Brand: Altra Zero Drop Footwear
Color Options: Adam – Dark gray; Eve – White/light gray with white & gray straps
Weight: Adam – 4.7 oz.; Eve – 4.5 oz.
Drop: 0 mm from heel to toe (zero-drop is maintained with or without included footbeds)
Other: Gender-specific foot-shaped design; 3.4 mm razor-siped barefoot sole; Heel Claw + A Wrap + Secure Cinch strapping for fit; Can be worn with or without included footbeds (varying stack heights noted below – stack height without footbeds is 4.4 mm)
In the box: Minimalist running guide booklet; Support footbed (9.4 mm stack height); Strengthen footbed (7.4 mm stack height)
Although I have now grown to like my Eves a great deal, I have to admit that my first impressions of the Altra Eve were not so pleasant. I had some trouble with the initial fit and feel of the shoe, but I am very happy that I stuck it out and continued to wear them. In part, my growing enjoyment of these shoes is due to the excellence of the Altra company itself. Altra, who coined the term “zero drop” that is now so popular amongst members of the minimalist footwear community, does an exceptional job of educating buyers about the proper fit and use of their shoes. The box comes ready with everything you need to get started with minimalist running (that is, except your own feet), including multiple different footbed options and an introduction to minimalist running in the form of both a pamphlet and information printed on the inside of the shoe box lid. The shoes themselves, although requiring some break-in and adjustment to the strap configuration, are comfortable and offer superior ground feel, toe room, and flexibility relative to many other minimalist shoe options.
The Eve is the first minimalist shoe I have tried that needed a break-in period, and it really threw me off in the beginning. The other minimalist shoes I have were ready to go out of the box and don’t feel much different than the day I got them. In the case of the Eve, however, the Heel Claw, which is Altra’s solution to the traditional heel counter (see Steven’s Samson & Delilah review for more info), was too tight, but the rest of the shoe was too wide, so my heel couldn’t push back enough to be gripped by the Heel Claw. This lead to rubbing and blisters forming on my heels, as well as my foot sliding forward to hit the front of the shoe every time I took a step. Like I said, not such a great first impression.
After I went on a few runs in the Eves, though, as well as wore them around casually, the sewn-in straps associated with the Heel Claw stretched out just enough to accommodate and grip my heel comfortably. This has gotten rid of the issues I was having with rubbing on my heels, and, in combination with figuring out the appropriate tightness for the velcro straps, has stopped my foot from sliding forward in the shoe. The shoes perform well in both running and walking situations, and their high level of flexibility (discussed more in the section below) make them a great single toe-box alternative to the Vibram FiveFingers. The Adams/Eves are also very breathable, thanks to the mesh-like fabric included in the vamp, so I can see them becoming one of my go-to shoes as we head into the summer.
My one concern with these shoes is that the relative thinness of the fabric may not be as durable as some other minimalist shoes and I could see it getting snagged and/or torn relatively easily. One reviewer noted that the fabric of his shoe started to come unglued from the sole after only 20 miles. However, this seems to be the exception, and most people have noted that the rubber outsole is very durable. Between running and walking, I have put quite a few miles on mine and have noticed little to no wear in the sole. Altra also offers a 30 day guarantee on all of their shoes, meaning that if you are not satisfied with your shoes for any reason, you can return and/or exchange them without any additional cost to you for up to 30 days after purchase.
Once I broke in the HeelClaw and A Wrap of the Eves, I could really start to appreciate the comfort they provide. One of Altra’s strengths is their commitment to making shoes that are foot-shaped and gender-specific. Both of the Altras I have tried (the Eve and the Delilah) sport one of the wider toe boxes of all of the minimalist shoes in my closet. Compared to the Samson/Delilah, the sole of the Adam/Eve is noticeably more flexible. This gives the Adam/Eve the advantage when it comes to ground feel. For those of you unfamiliar with the Samson/Delilah, the flexibility of the Adam/Eve is comparable to that of Vibram FiveFingers (even with the Strengthen insole in). Another great aspect of the Adams/Eves is the fact that they are slip-on, and are very easy to put on and take off. I work in a clean lab, so having shoes that I can quickly remove and put back on when I’m in and out of lab all day is essential.
One thing I should note is that I prefer to wear my Eves with socks, as I do not find them the most comfortable shoes to go sockless in. There are some exposed seams on the interior that don’t feel so great on bare feet. Also, the harder dark gray material (seen in the picture below) that is sewn over the toes creates a hard ridge where it meets the fabric that can sometimes be caught by the edges of your toenails if you are not wearing any socks.
The Adam and Eve are one of the more unique-looking options out there in the world of single toe pocket minimalist shoes, which is what initially drew me to them. Unfortunately, I think the women got the better deal when it comes to the available colors. The white/light gray with white and gray straps is very clean and sporty-looking, while the dark gray-on-gray of the men’s shoes looks a bit drab. Although the shoes do bear some resemblance to a pair of water shoes, I’ve found them to be fairly versatile. They look great with a more casual pair of jeans or shorts, but also look well with athletic clothes. These shoes are unusual-looking enough to garner some questions from curious onlookers, but are not as attention-grabbing as a pair of FiveFingers might be.
- 30-day guarantee from Altra
- A less expensive minimalist shoe option
- Easy to slip on and off
- Multiple footbed options
- Very flexible (great ground feel)
- Larger toe box than several other popular minimalist shoe options
- Does require a break-in period
- Velcro strap configuration may not work well for people with exceptionally narrow or wide feet
- Relative thinness of the fabric uppers may lead to durability issues
- Not super comfortable sans socks
I have enjoyed my experience thus far with the Eves. They are quickly becoming a regular in my shoe rotation, and, unlike some of the other minimalist shoe options I have tried, will probably stay there for a while! Currently, they are seeming more and more like the ideal summer shoe for when you need something more substantial than a flip-flop, but aren’t willing to sacrifice the ease of slipping your shoe on and off without bothering with laces. For those of you who are interested in the Vibram FiveFingers, but are not keen on the idea of having separate toe pockets, the Altra Adam/Eve is one of the closest options in terms of flexibility and ground feel. I look forward to seeing future versions of this shoe (which I hope will include some new colorways and a more barefoot-friendly interior!), as well as to the release of additional Altra barefoot-style shoes.