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Altra Vanish Tempo: Zero Drop, Non-Plated Performance
By Chief Editor Matthew Klein

Despite its huge following, Altra has taken its time with faster/racing shoes. We reviewed the Escalante Racer many years ago, which despite being a great shoe received little attention. As one of the only zero drop, wide toe box racing shoes, the EGO foam was bouncy and balanced out the lower sole. However, the trends in footwear design left that shoe far behind. Early in 2022, Altra released two racing shoes. The Vanish Tempo and the Vanish Carbon. Providing both a plated and non-plated option, Altra has started doing their homework. Although there is room to grow, those dedicated to zero drop finally have an option if they are looking for a higher stack height, anatomic uptempo shoe.

Price: $189.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 8.2 oz, 232 g (men's size 9), 6.9 oz, 195 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 33mm / 33 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Classification: Zero Drop Performance/Lightweight Trainer


The Altra Vanish Tempo is a zero-drop performance trainer for those wanting a softer and lighter ride with a snug but anatomic. A light, low-volume upper sits up top, providing a slightly slimmer fit compared to other Altra shoes. A soft, taller midsole of Ego Pro sits underfoot, providing a protective and moderately responsive feel. A rockered ride offsets some of the low drop feel but will be best for those wanting zero drop. The Vanish Tempo is an uptempo training and potentially longer race day option for those wanting some speed with a more anatomic design. It fills the unique void of a zero drop, non-plated option for race day.

: Topo Specter


The Altra Vanish Tempo fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is wider than most shoes, but on the snug side for Altra. The midfoot is slightly snug with the internal wrap in the upper. The tongue is thin but has structure. It is not gusseted but is connected to the laces. The heel is slightly snug with a moderate to highly flexible heel counter. There is some heel collar cushioning, but the counter is so flexible I had no issues. Those with heel sensitivities should be fine. The forefoot is wider /anatomic but the flexible mesh upper sits low on the toes. This makes it feel slightly snug while still have space for a little toe splay. The upper mesh material is fairly light and decently secure. I have not had any heel slippage, but have noticed some mild forward sliding with downhills and longer efforts. Although I have not yet done this, I would suggest that most people consider lace-locking this shoe for additional security. While the mesh is comfortable against bare skin, I would suggest using socks with this shoe as the internal midfoot wrap does cause some rubbing. Overall, the upper has a lower volume but anatomic fit that is moderately secure. 


The Altra Vanish Tempo is a performance trainer/workout shoe that features full-length Ego Pro foam. The Ego Pro foam is a TPU-infused foam that feels soft and cushioned underfoot. It is compliant, meaning the foam compresses well underfoot and is moderately responsive. The midsole is moderately stiff and rockered. There is a rounded and beveled heel in the rear and a large forefoot rocker in the front. The zero-drop midsole is noticeable, but the rocker made this more tolerable for me than expected. Those not used to zero drop should still take their time to transition.

The soft foam makes the Vanish Tempo a solid lighter option for daily training. The cushioning is protective and feels great over longer miles. The Ego Pro feels ok at uptempo and tempo efforts but does not respond fast enough for efforts quicker than that. The midsole is not snappy but under the softness has some rebound for moderately paced efforts. This makes it an option for daily training, uptempo long runs, tempo runs and potentially as a longer-distance race shoe for those who do not want a plate.

Like the midsole, the outsole material is also fairly soft. This appears to have reduced the durability as I have already seen significant wear in my normal area (posterior lateral heel) after 30 miles. This shoe is a performance/lightweight trainer, so I already expected a lower number of miles compared to a traditional trainer. However, I expect a below-average number of miles even for a lightweight trainer in this shoe unless you are light on your feet.


The Altra Vanish Tempo is a neutral shoe without any traditional methods of stability. However, it does not feel unstable. There are small sidewalls at the heel/midfoot transition on both sides of the foot. The shape of the shoe is wider, allowing both feet to spread out as well as a wider surface area of contact. Unlike other shoes, the midfoot does not narrow. It is the same relative width as the heel, then widens into the forefoot. This width does contribute to making this shoe feel more stable and is something I frequently recommend. The rocker, especially in the heel, is effective at rolling the foot forward. Outside of those minor features, this is a neutral shoe. 


