Running is one of the most purist act of human movements. I like it simple, no fuss. A pair of shorts, a pair of the lightest most suitable shoes, a singlet and off I go. No water, no gels, no backpack and even a watch is optional.
This is why I got on the Torin train a bit late. I really was going with low cushioned models 100% of all time. Even the simple Escalante was rarely in my rotation. This has been greatly changing; I run a lot barefoot, but run in these cushy models too, like the Torin, Timp and Olympus.
I found a very good deal on the Torin 3.5 so grabbed it, than received also a pair of Torin 3.5 knit. They feel very different !
The upper is everything. I mean the two shoes have identical soles, identical cushioning, but that is it.
The upper is stitched to the sole and to the strobel board differently. This makes the Knit model feel tighter, especially before broken-in. The toebox of the Knit model is shallower. The first 5 -10 runs might feel a bit constricting. Your toenails should be nicely filed downwards, that is for sure ! Also there is that initially harsh feeling toe bumper and arch-region on the Knit. The tongue is also way thinner and less encombrant.
The biggest difference is however the structure and the lacing itself. The Torin has this dual layer upper using two systems of wiring to hug your feet. One is pulling-on the upper and the other is activating an inner shell, creating a hug. The Knit has a simple one piece upper just like the Escalante.
Basically we are talking about a two very different shoes. The applications are different too. I like the Knit to execute faster outings and uphill runs and use the normal Torin for crappy surfaces and longer outings as the stability is better. In rain, both gets too heavy, but especially the Knit version what gets so soaked. In rain, I prefer really to go out in the Vanish XC or the Kayenta, something high in plastic, but low in textile what drains well.
As I said in the beginning, I like to vary my shoes. I never joined a group, to call myself a barefoot runner or a minimalist guy. However, in case. of racing, I am sure going with a light shoe. The lightest possible ! This means something that adapts to the distance, environment and surface.
The Torin is not one of these shoes. I use the Torins, both, exclusively for training. I feel that the less flexible and more cushioned sole modifies my foot strike and lowers my cadence. I must focus on my form and force good habits when running in them. I enjoy going for a 20km road run, then a 5k tempo on the track, 5 to 10 hill accelerations, back to the track and recover barefoot on the grass. The pace, surface and muscle activation changes help me to increase running form, when clipping fast in speedier shoes. For me the Torin is an educational tool. It serves very well this purpose, but also protects my feet, I mean that my bones and joints and tendons around my ankles from the vibration coming straight from concrete. I would need a bit more rubber gripping more post-rain concrete though, but I adapt to that as well.
Here you go, my verdict on the Torins. I like them, I use them and will keep them in my rotation definitely.
PS: I engage a lot to help Altra fans understand Altra shoes and to choose good models. I am an Altra Red Team member.
Cushioning to help you with knee pain and general joint issues is a bad idea. Choosing the Torin to mask bad habits will result in the same thing all the time, regardless what higher stack brand or model you choose. Regular microdamage ! Most people still don’t understand, that just because you got no pain right now, no pain tomorrow and no pain the next year, it doesn’t mean that you are doing alright. If you knew how many people I got to know in the last 20 years, who one day to the other had to stop running ? Forever ! Like thunder from blue skies ! The response is always the same: I had just this one bad step, just this one bad race, just this one outing. I cracked my meniscus, I torn my achilles tendon, I got hip bursitis and bone arthritis. No, it is not from that one single jog, but possibly 5 / 10 / 20 / 50 years of bad running and certainly bad lifestyle habits ! Micro-abuse !
Use the torins with perfect running form, good posture, correct biomechanics. Use them with quality socks. Choose the correct size, by wearing a model 1.5cm longer than your feet. Is it your first Altra ? Get your a into a running shop and try on multiple models !