Altra Provision 5.0 Intro
Altra is a running company founded on the principle of making shoes that provide you with as natural a ride as possible.
The Altra Provision 5 is an example of a company listening to feedback and making changes to provide a more natural ride.
Usually, Altra makes small changes to their offering and releases them as a .5 offering. This wasn’t done between Provision 4 and 5. This led me to believe the changes made were big enough to skip the 4.5 version.
The Altra Provision 5 has many of the features Altra is known for, the zero drop (where all along your heel to toe sits at the same height) and the natural foot shape toe box.
It also includes changes to technologies which appeared in the fourth edition.
Altra has two stability options, the Provision and the Paradigm (a max cushioned trainer). They both utilize Altra’s dynamic GuideRail technology.
The Altra Provision 4.0 competes with the Brooks Adrenaline, Hoka Arahi, Saucony Omni, New Balance 860, and Mizuno Wave Inspire. The Provision retails for 130 dollars placing it right in the middle of the mid tier stability trainers.
Altra Provision 5.0 First Impressions
Upon opening the box for the first time I noticed a few key changes immediately. The first was instead of three tabs for the Innovarch there were only two tabs.
This excited me because the three tabbed Innovarch was tricky to get the perfect fit each run. The upper material stood out because it was different as well.
I took the Provision 5.0 on a relaxed 10k for their first run. They were comfortable from the first step. The dimpled insole provided an instant massage-like feeling.
There was also an immediate tennis ball-like bounce to them while also maintaining some responsiveness.
The zero drop ride which was expected was evident from how my feet, ankles and calves felt during and after the run. Having the two tabbed Innovarch made finding the perfect fit easier.
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 Sole Unit
Let’s start from the ground up. Altra uses their Rubber Footpod for the outsole of the Provision 5. This serves as a map of your foot allowing for more natural movement among the bones and tendons of your foot.
While the flexibility is a strength, the drawback is its durability. The outsole showed signs of wear after 70 miles in them. The outsole handled both wet and dry conditions effectively.
The midsole is made of Ultralight EVA compound. This compound is a tad stiffer than the A-Bound midsole used for the Provision 4. It still provides the “tennis ball” like bounce and ground feel of an Altra offering.
Innerflex, grid like grooves, are found in the midsole which adds to the flexibility of the shoe while also making them lighter.
The GuideRail is located on the medial side near the heel of the shoe. It is a dynamic GuideRail, only engaging when you need the stability. It engages when it senses it is needed.
Its flexibility allows for varying degrees of stability based on your gait. This is a strength of the midsole because it broadened the trainer’s appeal.
Altra’s core principle “the difference of three” helps set them apart from the many other running brands out there. These three aspects, Footshape, Fit4Her, and Balanced Cushioning, are found in Provision 5.
Fit4Her means they have released two gender specific versions of the Provision 5. The Fit4Her has a narrower heel and midfoot along with higher instep and longer arches.
Like all other Altra offerings the Provision 5 is designed with the FootShape toe box. It is a wider toe box than most other stability trainers.
This allows for your foot to splay out naturally while you run. This produces a more natural stride with more efficient toe offs.
Altra’s other core principle of balanced cushioning means the heel to toe drop in the Provision 5 is 0 mm. It cultivates natural form along with encouraging mid foot landings.
Both your heel and toe sit at 27 mm, which takes some getting used to. It takes anywhere from 10 to 20 miles to fully acclimate to the zero drop. There is more strain on the soles along with the achilles and calves.
Altra Provision 5.0 Upper Unit
Last year Altra unveiled the Innovarch technology in the Provision 4. They have made some big changes to that technology of the Provision 5. For those unfamiliar with the Innovarch technology.
It is a thin layer of mesh material under the footbed that wraps around the medial (inner) side of your midfoot, where it splits into sections to meet the tongue and become a part of the lacing system.
The major change they made to the Innovach is instead of three sections there are now two.
With the Provision 4 there was trial and error getting the perfect fit every time. This change from three to two sections simplifies and improves that. It is more effective at producing stability and a customizable fit.
The insole of the Provision 5 has dimples from heel to toe. There is a massage-like feeling from these dimples. As a result there was an increased awareness of how my feet felt during the run.
The engineered mesh remains breathable, flexible, and light. There have been small cosmetic changes to the mesh.
The heel collar has the same amount of cushioning as the 4.
This means it has less cushioning than other stability trainers out there. This combined with a lower collar height means there is an adjustment period.
The lower height is a strength because it allows more movement of the achilles and ankle. Another strength is that they have specific areas around the heel counter with more cushioning. These areas aided the fit of the Provision 5.
The Heel counter of the Provision 5 is unstructured compared to other stability offerings. It consists of cushioning alone. Like many aspects of this shoe it will take some getting used to.
This may cause heel slippage, but I didn’t experience this, probably due to the improved Innovarch providing a better fit.
MAltra Provision 5.0 Conclusion
Last year I reviewed the Provision 4 which was my first experience with Altra. I didn’t know what to expect other than I heard there was an adjustment period.
Despite the adjustment period I found my experience to be an enjoyable one. How did the Provision 5 stack up?
The adjustment period didn’t seem as severe or last as long in the Provision 5.
I honestly couldn’t tell if this was because I was prepared for it or the changes they made to the trainer to lessen the adjustment period. Let’s discuss the big and small changes of the Provision 5.
Last year I was in the minority of the runners who enjoyed the Innovarch and thought it was highly effective if used correctly. Altra heard all the negative feedback and made a stark change to the Innovarch.
They eliminated one of the tabs making it a two tab support system. This elimination of a tab has been impactful. It has resulted in a supportive and a more comfortable fit. It provides added dynamic stability when you need it.
The simplified updated upper of the Provision 5 was an improvement as well. The engineered mesh was breathable and more comfortable then the previous edition.
The midsole of the Provision 5 is a bouncy and responsive ride. The zero drop does take a few miles to adjust to. Once the adjustment was made I recognized more midfoot strikes and increased ground feel.
The zero drop works in tandem with the FootShape technology to provide a natural ride. The FootShape toe box provides plenty of real estate for your feet to naturally stretch out while you run.
I found this to help strengthen my toe offs to propel me forward. One drawback is the feeling of comfort goes down slightly as the miles get higher.
The upper of the Provision 5 provides a different fit than other stability trainers out there. The dynamic GuideRail on the medial side moves with you meaning it only engages when you need it.
This and the Innovarch partner well together to provide stability when you need it. The heel collar sits lower than other trainers out there.
Along with sitting lower it the heel counter is less cushioned and structured. This provides a minimalist type feel when you are running.
They strategically added more cushioning on both sides of the heel counter which helps the fit. One drawback of the upper is the tongue.
It is well cushioned but not held in place by anything so it slides to the side often. It doesn’t affect the feeling of the trainer, it’s just annoying.
Altra achieves its goal of having you run as naturally as possible with the Provision 5.
It does this by incorporating all of its established technologies (FootShape, zero drop) with newly improved new technology (Innovarch and GuideRail). It is overall a better offering than the Provision 4.
Like with other Altra offerings I have reviewed, the Provision is not going to be for everyone. Many runners may try them on and instantly be turned off because of their core technologies they incorporate into them.
If you are willing to give them a chance and be willing to adjust, Provision 5 may become your new favorite daily stability trainer.
We purchased a pair of Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.