By: Matt Setlack

Overall Rating:  88/100

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Comfort: 8.5
  • Fit: 7.5
  • Responsiveness: 9.0
  • Speed: 9.5
  • Ride Quality: 9.5
Altra Duo - Matt Setlack - 1.JPG

The Good

  • Very lightweight
  • Underfoot cushioning is excellent

The Bad

  • the inside of the toe box has a lot of volume, which some runners with a more traditional foot shape may not like.
  • if you are used to wearing a shoe with 10mm heel drop such as the Brooks Glycerin 14, then you may not like the 0mm heel drop on this shoe.
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Price

MRSP: $130 USD

Specs

  • Heel Drop:  0 mm
  • Weight:  8.4 oz (Matt Setlack’s Men’s US Size 10.5 were measured to be 516g per pair)
  • Heel Height:  26mm
  • Forefoot Height:  26mm
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THE VERDICT

The Altra Duo is a brand new shoe built to be a hybrid lightweight, fast and cushioned shoe. Altra designed this shoe to be versatile for racing anything from 5km to 100km ultra races to long training runs. It packs a lot of high quality for a racing shoe. It was aesthetically pleasing with bright orange highlights and contrasting navy engineered mesh. It felt like a beefed up version of a racing shoe while still maintaining a light and fast feeling that most racing flats have. I was very impressed with the technology Altra used to design a faster shoe with ample cushioning. They have more cushioning than most shoes and responsiveness was in line with competitors.

NOTE: This is the 1st pair of Altra shoes I have worn.

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FULL REVIEW

Comfort

This Altra Duo was incredibly comfortable and one of my favourite shoes to run in. The upper was very light and breathable and my feet were comfortable and dry on all runs. The tongue of the shoe was made of nubuck suede to prevent lace bite and added comfort to overall fit of the shoe.

Looks like Altra was looking to save weight by making "lightening holes" in the bottom treads of the shoe. Interesting concept/design and I've never seen this done before. The outsole feels stiffer than I was expecting and springs back nicely.

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The Altra Duo has a really wide forefoot. The tongue is the lightest tongue I have ever seen. There are a bunch of holes punched in the tongue, which I believe makes the shoe slightly more breathable. Similar (or maybe even thinner/lighter) than the Nike Zoom Streak racing flats that I have and those tongues are super thin/light. The Altra Duo heel is really bulked up and flared out/buttressed in the heel area.

The quality of construction of the Altra Duo looks to be top notch. It looks like the panels are bonded together throughout the shoe (for the upper).

The thing that is really different about this shoe (one amongst many things) is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of stitching visible. Mostly glued panels (to save weight).

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Fit

Tight, snug heel fit. Toe box had a lot of room and excess fabric/mesh was notable from lacing up shoes tight to get a better snug feel. If you like a shoe with a wider toe-box, you would probably really like the fit of the Altra Duo.

The length of the shoe definitely runs small. My toe touches the end and that rarely ever happens in a 10.5. They feel almost like a 10 US Men's even though the box and shoe read 10.5 US Men's. Oddly enough, although the length of the shoe ran small, the internal volume of the shoe was massive. The Altra Duo is designed for people with really high volume feet.

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After tying them up (not using heel lock holes), laces are excessively long. I had to double knot and sometimes triple knot the laces. They initially reminded me of Hoka Clifton 2's. Very light upper kind of similar upper to Saucony Kinvara. Reminds me of this.

Stiff ankle upper area. I like that. In a lot of other shoes I have seen really weak/not stiff ankle areas. Platform shape (shape looking down) is not as unusual as I was expecting from an Altra shoe. Very similar to Hoka Clifton 2. The black/orange colour scheme looks sharp. I like it.

Very angular heel/ankle cutout for the side bones in your heel. The angular lines and black/dark blue colour reminded me of the F-117 Stealth Nighthawk aircraft.

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There is definitely extra dead space (open space) past the ends of my outer toes (the area that's not open on the tradition platform shoe).

I think the nice thing about the wide toe box is that it allowed my forefoot/toes to splay out/spread out while running without the sides of forefoot rubbing/chafing against the inside of the shoe.

The upper is very lightweight and flexible. When walking, sides of ankle area flare out. There is a lot of of extra room in toe area even though length is perfect for my foot. The security on the foot is good.

Responsiveness

Excellent responsiveness and good heel to toe transitions, would be good for longer workouts. They have a lot of cushion and yet are quite responsive. They feel like I’m wearing a thick yoga mat under my feet.

Speed

I was really surprised by how quick and nimble this shoe felt. It not only provided ample cushioning, it also had exceptionally good flexibility and ground feel. The almost web like cut outs of the sole added to the flexibility in addition to keeping it light and fast.

The Altra Duo is incredibly lightweight. Just as light if not lighter than a racing flat (Brooks Hyperion, Brooks T7, NB1400).

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They made me feel like I was running faster than I actually was because of the 0mm heel to toe offset. This caused me to run in a more forward leaning posture rather than upright posture, like while wearing a racing flat. In these shoes, my foot strike is a lot more flat footed than heel/midfoot/toe rounded shape.

Ride Quality

Interflex technology within the shoe provided very good flexibility and a smooth ride. The flex grooves in the midsole gave a natural and smooth heel-to-toe transition.

The laces are REALLY long. But better to be too long than too short because you can cut them shorter with a pair of scissors, if necessary. The laces are much thinner and lighter than most laces I have seen, even compared to racing flats. The Altra Duo has a really nice forefoot rocker in the front end. They cause you to foot strike more in the midfoot compared to the heel.

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I wore the Altra Duo on sand and on snow and they perform really well. They float a little higher on sand/snow compared to a traditional running shoe that has less surface area footprint. Unfortunately, the grooves in the bottom of the shoe would occasionally pick up little rocks/pebbles. I thought that the large footprint/flared buttress like bottoms would graze the inside of my lower legs/ankles but they didn’t at all.

I really like the Altra Duo.