Comment from: Kim [Visitor]

Thanks for the review. I really want to like these. Loved the fit, but it ended there: too stiff and clunky feeling. Didn't even take them for a run. I could just tell they wouldn't work. I returned them.

10/09/12 @ 12:09
Comment from: Boricua [Visitor]

Thanks for the review. I have the original Instincts, and they are far and away the most comfortable minimalist shoes I've tried. The Cadence, Minimus and Kinvaras are too narrow for me. The width in the Altras is great...even better than in the Trail Gloves. I've also run with Vivos, and, although I like those, I prefer the Altras. They feel more "shooey", but also much better made. I've been training for a marathon with Mizunos, but I think that, once the marathon is over, I'll be trying to use the Altras as my sole shoe. They're my favorite running shoe. Period.

10/09/12 @ 12:25
Comment from: Kyle [Visitor]

Why don't you just review a pair of Hokas next?

Sorry, while there is no distinct definition of what a minimal shoe is, these definitely are not.

10/09/12 @ 12:51
Comment from: Brantley [Visitor]

Thanks for the review! I've been running in the Instincts for about 4 months now, with some pretty high mileage. I have pretty wide feet (EEEE) and usually have to go way up on size to get a width that's good enough. The Instincts were great and looking forward to a pair of the 1.5's.

I primarily bought them for trail running, was training for the Pinhoti. I wanted a zero drop shoe that had something underneath to keep my feet from being so beaten up by roots and rocks. These were perfect for that! I haven't noticed any slipping or sliding really as long as I kept my feet under me (proper form anyways) and was careful going down something super steep if wet/muddy.

While the other people may bash these aren't minimalist shoes, they are significantly less than most trail shoes, at least all that have any protection. For a heavier runner going long on trails, these have been the only option I've found that works.

10/09/12 @ 13:34
Comment from: [Member]

@Kim: Sorry they didn't work out for you. I agree that I wish the Altra line were a bit less stiff. I really loved them until I started running in more flexible shoes. Still like them to wear around though.

@Kyle: Kind of ironic that you mention Hokas. I'm actually a big fan of them for training for and racing ultra distance events, wouldn't even consider running longer than 50km in any other shoe right now! :) I doubt any Hoka review I did for this site would be taken seriously. Oh well!

FWIW, I think "ground feel" get's too much emphasis among minimalist parlance. In my opinion the most important aspects of a shoe (note: I'm not saying "minimalist") is that it doesn't have a lot of heel-to-toe drop, has adequate toe room for proper toe splay and is fairly neutral, low profile and light weight and somewhat flexible. I think that makes a "healthy" shoe that just about anybody can use. Now the real sticking point comes down to shoe flexibility and amount of underfoot cushioning. Depending on your running terrain, amount of miles you put in etc... you MIGHT get away with little or no midsole. But that's not the rule in my view. I think as long as you have a healthy shoe the amount of cushioning you prefer is entirely personal; ground feel isn't as big a deal as some make it out to be. That being said there are some training runs where I like to feel the ground. I get it, it's fun. But there are also plenty of times when I want to run fast over rough terrain and I can't do that if my feet are properly protected. Time an place for everything; shoes are tools! Choose the right tool for the job!

@Brantley: Totally agree. You need more underfoot protection when your running on roots and rocks and the Altras definitely help with that. What is "minimal" anyways? Altras are DEFINITELY much more reduced and healthier by far than your run of the mill, high drop, high cushion and supportive shoes on the market. No question.

10/09/12 @ 14:12
Comment from: [Member]

Kyle - I agree that these are definitely skirting the border of minimal shoe. Zero drop and foot shaped are definitely characteristics of minimal/barefoot shoes, but being zero drop does not automatically put you in the minimal category. In my opinion, these barely squeak in if only because of their other models (Adam and Samson).

For those that don't know. Hokas are running shoes with a 40 mm thick sole, 13 cm rocker profile (toe spring), and a sole so soft it compresses up to 20 mm on heel strike.

10/09/12 @ 14:15
Comment from: Hap [Visitor]

Is the toe box wide enough and its material strong enough for regular use of CorrectToes?

