Altra Superior 3.0 Trail Running Shoe Review

Remember the Superior 2.0? That running shoe was famous for its great control and traction on the trails, but even more infamous for its fragile design along with improper sizing. Altra has decided to combat those issues with the Superior 3.0.

Strife with durability issues – especially at the worst of times, as ultrarunners would be stuck in the middle of a race with a torn upper – the predecessor had a lot of potential but lost it all when it came to its own survivability. A trail running shoe needs to be strong, yet the 2.0 struggled with that.

In this review, we look at the changes made to the Superior 3.0 that are supposed to fix this major issue, and whether or not it actually does solve the problem.

Let’s get started.

Pros:

So, is it the Superior 3.0 more durable than the 2.0?

We found that the upper is in fact, more durable. It is certainly better than the previous. The elastic overlays added to the Superior 3.0 keep the fabric together, while at the same time allowing for stretchability.

This makes the shoes hug the feet, so even though it has the same toe-box as the Superior 2.0, it will actually feel tighter. The tightness is certainly an upgrade, as some of the problems with the 2.0 were it being too loose on the feet in some areas, making for a harder time to run efficiently.

Is the shoe still breathable, though?

Yes, it is definitely breathable. When running distance, there’s no struggle in trying to make sure that our feet don’t overheat. This is all thanks to the fabric, as the upper has the same “Quick-Dry Air Mesh” found in the previous model, meaning that air can filter in and out just as well.

This shoe is especially impressive in terms of weight. It’s even lighter than the Lone Peak 3.0 or Olympus 2.0. The Superior 3.0 is only 261g (9.2oz). The cushioning is also very soft and non-intrusive. Combining this all with a rock-shield, it’s like running on grass itself. With plenty of traction too!

Seriously, this shoe does incredibly well when it comes to comfort. Currently, these shoes are the most comfortable trail running shoes available from Altra.

The sizing issues have also been fixed, so now they’re closer to realistic proportions and you no longer have to go for a half size up.

Cons:

Because of the changes to the upper, the Superior 3.0 is heavier than the 2.0 by half an ounce. This is a noticeable difference, but it is still the lightest offered trail running shoe by Altra.

The biggest con is water resistance. The Superior 3.0 is not waterproof, by any means of the imagination. Despite the breathability offered by the mesh, these shoes can’t shake off water well mid-run. (Even though it’s called the “Quick-Dry Mesh”)  Because of the shape and form of the shoe, water gets trapped and can’t flow out the sides of the upper. On a wet course, this can be a cause for concern.

It’s seriously uncomfortable when wet. Other shoes might be better, especially for longer courses. Blisters and black toe-nails can come from running too long in wet shoes.

On another note, there is added material to the shoe used to increase durability, but this material is tough and if you have wide feet it can dig into the sides of your feet with every step.

The upper is weaker than other trail-running shoes provided by Altra. If you’re looking for rugged, durable trail-running shoes, the Olympus 2.0 or Lone Peak 3.0 might be your better bet. The goal for trying to create a very light shoe means that material is sacrificed to hit the target weight. In this case, the upper is simply not up to par with other shoes. Depending on the trails that you are hitting, this can be fine, but some terrain calls for tougher shoes. Otherwise you’ll end up with torn shoes and toes sticking out, and that’s never fun.

Wrap-up:

Pros:

  • Incredibly Grippy Tread and Rubber
  • Thick Lugs for Traction
  • Lightweight, Hard to Notice
  • Zero-Drop
  • Easy Foot Control and Stability
  • Form Fitting
  • Super Comfy (when Dry)

Cons:

  • Weak Compared to Other Trail-Running Shoes
  • Not Water-Resistant
  • Super Uncomfortable (when Wet)
  • Can’t Drain Well Mid-run
  • Tough Material Harsh on Wide Feet
  • Heavier than Superior 2.0

Want to compare the Superior 3.0 to other Altra trail running shoes?

Check out our comparison post between the Olympus 2.0, Lone Peak 3.0, and Superior 3.0 running shoes!

The Superior 3.0 is an improvement upon it’s predecessor, no doubt about that. It’s lightweight, form-fitting, gets excellent traction, and makes for a very comfortable run. On the other hand, it fares poorly in water, still has a relatively weak upper, and has a few flaws that need to be dealt with.

All in all, however, it fits a good niche. If you’re looking for a trail-running shoe that doesn’t clunk around due to its weight, the Superior 3.0 might be for you. Due to the amount of rubber needed to support the creation of lugs, weight in trail-running shoes is obviously hard to control. However, Altra nails weight on the 3.0.

The added foot control that the Superior series offers is a wonderful asset for runners looking to utilize all of their power – whether they’re flicking their ankles to push up a hill, navigating over roots and rocks, or sprinting to the finish. This touch of foot control hasn’t been lost in this revision, so runners can expect to continue to be able to maximize the use of their muscles for awesome performance.

In essence, the durability issue was tackled and managed, along with the sizing problem. However, there’s still more that can be done with this shoe. It’s not perfect, but no shoe is.

If you can get past the water issues, the 3.0 is excellent. The writers here at Runners Equipped would recommend Altra’s Superior 3.0 to all trail-running fans.

Buy at Amazon

 Final Verdict of the Altra Superior 3.0 Review:


Caleb Thompson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and other Amazon stores worldwide.

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