Altra vs Saucony: Which Is Better?

As an avid runner, I understand the importance of finding the right shoe that fits your foot type, running style, and training goals. When it comes to top running shoe brands, two names always come up – Altra and Saucony.

Both offer high-quality shoes but differ in their technologies, features, and target users. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll compare Altra and Saucony running shoes to help you determine which brand is better suited for your needs.

Comparison Table

CategoryAltraSaucony
Founded In20101898
Comfort and FitWide toe box, zero drop platform for natural fitPlush cushioning, good arch support
Color OptionsVibrant and neutral optionsVariety of colorways
DurabilityDurable outsoles, quality materialsGenerally durable, can last many miles
PerformanceNatural running experience, good tractionSupportive, cushioned ride
Design and StyleFoot-shaped designs, clean aestheticsStylish options for running and lifestyle
PopularityGrowing popularity among natural runnersEstablished brand with wide appeal
Best Selling ModelTorin 7Kinvara running shoe

Altra was founded in 2009 by Golden Harper, who set out to create the first “foot-shaped” running shoe after becoming frustrated with uncomfortable conventional shoes.

Golden Harper

Altra’s foot-shaped toe box and zero-drop platform are key features that set them apart. The foot-shaped toe box is designed to allow toes to relax and splay naturally, promoting proper alignment and reducing irritation. The wide toe box accommodates a variety of foot shapes comfortably.

The zero-drop platform places the heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground, promoting low-impact landings and better form. This helps strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs naturally.

Some key technologies used in Altra shoes include:

  • Balanced Cushioning: Provides soft, responsive cushioning tuned for optimal comfort and energy return.
  • FootShape Toe Box: Allows toes to relax and align naturally to enhance stability.
  • ZeroDrop Platform: Designed for low-impact landings and optimal body positioning.
  • InnerFlex Midsole Grid: Enhances flexibility while retaining cushioning.

Altra makes a variety of road and trail running shoes, along with shoes designed for walking, hiking, cross-training, and everyday wear.

The brand has gained a loyal following among trail runners, distance runners, and athletes who prefer the natural foot positioning of their shoes. Altra continues to innovate while staying true to its founding philosophy of foot-shaped comfort.

Saucony Overview

Saucony has been crafting high-quality athletic shoes since 1898 when the brand was founded in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Known for their cushioned and supportive fit, Saucony running shoes are designed to provide versatility for runners of all levels.

They incorporate features like PWRRUN+ midsole foam, FORMFIT uppers, and Everun in the outsole to deliver a smooth, flexible ride.

Saucony offers a wide range of pronation control options like their neutral, stability, and motion control shoes.

Their shoes also accommodate different arch types with models featuring low to high arch support.

While the average price point is around $100, Saucony has options spanning from $55 for basic models to $275 for their top designs.

They have a classic, sleek aesthetic that works for athletic training as well as casual everyday use. Saucony is a brand with broad appeal across the running community.

One of their popular model Kinvara is a light, flexible shoe perfect for tempo runs and racing. For runners seeking a reliable, well-cushioned workhorse of a shoe, Saucony delivers quality and performance.

Major Differences between these Brands

Comfort and Fit

Altra running shoes are renowned for their comfortable wide FootShape toe box that allows the forefoot to relax and toes to spread out naturally. This helps reduce irritation and blisters. Their Zero Drop platform also enhances comfort by keeping feet in a natural flat position.

Saucony shoes also provide excellent comfort through plush cushioning and FORMFIT contoured footbeds. However, they have a more conventional tapered toe box suited for runners with narrower feet.

Durability and Performance

Both Altra and Saucony running shoes are known for their durability and performance capabilities. Altra utilizes long-lasting materials like Vibram Megagrip outsoles to deliver hundreds of miles of use. The Zero Drop design also enhances natural running biomechanics.

Saucony incorporates technologies like PWRRUN foam and TRI-FLEX outsoles for exceptional responsiveness that maintains its bounce over time. Saucony also offers a greater range of stability features through guidance frames and medial posts to control overpronation. So for runners needing extra support, Saucony is the better choice.

Price

The pricing of Altra and Saucony shoes is quite similar, ranging from $100 to $150 for most models. However, Saucony offers greater diversity with options spanning from $60 up to $250. Their high-end performance shoes and limited editions command premium pricing. Altra’s pricing also hits around $200 for some of the Pro model trail running and racing shoes.