10/09/12 @ 14:18
Comment from: Phillip Gonzalez [Visitor]
Phillip Gonzalez

These shoe's do not belong on this website. Why waste your time reviewing them. 24mm stack height, yeah thats birthday shoes.

10/09/12 @ 14:22
Comment from: [Member]

@Kyle: I think we must ask what the goal of a minimalist shoe is? Is it not to aid the runner to run most efficiently and with "correct" form? If so then the aspects of the shoe that MOST help are that the shoe should have low or no heel-to-toe drop. With low drop it makes it much easier to run mid-fore foot. I personally feel that the thickness of the shoe is relevant for the most part as long as it doesn't hinder you from running with good form. I'll admit that having adequate ground feel IS IMPORTANT for those learning to run more efficiently. I remember doing barefoot strides in the grass after all our XC runs back in high school and college. It was those sessions that taught us good form. The nice thing is once you learn good form you can really run in just about any shoe you want!

Re: Hokas. Not all the models are 40mm thick and actually all of them have low heel-to-toe drop 4-6mm and they really don't force you to heel strike at all. Trust me I've run a good couple thousand miles in my several pair and it's all midfoot wear.

@Hap: I'd imagine the CorrectToes would work especially in the new 1.5s as the uppers seem to be a bit better constructed; tougher.

10/09/12 @ 14:27
Comment from: [Member]

@Phillip Gonzalez: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Thanks. I think all too often people loose site of the forest for the trees; they forget what the purpose of a website like Birthdayshoes is. In my view the goal (or a goal) is to promote healthy running by introducing folks to different types of shoes (or non-shoes) who share the same goal. Altras are featured on this site because, with all due respect, the success stores coming out from folks who are using them (myself included) have been wildly successful. I don't understand the obsession with "stack height"?

10/09/12 @ 14:42
Comment from: [Member]

Rob: I think people often don't realize the full spectrum of minimal shoes that people want, reflected by the constant "what defines minimal" arguments. While this website is certainly named for barefoot shoes and many of the sites readers are no doubt fans of the most minimal of shoes, there are many others that can't/don't want to wear only shoes that are <8mm thick.

I appreciate the comments and opinions that certain shoes aren't minimal enough for some people. But I would hope everyone would realize that there are many who only enjoy "barefoot" shoes part time. This group wants less barefoot styles (flat and wide but thicker soled). And also realize that this group still vastly outnumbers the hardcore minimalists/barefooters. In my opinion, the Altra's are perfectly suited for this site because of the nature of the entire brand. They have a range of models that span the minimal spectrum (more barefoot to less minimal).

While this site primarily reflects a barefoot attitude, I think it strikes a good balance in the range of footwear reviewed as well as the various perspectives of the reviewers. There are many readers here with different definitions of minimal and who appreciate many different styles of shoe. I hope everyone can recognize the diversity of birthdayshoe fans, even if there's a shoe you don't particularly like.

10/09/12 @ 15:19
Comment from: Kyle [Visitor]

@Rob - Since I brought up Hokas ;) I agree that the most important characteristics of a shoe are allowing for proper foot and running form. Hokas are great, they allow good gait while having a huge amount of protection for fast rocky descents, which is what they are built for. These Altras are a step down. Skora calls their shoes "Real Running Shoes" and I think that is a great term. These Altras fit right into that category (as do Hokas). While not ultra minimalist, they still allow toe splay, and a midfoot landing. As you said, your Hokas all have wear right in the midfoot.

10/09/12 @ 15:23
Comment from: [Member]

@Phillip: Eloquently stated. Thanks so much. We all must realize that there are many paths towards the same goal: healthy running. What works for you may not always work in all situations and all times; we all change. Like I stated earlier: shoes are tools, choose the right tool for the job. And "right tool" is a highly personal decision we must all make. The beauty of a website like this is that there is a huge spectrum of shoes presented that gives newer and older runners alike many options to choose from as they explore and journey towards they're own definition of "minimalism".

