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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

September 20, 2014

ALTRA INSTINCT 2.0: Intelligently Cool

Penguins graphicsThe ALTRA footwear was founded by Golden Harper in 2009 and when it released one of its first models, the Instinct, many observers  called it ugly.   

No less than the Runner’s World magazine coined the term “intelligently ugly” to describe the Altra Instinct. 

Here is how the Runner’s World shoe review was written:

“Let's be honest. At first glance, the Altra is ugly. The horizon-line-level sole. An enormously wide forefoot. This shoe is the polar opposite of "cool." But look again, and you'll see that the Altra is intelligently ugly. The sole is level because the shoe is "zero-drop," meaning it's almost a flat surface beneath your feet. And the forefoot is so wide because the shoe is built on an "anatomic" last, so it lets your toes splay out the way they would if you were barefoot. The design resonated with testers, who loved the extra breathing room up front. All of these elements combine to give you a barefoot-like feel but without those barefoot-like intense slaps of your sole against the road. One tip: Traction is minimal, so don't wear these on a rainy day.

BOTTOM LINE: A perfect shoe for someone transitioning to barefoot running but seeking solid protection underfoot.

HOW IT FITS:  Because The Instinct is a minimal shoe, it's not surprising that it is spacious by just about every measurement (see scan at left). The shoe is especially wide in the toebox--12.2 mm wider than average. But the design works because The Instinct's upper wraps the foot almost perfectly, providing for a very comfortable fit.”

Apparently the wise people of Runner’s World don’t mind ugly as long as it can do the job in some novel way for the Altra Instinct garnered the Best Debut Honors in RW’s Spring 2012 Shoe Guide. Boosted by this Runner’s World award, Altra and the Instinct got a loyal following that to these days have no sign of abetting.

Altra founder Golden Harper accepting the March 2012 Shoe Guide Best Debut ward from RW’s Warren Greene

But it remained one ugly running shoe and even the 1.5 re-incarnation a year after failed to shed its aesthetically-challenged tag.      

Instinct 1.5, still ugly with a garish orange colorway

Fast forward to 2014 and Altra released the Instinct 2.0. It is a beefier version of the original with the stack height going up from 22mm to 25 mm. This action seems to be a nod to the hot trend this 2014 of increasing cushioning in shoes. Hereunder are its technical details as taken from the website (http://www.altrarunning.com/fitness/en/Altra/Men/instinct-2):

  Weight: 9.5. oz.
  Cushioning: Moderate
  Ideal Uses: Road Running, Cross Training
  Platform: NRS™ Natural Ride System: Fully
   Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform 
    with FootShape™ toe box
  Last: SD5–M
  Stack Height: 25 mm
  Midsole: Dual Layer EVA/A-Bound™ Blend
  Outsole: FootPod™ Outsole
  Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed
  Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh

The technical stuff reinforced the message that the Instinct 2.0 continues to espouse the differentiating attributes of an Altra: Zero drop and wide toebox. But what caught  my eyes more were the cool  colors this time. Whereas before it was drab gray or garish orange in the older editions, the 2.0 release offered  blue and green. True eye candy colors.

Cool at blue

Cool at green
Catching my eyes was strong enough for me to order a couple months ago a green pair of Instinct 2.0 from the good people of Singphil who in no time had the package delivered to me via LBC. Opening the box, the sight that welcomed me was the refreshingly cool vision of green, evoking the Tom Jones classic song with the lyrics “Yes, they’ll all come to me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly. It’s good to touch the green , green grass of home.”

Out of the box

And slipping on the Instinct 2.0 had the cool sensation of my feet sheathed in a pair of soft fleece flip flop slippers, the kind you get to wear in some 5-star elegant hotel. It is luxuriously soft and my feet did not mind having it on for the whole day.

Feels like wearing those soft slippers

Together with the Altra Torin 1.5, the Instinct 2.0 is now my mainstay running shoes for training runs from 5 kms to 21 kms. Even got to use it for my DC2DC ultra adventure. 

Perhaps the reason why the founders of Altra named  it “Instinct” is because a runner instinctively picks it to go out and run with it.

Why not? It is not only intelligently conceptualized. It is now cool to see and cool to wear. 
Penguins graphics


  1. I wouldn't say it's that ugly.. if they had pink I'd wear it! LOL. But yeah, I myself like minimal shoes for running. The Adidas or the ON. Superb shoes!

  2. Thanks Ciki. Anything would look good on you.