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Altra Rivera 4 Review: An Altra Shoe for the Narrow Footed Runner
By Andrea Myers & David Salas

The Altra Rivera 4 is a neutral daily usage shoe aimed at giving the user versatility to wear it how they want to. The goal for the shoe is to have the ability to be used from daily walking upwards of daily running and even speedwork. The Rivera series is a mild-to-moderate cushioned neutral shoe that gives you a very natural feel underfoot. 

Altra Rivera 4
Price: $130 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10oz, 283g (men's size 9), 7.9oz, 223g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 28mm heel/28mm forefoot
Shoe Purpose: Zero drop neutral daily trainer

Pros: Comfortable for multi purpose outside of running
Cons: High muscular demands may deter some from using it for running


The Altra Rivera 4 is a moderately cushioned, neutral, zero drop daily trainer. It features Altra's Slim Footshape fit, which will make it work for runners with narrow feet who find Altra's Standard Footshape fit too wide. The best word to describe the feel of the Rivera 4 is balanced: the cushioning isn't too soft or firm, the forefoot has some flexibility without being a barefoot style shoe, and the 28mm stack provides some ground feel without being harsh. The Rivera 4 is a pleasantly simple shoe that gets out of your way and just lets you run.

: Topo Magnifly 5
PAST MODEL: Altra Rivera 3

(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

David: The Altra Rivera 4 fits true to size in my men's 9.5, though relatively snug throughout. The length feels spot on and the width feels good throughout as well. The Altra Rivera 4 does use the Slim Footshape last and gives off a more snug feeling throughout the shoe. The engineered mesh has good comfort for both running and all day wear. The tongue is very padded and allows you to lock the laces down without much biting. I will say the volume is very noticeable though. The shoe feels snug along the lacing system and really does not require much cinching down. The laces are also abnormally long relative to the rest of the shoe dimensions. The heel, midfoot, and forefoot feel normal width thanks to the slimmer footshape. The heel security does have an update in this model which feels nice. There is an added heel counter that is padded well and integrates well with a sidewall in the midsole both medially and laterally through the rearfoot. I am happy with the upper, but I do feel the volume could be a tad more forgiving. It feels a little track spike on how snug it is on the laces, but everything else is quite comfortable. 

David's Typical Size: Men's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit David well: Nike Vomero 17, Saucony Ride 16, Puma Velocity Nitro 3

Shoes that have fit snug: HOKA Arahi 7
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon Aero Glide

Andrea: The Altra Rivera 4 fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5. I had sufficient length in the shoe, and while the Slim Footshape fit does not provide nearly as much room as the Standard found in the Escalante 3 or the Original in the Via Olympus 2, I did not experience any irritation or pressure at my 1st or 5th MTPs. The upper is definitely lower volume than the above mentioned shoes, but I found the fit comfortable and secure. The engineered mesh upper has some structure to it, which keeps it away from the dorsum of my forefoot. The upper also has a mild amount of stretch, providing a small amount of give to the otherwise lower volume fit. The midfoot and rearfoot are normal width and I had no issues achieving sufficient lockdown. The moderately padded tongue is not gusseted, but has a lace loop that is effective at holding the tongue in place. There is a semi-rigid heel counter in the lower 1/2 of the heel, and the collar has a moderate amount of dense padding that felt comfortable and non-irritating. I am normally able to wear normal thickness socks with Altra shoes, but due to the lower volume of the Rivera 4, I am only comfortable wearing thin socks with it.

Andrea's Typical Size: Women's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit Andrea well: New Balance Beacon v3, Brooks Hyperion Max, Topo Cyclone 2, Nike Vaporfly 3, Altra Via Olympus 2
Shoes that have fit snug: Saucony Kinvara 14 (length and toe box width), Altra FWD Experience (length and width), Hoka Cielo Road (toe box width), Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro 1-3 (length)
Shoes that have fit large: Adidas Boston 12 (length), Adidas Adios 8 (length)

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: Yes
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: Yes
Is the Forefoot Flexible: Yes
How Flexible is the Shoe: Moderate
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Yes
Recommended for Haglunds: Yes
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Average


The Altra Rivera 4 is intended to be a shoe with large versatility in intensity. The shoe is supposed to be able feel good at walking speeds upwards of even speedwork. I will say the shoe delivers on most fronts. Starting with walking, this has become an incredible comfortable standing, walking, activity of daily living shoe. The flat platform, decent cushioning, and flexible design really does give you a nice natural extension of your foot. This has become one of my go to shoes in the clinic. I could easily see this being on someone's foot for daily walks or active lifestyle wear.

