Comment from: Jeepman [Visitor]
Jeepman

I find this shoe very interesting. It is almost like a hook waiting to pull in a person that normally runs in motion control marshmallow shoes. It’s not really minimalist in my book, but it presents an interesting compromise. It should work well as a transition shoe for a lot of people. I love the toe box. If I didn’t already run in my VFFs full time, I might have considered a shoe like this. Seems like Altra is looking at ways to build its customer base.

05/24/12 @ 17:14
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Jeepman. You're right in that this shoe is definitely not minimalist in today's sense of the definition. However it goes a long way in that direction because of the zero heel-to-toe drop and anatomically correct shape which is great for toe spread. These two factors are, in my opinion, the most important aspects of "minimal" running for these are invariable. The real variables depend on what terrain you run, how much, how far; these decide how much cushioning you may or may not need. Ground feel is a hallmark for the lower mileage runner who runs on non-technical terrain, or for light running days for the higher mileage runner. I don't think it's necessarily an invariable quality that all shoes should have.

05/25/12 @ 08:44
Comment from: JC [Visitor]
JC

These look like they could possibly do well for indoor sports, what do you think?

05/26/12 @ 15:23
Comment from: MaryNeedsSleep [Visitor]
MaryNeedsSleep

My feet thank you for this post - never heard of this company before, but I just ordered 2 of the women's models. I should be able to wear these to work in the hospital, whereas I don't think my FiveFingers would go over well.

05/26/12 @ 22:52
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@JC: I can't see any reason these wouldn't work well for indoor use.

@MaryNeedsSleep: that's great to hear, my wife and I both are very thankful for discovering this company last year; our feet are even more thankful. Even got a pair for my father-in-law who had some foot circulation issues and he loves them!

05/27/12 @ 11:59
Comment from: Gabe [Visitor]
Gabe

Would you say that without the wedge insert, they feel and perform like the Instinct? Because let's face it, the Instincts are not really good looking and I like much more the combination of colors in the Provision. But if they're stiffer than the Instincts, that may not be ideal. To give you an idea, I currently run barefoot or in the Adams but I'm looking for something with enough cushioning to be able to ramp up my mileage and start training for a fall marathon.

Thanks!

05/28/12 @ 21:12
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Gabe: I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I actually really like the looks of the Instinct, especially the black colored pair. But hey, too each their own! Anyhow I can say that the overall feel of the Provision is basically like that of the Instinct w/o the wedge insert. Keep in mind that both the Instinct and Provision will feel much stiffer than the Adams simply because of the addition of cushioned midsole. Still, can't go wrong either way, Instinct or Provision, for a good minimalist-like shoe that would be great for building up to marathon mileage. Good luck!

05/29/12 @ 10:03
Comment from: Gabe [Visitor]
Gabe

Thanks Rob, I didn't really like the looks of the white/silver Instinct but the black ones look much better. Just curious, if you use the wedge insert with the Instinct, do you get a Provision? Or do they behave differently?

Gabe

05/29/12 @ 13:22
Comment from: greg w [Visitor]
greg w

Great review! How does the wedge perform? In general I have a hard time believing in the efficacy of any kind of "motion control," but this does seem a departure from the usual, given its design. Do you think it works? 4mm isn't a whole lot...

05/29/12 @ 14:42
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@greg w and Gabe: I haven't actually tried the wedge insert, really hadn't had the need. I will try them in there soon just to see what they feel like walking around in. I imagine with foot and running mechanics that a little wedge might go a long way so perhaps 4mm is enough? Not sure. However, in the distant past when I actually had custom made orthotics (long story) I remember that beveling the orthotic was something that was done to create a similar wedge effect; however the primary use of the orthotic was as an arch support. These days there are so many good over the counter arch supports that a custom orthotic isn't as necessary unless you have very specific issues; bunions, neuromas, etc...

I'll give the wedge a trial short run and see if I notice any difference. Thanks for the suggestion!

