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Altra Provision 8 Review: Easy Going
By Bach Pham

Altra is a company known for their zero drop footwear and wide toe box shoes. These signature elements have been the foundation of their running lineup until the recently released FWD Experience. The Provision is a long running model in their lineup, providing a support option alongside the Paradigm. In this review, we take a look at their latest model and where it sits in the Altra lineup.

Altra Provision 8
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.2 oz, 289 g (men's size 9), 8.27 oz, 234 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 28mm
Drop: 0mm
Classification: Mild Support/Stable Neutral Trainer





RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Altra Provision 8 provides a mix of moderate cushioning (by today's standards) and mild support through geometry and Altra's GuideRail system. The shoe fills mild stability/stable neutral category as its stability elements are fairly gentle. The Provision should work for a large array of runners in that regard. The shoe features a classic Altra fit with a wide toebox for toe splay. This is a solid model for those who want a no-frills, moderately cushioned trainer that is stable without being intrusive.

SIMILAR SHOES: Hoka Arahi, Saucony Guide, Brooks Launch GTS 10

WHERE DOES THE PROVISION FIT IN THE ALTRA LINE-UP?


The Altra Provision is a mild stability trainer that's between the Rivera and Paradigm in terms of stability. It features a stack height of 28mm which sits it on the middle of the Altra spectrum, just ahead of the Escalante (24mm) and right at the Rivera (28mm). The Paradigm has a bit more stack overall at 30mm. 

FIT


The Altra Provision 8 is built on the standard footshape fit for Altra. Altra has three footshapes that it is designed around: the original footshape which is their widest fit (see the Altra VIA Olympus 2), the standard footshape fit as seen here and the slim footshape fit which is seen in the Rivera. I found the shoe to be true-to-size, though a touch wide through the midfoot and heel. The shoe does fit well in the toe box for my feet, which typically does find in a standard fitting shoe like the Saucony Guide 16 or Hoka Arahi 6. There is decent volume as well.

For wide foot runners, I would recommend getting the wide option to get the benefits of toe splay. The midfoot and heel fit a touch loose, though I had no slippage. I did lace lock the shoe for extra security. I'd love to see a more dialed in fit here.

There is actually no heel counter in the shoe, which should suit runners that are sensitive to rigid heel counters. This and the Paradigm are among the very few stability-oriented shoes with no heel counters in the market.




PERFORMANCE

I tested both the Altra Provision 8 and Paradigm 7. I actually found myself preferring the ride of the Provision over the Paradigm. The shoe has a touch more flexibility and a cleaner transition than the Paradigm which I noted to feel a little clunky on the rearfoot. Here with the Provision, I found the transitions to be swift and easy to turn over. It has a bit of a natural feel to it. The model does have what Altra calls innerflex, which is a grid-like design on the outsole which allows for that flexibility. The shoe also has a little bit of bounce to it as well. I found the Provision to be best at easy paces overall. It's a great shoe for soaking up daily training miles. You can just slightly pick up the pace in the shoe, but that is not the real intention of the Provision in my eyes. This is a mileage grinder through and through. The midsole stays the same with Altra's Ego midsole (EVA). It's a fairly simple, middle of the road feeling between soft and firm, and moderately stacked (in theory, but on the lower end in reality compared to most max cushion shoes today). The rearfoot is fairly stiff, but there is a little bit of flex in the mid-to-forefoot. While similar to the Hoka Arahi and Saucony Guide as far as midsole feeling goes, the overall ride differs slightly due to the hint of flexibility in the Provision.

The outsole hasn't shown any wear after 20 miles. It is a smoother outsole design that is less grippy, but does help facilitate that smoother transition discussed earlier. I would take some care on wet roads. The shoe does do well as a walking shoe with its relaxed fit and natural feel underfoot. The bright model I have is quite bold, but they do have some more understated colors for folks who want something a little more nuanced.

STABILITY


While Altra puts the Provision 8 in the stability category, the shoe floats between mild stability and the stable neutral realm. The GuideRails here are mostly tall sidewalls which helps keep the foot centered on the platform, which it does do well. There is a modest amount of sole flare on both sides of the shoe, particularly on the lateral side. This could be a good option for those who tend to run laterally (supinate). There's no other form of stability here that helps with guidance, at least as far as feeling goes.

The generous forefoot width makes running farther forward feel stable. The mid-to-rearfoot is a bit wider than average. There is nothing like a post or firmer density specifically under the medial side that offers resistance. The midsole is a bit denser and stiffer in the back half of the Provision though, which does provide inherent stability and was just enough for my needs. Runners who do have a need for a higher level of stability may want to start with the Paradigm if interested in Altra Running footwear. For neutral runners who want a more stable platform or runners looking to step down their level of stability, this could be one to consider.




Culture Corner: Stability is Becoming More Natural (and Neutral)
By Bach Pham

Having reviewed most of the stability footwear released in 2023, there's no doubt that the majority of stability footwear has moved from a high level stability to a more moderate, if not mild level. When I started at Doctors of Running in late 2020, almost every stability shoe was a posted shoe. Footwear like the Hoka Arahi with its J-Frame and Mizuno Wave Horizon layered midsole design were the shoes out of the norm in the category. Today, the writing on the wall for posted shoes with less than 9 active models we know of offering this form of stability - much of which are last year's models slowly phasing out. Companies have completely shifted to a geometric or guidance based mechanism for stability.