Moving onto running... this shoe still performed pretty well. The cushioning feels correct at that 28mm stack height. The shoe has a flatter geometry and a relatively flexible design to it through the forefoot. This shoe does let you run how you like to run naturally. With that said, the shoe does require larger ranges of motion through your ankle, knee, and hips, as well as calf usage. Those that are sensitive to these kind of designs will need a break in period. For me, the shoe feels very similar to an "old school" racing flat with a bit more cushion underfoot and a more trainer-friendly upper. I do think someone could use this as a daily trainer if they are built up to it. Being at 10 ounces I do struggle to see this as a speedwork shoe. The flat geometry and flexible design does feel good when doing strides, though I am not sure I can really see myself cranking out full repeats or tempo runs in these. It's possible, but I feel this shoe shines more in the daily training and/or daily usage side of things. 

Andrea: The Altra Rivera 4 is a neutral, zero drop trainer that nearly disappears on foot. The 28mm Altra EGO midsole provides sufficient underfoot protection without sacrificing ground feel or feeling soft. Despite having 4mm more stack than the Escalante 3, I find the Escalante 3 to feel softer than the Rivera 4. On my first run in the Rivera 4, I appreciated how much I didn't notice the shoe, and was able to just run. While I was initially concerned with the narrower toe box after disliking the fit of the FWD Experience, I was pleased to find that I had no irritation at my MTPs or the dorsum of my foot from the lower volume. The shoe feels like a zero drop shoe, but it is certainly more protective due to its moderate stack height and forefoot flexibility. There are multiple flex grooves in the midfoot and forefoot that balance out the firmer midsole and later forefoot rocker. The zero drop also makes midfoot landings feel natural. The wider forefoot platform provides a mild amount of stability for lateral midfoot landings. 

I used the Rivera for a number of easy runs and found the ride to be consistent and comfortable. I would not use the Rivera for workouts due to its weight, but I certainly could see some runners using this as a daily trainer and workout shoe. This shoe reminds me a lot of a beefed up Altra Escalante Racer, which at one time was my go-to workout shoe. I think the Rivera 4 could be a nice daily trainer partner to the Escalante Racer. We have had a lot of rain here in CT, so I was able to test the Rivera on several wet runs. The outsole provides decent traction thanks to the extensive rubber coverage in the forefoot. I would expect average durability from the shoe based on previous experience with Altra EGO foam.


David:  The Altra Rivera 4 is definitely not a stability shoe. The lower profile design does give you a more grounded experience, but this does have a very natural feeling flexible design underfoot. The midsole does have a small sidewall in the medial and lateral rearfoot, but other than that this is a very neutral shoe throughout. The heel counter mixed with the snug fit and sidewall does give a decent heel hold though. In a lot of ways this feels like a slightly more padded "old school" racing flat.  

Andrea: The Altra Rivera 4 is a neutral, zero drop trainer. There are no traditional means of stability and minimal guidance features. There are moderate medial and lateral sidewalls in the midfoot that do a good job of centering the foot in the shoe. The upper does an excellent job of securing the foot in the shoe. While there is a later forefoot rocker, it does not guide motion as much as it provides some give to an otherwise stiff and moderately thick midsole. The zero drop will require runners to have sufficient ankle and foot mobility and strength. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Be Flexible... with your Strength Training
By David Salas

There are so many different designs of shoes that are out now. Traditionally shoes seemed to fall into two camps. This would either be a high drop ratio shoe, or a minimalist shoe. A high drop shoe would indicate that the heel is higher up from the ground than the forefoot. A minimalist design would usually have a more even profile underfoot and a lot of flexibility through the forefoot and sole. Now there are rockers, new foams, middle drop, etc.

The two designs I will discuss today are the rocker profiles and the minimalist designs. A rocker profile essentially means that the geometry of the shoe has a rounding to it at the heel and forefoot. This gives you a sensation that you are rolling forward and normally have a stiffer sole. These shoes usually have more foam underneath and have been an increasingly popular design over the years.

