Shoe Review: The Altra Instinct 3.5 (with Video)

I have a long relationship the Altra Instinct running shoes.

My first pair of Altra’s were the Original Instincts, the 1.0s, and I LOVED those shoes!

Altra Instinct 1.0

I Was a “Little” Excited to Get My 2nd Pair of 1.0s

I kept buying them until my size was no longer available, and I still have a pair that only has a few hundred miles of wear that I put on for a short run from time to time.

When I could no longer get my hands on a pair of the originals, I made the move to a newer (at the time) model of my beloved shoe, the Instinct 2.0. And let’s just say that I wasn’t fond of the updates that had been made to the original model.

So now, after a couple of years away from my beloved Instincts and lots of good reports from my fellow Altra Ambassadors, I decided to give the newest iteration a shot.

The Good, the Bad, & the TBD of the Altra Instinct 3.5

The Good

  • Zero Drop: One of the most important features (to me at least) across all of the different models of the Altra lineup is the fact that the shoes are zero drop, meaning the amount of cushion is the same beneath the forefoot as beneath the heal. This is one of the founding principals of the brand, and the Altra Instinct 3.5 is no exception when it comes to drop height.
  • Food Shaped Toe Box: Another important feature that separates Altra footwear from their competitors is the foot shaped toe box, which allows the bones in your feet to spread out (aka splay) every time your foot hits the ground. This helps to improve shock absorption, increase stability, and reduce injuries.
  • Low Profile: While the Altra Instinct 3.5 is a fully cushioned show, it feels like you’re riding low to the ground when you’re wearing it. I love being able to feel the road while I’m running, but the extra layer of cushioning is nice for those long training runs on nothing but concrete or asphalt.
  • Weight: This isn’t the lightest shoe I’ve ever worn (not sure anything will compare favorable in that category to the Altra One 2.5), but this show is far from heavy. You may not think an ounce or two here and there would make a difference, but it does when you’re running for  a few hours. This shoe is light enough that the weight isn’t a factor will still providing the protection and support that I appreciate in a show I’m wearing on a regular basis.

The Bad

  • Colors? Honestly, there’s not much I don’t like about this shoe at this point. I think about the only complaint that I have is that the color options available aren’t exactly my favorites. That said, the only time I’m going to complain about the color options available for a pair of shoes is when I can pretty much find nothing else to complain about. And that is the case here.


  • Durability: My only question about these shoes is one that I won’t fully be able to answer for another 4-5 months: how long they’ll last. My pairs of the original Altra Instincts each logged well over 700 miles before I really felt the need to replace them, and if the Altra Instinct 3.5s come close to that number I’ll be pretty happy. So far, I’ve got less than 200 miles on these kicks and they seem to be holding up really well, so I’m optimistic that they’ll get into the 700 mile stratosphere, but there’s still a long way to go before knowing for sure.

Overall Grade of the Altra Instinct 3.5s?

Solid A.

The Altra Instinct 3.5 Are That Good

The Altra Instinct 3.5s Are That Good

After just one run in these shoes, I knew the Altra Instinct was back to being my favorite model of Altra running shoes.

And if I can manage another 500+ miles of road running on these guys before putting them out to pasture, I’d have no problem upgrading them to a solid A+.

Check back in 3-4 months, and I’ll let you know how they’re holding up!

Have You Tried Any Model of Altra Instincts (or Intuitions for the Ladies)? What are Your Thoughts?

Ever Have a Model of Shoes You LOVED Only to Have New Versions Change Them Enough You Had to Find Another Option?

***Disclosure: As a 2016 Altra Ambassador, I received a FREE Pair of Altra Instinct 3.5s with no obligation of a review, positive or negative. The opinions expressed in this post/video are 100% my own, and were in no way influenced by anyone associated with the Altra brand. Links in this post to the Altra website are Affiliate Links, meaning any purchase you make via the link will pay me a small commission AT NO ADDITIONAL COST to you.***

2 replies
  1. kristin
    kristin says:

    Absolutely loved by Altra 2.0s 100% because of that foot shaped toe box!!!! But the zero drop was a problem for me. Are there any other running shoe companies out there that also have the foot shaped tow box? I really think Altra should add a line with just a little lift!

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      I don’t know. Kind of seems like Altra has built their brand on two things: the foot shaped toe box and the zero drop platform. Adding a heel drop would be so counter to what the company stands for, why would they do it?


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