Where Altra excels is offering zero drop technology and foot-shaped comfort at an accessible price point. Most runners can find a suitably priced Altra option, while some Saucony shoes like the Endorphin Pro are geared more towards elite runners. Ultimately, both brands offer quality shoes covering a wide spectrum of budgets.

Design and Style

Altra running shoes have a distinctively wide and foot-shaped silhouette featuring a wide toe box and expanded forefoot. The designs embrace the natural contours and dimensions of the human foot. While this results in a characteristic look, some runners feel Altra shoes appear bulky.

Saucony integrates performance technologies into more conventional streamlined designs. They also offer numerous stylish lifestyle shoes that blend athletic performance with fashionable streetwear aesthetics.

Runners who want shoes to make a statement off the running track may prefer Saucony’s flexible styling. However, Altra’s designs reflect the brand’s functional commitments to natural foot positioning.

Popularity

Although Saucony has been around for over 100 years, Altra has quickly gained popularity over the past decade as the minimalist and natural running movements have grown. Saucony still enjoys greater brand awareness and loyalty among longtime runners. Their shoes are common choices at races and among running specialty stores.

However, Altra’s following is rapidly expanding thanks to positive reviews and word-of-mouth about the benefits of zero drop, foot-shaped comfort. Their trail and ultra running shoes especially have a staunch following.

While Saucony caters well to conventional running shoe preferences, Altra captures interest from runners seeking to reinvent their running experience. Both brands make excellent, well-performing shoes in their own right.

Target Market

Altra primarily targets runners seeking a more natural running feel through foot-shaped, zero drop platforms. Their shoes excellently accommodate wide forefeet and high foot volumes. Trail runners and ultramarathoners are also loyal Altra users, since the grippy outsoles and wide toe box provide stability and control on rough terrain.

In contrast, Saucony strongly appeals to runners who want or need cushioning, support, and conventional heel-toe offset running shoes. The brand satisfies runners that value a plush, pillowy underfoot feel and mild-to-moderate pronation control.

However, hardcore minimalists and zero-drop enthusiasts may feel confined in Saucony’s more structured shoes. Ultimately, these two brands service different preferences and running needs through their specialized designs.

Performance Comparison

For Nurses

For nurses and others on their feet all day, Saucony and Altra both offer excellent options for comfort. Altra shoes promote good foot positioning through the zero-drop platform and roomy toe box. This can relieve pain from crammed toes in narrower nursing shoes. The firm cushioning is also supportive for long hours standing and walking.

However, some Saucony walking shoes like the ProGrid Integrity ST2 have features tailor-made for healthcare professionals. The full-grain leather is easy to wipe clean while the forefoot cushioning relieves pressure.

For those needing arch support, many Saucony models also have firm medial posts. Ultimately either brand can equip nurses with comfortable, supportive footwear.

For Walking

Both Altra and Saucony cater well to walkers needing cushioning for mileage. However, Saucony has specific walking shoe lines like the Echelon and Cohesion that offer excellent shock attenuation. Features like breathable mesh uppers, flexible outsoles and PWRFOAM cushioning provide all-day comfort.

For natural walking experience, Altra’s FootPod outsole mirrors foot flexibility and zero-drop platforms maintain natural alignment. The Altra Torin caters to walkers needing cushioned comfort without any corrective elements. Overall Saucony likely offers more options tailored specifically for walking.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, both Altra and Saucony make excellent performance running shoes catering to different needs. Saucony is ideal for runners who prefer conventional shoes with ample cushioning and support. Their extensive stability options also appeal to moderate overpronators.


Altra captures the growing interest in natural running through foot-shaped, zero drop designs. Their shoes allow greater freedom of motion and toe splay while still providing cushioning. Trail runners and minimalists gravitate toward Altra’s low profile platform.

Ultimately, choosing between these two brands depends on your comfort preferences, running needs, and interest in zero drop footwear. Trying on shoes from both lines is recommended to determine which feels best for your individual feet and running style.

While both Altra and Saucony produce high-quality shoes, the ideal choice comes down to personal fit and running priorities. Analyze your needs against the strengths of each brand to pick the best option.

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