In terms of muscular demand, the rocker design will take some load off of the calves and increase the load through the hips and knees. This is mostly in part due to its effects on the range of motion requirements. In a rocker design, the ankle does not need to move through as large of a range of motion. Because of this the hips and knees usually increase their range of motion moment to create movement. Especially if the foam is softer, the muscular stiffness will also increase around the joint. So generally speaking, you are going to run "stiffer" with a rockered design.

The minimalist design is the opposite. The shoe is normally flexible throughout and really lets you use your own mechanics when toeing off. This increases the range of motion required at the ankle, (sometimes the knee) to help with shock absorption and translating the limb forward. Because of this you need more joint mobility, and also calf strength. Many of us have quickly declining calf strength and could use some work there, especially in the soleus muscle. The soleus is our big oxidative muscle in the calf and is most active with a bent knee (i.e. running). The soleus also helps control the speed and advancement of our shin bone moving forward. Because of this activation, many people can be sore in the calves when running in more flexible footwear.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either design of shoe. Most people will naturally gravitate towards one design. Both types have different loading profiles, so it is important that your strength training does encompass strengthening through all joints of the lower extremity, and through decent ranges of motion. When we run, we test ourselves by loading our limbs through large ranges of motion with much more load than our body weight. So... do you need more flexibility or strength? Both? The answer leans more towards flexibility under load.  


David: I did enjoy my experience in the Altra Rivera 4, but I do have some recommendations. The big thing for me is making the fit on the lacing system a little more accommodating, so there is not so much pressure in that region. A smaller recommendation would be changing the length of the laces to be in line with the sleek shoe design. The third recommendation I would have would be finding a way to reduce some of the weight. I think this shoe has potential to be a speedwork shoe on the right foot, but I struggle to see a 10oz shoe turning over and being chosen over other shoes in the market. 

Andrea: I have enjoyed testing the Rivera 4 and think that it has an important place in Altra's line as a moderate stack daily trainer. Altra has made a name for itself as a brand with its "Footshape" toe box. While I understand that some runners with narrower feet find Altra shoes too roomy, I think that Altra could potentially alienate some of their wider-forefoot customers with the Slim Footshape toe box of the Rivera 4. I think if Altra gave the toe box slightly more volume and width, they would be able to strike a balance for runners with a narrower foot and those who appreciate previous Altra shoes for their wider toe box. 


David: The Altra Rivera 4 is a neutral daily running/walking shoe for someone looking to have a very grounded and flexible shoe underneath. The shoe does have a little more padding than other minimal designs out there and can work for daily training if someone has the calf strength and range of motion to allow for it. For me this is a solid crossover shoe, and one that I have found to work really well for clinic wear and light running usage. 

Andrea: The Altra Rivera 4 is a neutral zero drop shoe that provides firmer cushioning for daily miles. I think the Rivera 4 is a nice option for runners who find the Escalante 3 a little too soft or too roomy in the toe box. It is also a nice daily training companion to the Escalante Racer. At $130, it is a good value compared to the more expensive daily trainers on the market.


Fit: (Good dimensions, comfortable material, good heel security, really low volume on the lacing system, long laces)
B+ (Comfortable and natural feeling ride both walking and running, a tad heavy for faster efforts, definitely need good muscle strength and control for neutral design)
Stability: B/B+ (Very neutral, but low riding midsole and traction gives grounded experience, good heel security, good sidewall, otherwise very neutral)
Value: B+/A- (Depending on how you use the shoe, the shoe has potential for good value. I think it would have to be a crossover to get full value out of it.)
Personal: B+/A- (A nice crossover shoe for me to wear for light activity and clinic wear.)
Overall Design: B+/A- 

Fit: A- (Fits true to size for me, excellent lockdown, would prefer slightly more width and volume in the toe box)
Performance: B+ 
(nothing revolutionary here, just a well done moderate stack height daily trainer with firmer cushioning and a neutral ride.)
Stability: (neutral) B-(not a stability shoe, will require sufficient ankle and foot strength/mobility due to zero drop, but sidewalls and upper design provide excellent lockdown)
Value: A- (Good pricepoint for a daily trainer.)
Personal: B+ (I have enjoyed testing the shoe, but there are several other zero drop daily trainers I like better than the Rivera 4)
Overall Design: B+/A-


Altra Rivera 4
Price: $129.95 at Running Warehouse

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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.

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