Altra Torin 4 Review

altra torin 4 review
My new Altra Torin 4 fresh out of the box, tags still on.

I’ve been worried about my running shoe possibilities since Altra decided to discontinue the awesome, beloved Intuition (Instinct for men). I’ve worn the Intuition since its first-ever model. Aside from one year when they were clown-like, I’ve loved them very much. The Torin has always been too much shoe for me, but with the Altra Torin 4 release and lack of new Intuition, I decided to give the Torin a try.

There are two versions of the Torin 4: plush and regular. The plush model costs more and has different upper material, but since limited quantities have been released thus far, I don’t know what other differences there may be between the two. I ordered the regular model in the black/teal colorway. After chatting with Altra’s online customer service (friendly, helpful people, FYI), I learned that the Torin 4 runs bigger than the Torin 3.5. I tried on the 3.5 several months ago but didn’t buy it because it was too much shoe. However, the size 9.5 fit me well. For the Torin 4, I ordered a size 9.

Unboxing the Altra Torin 4

As soon as I opened the box, I could see that the new Torin is the best-looking Altra shoe I’ve ever owned. The colors are true to online representation and actually look a bit better in person. They were noticeably very lightweight when I picked them up, but I also had an immediate concern: they looked long, especially for a size 9, when a 9.5 was good for me in the previous version of the Torin.

altra torin 4 review
I appreciate the full-length rubber on the outsole.

The laces are very long and cord-like. They tie easily but hang down so much that I worry about tripping on them even when they’re double-knotted. Some of the eyelets are a bright yellow material that seems reflective, which strikes me as odd because most of the yellow is covered up when the shoe is laced. I’d much rather the reflective yellow be on the front, back, or sides. The outsole, while highly segmented, has full-length rubber, which is a relative rarity nowadays. I appreciate the extra traction and (potential) durability.

Sizing

I put my foot into the shoe and was met with comfort and roominess. Too much roominess. The size 9 fits more like a traditional 9.5. That’s upsetting on multiple fronts, especially since the previous Torin ran small. It seems like consistent sizing should part of the basic skillset of shoe sales, but perhaps not. Second to that, I needed new shoes ASAP and didn’t have time to go through the online exchange process. Not whining, just being real. I work on my feet, walk a ton, and need good shoes when I need them. It never crossed my mind to try an 8.5. My feet haven’t been that small since 5th grade.

altra torin 4 review
The teal triangles on the sides are the start of the elastic that snugs the forefoot and holds the tongue in place. Side note: made in China.

Another worrisome aspect is the elastic that holds the tongue in place. It makes for a snug fit– potentially too snug. I used a flashlight to look all the way into the shoe, and the elastic that holds the tongue is part of a lining that then goes all throughout the front. In other words, it’s not a simple band that could be cut if needed. The snug forefoot binder (for lack of a better word coming to mind) is ok in the 9, but I’m quite concerned about it feeling too tight if I sized down to an 8.5

I held the new Torins up to my old Intuitions and Ones. The Torin in size 9 is definitely a tad longer than the Intuition 9 and One 9. But is a tad enough to make me need an 8.5? I kinda feel like I might need the nonexistent 8.75.

First Outdoor Walk

altra torin 4
Late spring flowers, new shoes, and an evening walk.

After wearing the Torin 4 around my house and doing my best to keep them clean for return, I decided to venture outside. They definitely feel a bit too big, especially on my slightly smaller right foot, but I didn’t trip over my underfoot dogs or anything else in my house. I kept saying aloud, “these seem too big, but they’re so comfortable.” I reached down at least seven times to feel the space between my toes and end, and it was more than I’m used to, but the comfort won, and I decided to take them for an outdoor walk to truly test their merits.

After a mostly successful indoor walk, I hit the streets for a real trial. I had to stop five times to adjust the laces, which is strangely difficult with the cord-like laces and flexible eyelets. As my feet naturally swelled from heat and activity, I figured they’d appreciate the extra room of the size 9, but it was not so. My right foot felt like it was working hard not to slide around inside the shoe, and my left one wasn’t much better. I walked 3.75 miles before calling it a day. I started getting a strange, stabbing pain in my right knee, and both my heels were sore. Verdict: the Torin 4, which I very much wanted to love, doesn’t work for me. I’m not even going to try to run in them. It’s a potentially great shoe, but it’s not my shoe.

I’m still a longtime major fan of Altra. One model that doesn’t do right for me won’t change my belief that they’re a great brand that makes great shoes. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will fall in love with the Torin 4. Luckily, the guarantee allows me to return them even though I wore them outdoors. I HATE doing that because it seems unfair to the company and is ecologically unsound, but these shoes just don’t work for my feet. Perhaps a half size smaller would give better results, but I think I’ll move on and try the new Altra Kayenta instead.

A Few Observations about the Torin 4

  • Removable insole, like most running shoes
  • Long laces
  • Flexible midsole
  • Full-length, heavily segmented rubber outsole
  • Soft, partly mesh uppers
  • Cushioned but not as much as previous models
  • Lightweight
  • Runs about a half size large

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