Sunday, November 20, 2011

Altra Adam Shoe Review

The Altra Adam has become my favorite all around minimalist running shoe.  However, it is not my favorite road running shoe, trail shoe, or casual shoe I have ever worn, but it is solid in every application.

The Adam is Altra's version of a mininimalist shoe.  Unlike the Altra Instinct, the Adam is a true minimimst shoe.  Like every other Altra shoe, it is completely level or what Altra terms as zero drop.  I find the Adam to be one of the best shoes at allowing a natural mid-foot strike.  The shoe just feels like an extension of my foot.

It has an extremely flexible, durable and thin out-sole with zero cushioning. The Adam has exceptional ground feel especially when the two insoles (support insole and strengthening insole) provided by Altra are removed.  I would say the ground feel is on par with the Vibram KSO.  When running on the roads, I take the insoles out but when I take the Adam on the trails, I put the "strengthening" insole in to provide just a bit more protection.  For me the Adam can handle just about any trail as long as it isn't too technical or rocky.   

I have put several miles on the Adam and the out-sole shows no wear to speak of.  Since there is no EVA to breakdown, this shoe can be worn until you wear a hole through the out-sole or the upper breaks down.

Also like the KSO the Adam has siped out-sole to provide greater traction.  The traction is adequate in most conditions that runners will face.  The only exception would be extremely wet sloppy trails.  

The Adam is extremely light weight.  My size 10.5 weigh only 6.3 oz making them one of the lightest shoes I own. The Adam is also foot shaped and thus has a wide toebox but not as wide as the Altra Instinct which I believe is a positve.  Any wider and the shoe would feel too sloppy.  I have worn the Adam on roads on the trails and just casually and it has replased my KSO and my Komodosport as my go to multipurpose shoe.  I can't say enough positive things about this shoe but it is not with out its faults.

The Adam is a great shoe but it is not perfect.  The upper of the Adam needs some work.  The actual material is very soft and moves very well with the foot.  It also breaths very well but  it has some large seams that caused hotspots on my first sockless run.  The seams have softened a bit since that first run but I tend to where socks with the Adam to avoid potential issues.

 The upper is also secured with two velcro straps.  One that cinches close to the ankle and one the cinches closer to the toes.  Velcro allows a shoe to be slipped on and off quickly but it can lead to some unwanted movement in the shoe.  I really appreciate a shoe that allows toe movement but I do not like shoes that allow my foot to slide forward or backward. Therefore, I used to tighten both straps pretty snug but I found that if the toe strap is too tight it restricts the movement of the toes and creates a hot spot where the the straps meets my pinky toe.

Now I only tighten the ankle strap to reduce movement of my foot.  However, my foot still has a tendency to slide around a bit in the shoe especially on trails where the surface is uneven.  Fortunately, Altra is coming out with a laced version of the Adam called the Samson.  This maybe my perfect shoe as it will have all of the great features of the Adam but should fix any of the fit problems with the velcro straps.  I am anxious to get my hands on a pair of them.

For the reasons mentioned above the Adam is not my go to trail shoe or my favorite road shoe or even my favorite casual shoe but if I could only buy one shoe for road running, trail running, and casual wear, the Adam would be at the top of a very short list.  As always, you can and should pick the Altra Adam up from the Natural Running Store.


  1. Theo,

    Thanks for the reveiw. You did a really good job describing this shoe. It's uplifitng to read posts like this regarding minimalist footwear. It shows a return to natural posture. How long have you been running in the Adam?

    If I was you, I'd contact Altra and send them this as a link. Who knows you could be the next Altra sponsored athlete!


  2. Quick question: Altra Adam or Kigo Drive? If you had to choose between the two?

  3. @Barefoot Alex Thanks for the kind words.

  4. @Anonymous it really depends on what you are wanting to use the shoe for. The Adam is by far a better running shoe but can be worn casually. The Kigo Drive is a much better looking shoe so it is a better causal shoe.

  5. If you haven't yet, get the Sampson. I absolutely love the shoe. Sockless with no footbed. I don't have some any issues you mention here with the foot sliding in the Sampson. I've abandoned my other shoes since I got the Sampson (vff, instinct, minimus), they just don't have the fit or feel these do.

    p.s. I came over to read the Inov8 Bare-X 200 and found it to read very much like the review I would give the Sampson.

    1. I do have the Samson and will probably be the next shoe I review. I am running a half marathon in them in a couple weeks and will be posting the review of them shortly after. I love the Samson!

  6. I agree! This is my all time favorite. Aside from the uppers falling apart eventually, this is as close to perfection as I have experienced. Wonderully wide. Sublimely supple after breaking-in.
    When I realized they were being discontinued, I bought 6 pair.