Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Altra Escalante 3: The Best One Yet?
By Contributor Andrea Myers

The Altra Escalante is a popular zero drop, road-running daily trainer thanks to its anatomical toe box, soft and accommodating upper, and lightweight cushioning. The Escalante 2 and 2.5 quickly became my favorite daily trainers as I got back into running a few years ago, but as I increased my mileage, my feet wanted a little more cushion, upper stability, and protection than the shoes provided. With a firmer midsole and more structured upper, the Escalante 3 sounded like an update I would like. I bought a pair at my local running store and was excited to put them to the test. 

Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9oz, 255g (men's size 9), 8oz, 226g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 26mm/26mm
Drop: 0mm
Classification: Zero drop neutral daily trainer


The Altra Escalante 3 is a zero drop, neutral daily trainer that has an anatomical toe box and a soft knit upper. It is a natural feeling shoe with enough stack height to protect the foot from the pavement, without limiting ground feel. There is plenty of room for toe splay in the Escalante 3, but Altra has refined the upper to reduce the sloppy feeling of previous versions. This is a great daily trainer option for runners who prefer a zero drop platform and need plenty of width in the forefoot.


The Escalante 3 fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5. I have a full thumb's width from the front of the shoe to my big toe, and the anatomical toe box provides more than enough room for my forefoot without allowing side to side translation of my foot. The midfoot and heel are normal width and I did not have any pressure points from any part of the shoe. The knit upper has a little more structure than previous version thanks to subtle overlays that run on both sides of the shoe, the Altra logo on the lateral aspect of the shoe, and a tighter knit material over the dorsum of the forefoot. The knit material breathes fairly well, although the upper is on the thicker side. I didn't have any issues with my feet feeling hot, even when running in 80F temperatures. The partially gusseted tongue is made of the same material as the upper, giving it comfortable padding that is not too thick. The laces also run through a loop on the tongue, which helps to hold it securely in place. While I do not run sockless, it would definitely be doable in this shoe due to the soft knit material. There is a small, flexible heel counter at the lower half of the heel. Though the heel here is wider than many shoes, I had no issues with rubbing or slippage when running and I did not need to use a lace lock. The laces are flat, do not stretch, and have sufficient length to secure the foot without any irritation on the dorsum of the foot. Overall, the Escalante 3 is one of the most comfortable, well-fitting shoes I have tested.


I really enjoy running in this shoe. It feels natural and the upper disappears on the foot due to the knit material and anatomical toe box. It is definitely a zero drop shoe, so those who are not accustomed to zero drop should proceed carefully. For runners who are already used to running in zero drop shoes, the Escalante 3 is a nice option. The 26mm stack strikes a nice balance between ground feel and protection. The firmer Altra EGO midsole provides protection and responsiveness that I found missing in previous versions of the Escalante. At easy paces, the Escalante 3 feels natural, lightly cushioned, and non-intrusive. Even after a long workout the day prior, my feet felt comfortable and protected from the pavement. While I would not use the Escalante 3 for intervals due to its weight, I could see this being a marathon pace shoe for some runners who like a more substantial marathon pace shoe. The Escalante Racer is a better option for anything faster due to its slightly lower stack, lower weight, and pared-down upper.

I am very impressed by the improvement in upper stability. There was no medial-lateral translation of my foot in the shoe, even when taking tight turns or running on grass. The outsole has almost full-coverage rubber and I had excellent traction, even on wet roads and grass. I have 40 miles on my pair and the outsole looks nearly new. I would expect greater than average durability out of these shoes.


The Escalante 3 is a truly neutral shoe with no real stability features. That being said, the stability of the upper has greatly improved from previous versions, which did allow quite a bit of medial-lateral foot translation inside the shoe. There is also a small heel bevel and late forefoot rocker, but I was not particularly aware of either feature while running. The outsole and exposed midsole have multiple flex grooves, which may actually make the shoe less stable by allowing the shoe to flex with your natural mechanics.

For runners who do not already run in 0mm drop shoes, please check out Episode 62 of the DOR Podcast for guidance on how to transition safely to zero drop.


The Altra Escalante 3 is one of the most natural feeling shoes that I own. As I was writing this review, I started wondering if my definition of natural was the same as other runners. For me, a natural feeling shoe is one that has minimal features that guide or force motion in a particular direction. This means minimal rockers, toe spring, sole flare, or (gasp) posting. A natural shoe to me is one that protects my feet from whatever is on the ground (rocks, glass, sand, etc.), provides some cushioning to dampen the harshness of the pavement, and has an upper that does not constrict my foot. My preferred foot strike pattern is at the lateral midfoot, so a zero drop shoe will feel comfortable and "natural" to me, whereas most shoes with a drop >8mm feel like the heel gets in the way of my natural landing pattern. For runners with different biomechanics, their definition of a "natural" feeling shoe may also be different. 

How do you define a natural feeling shoe? Send us a message at or comment on our social media pages!


I think the Escalante 3 is the best version yet of the shoe. By improving the stability of the upper and making the midsole a little firmer, Altra has improved on what was already a great shoe. From my perspective, the only thing Altra could do to further improve it would be to refine the upper so it is a little thinner and lighter. Otherwise, I am really pleased with the update and look forward to putting many more miles on the shoe.


The Altra Escalante 3 is a zero drop, mildly cushioned, responsive daily trainer. Runners who appreciate an anatomical toebox will love the fit of the Escalante 3. Those interested in the Escalante 3 need to be acclimated to running on a zero drop platform and have sufficient range of motion and strength to handle the greater demands the shoe places on the calf, ankle, and foot. This is not a shoe for runners with stability needs, as the shoe has minimal stability features. The Escalante 3 is a great daily trainer for those who like the zero drop platform, want a shoe with some ground feel as well as underfoot protection, and do not want or need the motion guidance that rockers or plates provide. 


Fit: A+ (Best fitting Escalante yet due to refined toebox width and upper)
A (Natural ride, improved responsiveness from previous versions)
Stability: B (Neutral, zero drop shoe with minimal stability features; nice improvement in upper stability due to overlays)
DPT/Footwear Science: A+ (Altra Escalante 3 is the flagship for what a natural feeling shoe is for me)
Personal: A (Natural feeling shoe, excellent fit, great for easy runs)
Overall: (Best Escalante yet with refined upper and toe box width and more responsive midsole)


Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men
| Shop Women

*Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!


Skechers Persistence - A beginner friendly shoe for daily training, featuring a forefoot H Plate for pop
Vuori Apparel Review - So soft.
Brooks Glycerin 20 - The latest in the long running maximum cushion series from Brooks is the lightest ever
Nike Alphafly Next% 2 - A wider, more stable base highlights the new update
Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 - New DNA Loft v3 softens the premium stability trainer

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!


Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes purchased at full price. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at

Nike Alphafly Next% 2

Bottom Ad [Post Page]