Now, this review may be a bit different experience than some as I have been running in minimalist shoes for a while. Max over at “Back of the Pack Max,” told me that she loved hers from the first time she had put them on. I get this thought – as I felt that way about the Vibram Five Fingers. Like the Altra running shoes, they two are zero drop. Since I am coming from the VFFs, it seems that a comparison is inevitable.
Both have a “zero drop” (meaning the toes and heels are at the same height). This makes NOT heel striking much easier and even encourages a mid or forefoot strike. In fact, in either the VFFs or the Altra’s, I find a heel strike near impossible. The overall feel of the shoes is primarily defined by this. I don’t know that I could have said that – if it hadn’t been for wearing more than one brand. It has much the same “pleasure” as walking barefoot, in that your body can stand up right. (Now I want to mention here, I am not a doctor, or a posture-expert. It is simply how it feels to me, and I like it! Your mileage may vary)
So how are they different than the Vibram Five Fingers? To start with the obvious – no separate toes. While this isn’t a seller one way or the other for me, it does have some advantages. For one, my wife isn’t embarrassed to be seen with me (although she has come to terms with this over the years) because I have bright red shoes with toes. It also means socks are much cheaper to buy! (Injinji are $12.00 a pair after all!)
There is also less ground-feel. This makes sense when you consider that the Instinct has more shoe between your foot and the ground. How much you might ask? Well, that depends on the insole you choose. From the Instinct Website:
With Support Footbed: 21mm (Heel)/21mm(Forefoot)
With Strengthen Footbed: 19mm (Heel)/19mm (Forefoot)
Without footbed: 16mm (Heel)/16mm (Forefoot)
Compared to the Vibram Five Finger Bikila with its 7mm of shoe between your foot and the ground.
This change in ground feel is a good/bad thing. I have always enjoyed running in my bikilas, but after a long run (or a day of walking) I could definitely feel the “pounding” that my feet had gone through. There was a soreness that was there, which wasn’t a hugely noticeable thing, but was noticeable. I can say that after walking around all day – I didn’t have this in the Altra’s.
I would definitely recommend these shoes, either for longer runs – for those that are slowly moving into minimalist, or for those that are looking for a “zero-drop” shoe, but dont’ want to go minimalist.From a comfort level – I rank them just as I do the VFFs, as some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever had on my feet.
They also make my feet look smaller.