Shoe Review: Catnip and the Altra Solstice

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.

History

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.

Overall Experience

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).

My Take

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!

I'm a 20-year veteran of competitive running, USATF certified coach, mom of a toddler -- and still trying to set PRs. I write about training from 5k to marathon, motherhood and competitive running, and the elite side of the sport. The 5k is my favorite race (16:56 PR) but I've got a score to settle with the marathon.

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5 comments

  1. These sound rather appealing! I like being able to feel the ground, too. The outsole issue might be a deal-breaker though. The same thing happened with my NB Minimus shoes a long time ago (RIP, sigh). I’d be keen to see how long these last.

  2. Shoes you forget you’re wearing are the best shoes! When I try out new models I’m always looking for that elusive sign that the shoe is right for me.

  3. I’ve wondered about the altras because my feet get much wider at the toe (like a triangle shape!). What is the drop on these? I wear NB shoes now which I think are around 8 mm. I don’t want to go to zero but I do like a closer to the ground shoe (Hokas were so not for me!).

  4. I have a pair of Solstices I love so far, but I’m worried about the wear on the sole as well. Do you have any update on that? Not sure how many miles I’ll be able to get out of these.