Altra FWD Experience Review: Its First Low-Drop Running Shoe Is a Beginner-Friendly Option

While there’s certainly extra room in the forefoot, the Altras still fit true to size—I sampled these in my normal running shoe size, a half up from what I wear in a street pair. They were a great fit right off the bat: I had enough room all around my foot so my toes didn’t hit the end and could naturally splay with each step. I didn’t feel any pinching along my little toe, which tends to be a common pain point for me with lots of shoes.

This sneaker has a couple other features that made for an extra-nice fit: a padded heel counter (which also helped keep my foot stable) and tongue, plus some nice, elastic-y laces. I had some trouble achieving a solid lockdown on my first run, so I had to really work at getting a good lace-in going, but I didn’t feel any pressure or hotspots along the top of my foot from tightening.

On the run

I took the Altras on an easy, 40-minute run around my normal hilly neighborhood route, with a quick half-mile diversion on a finely packed trail. I have to admit: Since I’m prone to lower-leg injuries, I was a little worried I’d find a lower-drop shoe uncomfortable. But to my surprise, I didn’t think about it once while I was running.

What I did notice? The shoes felt super light underfoot. I had just finished a half marathon the prior week, and my legs were still weary, so I very much appreciated the sneakers’ weight, as well as the comfy, not-too-soft cushion. The Altras acted like a natural extension of my foot, helping me feel nimble and agile as I took curves and downhills. Overall, it was a really nice, smooth ride.

The majority of my run was at an easy pace, and these felt really good for a recovery run. I threw in a few strides (short distances of quicker speed) at the end to see how they reacted to faster paces, and they rose to the task. There wasn’t a ton of energy return, but still enough so I didn’t feel like I had to fight to keep my pace. I probably wouldn’t wear these during a workout that had short, fast intervals, but I do think they could work for longer, less-intense bursts.

Bottom line

If you have wide feet, especially around the toe box, and would rather keep your shoes more traditional—read: You want some drop—the Altra FWD Experience might be a good choice for your everyday running needs. I found these sneakers to be comfy during my run, and I didn’t experience any kind of aches or pains after. (I’ve run in no-drop before, and my lower legs tend to feel it the next day, so I think low-drop was a nice compromise.)

While this wouldn’t be a sneaker I’d race in, the FWD Experience is a solid option for everyday runs, whether we’re talking about a recovery session or even one that’s a little faster. They also performed well on the finely packed trail—they had a good grip, and my ankles didn’t turn—so I think they can handle some time off the road too. Thanks to their comfy, lightweight feel, I can see myself reaching for them on days when my legs are dragging and I’m looking for some pep in my step.

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