05/29/12 @ 15:00
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]
Steve

I've been running exclusively in Bikilas for 2 years and have run 2 full and many half marathons. Lately, I have been unable to go more than about 16 miles without a burning in my forefeet. I have been trying to find a shoe with a little more padding for long runs. Every time I try a conventional shoe, I just hate it. Do you think the Provisions would be a good choice?

05/29/12 @ 15:24
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Steve: The stack height of the Provision is ~3 times that of the Bikila (7mm -> 20mm) so there will definitely be more underfoot protection and cushioning in the Provision compared to the Bakila. However, as you'd expect the Provision is a little over 3oz heavier (per shoe) than the Bakila so it will feel heavier and a bit stiffer. Nothing will feel quite like a VFF except perhaps the Altra Adam and some of the various midsole-less variety of shoes such as produced by Merrell, New Balance, etc... The Provision is definitely a SHOE and so will be a different experience than a VFF so keep that in mind. Since I've run marathon distance (and beyond) in the Provision I can attest to it being a good choice. But again, it comes down to personal preference. I like the firm midsole, the zero drop and the more than ample toe room of the Provision (or any of the Altra line) as opposed to more conventional shoes. But that's just me.

05/29/12 @ 15:56
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]
Steve

Thanks, Rob. Do you think, then, that the Instinct would be a better choice? My goal is to be able to run the marathon distance (and maybe longer) without foot pain. I tried the NB Minimus Road, but I felt I didn't get much in return for having to wear shoes.

05/29/12 @ 18:00
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]
Rich

Rob, can you speak to how "cushioned" it is? I know it has 20 mm stack height, but is all stack height equal as far as cushioning goes?

05/30/12 @ 08:26
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Steve and Rich: As I explained in my review the cushioning in the Provision (and Instinct for that matter) is, in my opinion, very firm. Don't expect a super cushy, marshmallow like feel like you'd get in other brand shoes with similar stack heights. I for one think having a firm midsole is a good thing if you're a fairly efficient runner. To me, having the firm feel still seems to transmit a *little* bit of ground feel which at least gives you some feedback about your form; something that is lost with too soft a midsole. Also, the firm midsole tends to give you a bit more "spring" than a softer midsole. Then again I don't think a soft midsole is a bad thing either, especially if you're training at a high volume of mileage or planning on ultra distance runs or races. The extra soft ride is great for recovery days. Like I said, both the Instinct and Provision shoes felt great running single distances marathon length and greater (41.2 miles was my longest single distance run in the Provision). So if you had to choose between Instinct and Provision it's really a toss up in my opinion. Go with style preference I suppose.

05/30/12 @ 08:45
Comment from: philip [Member]  

Hey Rob - I wanted to like the Instincts, but one major problem was with the insoles. Unlike most inserts, they don't taper into the sides of the shoe. They are just a flat edged insole which creates a rim or lip that my foot rubs on, and you couldn't take them out because the footbed surface was rubbery/grippy (definitely not meant to be worn without an insole).

It looks like the Provision insoles have the same issue, but did I read your review correctly that the footbed surface under the insoles is different from the Instinct? One of the pictures looks like a black fabric material. Is this aspect improved from the Instinct? Thanks!

05/30/12 @ 13:44
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Phillip: I'm pretty sure the basic construction of the Provision is just like the Instinct, i.e. same insole design and same interior upper design. You are correct in that the shoe is probably not designed/intended to be used without some sort of insert even though the internal liner is very soft and sockless friendly but I guess that doesn't extend to the foodbed! Since I always wear my own orthotic insoles in all my shoes I never tested the shoe with just the provided foam insert. That perhaps was a short coming in my review. However, if this is an reproducible issue I'm sure Altra has already heard about it. You can always let them know through the contact information on their website or through FaceBook, my wife and I have both got pretty decent responses from their Facebook page. Yes, their customer service seems to be still struggling a bit at the moment (read: tough to do returns at the moment) but they say they're working on it. ;)

