Inov-8 and Altra: A Quick and Dirty Comparison
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With the introduction of Inov-8 to Massdrop, several UL members have asked how these compare to Altra. I'm happy to share a few thoughts and photos on the subject to get the conversation started, and I hope that some of you with experience with either brand will add more insight.
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Founded in 2003, Inov-8 is a British company that focused on trail running and ultralight hiking. It quickly became a favorite of BPL members around the world. Generally speaking, the shoes had sufficiently durable outers, great treads, minimal cushioning, and tremendous 'natural' foot flex. The shoe lines come in different heal rise, that allow you to taper from the conventional running shoe 12-15mm to zero-rise or something close.
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Altra was started in 2009 in Utah and is known for their zero-rise heel and super wide toe-box, which is supposed to allow your toes to splay more naturally when you run. The cushioning is usually fairly substantial, soft and light. When I first tried them on, I instantly thought of moon boots from my childhood. Aesthetically, the design is less traditional looking for sure. This shouldn't matter for running or hiking, but the looks could be less ideal for traveling when you don't want to stand out.
I took a few pictures to illustrate the differences. The photos aren't great, and the comparisons maybe aren't the most equal, but they should suffice for our purposes. We have (left to right) Altra Lone Peak NeoShell in Mens 12, Inov-8 X-Talon in Womens 8, and Inov-8 Roclite in Mens 12.5 (all black).
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The Inov-8 shoes are super flexible up front, giving a more natural experience (closer to barefoot than not).
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Applying the same amount of pressure, the Altra shoe is much stiffer due to the propensity of cushioning.
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Again, the Inov-8 is very flexible laterally too.
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And the Altra is laterally stiff.
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I think a quick summary is that Altra shoes are zero-rise, highly cushioned, and have a big toe box. Inov-8 tends to use a more traditional last (ie, 'normal' or 'narrow' toe box), have varying degrees of rise based on model, are lighter and have less padding / more flexibility for a more minimalist shoe.
I'm not trying to persuade anybody one way or the other, but rather start the sharing of information so we all can make the best decision for our own personal uses. For reference, I use Inov-8 shoes for hiking, Altra shoes for daily walking, Scarpa boots for mountaineering, and Vibram Five Fingers for all runs but the rockiest, where I bring out the Inov-8s.
thumb_upDuncan, GNUgixxer, and 26 others
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Hikerlore
6
Feb 7, 2019
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Been using Altra for thru hiking for years now love their shoes. I think it is fair to say Altra has lots of shoes with less cushion. Not sure what the point is other than it seems like this post is comparing apples to oranges, other than saying Altras have zero drop and big toe boxes.
Feb 7, 2019
oreamnos
7
Feb 5, 2019
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Most shoes are not shaped like a foot, are your big and little toes angled in from years of being pushed into a rounded toe box? Don't know if Innos are like Hoka Stinsons that made me choose: cut hole in side for my smashed in pinky toe (first time I got blisters between toes.) Or chop off my pinky toes (hmm, Hokas weren't cheap, toes came free...) Altras say "foot shaped" on the toe box. Why aren't others foot shaped? I think pointy or round toe boxes are crazy (they are for me.) But some people have long big toes, recessed pinkies that work with pointy shoes. Altra Olympus are the most comfortable shoes I've ever had. A little sloppy on technical terrain but still comfortable and I didn't have any ankle roll issues from height. On a technical traverse, had to cut the reinforcement side of ankles for the Hoka. All shoes roll some on traverses, sharp edge dug into ankle, not a prob with Olys.
Feb 5, 2019
Robcollins
0
Jan 27, 2019
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I've used the Roclites for trail running, hiking, and everyday use, and love them. My only complaint is that they all have blown out in the same place, right by the base of my pinkie toes. I have gotten my money's worth out of them, and won't be switching, soles are long-lasting. Have also used Vibram 5 fingers and Merrel Trail Gloves.
Jan 27, 2019
KitCarson61
106
Jun 21, 2018
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Danny, that's fantastic. Been looking for wider toe boxes on my shoes since reconstructive surgery on my feet this last winter. Can't wear regular shoes any more. Even my Oboz Sawtooth wides don't cut it. Found a pair of Merrels (of all things) AllOut Rush shoes that work despite being uglier than hell. Been looking at the Keens, but the Altras look more like what I'm looking for. Sorry, but the Inov-8s just aren't showing the toe box I'm needing these days, but thanks for using the Altras for the comparison.
Jun 21, 2018
EvilDrPhill
1
Aug 18, 2017
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Hiked 1000 ks in the Altra lone peak 2 on Australias Bibbulmun Track and loved the comfort provide by the wide toe box. I'm a full time ski instructor and my feet are normally cramped up inside ski boots and have some funky shapes caused by rubbing on the hard shell of my boots so these were a great change. Only complaint was that on some steep wet granite areas the traction was not as good as I'd expected. Would buy again though and now own 3 pairs both neoshell and regular.
Aug 18, 2017
EvilDrPhill
1
Nov 30, 2018
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Both excellent. My feet dont get super cold, I'm always too hot in Sorrels, even in Banff. The neoshell works great in Australia's wet warm snow too.
Nov 30, 2018
Mike80r
11
Nov 30, 2018
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Ok im sold
Nov 30, 2018
sbronfin
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Aug 11, 2017
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I cannot speak for the performance of Inov-8s for hiking, but I have 3 pairs that performed excellent during trail runs and obstacle course races. I have a wide foot and find them very comfortable. The grips of their shoes are wonderful, in mud, loose rocks and wet rocks.
Aug 11, 2017
Pokey77
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May 26, 2017
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Another great shoe to consider is Topo Athletic. I know MassDrop is not doing drops on them but maybe you could check into that?
May 26, 2017
DannyMilks
4539
May 30, 2017
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I have heard great things about the Topo shoes ever since I read Will Rietveld's review on the Terraventure http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com/2017/04/gear-review-topo-terraventure-trail-shoe.html We'll see what we can do about starting a working relationship with Topo!
May 30, 2017
Pokey77
2
May 30, 2017
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That sounds great! I've looked at Inov-8 shoes a number of times but like the combined feature set of Topo shoes better.
May 30, 2017
gordo1
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May 7, 2017
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Not familiar with Inov-8's, but can speak to the Altra's. Have gone from steadfast stiff hiking shoe aficionado to the Altra's in past 6 mos. Currently own 3 pairs of the lone peak 3's (including 1 low, 1 low neo, 1 mid neo). Have a running battle with Planters Fasciitis and the Lone Peak's have helped considerably. Just finished month on the AT and will be thru hiking Colorado trail this summer in Loan Peak's. Great shoes that meet most all of my criteria to higher degree than any previous shoe.
May 7, 2017
rdaly02
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May 6, 2017
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Danny, great info here. Awesome comparison! Thanks.
May 6, 2017
A community member
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Aug 17, 2016
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Brilliant! Thanks for the info.
Aug 17, 2016
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