This review is in partnership with Running Warehouse, which provided products for testing. Salty Running receives a commission on sales made via our Running Warehouse affiliate link, used throughout this post.
When I read the list of available shoes for review, I politely declined. Fortunately, Cinnamon had taken a closer look at the offerings and asked if I was sure, because the Altra Solstice seemed like something I might like. I reconsidered, and I’m so glad I said yes! If I had to do a one line review it would be this: The Altra Solstice is perfect for me.
The Solstice is a zero-drop, lightweight shoe with Altra’s hallmark “anatomical” wide toebox. Altra is a small but growing brand, which probably explains why I’ve never tried any of their products before.
I am one of the last-standing minimalist runners. I prefer to train almost exclusively in racing flats and my current rotation includes the Adidas Adios, Saucony Type A, Asics Hyperspeed, Hoka One One Tracer, and a couple pair of Nike Streak LT for my (mostly) road and sidewalk miles. I am rather petite and rarely have been injured in my 20+ year running career. I tend to prefer shoes that are low to the ground, flexible, and fairly firm; I don’t like to notice my shoe while running.
Out of the box
The one thing I did know about Altra prior to receiving them was that the toebox was meant to be wide enough for the forefoot to spread out naturally. For some reason, I had expected that to lead to poor aesthetics, but these shoes are quite attractive! The upper is a lovely plum with a modern triangle print. It is no-frills, lightweight, and breathable. As a bonus, it hardly shows dirt or wear so I can still get away with wearing them with jeans!
I immediately laced them up for a 45-minute run. The heel and midfoot snugged up to my foot easily and now the wider forefoot was more apparent. Ahh! Wiggle room! Within a minute or two of starting my watch I forgot about the shoes and was just running—this is exactly the feeling I’m looking for in a shoe! I actually had to keep reminding myself to check in with my feet so that I could write this review.
Unfortunately, somewhere in those 5.5 miles I developed a blister on the arch of my foot. Upon investigating inside the shoe, I couldn’t find an offending seam and have concluded the blister was from my sock. I haven’t had any discomfort on other runs in these shoes.
I’ve been struggling with low energy the past few months so I only put the Altras through easy-paced miles. I did try a few short bursts at quicker speeds and felt quite comfortable; I would consider these a potential marathon shoe for me. Even with just 17mm of foam, I felt adequately cushioned, more so than with the Nike Streak LT which has about the same amount of sole underfoot. I also felt comfortable in short off-road running spurts.
One potential negative is that the outsole is blown rubber and already wearing down visibly where I produce friction on the forefoot and I’m afraid this might lead to early retirement for this pair since I’ve only put <50 miles on them. I am usually able to wear a pair of shoes for 500+ miles but not if the outsole is so worn down that the shoe can no longer sit level. At just $90, however, the Solstice might just be a good enough deal even if it doesn’t turn out to be a workhorse. I’ll keep updating this topic in my training logs as I continue to put the mileage on them (because I certainly will).
The Solstice is my new favorite shoe! I love the light weight (6.4 oz!), flexibility, and space. I love that I forget about my shoes when I wear these.
Even if you don’t want to marry the Solstice like I do, you’ll like it if you have a wider forefoot or just need more space to spread out. I’d recommend this shoe for runners who are used to relatively low-drop shoes and want a snappy, flexible feel. The Solstice is classified as a lightweight trainer but would make an excellent racing shoe for all road distances.
Overall: 5 out of 5 snails for the Altra Solstice. Cinnamon, I owe you a drink for picking this winner for me!