“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” - Leonardo da Vinci
The human foot is incredibly complex in its structures and function, yet in and of itself it is truly a masterpiece of engineering, a miraculous design. A network of strategically placed tendons, muscles, bones and nerves work together in harmony providing the body with support, balance, and mobility. Despite this masterful craftsmanship, we are all guilty of owning shoes that put our foot (and body) in an unnatural position. Those types of shoes treat our feet like a caged animal, inhibiting their natural movement and agility.
It’s time to set your feet free. Time for the Adam™ from Altra Footwear.
After making a name for themselves crafting Zero Drop running shoes (see our reviews here and here), Altra continues to expand their line-up of footwear to meet the needs and demands of the running and athletic community. For those looking for a minimalist approach to footwear the Adam™ (Eve™ for women) has been added to the fold of Altra’s diversified line-up of quality offerings.
The Adam is a high performance shoe that is simple, comfortable, yet unspoiled by overly-techy features. The Adam provides solid ground feel, more independent foot movement, and less weight all while being delivered at a price that won’t break the bank.
On Fit and Performance…
As with all Altra shoes, the Adam follows the natural map of the foot. This simple design idea will revolutionize the way you view your footwear. A natural foot shape coupled with a wide toe box allows the foot to move freely, relatively unencumbered and more naturally.
If you’re going to run with a more natural stride, it only makes sense that your feet should be in closer proximity to Mother Nature. A 3.4 mm BareSole™ brings you back down to earth, providing a natural feel of the ground and terrain which natural runners will appreciate.
It’s important to note that the outsole on some minimalist models feature a technical tread, some even sport a lug pattern. The Altra design team took a different route and instead built the shoe with razor-siped soles. No elevated tread to interfere with the path underfoot, but still enough traction to keep you upright on all but the most technical or rugged terrain.
Constructed with limited seams and an incredibly breathable stretch fabric the Adam weighs in at a feather lite 9.4 ounces per pair (by comparison the Vibram Fivefingers trek is 12.4 oz and the Merrell Barefoot Crosstrainers are 13 oz a pair). The fabric provides a glove-like fit and an airy nature that will keep your feet feeling light and comfortable throughout the day. A velcro based secure-cinch strapping ensures you can lock in the right fit for your run, training session or walk-about.
One of the great features of the Adam is that, like all Altra models, this barefoot shoe comes with two insole options: a support insole that has a slight arch and a little bit of padding, and a strengthening insole that is completely flat and less than 2mm thick. You also have the option of removing the insoles altogether This not only allows for maximum customization, but more importantly it provides multiple options to help your body and feet adjust to the minimalist lifestyle.
More directly on the issue of performance, the Adam is not a one trick pony. In an era where shoe companies are spending millions of dollars on research and development to manufacture shoes designed for a specific purpose (ie Cross Fit, Trail Running, Yoga etc) the Adam will meet the demands of those looking to do more with less.
Sporting a true zero drop platform, roomy toebox and feather weight, the Adam isn’t just a great shoe for training and tempo runs. You’ll find yourself slipping on the shoe for trips to the gym, around town or packing along for a comfy pair of performance shoes at basecamp.
Room for Improvement…
The Adam has performed beautifully over the course of a four month trial period. While there’s a lot to love about this shoe, there are still a few critiques worth noting.
What the shoe provides in performance, it lacks in aesthetics. The grey tones of the Adam are more similar to the haze of a foggy morning than they are the flare of a sunrise breaking the horizon. In future iterations we would love to see Altra add a little more flash to the shoe similar, or at least introduce some new design elements that make it look less moccasin/water sock-esque.
Our second critique centers on the velcro enclosures. While providing a snug and secure fit, there are those who will prefer the traditional lace-up. On this front, Altra has beaten us to the punch and addressed this concern with the introduction of the Samson™.
Finally, the only true fit issue our team had with the shoe was the inside collar of the shoe which hugs just below the ankle. This is the one part of the shoe where several seams come together and isn’t as smooth and comfortable as we would like. During the break in period this was the one place that provided slight irritation.
The Bottom Line…
To run barefoot is your body’s default setting, yet most of us still consider running shoes essential. If you’re one of those considering the transition to an ever more minimalist platform, the foot-shaped design, 3.4 mm BareSole™ and snug fit of the Adam will kick start your body’s natural default setting. Set your feet free, you’ll never be the same.