The latest iteration of Altra’s flagship zero-drop lightweight road trainers feature a new foam compound in the midsole, a more flexible upper, and a new offset lacing system to move with the foot.  The company’s trademark anatomic last and lightweight flexible construction remain the same.

Altra Instinct/Intuition 3.5 Features:

  • Heel height: 24mm
  • Forefoot height: 24mm
  • Heel to toe drop: 0mm
  • Moderate cushioning
  • FootShape Toe Box
  • Dual Layer EVA midsole with A-Bound Top Layer and InnerFlex Technology
  • Outsole: FootPod Technology
  • 5 mm contour footbed insole
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh
  • Four color options
  • Weight: 8.1 oz (Men’s Instinct) / 6.5 oz (Women’s Intuition)
  • MSRP $115
altra instinct 3.5 muddy

Men’s Instinct 3.5 after a muddy 20-miler

New models remain high-mileage workhorses

Altra has always staked its reputation on zero-drop footwear that allows natural movement of the foot while providing a protected and comfortable ride.  Their lineup has included everything from bare minimalist offerings (anyone remember the Adam?) to maximalist Hoka-rivals, but the standout of the series has always been the men’s Instinct and its female counterpart, the Intuition.  The Instinct/Intuition 3.5 offerings of these shoes are stocked with many of the company’s standard technologies and design elements that have earned a loyal following over the years, with a few design and construction tweaks intended to optimize ride and comfort.  We’ve been testing ours for a couple of months now, and they’ve proven to be an outstandingly versatile shoe for a wide range of training conditions.

Generously rounded toe box

Generously rounded toe box on both Instinct and Intuition 3.5’s

Above all else, Altra customers love the anatomic last and the generously rounded toe box, which is ideal for allowing full toe splay on impact and virtually eliminating any problems due to toe chafing.  The Instinct and Intuition also have good vertical clearance to prevent friction on the top side of your feet.  The last is relatively wide through the forefoot, which will cause some gapping for narrow feet, but the lacing mechanism and moderate tongue padding cinch the upper quite securely to the foot.

Altra intuition 3.5

The Women’s Altra Intuition 3.5

Medial side of the Intuition 3.5

Medial side of the Women’s Intuition 3.5

On these new models, Altra updated its A-Bound energy return EVA midsole compound, which has more noticeable springiness compared to previous versions.  The increased softness gives up a bit of energy transfer from heel to toe, but the upside is a pleasant underfoot feel that stays soft on high mileage days.  The Instinct and Intuition are more inclined to be daily high mileage trainers than race day speedsters.

altra instinct 3.5 outsole

FlexPod grooves and extensive outsole rubber on both Instinct and Intuition 3.5

FootPod technology in the midsole and outsole aligns flex areas of the shoe with the bones and tendons of the foot, which provides natural flexibility and a smooth transition through the step cycle.  On the bottom side, outsole rubber is prominent in all of the impact areas, and is equally suitable for asphalt or groomed trails.  However, the flat and shallow rubber design loses some grip in slick conditions.

altra instinct 3.5 pair

The Men’s Instinct 3.5’s are smooth and comfortable.

The Good

  • Anatomic last accurately matches foot shape
  • Maintains natural biomechanics very effectively
  • Highly comfortable fit and cushioning

The Bad

  • Softer midsole foam loses some energy transfer
  • Outsole traction is compromised in wet conditions

Bottom Line: Altra Instinct and Intuition 3.5

Despite the design tweaks, there aren’t any major surprises in these update; if you liked previous versions of the Instinct or Intuition, these will continue to be a favorite.  The 3.5’s are probably one of the best zero-drop shoes for high mileage road training, with great overall comfort and nice versatility for a range of surfaces.

Buy Now: Men’s Instinct / Women’s Intuition

In Summary

7.2 Long-Distance Pals

When long-distance comfort is a top priority, the new Instinct and Intuition 3.5's are a great choice. With a classic Altra fit and cushioning, these are great training shoes.

  • Comfort 9
  • Responsiveness 7
  • Traction 6
  • Speed 6
  • Versatility 8

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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