10/09/12 @ 15:29
Comment from: EdH [Visitor]

I ordered a pair about 2 weeks ago. They are on backorder. Feedback I got was sales are far outstripping demand, so I may have to wait another 2-3 weeks.

I got them to try on longer runs - 20mi plus. I love my Luna sandals, but want to see what a bit of cushioning does for my feet after those distances, and zero drop is a must!

10/09/12 @ 16:22
Comment from: Jeepman [Visitor]


I enjoyed reading this review just like your others. Keep up the good work! I do like my shoes a little more minimalist, but understand the importance of having different levels of minimalist shoes. Each model has its person, and its place. I love my Bikilas, but if I'm going much longer than 10K I normally turn for my New Balance 730. Different strokes for different folks! I only have one problem with this review - WHERE'S THE FROG WALLPAPER????

10/09/12 @ 18:00
Comment from: jon [Visitor]

i love you!
thanks for all these cool and original reviews!

10/10/12 @ 05:35
Comment from: [Member]

@Jeepman: Thanks for the feedback. Don't be alarmed, the frog wallpaper is still in the bathroom. I just thought I'd do something different this time around as I actually had time to take photos in the daylight! Imagine that! Didn't realize how popular that frog wallpaper was! :)

10/10/12 @ 08:47
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

Thanks for the review. I think there is room for a range of shoe options on this site and in our closets. Something like this might work well for me, as I've found I do better with more cushioning than the really minimal options offer.

10/10/12 @ 15:15
Comment from: Jeepman [Visitor]


I Googled "frog trellis wallpaper" and now I'm the proud owner of 3 rolls. Going into the kid's bathroom for sure! :0)

10/12/12 @ 20:17
Comment from: Zac [Visitor]  

So I have the 1.5s, and had the original instincts previously. I tried on a LOT of shoes after wearing out the originals, but before the 1.5s were released, and simply couldn't find any that fit as well--and that includes the Altra Samson's, which I hated! Anyway, here's some unsolicited advice.

First, I'm actually on my second pair of 1.5s; I had to return the first pair for what I took to be a defect (although it exists in the replacement pair, though to a lesser extent). Basically, inside the toe box it feels like there is extra material that formed a ripple, and this ripple sticks out so much that it causes constant rubbing. It was worse in the first pair, and while its not as bad in the second it it still noticeable. I wouldn't be able to wear them without socks. I'm guessing this is the result of my next point...

They have definitely narrowed the toe box from the originals. The 1.5s fit my wideass feet snugly, where I had room in the originals (from the start). It's enough that if I hadn't already returned them once I'd probably consider sizing up a half size from my originals. It's annoying when companies vary their sizing like this; it's a large part of why I couldn't wear the Samsons.

I also don't understand why they insist on a fully rubberized outsole. The shoe is already moderately heavy; they could switch to EVA on the mid foot and not lose a thing except weight. They way the little pods on the bottom are designed would seem to lend itself to this especially well. But as is, they are made unnecessarily bulky IMO. The Superior seems to have potential, so we'll have to see!

10/12/12 @ 23:24
Comment from: fred [Visitor]

I'm tired of hearing that there is no official definition of what a minimalist shoe is. There are a few definitions out there so lets start using them so that they become OFFICIAL!

Here is one:

