Altra Experience Flow Review

The Altra Experience Flow.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

Altra Running has spent the last decade making a name for themselves with their zero-drop shoes, quickly building a cult-like following. Fast forward to 2023, when Altra released their first ever running shoe with a 4-millimeter drop: The Altra FWD Experience. Altra loyalists were shocked. Chaos ensued. What was this newfangled Altra FWD Experience?

What is heel-to-toe drop and why does it matter?

Alex Lind, Senior Product Line Manager of Altra Running, told us in a 2023 interview that the Altra FWD Experience is simply an addition to the Altra lineup. Zero-drop fans can rest assured that their favorite Altra staples will continue to be available. Altra’s inclusion of the 4-millimeter drop shoe only makes the brand more accessible to different types of runners–like me, who’s terrified of zero-drop shoes.

The Altra Experience Flow, available May 1, is the latest version of the FWD Experience, and we logged plenty of miles to see how it fits, feels and performs. Is the Experience Flow the running experience we’ve all been waiting for? Read on to find out.

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Tech Specs

Altra Experience Flow

Weight 7.2 oz (W), 8.4 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 30 mm/26 mm (W), 32 mm/28 mm (M)
Heel-to-toe drop 4 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $140
Comparable to... HOKA Clifton 9, Saucony Kinvara 14

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

Altra Experience Flow offers trifecta of technologies

A woman stands in the Altra Experience Flow.

The ride of the Altra Experience Flow is influenced by three key elements: a firm, compression-molded midsole, a rocker shape and, of course, a 4-millimeter drop.

“Running in the Experience Flow is a lot of fun,” says Tony. “The shoes feel very light on my feet and the foam has a very responsive feel–more than I was expecting, being that it’s on the firmer side. When I wore these for the first time, I was happy the entire run.”

The responsive feel of the foam combines with a rocker shape to gently roll you forward into your next stride. While I love a good rocker shape, our review team was mixed on this.

“I’m not a huge fan of what I perceive to be too much rocker geometry,” says Nate. “It lights up my calves after a few miles. If anything, I’d like a version of the Experience Flow with a little less of a rocker shape.”

But Brandon couldn’t disagree more.

“The midsole’s aggressive rocker shape is the hero in this story. It comes out as the champion among all of the other parts of the shoe. It was my knight in shining armor, my Prince Charming, my…okay, you get the idea,” he says. “But seriously, the rocker shape makes this shoe so much fun to run in.”

Whether or not you enjoy an aggressive rocker shape comes down to personal preference, in the same way you may have a penchant for shoes with a low heel drop, a high heel drop, or zero drop altogether. While our reviewers vary when it comes to heel drop preferences, everyone agreed that the 4-millimeter drop in the Experience Flow is enough to encourage smooth transitions without feeling too jarring.

“It almost feels sacrilegious to wear an Altra shoe that is not zero drop,” says Travis, a die-hard Altra fan. “However, 4 millimeters isn’t that steep and it’s right on par with other popular, low-drop shoes. I took these on a cut down run starting at 6:58 pace and getting down to 5:51 pace. The Experience Flow felt comfortable for the slower paces while being light and responsive enough for the faster miles.”

Don’t worry, if you’re a mere mortal like myself and don’t consider 6:58 pace to be “slower,” you can still enjoy the Altra Experience Flow!

Standard FootShape™ Fit boasts roomy toe box

The Altra Experience Flow.

While the Experience Flow may not offer the typical zero-drop platform Altra fans are used to, you can still expect the roomy toe box the brand is known for.

Altra running shoes offer one of three different FootShape™ Fits–Original, Standard and Slim. The Original is the roomiest of all three options, while the Slim is the narrowest. The Experience Flow features a Standard FootShape™ Fit, which falls in the middle.

“The Experience Flow fits like typical Altra to me,” says Travis. “The upper is super comfortable, as usual. I loved the Torin 7 and this upper feels a lot like that to me–great wiggle room in the toe box and a glove-like fit in the midfoot. I have a slightly narrow foot and these shoes fit me super well, but I think they also have the volume to accommodate wider feet with higher insteps.”

Travis’ evaluation is right, as Nate, our wide-footed reviewer, also enjoyed the fit of the Experience Flow.

“The Experience Flow fits my wider, higher volume feet really well,” he says. “I love me a wide, roomy toe box!”

If you’re unsure about the width of your feet, your best bet will be to head into your local Fleet Feet to try the shoe in-person. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height, so you can learn a lot about your feet while you’re there.

Altra Experience Flow vs Altra FWD Experience


Tech Specs

Altra Experience Flow

Altra FWD Experience

Weight

7.2 oz (W), 8.4 oz (M)

7.1 oz (W), 8.5 oz (M)

Stack height

30 mm/26 mm (W),

32 mm/28 mm (M)

30 mm/26 mm (W),

32 mm/28 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

4 mm

4 mm

Price

$140

$140

Not much has changed from the Altra FWD Experience to the Altra Experience Flow, which is just as well since the FWD Experience was such a drastic change for the brand to begin with.

Both shoes have the same stack height, the same heel-to-toe drop, almost identical weights and use the same compression-molded EVA midsole foam. Perhaps the largest difference is the name!

Starting on May 1, Altra will offer the Experience Flow as the neutral road option in their larger Experience lineup. The Experience Wild is their 4-millimeter drop trail shoe, and the Experience Form is their 4-millimeter drop stability road shoe.

The Altra Experience Line.

How does the Altra Experience Flow compare?

We took a look at some comparable shoes to see how they stack up against the Altra Experience Flow. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

Altra Experience Flow

Saucony Kinvara 14

HOKA Clifton 9

Weight

7.2 oz (W), 8.4 oz (M)

6.2 oz (W), 7 oz (M)

7.3 oz (W), 8.7 oz (M)

Stack height

30 mm/26 mm (W),

32 mm/28 mm (M)

31 mm/27 mm

32 mm/27 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

4 mm

4 mm

5 mm

Price

$140

$120

$145

The Altra Experience Flow offers a similar weight, stack height and heel-to-toe drop as the Saucony Kinvara 14 and HOKA Clifton 9. All three shoes offer EVA-based midsole foams and gentle rocker shapes.

What sets Altra apart from the Clifton and Kinvara is its spacious toe box–reviewers agreed it offers a roomier fit than the competition. Whether or not that’s a pro or a con will depend on your preferences.

Who is the Altra Experience Flow best for?

The Altra Experience Flow on a man and a woman.

Altra has broadened their core customer base with the addition of the Experience Flow.

Thanks to a 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, the Altra Experience Flow is a great choice for runners who prefer a lower offset. Shoes with a lower heel-to-toe drop can reduce strain on your knees and hips, although evidence is inconclusive on exactly how heel-to-toe drop influences running injuries.

If you want to enjoy Altra’s wide variety of zero-drop offerings, the Experience Flow is a great way to ease your body into zero-drop shoes. Just like any new training regimen, it’s best to start slow and give yourself time to work up to daily runs in zero-drop shoes.

Runners with wide feet, or those who just appreciate some extra space, will likely be pleased with the fit of the Experience Flow.

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