to the Paradigm , you may find your new favorite long distance trainer.
We purchased a pair of Altra Paradigm 5.0 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.
Altra Paradigm 5.0 Price Comparison
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