Although I have some criticisms of this shoe regarding price and versatility in speed, the rounded heel is one of the best designs I have seen. It is curved in a similar shape to the heel more so to the lateral side than the medial side. This creates a smooth heel transition regardless if you land in the center of the heel or the lateral side (it is extremely rare to land on the medial side). I frequently discuss the design of the heel bevel because not only do most distance runners land there (regardless of speed or ability), but the heel rocker is an important biomechanical mechanism for efficiency and forward progression (Gruber et al., 2013; Kasmer et al., 2013; Larson, 2014). The calcaneal bone is the major bone of the rearfoot. It is also the largest bone in the foot and is responsible for tolerating a great deal of the impact during the initial contact phase of both walking and running (if you are a heel striker). The curved shape of the rear portion of the calcaneus is meant to facilitate forward rolling upon landing. This is an efficient mechanism that not only helps maintain forward momentum but also reduces the work required by the anterior shin muscles to control the front of the foot. A less rounded heel reduces this efficiency, creating more work for those muscles (often more than they are ready for in newer runners...), changing the angle of progression and thus reducing efficiency. Given that runners typically do not land on the medial heel, rounding that portion is not necessary. Rounding the rear and lateral portion is, which is done well in the Altra Vanish Tempo.


Gruber, A. H., Umberger, B. R., Braun, B., & Hamill, J. (2013). Economy and rate of carbohydrate oxidation during running with rearfoot and forefoot strike patterns. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)115(2), 194–201.

Kasmer, M. E., Liu, X. C., Roberts, K. G., & Valadao, J. M. (2013). Foot-strike pattern and performance in a marathon. 
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance8(3), 286–292.

Larson, P. (2014). Comparison of foot strike patterns of barefoot and minimally shod runners in a recreational road race. Journal of Sport and Health Science3(2), 137-142.


Despite my weariness and caution using a zero-drop shoe, the Altra Vanish Tempo has been enjoyable. The fit is dialed in with an anatomic shape that isn't sloppy. Despite the pleasantness, it is overpriced. For the cost of this shoe, it is not versatile enough for me to use for anything faster than tempo efforts. While soft and cushioned, the foam is not as responsive as others on the market. For a near $200 price tag in a lightweight training type of shoe, I would expect a better foam like PEBAX or PEBA. The TPU-infused foam is a great first attempt, but for that price, I expected a higher level of responsiveness. I'd be curious to see Altra experiment with PEBA/PEBAX. Right now, this is an expensive, but comfortable performance trainer with below-average durability. Firming up the outsole material may improve the snappiness of the shoe and anything to improve durability will be helpful (especially for $190).


The Altra Vanish Tempo is for those wanting a higher stack shoe with an anatomic toe box for uptempo training. The fit is mostly secure with a lower volume but anatomic upper. Despite the slightly snug midfoot and heel, a lace lock is encouraged. The ride is soft and comfortable, so those wanting a lighter daily trainer will be right at home. For those wanting an incredibly fast zero-drop shoe, this is not it. The soft EgoPro maxes out at tempo paces, so those interested in this shoe may be able to consider it for full marathon distances if they want a non-plated shoe for that. The Altra Vanish Tempo is more of a lightweight trainer and training companion to the Altra Vanish Carbon. 


Fit: B+ (Low volume fit with slightly snug heel/midfoot and anatomic forefoot. Light mesh with a little forward slide)
B+ (Soft and protective cushioning that works for daily training, uptempo and tempo efforts. Difficulty going faster, so will work as a lightweight trainer or lighter long-distance racer for some.)
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Neutral shoe, but filled in midfoot makes for some mild inherent stability)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Well-designed heel bevel, non-narrowed midfoot and anatomic design. The foam is the only thing that needs to be more aggressive to create a faster shoe)
Personal: B+ (Comfortable lighter zero drop trainer. Not a shoe I would use for workouts or races given many other max stack height, low drop options unless I only wanted zero drop. Foam needs to be upgraded to match current price. $160 would be better)
Overall: B+ 


Price: $189.95 at Running Warehouse

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***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase through eBay and were purchased at 75% of their US price. This in no way affected the honesty of this review. 
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.

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