How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for You

A tester who wore a men’s size 12 in the Escalante 2.5 noted its pared-down approach. “You feel the entire road with how the shoe is designed,” he wrote. “They were fine on trails [softer terrain], moving to asphalt was a good bit harder and not something I’d stick with.” Though the 3 feels like it’s edging toward a more versatile design, the Escalante—and all Altra shoes—may be something of an acquired taste. A typical heel-to-toe drop in running shoes is 10 mm to 12 mm, effectively raising the heel of the foot 1 centimeter higher than the toes. Altra shoes have no heel-to-toe drop at all, so the sole’s thickness is the same for the entire length of the foot; this is supposed to encourage the wearer to land more on the midfoot. The Escalante also has a wider, “FootShape” toe box, which gives toes more room and allows feet to settle more naturally into the shoe. However, another tester, who wore a men’s size 11 in the 2.5, didn’t find the toe box to be roomy or flexible. Some reviewers have found the toe box of the 3 to be “awkward” or too far from the company’s original foot-shape design, but we found it to be comfortable. (Some Altra shoes come in the “original” foot shape, and some are available in a “slim” shape. Most, including the Escalante, come in a “standard” foot shape.) According to Altra’s website, this fit is intended to accommodate toe movement throughout the stride. So it’s best to choose your size based on shoe length, not width, especially if you’re sometimes between sizes.

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