Last night I was commenting to a friend how much I love my Instinct and was making plans to buy a pair of Instinct 1.5 for myself. Then I started doing some reviews and discovered that they are getting ripped on their own website for a shoddy upper that is wearing out. I had to write this email to my friend this morning:
Steve -There you have it, I went from being one of their biggest fans to being nervous about recommending them to my friends in less than one year. It is worth noting that I am the one who convinced Steve to buy his Lone Peak and watched him destroy the Leadville Silver Rush 50 course in them, wearing a pair of my own as I crewed for him.
I know you seemed intrigued by my post last night about the Instinct. If you like the Lone Peak, then you'll love the Instinct. I wear mine everywhere -- the gym, cycling, work, around town, etc... -- and they are durable and comfortable. They have 350 miles on them and probably 2x that in equivalent wear from all the cross training.That said, if you want to get a pair, I highly suggest getting a pair of the 1.0 from a discount/liquidation site. That is the version I have. I Googled and found a few lying around. The new 1.5 have received pretty poor reviews for durability, many people complaining the upper is wearing out after less than 200 miles, some as little as 100 miles.I am frankly a little disappointed with Altra right now. They had a really good thing going with just a couple of well made, high quality shoes like Lone Peak, Instinct, and Provision. After one year, they doubled their models with new shoes like The One, 3-Sum, Instinct Jr, Olympus, Superior, Torin, and growing. The quality seems to be going downhill with this explosion in models. Dylan blew out a pair of Instinct Jr in less than a month. The entire out sole just cracked and fell off the shoe. My Torin have held up to less than 100 miles so far, but they feel cheaply made and there was a manufacturing goof where some shoes went out with 6 eyelet and some with 7 eyelet. We'll see if they last. My Superior are starting to shred on the lateral side after 235 miles.Anyway, I love the Instinct, but would not recommend the 1.5 unless you get a screaming deal and can tolerate a blow out after 200 miles.
Is their insane growth responsible for these issues? I think it contributes. As a fan, I would love to have seen some refinements to the existing models, including new colors and a little more stylish look. But I cannot help but wonder if all the new models were necessary. When I compare their rise to a shoe with a similar cult following, the Hokas have only recently added a 4th model. In fact, they used to offer their shoes in unisex sizes. They started by building a few shoes really, really well. (UPDATE: Hoka is now also making an insane number of shoe models.)
Whatever the case, I really don't care why this has happened, but I know it makes me disappointed. I maybe just a midpack runner with a small blog, but I sure hope my experience with Altra help other runners steer clear of expensive mistakes. I love some of their shoes and the idea on which they created them. But I certainly don't want to continue to spend $100 on shoes that fall apart. And it will be very hard to convince my wife to buy another pair of them for my son if his Instinct Jr don't hold up for at least six months. Make no mistake, I am pulling for Altra, but I am a skeptic of the explosive growth and change right now.