From a brand perspective, it makes total sense to shift this direction as it means more runners are open to the idea of this category of footwear. Posting was a more intrusive design that benefited a smaller (important! but small) percentage of runners. By shifting winds to geometry and guidance, suddenly a larger number of runners who visit their run retail stores have some new, viable options. This particularly stands out for new runners who likely will find some of these to be far more comfortable than posted shoes in the past.

It seems like veteran stability runners seem to also be benefiting from this change. The new generation of stability shoes tend to be a bit lighter than their past counterparts without the dense posting and offer a bit more cushion underfoot. The playing field still has an issue with variety though: the majority of the field features a slightly higher stacked training shoe. The Brooks Hyperion GTS and Saucony Tempus continue to be the only slightly faster stability options. (Newton, please keep updating the Motion+!)

There is still a number of runners we hear from weekly though through Doctors of Running that are lamenting the loss of posted shoes. We definitely still hope to see a range of this level of stability available, because if our inbox is any indication it is still very much desired.





RECOMMENDATIONS

I found the Provision to be a fairly simple, but sturdy trainer. I think the Provision and Paradigm shares some overlap (the main difference being that the midsole is different and implementation of GuideRails more prominent in the Paradigm). I think it would be helpful to have some more clear cut differences between the two. Taking one of the models up to Olympus level of cushioning would be a clear cut direction, helping providing a moderate stack vs. max cushion decision for consumers.

For the Provision itself, I would like to see the midfoot and heel dialed in a little more for security and connectivity to the shoe. I'd also like to see a little more width in the midfoot of the midsole medially to add a bit more stability there. Lastly, I honestly would like to see this model changed - or a new model added - to be a stability counterpart to the AltraFWD Experience, adding some stack and rocker to really facilitate forward motion. I think the lighter GuideRail implementation here would pair well with a rockered design and offer a strong competitor to the Brooks Adrenaline - and a low drop one at that.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The Provision 8 is for runners who want a zero drop, no-frills daily trainer that is more stable than Altra's neutral, sub 30mm stack height lineup (Rivera, Escalante). It's decently priced for a daily trainer in the $140 range and would double fine as a walking shoe due to its relaxed fit. For runners who are looking for a good beginner shoe that's fairly simple and runs natural, this could be a good choice due to its stable nature. I don't think there's a great pairing in the Altra lineup with the Provision that offers both stability and something different to rotate between, but outside of Altra the Brooks Hyperion GTS would be a good workout companion with the shoe. The Brooks Launch GTS 10 would also be an option just to alternate between drops.

The Provision 8 is not a thrill-seeker, but the forefoot width is great and the shoe turns over better than many out there. I can see many, many runners being very pleased with the simplicity of the Provision and how it leaves things to the runner. The more stable nature of the shoe makes it a great entry point for runners to both Altra and running in general.




GRADING

Bach
Fit: B+ (Great forefoot room, but a little bit loose in the mid to rearfoot. A relaxed fit that is comfortable, but not dialed in fully)
Performance:
B+ (The Provision is very middle of the road in every way, but will suit many runners who are looking for a no-frills daily trainer)
Stability: B (A- as a stable neutral option) (No high level technology around stability. Some basic elements that help make the shoe feel relatively stable, but in terms of the shoe versus its peers, it's kind of middle of the road.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B- (There's a lack of major excitement in the shoe, which again might be perfectly fine for lots of runners)
Personal: B/B+ (A nice forefoot fit along with easy going ride makes this a really solid training option for the price point)
Overall: B/B+


SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Altra Provision 8
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men | Shop Women

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FURTHER READING

Altra Paradigm 7 - Altra's unique zero drop, guidance-based stability shoe
Asics GT-1000 11 - The most affordable stability shoe in the market
ASICS GT-2000 12 - A new 3D guidance system provides cushioned, modern stability
Asics Kayano 30 - Big changes bring Kayano into the future, creating a geometric stability option
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 - The long running stability trainer stays true with small changes
Brooks Beast GTS 23 - The highest level stability shoe in the market today
Brooks Hyperion GTS - All-new, lightweight stability offering using guidance
Brooks Launch GTS 10 - An excellent low profile, mild guidance shoe
Hoka Gaviota 5 - Hoka moves to a new H-Frame stability that universalizes the Gaviota
Mizuno Wave Inspire 19 - The redesign for the guidance-based stability trainer is an early 2023 favorite
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 - Big changes to this stability trainer
Nike Structure 25 - A mild stability trainer for those who want a traditional ride
On Cloudflyer 4 - An update to the mild stability trainer (a really solid walking shoe)
Salomon DRX Bliss - A new guidance based trainer for the roads
Saucony Guide 16 - A much-improved upper and soft insole highlight this stability shoe update

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Altra for sending us a pair.  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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Altra Paradigm 7

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