Altra Solstice Performance Review
By Erin Surrett
I put 50 miles on the Altra Solstice the first week I had them. I thought it might be best to lead with this information since it lets you know up front: I love this shoe. Now, on to the specifics.
Before I opened the box, I had the fleeting thought that they may have forgotten to actually put the shoes in there. At 4.7 ounces for a women’s 8, these are incredibly light. That said, as you might expect, there’s not much to them. These are not fancy running shoes. Altra is billing the Solstice as a sort of “entry-level” zero-drop shoe, allowing runners who may be curious about trying a zero-drop shoe to do so without dropping a lot of coin (the Solstice retails for $90).
I received these in black, and I think they’re pretty sharp-looking shoes; I’d wear them casually if I weren’t worried about wearing them out too quickly. Keep in mind that I don’t hate the wide toe box look of most Altras; if you do, you’ll probably disagree with me on this point.
The upper is made of a breathable engineered mesh, with a more supportive mesh over the heel and midfoot. A 3-D printed design on the upper makes the shoe a bit more visually interesting. It has been cold AF in the Mid Atlantic the past few weeks, so the breathability aspect hasn’t necessarily been welcomed, but I can’t wait to wear a pair of these over the summer. THEY’RE SO LIGHT! The midsole is made of high-abrasion EVA with Altra’s InnerFlex grooves, designed to promote quick transition; the outsole is, again, exposed EVA with (minimal) rubber reinforcements.
Look, these shoes are $90, and they weigh less than 5 ounces. With about 60 miles on them, the outsole is definitely showing a decent amount of wear already. I did do a 22 mile run in these, which probably wasn’t a great idea — they felt great, but I’ll probably reserve them for tempo runs (if I did tempo runs, I mean) and races to extend their life a bit.
One of the first things I noticed when I put these on was a pretty aggressive seam on the inside where the midfoot and heel portions of the upper overlap by like a half inch. I had to hold it down while putting my foot in. Eventually, I trimmed it off, and it’s fine now. And it probably shaved another half ounce off. Just call me Bill Bowerman.
The only other complaint I have is WHY ARE THE LACES SO LONG? When I put the shoes on and tighten the laces, they come up past my knees. It’s pretty ridiculous.
Altra Solstice Conclusion
This is a super light, super comfortable, no-frills running shoe. I would absolutely recommend it as a racing flat, probably for distances up to a half marathon if you’re someone who is used to running in a more minimal shoe (use your best judgment). It feels like you’re wearing nothing on your feet, but in a good way. If you’re curious about trying a more minimal, zero-drop shoe, I definitely recommend the Solstice. Disclaimer: maybe don’t put 50 miles on them in the first week. Even if you really want to. Get the Altra Solstice.