Definition of Minimalist Shoe
1 – Thin Flexible Sole: A minimalist / barefoot shoe should have a sole that is anywhere from 2 mm to 8 mm in thickness—nothing more. It should be flexible enough that it can be folded in half, bent along its length, or almost rolled up.
2 – Zero Rise: The rise of the shoe is the measurement of the difference between the height of the heel to the height of the toes. A true minimalist / barefoot shoe should have no difference between these two points, thus a zero rise. Even a very small rise is in our eyes not a minimalist shoe.
3 – Anatomical Shape: The shoe should allow your foot to rest within it without being constricted in any way. In other words, it should be shaped like your foot. If your toes are being squished, or you feel pressure along your foot at any point, it’s not an anatomical shoe, or it’s just not the right shoe for you. The shoe should also be wide enough for your toes to splay naturally as you walk. The shoe should feel securely attached but not constrictive in any way. Look at the bottom of the shoe to see the overall shape of the last. Place your foot along the outside of the bottom of the shoe and compare it to your foot. It will be immediately clear if the shoe is shaped like your foot.
4 – No Support: No minimalist or barefoot shoe should have support. The insole, if there is one, should be absolutely flat and offer no additional support to the arches (you have three) of your feet. The insole should also be removable. A removable insole will allow you to control whether you want a little bit of impact resistance or a more pure transmission of the ground textures.
5 – No Shock Absorption: A minimalist shoe should allow your feet to feel the contours of the ground as much as possible, and they should also allow your feet to feel the true impact of each stride. This promotes correct form by providing important feedback to your feet. A very small amount of cushioned insole may be appropriate to provide a little additional comfort, but the insole should not prevent you from feeling the ground under foot or the impact of your movements.
6 – Lightweight : A minimalist shoe should be lightweight almost allowing the user to think he/she barefoot. On average anywhere from <300g to 500g per pair for shoes and up to 700g for boots.

Anything not within that definition is either a transition shoe or a normal shoe. Vivobarefoot calls minimalist shoes barefoot and transition shoes minimalist which I think is just plain confusing!

So this altra is a transition shoe. Personally I use minimalist shoes for most stuff except warm weather hiking where I go barefoot and mountainbiking where I use "normal" Vans. I'm looking for shoe like this altra (with a more beefy upper) so I can use while mountainbiking. Great review!

10/23/12 @ 13:55
Comment from: [Member]

@fred -- so what are some examples of minimalist shoes per your interpretation of your definition?

10/23/12 @ 14:08
Comment from: fred [Visitor]

Examples of minimalist shoes:
All VFFs, all vivobarefoot shoes, LEM, the more minimal merrell shoes eg trail and road glove, xeroshoes, feelmax and new inov 8 barefoot line.
The current Skora and New Balance shoes I'd classify as transition shoes as they are thicker than 8mm (thus having limited ground feel) though they are on the right track.
I'd also classify anything than isn't zero drop as a transition shoes EVEN if the stack height is lower than 8mm.

I personally own:
-VFF Treksport for trail running
-Invisible shoes connect for summer general use
-Vivobarefoot Offroad high for winter (I live in the French alpes)
-Stems (I have a pair of the original) for casual use
-Patagonia mocs for work/casual use
-Some imitation softstars from INTERSPORT (1mm leather sole) for indoor work
and of course I barefoot hike in summer and barefoot run on tarmac or non rocky terrain (I run 20-25km).

PS: Love your site with you're in depth reviews and especially love the fact that you talk about minimalist shoes outside the barefoot/minimalist setting eg. everyday wear.

10/25/12 @ 06:10
Comment from: Nick Arthur [Visitor]
Nick Arthur

I have to agree, the GO Series range of shoes have such phenomenal cushioning that I simply can't put on the other more 'stiffer' running shoe brands that I have these days. Nice review on the Instinct 1.5 though.

10/25/12 @ 10:56
Comment from: gary [Visitor]

Am I the only one that finds these shoes louder than others? I mean when your feet land it has a louder slapping sound than other shoes?

I run in NB minimus and NB 730s quietly.

Does the sound lessen once they're broken in? I've only run in them once so far.

I do like them. They're comfortable and have a nice wide toebox, which my triangular feet need.

10/26/12 @ 09:31
Comment from: [Member]

@gary: I agree but it's not this shoe that is loud. I've found that ANY shoe that is relatively stiff also has this issue; also depends on your running form. The shoes you've listed as being quiet (NB Minimus and NB 730) are quieter because they are more flexible. Unfortunately the Altra shoes I've run in don't get quieter over time unless you really focus on your form. Typically I don't really notice until I've run a lot of miles in them in a long run or race and my form starts to deteriorate.

