AltraFWD Experience Detailed Review

Last updated on February 21st, 2024

AltraFWD Experience mudguard

The AltraFWD Experience, Altra's road running shoes, is a reliable option that would satisfy most runners if it belonged to any other brand. However, for those who have been loyal Altra users in the long run, the AltraFWD Experience falls short of expectations.

The AltraFWD Experience is suitable for road runners of all levels. It serves as an excellent daily trainer and is versatile enough for both intense workouts and races. It also presents an ideal choice for those curious about lower-drop running shoes but unsure about fully transitioning to a zero-drop shoe.

If you are a fan of Altra's classic zero drop sole and foot-shaped toe box, the AltraFWD Experience may not be the best choice for you. This shoe lacks the spacious toe box and flat sole that Altra is famous for, so it may not meet your expectations.

The AltraFWD Experience, Altra's latest road running shoe, represents a significant departure from the brand's original focus on a foot-shaped toe box and a zero-drop platform. With a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop and a more compact toe box compared to other Altra models, the AltraFWD Experience showcases a new direction for the company.

AltraFWD Experience midsole

Comparing this shoe to other Altras is a challenging task due to the reasons mentioned above. However, when compared to running shoes from different brands, this shoe shares many similarities. It is a reliable shoe that doesn't excel in any particular aspect, but also doesn't possess any significant drawbacks (unless you strictly adhere to Altra preferences).

I had a range of thoughts and feelings when I first experienced the AltraFWD.

They serve as a satisfactory choice for a regular running shoe. Right from the moment I put them on, they provided a delightful experience, and my initial jog in them only reinforced this belief. They offer ample comfort, fit perfectly, and deliver a pleasant sensation. I have absolutely no grievances to express.

As an avid Altra wearer for over a decade, I immediately noticed a couple of concerns with the AltraFWD Experience. It seems that Altra is deviating from their usual wider forefoot design trend.

In contrast to most running shoes, they may not be particularly slim, but they do offer a tighter fit in the front part of the foot, which sets them apart from other Altra shoes like the Instinct, Escalante, Lone Peak, and Superior models.

For those familiar with Altra's zero drop platform, the 4 mm decrease in the AltraFWD Experience is easily noticeable. Although the drop is modest, it is not without importance, and I detected it right away.

AltraFWD Experience upper

The AltraFWD Experience comes with a smooth and breathable upper made of engineered mesh, ensuring maximum comfort. The padded heel cup offers a secure and comfortable fit, keeping your heel in place without any tightness.

The upper of the shoe is the only thing that bothers me a little. It's not as wide as I thought it would be for an Altra, but it seems like this is becoming more common with each new model. However, it's not a narrow shoe overall and I didn't get any blisters or discomfort in the front of my foot or toes from wearing it.

The AltraFWD Experience features a rubber outsole and a compression-molded EVA foam midsole, which work harmoniously to ensure a smooth and enjoyable running experience. Whether I was going for an easy recovery jog or pushing myself during intense workouts, this shoe consistently delivered. With a 28 mm toe and a 32 mm heel, the midsole/outsole combination provided a perfect balance of comfort, protection, and connection to the ground. It allowed me to have a sense of the terrain beneath my feet without being overly sensitive to every little obstacle in my path. Overall, the AltraFWD Experience struck the right balance and performed exceptionally well.

AltraFWD Experience outsole

The grip offered by the outsole has proven to be excellent for a running shoe designed for roads. Despite encountering wet conditions and navigating a steep trail scattered with foliage, one would anticipate a few slips. However, I can confidently state that I have not experienced any problems with traction while wearing these shoes, even in highly uncertain circumstances.

The AltraFWD Experience distinguishes itself from other Altra shoes in two distinct ways: its 4 mm heel drop and its unique rocker shape. According to Altra, this rocker shape offers a sensation of propulsion with every step and enhances the efficiency of toe-off while still maintaining your natural stride.

Wearing the AltraFWD Experience, I didn't sense any forward momentum. However, I did observe that my feet repeatedly scraped against the ground while swinging during my stride in almost every run with these shoes, which is not something I typically experience with other footwear. Therefore, it appears that the curved design of the shoes slightly disrupts my natural way of walking.

In general, the AltraFWD Experience is satisfactory as a whole. The inclusion of the rocker shape feature appears to be more of a marketing ploy rather than a functional addition, but apart from that, I have no particular grievances.

I must admit that I was taken aback by the 4 mm drop in the Altra shoes, as it is not something I usually favor. However, I am relieved to say that the sole has not caused any discomfort to my feet ever since I started wearing them.

The AltraFWD Experience is a decent shoe. As mentioned previously, it doesn't excel in any specific aspect, but it also doesn't have any drawbacks. It's a reliable and versatile shoe.

I have used the AltraFWD Experience for various types of runs, including shorter mid-week runs, longer weekend runs, and speed workouts. It has consistently performed excellently regardless of the demands I placed on it. I am confident in wearing these shoes for road races of any distance, from 5k to marathon. I have no doubt that they would perform well in any race setting.

AltraFWD Experience quarter

I find it difficult to write this review because, as an Altra shoe, it falls short of my expectations. While the slightly narrower toe box is forgivable, the 4 mm drop is a significant deviation from the brand's established reputation, making it hard for me to overlook.

Overall, this shoe is dependable and you can have full confidence in its durability, knowing it will endure numerous miles without fail.

Are you a runner who has never tried Altra shoes before and feels a bit hesitant about switching to a zero-drop design? If so, the AltraFWD Experience might be the perfect shoe for you.

However, if you have been a loyal supporter of Altra for many years and have grown accustomed to and prefer zero-drop shoes, then this particular shoe will not meet your expectations and may leave you feeling let down.

Am I going to keep wearing these shoes? Absolutely. This particular pair of shoes still has plenty of mileage ahead and I have no intention of getting rid of them while they're still serving me well.

  • Price: $140 (Altrarunning)
  • Color: Gray / Blue
  • Usage:
  • Constructions & Features:
    • engineered mesh upper
    • Stack Height: 28 mm / 32 mm
    • heel drop: 4mm
    • more compact toe box compared to other Altra models
    • rubber outsole
    • padded heel cup for a secure and comfortable fit
    • compression-molded EVA foam midsole
    • weight: 8.5 oz / 240 g
    • moderate cushion
    • rocker shape to give runners' the feeling of being propelled forward with each step and provide an efficient toe-off
AltraFWD Experience toebox