05/30/12 @ 16:46
Comment from: Paul Joyce [Visitor]
Paul Joyce

Rob, really like your reviews and comments. I have been running in the Instinct for the past year and recently bought the Provision and have done a couple of 20 mile runs in them. In my view, the Instinct and Provision are the best long distance zero drop runners out there. In terms of differences between the two, other than looks, there's not a lot when you take out the stability wedge. The Provision is advertised as slightly heavier and slightly firmer in the mid sole but I couldn't really tell the difference. For me, the Provision seems to be the Instinct MKII. I like the look of both but probably prefer the Provision. In response to Philip's question, the insole of the Provision is more sock less friendly than the Instinct when you take out the removable inserts with the footbed surface being of similar material to the rest of the internal liner. Cheers, Paul

05/30/12 @ 18:10
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Phillip & Paul Joyce: I apologize for my incorrect statement, I can confirm that the inside of the entire Provision is completely foot friendly and uses the soft sock liner even on the footbed. The stitching is very small and nearly invisible. I think they would feel very nice to use without socks if that is your preference. I also agree that truth be told I could not tell much difference in the overall feel between the Instinct and Provision.

05/30/12 @ 22:43
Comment from: Shrub [Visitor]  
Shrub

"Modeled after The Instinct™ platform, The Provision™ adds a firmer midsole and a removable varus stability wedge to assist men with fallen arches, excessive overpronation and knock knees..."

Most barefoot enthusiasts and experts agree that the solution to most of these problems is NOT lack of support, but support itself.

The problem is weak feet and one of the ways to get stronger feet is to go as minimal as possible and start running barefoot style.

So in my mind this shoe is a step backwards. It might be a good transition shoe for those that are starting, but if you think you need more support after going barefoot, the research shows you are going backwards on your foot health. It is oxymoronic.

I am a case test for the concept, as I stopped running in the early 90s because of a multitude of foot and knee problems.

After reading "Born to Run" and "Barefoot Running," I decided to get back in the game about 2 years ago. Started slow, perfected the form necessary and my feet and knees are stronger than ever and I have had ZERO problems since. My miles are piling up.

So this shoe seems like a marketing ploy to bring the barefoot crowd back, or as I have said, it could be good for beginners. But for me it was best to go "all in" and just take it slow with true minimal shoes.

06/01/12 @ 08:33
Comment from: philip [Member]  

Shrub: Altra is certainly not trying to bring barefoot people back to structured supportive shoes. They offer shoes with two of the most important barefoot characteristics in my opinion: (1) wide, flat, foot shaped sole and (2) no heel elevation (zero drop). People can argue about other factors such as weight, sole thickness (stack height), etc., but that's why Altra offers multiple styles with various thicknesses. The Provision without "support" inserts is 15mm thick with a "firmer midsole." That's thicker than true "barefoot" shoes on the market, but not that much thicker than the majority of minimal shoes out there.

The "support" you object to is offered only in the form of removable insoles. In my opinion, that is the best way to market a barefoot shoe. It's designed to be flat with no support, and then for people that think they need it, actually do need it, or don't want to go completely "barefoot," they can put the inserts in as they want. The wedge insert is not meant for barefoot enthusiasts to use. It just offers an option for people who otherwise wouldn't buy a neutral, zerodrop shoe. They also have non-support "strength" inserts (totally flat) just to allow a tiny bit more cushion/thickness if wanted.

Again, this company is certainly not trying to "bring the barefoot crowd back." Here are their shoe thickness (all flat with no "support" inserts): Instinct 19mm, Provision 15mm, Samson 7-10mm (w/wo flat insert), and Adam 4.4-7.4mm (w/wo flat insert).

There's alot of barefoot/minimal customers out there (beginners and enthusiasts) that want a bit more thickness and/or some type of support (arch or wedge). Altra does a good job of giving these options to everyone.

06/01/12 @ 13:23
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Shrub: Thank you for sharing your own running self discovery. As you know all of us are on journeys of our own that take many different routes; we all have different needs, goals and challenges with respect to our running.

With all due respect I don't think there is any ONE way to run; any universal catch all. To make broad sweeping generalizations such as "arch support is bad" is simply disingenuous and untrue. Just as you make your case test I too have made my own, along with many, many other runners I know who've happily run now for many, many years and tens of thousands of miles with arch supports and cushioned shoes and have not suffered mightely. It may be genetics, who knows? The fact that we're all still around running is proof enough to me that there is no ONE way we all SHOULD be running.

