Altra Rivera 3: running fast and comfortable, all at the same time

For the past couple of days, the Altra Rivera 3, an evolution of one of the American company’s flagship models that we particularly liked, are available. We had the opportunity to test in this new version for a few weeks (and a hundred kilometers).

The Rivera 3 echo in form the well-established lines of the U.S. brand, with the wide toebox that allows the toes to have the maximum possible excursion, that Altra calls “footshape” to which we have become accustomed by now and which, having tried many of the Altra, we can undoubtedly define now as the most important feature of the shoes produced by the house with the Stylized A. However, they differ – big time – from the previous model, especially in the inner part of the arch, designed to be even more enveloping and to provide maximum support for the foot. These are shoes that weigh little (about 250 grams for size 42.5), thanks to a midsole thickness that is less pronounced than other models and the mesh of the upper so thin that almost allows a glimpse of the inside. The color scheme we had a chance to try on – light blue with part of the midsole yellow and part white – contributes to an initial impression of lightness, but on field testing (or rather, on asphalt) you immediately change your mind and realize, just by picking them up in your hand, that this is an extremely durable shoe, made to last.

How they fit

I admit, used to the other Altra models, I wore the Rivera 3 thinking I was looking at a simple evolution of the 2. Serious mistake. The Altra Rivera 3 are not just an upgrade of the 2, they are almost an upheaval. Finding the correct placement of this shoe starting from the classic mental schema based on the history of shoes tried on was more complex than usual, because the Rivera 3’s go to mess up a bit all the beliefs-and perhaps preconceptions-that one has when thinking one has tried everything possible of a given brand, and to place them in the proper part of the shoe rack took several runs. This is because, although these are shoes that keep in the width of the toebox the strong point, they are slightly narrower than the previous version and the upper is more wraparound with the Achilles heel spoon brought up higher than before, giving a feeling of full foot fit that on first impressions made me think that the shoe is slightly narrow in the size I usually wear-but it is not. The lace-up closure is firm, and the tongue remains motionless on the instep, even after long runs and stride changes where pressure is put on the lacing system.

How to run with them and who will love them

Even on this point-which is then the most important-the Rivera 3 give some pleasant surprises, starting with what is normally the last of the points tp consider when talking about a running shoe: grip. The tread of the Altra Rivera 3 has the characteristic grooved design that echoes the shape of the toes found-with variations- in all of the American company’s recent models and provides, thanks to the excellent combination of cushioning and support provided by the midsole’s EGO Max foam, the optimum grip in any situation. Rivera 3 are not afraid of rain or dusty roads, but their real vocation is asphalt racing, on which they perform at their best. They closely resemble their Escalante sisters, and we can see them as an evolutionary step, in terms of performance, between what could be had from the earlier version of the Rivera and the Escalante version 3. On the level of cushioning, however, the Rivera were more difficult to classify. They are super comfortable shoes that feel like cushions under your feet, but this feeling is limited to walking, because when you start running the Rivera act almost like stiff, dry shoes, allowing you to feel the ground under your feet down to the smallest cracks and pebbles. Excellent foot restraint, as already anticipated. Lateral movement is very limited, and sliding inside the shoe is virtually absent. The only things that can move are the toes, which have all the space they need on the forefoot.

For all these reasons, they can be considered suitable shoes for those who already run a fair number of times a week and with an established running technique. Not necessarily a very fast runner, but one who does not disdain running at a brisk pace even in double digits.

Rivera 3s are available on the Altra website at this link, and in the best running shoe stores, at a list price of €140.


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