10/31/12 @ 09:32
Comment from: James [Visitor]  

Thanks for the great review!
I'm considering the Altra Instinct 1.5s as my next shoe. I bought my first pair of Merrell Trail Gloves at the end of 2011 and fell in love. The wide toe box fits my foot perfectly and over the winter I built up to running all of my runs in them. I had an amazing race season but broke my 4th metatarsal during my Ironman in August and have been in recovery mode ever since. I won't be able to start running for another two weeks and I'm nervous to go back to the Merrells which is why I'm considering the Altras. Am I going in the right direction here? I don't want to risk this type of injury again.

11/02/12 @ 20:36
Comment from: César [Visitor]  

I bought the Kinvara 2s for a marathon intent, but I injured myself running in Five Fingers, and I mean I love the five fingers, but, problem is sometimes protection is desired (which lacked in the moment I hit a hidden brick full on).

I love the kinvara´s they are light, and cushioned for longer distances, BUT... they cramp my fingers. The toe box is to long and pointy but narrow... and if I wear socks I can feel my smaller toe cramped in the Kinvaras (problem that they didn´t fix in the new 3 version). I love the Nike FreeRuns, but they are even narrower than the Kinvaras.

So the Instinct 1.5 might be a good choice for longer distances (25K up) and or perhaps the Inov8s and have enough space for the toes. I will have to overcome the looks of the Altra Instinct 1.5 , they look to me like those kind of shoe for old people that are sold since a couple of years ago... with huge rounded soles

ANyone has experience on the Instinct 1.5 for long distances?

11/27/12 @ 18:18
Comment from: [Member]

@Cesar: A guy who wears goofy looking Five Fingers is commenting on the looks of the Altras! ;) Seriously though, if what you want is more toe room and a shoe capable of going long distance the Altra Instinct may be a good choice; especially if you already like the Kinvara for the most part. I've personally run marathon distance up to a 41.2 mile race on the road and over 100km on the trails in Altra shoes so YES they are great for long distances. After all they are designed by long distance and ultra runners!

11/28/12 @ 09:14
Comment from: Ugo [Visitor]  

Thanks for the great review. I want to buy this new version because i have the silver and the black one and like this shoe a lot. The only down for me is the weight and it's too bad that the new version has the same than the old one. Maybe their next shoes coming in a few months...

I agree that everyone is different and the shoes are tools so we need different shoes for every situation...for casual wear, i like to have barefoot shoes like Vivo Oak but for work, i need more cushion.

I am a letter carrier in Quebec, Canada so i walk all day long and the instinct is the best shoe i have found. I have try so many shoes and i have wide feet so the instinct is perfect for me as a zero drop long distance walking shoe.

The toe box is just perfect, i know that it looks goofy but my comfort is more important and the 1.5 looks way much better in my opinion...too bad that they have narrowed the toe box a little bit but it should be better than any other normal shoes anyway! The only other shoes that has a big toe box that i like are the Vivo Oak and Stem or Leming or Lems shoes.

For the Go line of Skechers, i bought the Go Bionic and i really like the overall fit and the weight but it's way more tight and more narrow than the instinct. It's more like a glove and the feeling when i walk is more bumpy under the arch or the heel, i don't know? I'm use to the wide flat outsole of the instinct so it's different...i realle like how flexible the outsole of the Go Bionic is but i can't wear those shoes here in Canada in winter because of the holes in the outsole, too bad...

Thanks for the different reviews, i really enjoy reading you and Justin.

12/18/12 @ 18:05
Comment from: Jimmy [Visitor]

As a recent convert to the midfoot strike and minimalist shoes, and as an owner of both the original Instincts and the 1.5s, I'd say the review is spot on (as are some of the comments about clunkiness). I bought the originals because i wanted a shoe with no arch, zero or near zero drop, good width and firm cushioning for longer runs, as my body adjusted to my Vivos. The 1.5 is the better shoe and over a few hundred miles is worth the extra cash. And yes, compared to water socks, they're clunky. (In fact, on my "quick" runs I leave them at home.) But I didn't get them to win races. I got them to protect my feet and legs on long runs as I build my strength and endurance. For such training, they excel.

12/26/12 @ 22:50
Comment from: Peter [Visitor]

I found the upper of the 1.5 to be much less breathable than version 1.

04/27/14 @ 09:52

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