Despite what one can read in some of the latest books about the supposed merits of barefoot or shod running I still stand by the fact that for all of us running is a personaly journey of self discovery.

As you say you learned in your own personal journey, running is all about good form. You seemed to discover this truth after struggling in your early years. I wonder how different your running would have been if you'd focused on your form in the early days. I suspect your issues (as were mine) had more to do with my form than what shoes I was wearing; I used to wear the most aweful and inappropriate shoes! To me what you have or don't have on your feet is irellevent if you don't have good form. I also believe the corollary is true, if you have good form you can wear just about whatever shoe you'd like (or no shoes). These are anecdotal "truths" I've discovered in my 20+ years of running.

So no, I disagree that the Altra shoe line is a "marketing ploy". These may not be the shoe for YOU but they definitely fill the niche for folks who want a reduced drop shoe with an anatomically correct last (toe room). If anything the Altra line should serve as an example for how other shoe companies SHOULD be designing their shoes.

Again, thanks for your comments it's good to keep this discussion going. Keep on running! :)

06/01/12 @ 18:52
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]
Matt

Great review, Rob. Can you say a little about the sizing. I wear a 12 in the instincts and am trying to decide between a 12 and 12.5 in the provisions. The length of the 12 feels better (about a thumbs width of space from big toe to tip/toe guard) but the toe box height feels a little shallow, almost like the mesh on top is tenting my toes. The 12.5 feels better in toe box height but is a little bigger all around. I am going to start off using the stability wedge and try to transition out of it, but curious what you felt about the length of your provisions vs. your instincts, or other shoes.

06/14/12 @ 15:55
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Matt: Sorry for the late response. My advice is to go with the same size you're wearing in the Instinct. I wear the same size in both the Instinct and Provision and the feel about the same. My wife on the other hand had to go up a 1/2 size from the Instinct to the Provision due to some trouble with the women's sizing of the Provisioness (female version of the Provision).

06/15/12 @ 08:48
Comment from: Jack [Visitor]
Jack

I have plantar fasciitis and have worn corrective "lifts" in both my running and boots. I cannot run without the "lifts" and am looking for something to ease out of them. Is this type of shoe recommended or is the minimalist support not recommended based upon my condition?

Thanks for your help>

09/28/12 @ 22:03
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@Jack: By "lifts" are you talking about arch support? I know from personal experience that arch supports are often utilized to treat plantar fasciitis. If that's the case then you can definitely use this shoe with your arch supports, I do! Now if are using some sort of lift in the heel to increase the heel-to-drop height then you'll notice a bit difference when going to this shoe as it has zero drop or no difference between the heel and toe stack heights. This could be a large change from whatever shoe you are currently wearing. As always be very cautious as it takes quite a bit of time to adapt to a zero drop shoe. Moderation is the key!

10/01/12 @ 12:41
Comment from: jbwilder0206 [Visitor]
jbwilder0206

@Rob: Would these be good for someone who is healing from shin splints and fractures? Just got the okay to start running again a few weeks ago and am just a little fearful of the wrong shoe.

10/30/12 @ 18:59
Comment from: rob [Member]  

@jbwilder0206: Not sure what to tell you as I'm not a doctor. That being said I'd be very careful with whatever shoe you decide to run in coming back from an injury. FWIW, it seems like shin splints is part of the process that a lot of us went through (at some point) when we started running. If that is the case with you then it really won't matter what type of shoe you wear. My only advice is that if you're unused to running in a zero drop shoe to take it slow and don't try to do too many miles in them at first and possibly rotate their use with other running shoes or at least only run in them every other day. Better to be cautious than over eager. Good luck!

10/31/12 @ 09:29
Comment from: John O [Visitor]
John O

Just got these and like them a lot. I have been running in minimalist shoes for a while now (vff?s, merrell road gloves etc) and wanted something a little beefier with a zero drop. These fit the bill perfectly and feel like a great shoe for longer pavement runs. They do run small. I wear a 10.5, ordered 11 and the 11?s are snug.

09/11/13 @ 14:41