Review: Altra Superior 4

Written by

Denny Krahe

Running Coach and Podcast Host.

This expert review is written by

Denny Krahe

Running Coach and Podcast Host.
Denny Krahe is a running coach and a podcast host living in Central Florida.

He is working on running a marathon in every state in the US; 5 down, 45 to go!

Weight

We usually consider 10 ounces a "medium" weight for a running shoe: less than 10 and we are entering the lightweight category and above 10 the shoes start to be heavy.

Heel-to-toe drop

Heel drop is the measurement in mm of the difference between the height of the heel and the toe of the sole.

A lower drop (0mm - 5mm) promotes running on mid-foot and fore-foot, while higher drops (8mm - 12mm) are more traditional and meant to support a heel-striking gait.
Expert score
9/10

Quick overview

Best for
Regular training
Terrain
Best for moderate trails, technical trails, rocky areas, muddy areas, through snowy or icy sections
Grip
The Superior 4 provides good traction on most types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Average Traction
Provide Traction
Cushioning
The Superior 4 offers little cushioning
Little cushioning
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Weight

7.9

 oz
224 g
Heel to toe drop
Drop

0

 mm

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • Light Weight
  • Good Grip
  • Drains Well
  • Thin Sole
  • Minimal Protection

Our verdict

The Altra Superior 4.0 is exactly as advertised: a lightweight trail shoe that performs well in a variety of trail conditions.

Introduction Altra Superior 4

The Altra Superior 4.0 is an update to one of Altra’s more popular trail shoes.

The Altra Superior has always been a lightweight and minimally cushioned trail shoe, and this new iteration of the shoe is more of the same.

As with all Altra shoes, the Superior 4.0 features a foot-shaped toe box which allows your toes to splay with each stride to improve your stability naturally while running.

The shoe is also built on a zero-drop platform, which is standard with all Altra models.

Cushioning Type
The Superior 4 is more responsive than... Read more plush: provides energy return and some shock
Responsive
Plush
Cushioning Amount
The Superior 4 offers little cushioning
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
The Superior 4 is extremely flexible at the... Read more expense of some structure
Rigid
Flexible
Stability
The Superior 4 is not stable: not indicated... Read more for runners that need support
Not particularly stable
Very stable

Impressions Altra Superior 4

When I took the Altra Superior 4.0 out of the box, my first impressions were very positive. I loved the addition of the mountain range along the upper as a cool touch.

The shoes also felt very light, which I appreciate, but there are certainly pros and cons with a trail shoe that is so lightweight.

The fit of the Superior 4.0 is true to size I’ve had some Altras in the past that were wearable, but bumping up a half size would have been nice. With the Superior 4.0, the fit is spot on.

The upper of the Superior 4.0 is, according to Altra, completely redesigned from previous models to provide more security and support of the foot.

This is my first pair of Superiors since the 2.0 and I would definitely say the upper of the new model is much improved, but I can’t compare it to more recent models.

The forefoot area of the upper is a knit fabric that is very light and breathes very well.

The heel and side panels are slightly reinforced to give the Superior a bit of structure through the midfoot and in the heel, but not so much structure as to restrict movement or cause any discomfort while running.

The rubber toe cap of the Superiors contains some small drainage holes, so if you have to do any water crossings you won’t have to worry about water sloshing around your shoes for long.

While the breathability of the knit and the addition of the drainage holes are helpful when dealing with water crossings, if you are running through dewy grass your feet will get wet in the Superior 4.0s.

The outsole of the Altra Superior 4.0 is something you’re either going to really like or will leave a lot to be desired. The outsole is made of Altra’s MaxTrac rubber with trail claw lugs.

What does that mean? The MaxTrac rubber is somewhat firm but definitely flexible enough to allow the shoe to move with your feet as you run.

The lugs are multidirectional, which I’m a huge fan of as I’m a road runner at heart and still struggle with picking my feet up while running on the trails.

Several times while on the trails I scuffed my feet, but never had the shoes “grab” and cause me any issues at all.

