Altra Escalante 2 | Best Running Shoes 2019 – Runner’s World

Altra Escalante 2 | Best Running Shoes 2019  Runner’s World

The RW Takeaway: The updated Escalante 2 pays homage to the original with a soft platform, and the ability to function as an everyday trainer to long distance racer.

  • The Altra Ego midsole provides adequate cushioning and support
  • A wide toe box allows toes to splay and prevents blisters
  • A secure lacing system and snug knit upper keeps the foot locked in place

Price: $130
9.3 oz (M), 7 oz (W)

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The original Escalante premiered Altra’s first flat-knit upper and then-new EGO midsole compound. In a way, the Escalante challenged preconceived notions about what a zero-drop running shoe is: not necessarily minimal, and not sparse on cushioning and support. Runners loved the shoe’s responsiveness and fast feel. We did too, which is why we awarded it Editors’ Choice back in 2017.

The 2 upholds the original’s reputation: lightweight yet soft; a midsole that provides high rebound so runners can dial it in during speedwork or racing. “I fell in love with this shoe almost immediately,” said a tester who previously ran in New Balance’s FuelCell Propel (he gave the Escalante 2 a higher rating). “I’m training for my next marathon, hoping for my first BQ, and I will be wearing this pair of shoes for that race. The zero drop makes me feel more faster, more efficient, and lighter on my feet.”

Lakota Gambill

Stiffer—But Snappier

The 2 is slightly stiffer in the midsole than previous versions. One tester took a video of his hands bending the original Escalante and the 2 to illustrate the flexibility of the first iteration. The shoe had plenty of give and could almost completely fold at the arch. The newest Escalante’s weight is a little heavier than the 1.5, as well (the men’s 1.5 was 7.9 ounces, women’s 6.5 ounces). Despite the shoe’s added weight, testers weren’t afraid to up the tempo on their runs. “The shoe feels fast and provides enough cushion for the long run, which makes it an all-around versatile shoe for all distances,” said a tester. “I used it for my long marathon training runs, hill repeats, and track workouts.”

Lakota Gambill

Finding the Right Fit

Testers who ran in the men’s Escalante noted the shoe seemed to run narrower than previous versions. However, they confirmed there was still ample room in the toe box, a feature the brand is known for. “The wide toe box and flexible fabric are really what make these shoes shine,” said another tester. “They breathe really well and are comfortable on the feet at any speed from walking to sprinting and everything in between.” On the other end, women may want to go half a size down; though the lacing system locks your foot in place, the fit could be more streamlined around the heel.

Lakota Gambill

Wear Tester Feedback

Jonathan D., tester since 2014
Arch: High | Gait: Underpronator | Footstrike: Heel
“The Escalante 2.0 is a stellar shoe that keeps one of the best rides in running going strong. Whether going on the road, grass, or gravel, my experiences with this shoe were highly enjoyable. If the day called for a long run, an easy day run, or a spirited tempo run, these shoes delivered each time. There are a few small setbacks with the lacing, upper materials, and cushioning that keep this shoe from being mindblowing, but all in all, a great shoe to add in your rotation if you can handle the zero-drop platform.”

Tammy H., tester since 2019
Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
“I liked the weight and how it performed on [the] treadmill. It was great for speedwork. I felt fast and springy. I also liked [the] toebox width and that it didn’t have excess stitching or toe seams, which tend to irritate my wider feet and bunions.”

Test Editor Amanda is a test editor at Runner’s World and was a middle-of-the-pack Emerson College cross country runner; she’s run the Boston Marathon consecutively since 2013.