The pliability and traction provided by the Altra Superior 4.0 provide a foundation that allows you to really feel the trail beneath your feet and go as hard as the trail conditions allow.

That said, a thin outsole with good ground feel doesn’t provide as much protection from rocks, roots, and other trail debris as a shoe with a thicker, and heavier, sole.

The midsole of the Altra Superior 4.0 is composed of their new proprietary Quantic foam, which purportedly holds up as well as Altra’s ego foam blend but is lighter in weight.

I was somewhat surprised by how comfortable a thin layer of foam could actually be, not only while running on the trails but also when running on paved roads/paths.

I ran a couple of miles on a road connecting two trails, and even on the pavement, the shoe was adequately cushioned.

This was honestly a pleasant surprise, as my older model of the Superiors were quite unforgiving on paved surfaces.

The Altra Superior 4.0 also includes a removable stone guard that can be inserted between the insole and midsole to provide a bit more protection for more technical trails.

While I have no doubts that the stone guard would provide some additional protection, I’m not sure how much protection it would really provide.

And that is really my only issue with this shoe: the entire sole of the shoe is thin and pliable, which is great for speed but doesn’t offer as much protection as other Altra models on some gnarlier trails.

Protection Altra Superior 4

The Altra Superior 4.0 is lightweight, and as such doesn’t offer as much protection as some other trail shoes in the Altra catalog.

The toe cap is reinforced with some rubber to help keep the toes safe when kicking a random stone or tree root.

But outside of that and the removable stone guard, there isn’t much additional protection offered by this shoe.

Rockplate
The rock plate in the Superior 4 does not... Read more adequately protect from sharp rocks on the
Not present
Solid protection
Lugs
The Superior 4 provides good traction on most... Read more types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Provide Traction
Water resistance
The Superior 4 performs badly in wet weather... Read more conditions, getting wet rapidly and taking
Poor
Water Resistant

Durability Altra Superior 4

The durability of the Altra Superior 4.0 is going to really depend on what type of trails you’re running on. On trails with lots of rocks, roots, and other debris, I’m not sure how long these shoes would hold up.

But on the trails that I run, mostly grass or sand, my shoes are showing little wear at all after several runs.

I would also have questions about the durability of the upper of the Superior 4.0 if running/hiking through a lot of brush/thorns/etc.

But on clear trails, I can’t see any reason to think the uppers on these shoes won’t hold up well.

Responsiveness & Speed Altra Superior 4

The Altra Superior 4.0 is a great shoe if speed and race day performance is your goal. The shoe is designed to be light and fast, and it delivers!

If you want to race fast, this is a trail shoe that you should definitely consider adding to your rotation.

Comfort and Fit Altra Superior 4

I have zero complaints about the comfort or fit of the Altra Superior 4.0. It’s light, comfortable, and fits true to size.

Sizing
The Superior 4 has average sizing: buy the... Read more usual size
Buy size smaller
Buy size bigger

Conclusion Altra Superior 4

I’m definitely a fan of the Altra Superior 4.0 for most of the trail running that I do.

Living in Central Florida, we don’t have many technical trails to navigate and most of our trail races are very runnable, and those are the ideal conditions for the Altra Superior 4.0.

Not sure I’d use it for longer distance ultras (50M+), but I ran 26.2 trail miles in the Superiors with no issues at all.

This isn’t a good shoe for rocky/technical trails or bushwhacking due to some durability/protection concerns cited above.

But if you want to go fast on a clean trail and have happy feet when you finish your run/race, the Altra Superior 4.0s are the shoes for you!

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Reviews Read what other runners say

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Michael Cordell

I run 20 - 40km per week, I use them primarily for running
Just the best shoe I have ever had. Seriously. Shoes are a very individual thing. What is great for me may not be for you. What I love about these shoes is the... Read more support and toe box. That is not just novel but superior to the rest of the pack. There is only one way to know and that's to try them for yourself. Any of the

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