Altra Zero Drop The ONE

Altra Zero Drop The ONE is a fast, light, and slightly cushioned do-it-all performance shoe that launched recently. But it is also one of the most anticipated shoe on my 2013 list as I wanted to see something between the Altra Instinct 1.5 and Altra Adam. –Nick Pang, NRC shoe editor


From Altra’s literature, “From a casual 7-mile run, a marathon PR, or mile repeats, this shoe delivers a comfortable, cushioned performance. The cushioned midsole allows for maximum responsive energy return while the SpeedPod outsole maps the bones of the foot for a natural flex. Plus, the Zero Drop design allows for natural loading of the calf and Achilles while optimizing the landing angle to ensure maximum power with minimal impact. The One is the one shoe to handle any run on any occasion. ”

Altra The ONE is designed for road running and racing, both as a training shoe and a racing shoe. The midsole is made of blended EVA/AltraBound while the outsole consists of blown rubber SpeedPod. The uppers is made of a lightweight quick-dry air mesh with traditional lacing. The tongue is made of a felt-like material and very comfortable.


Review Summary

This is the first Altra model that has a non-removable footbed. You can remove it but the stitching will show and you cannot run sockless in them. My pair (U.S. Men’s size 10.5) of The ONE weighs in at 8.6 ounces and have a stack height of 18mm. This is similar to the Altra Instinct or Altra Instinct 1.5 with the footbed intact but lighter by about an ounce. I personally like The ONE more than the Altra Superior (lighter and better fit) for non-technical trails but with no rock plate. It does fine on non-technical trails with small rocks and pebbles — there is enough stack height to disperse the shock. But on more than one occasion, a small rock got into the shoe and I had to stop to remove it.


On the tartan (rubber) track, I used The ONE for many speed work sessions. It is light enough and the slight cushioning did not affect my sprint form that much – of course I prefer spikes when doing full speed sprints. Fast repeats of 200m, 400m and 800m worked perfectly with The ONE!


I usually run trails and rubber tracks but decided to test The ONE with some asphalt running. The slight cushioning is welcomed and the traction is awesome. My next 5K or 10K road race will definitely be in this pair of Altra! I cannot find anything wrong with Altra The ONE and this perfect trainer and racer scored a 5 stars in my book. If I have to nitpick, the curved toe box shape makes the shoe appears clown-like.


[nrcwhere2buy shoebrand=”Altra”]

13 Responses to “Altra Zero Drop The ONE”

  1. Great post, Nick, thanks! I’ve been looking forward to Altra’s launch of ‘The ONE’, and your thorough review is helpful.

    One small note about the ‘clown-like’ toe box, for what it’s worth: in my healthcare practice, I remind all my patients that our natural foot shape (what we’re born with) is widest at the ends of the toes. So indeed, if a shoe looks a bit clown-like, then it’s actually more foot-shaped and therefore better for our foot health!


  2. Jorge says:

    Thanks for the review. What’s the sizing like? Pretty accurate or does it run large?

    • NickP says:

      The forefoot area runs wide (fits 4E) but the rest is pretty much true to size.

      If you have narrow feet, might want to size down by a half size though…

  3. Robbie says:

    If they could just make their shoes without the name plastered all over it I’d be interested. It’s just so ugly!

  4. Will B says:

    Hey Nick,

    I bought this shoe as soon as it released and was extremely happy with my first 15 miles in the shoe. However…

    One week before I started running in the shoe I was playing a full sided soccer game. One of the players missed the ball on a tackle and stepped right on the outside of my right ankle. This hurt pretty badly, and I didn’t think I was going to be able to continue. Adrenaline kicked in and the pain seemed to go away after about 20 minutes.

    After the game I went home and iced the ankle, which seemed inflamed around the peroneal tendon.

    After a week off I was ready to run again. I started with a 3 mile run in the ALTRA ONE. Felt great.
    The next day I did a 4 mile run at 6:45 pace…felt great.
    Two days later I did a 6 mile run with a friend, and about 4 miles into the run the outside of my ankle started to feel tender. After the run it was hurting as a 4/10.
    I was confused because I didn’t twist my ankle or feel any sudden twitches during the run, but realized that the pain oh so slowly crept up on me.
    I decided to take another couple of days off and ice a bit…paid subsided somewhat, but came back at work while wearing Leming Primal 2 shoes or VivoBarefoot Evo’s.

    I started to look for shoe blame. And the first memory i had was in the Altra One. I had never had this kind of pain, and was ready to blame the shoe. I came up with the idea that the upper heel of the shoe was pulling against my tendons, leading to peroneal tendonosis.

    Since my paranoia about the shoes…which I love….I have taken 4 days off.

    Today I ran 3 miles at 615 pace and felt pretty darn good, but could feel the peroneal tendon getting tender….


    • NickP says:

      After running in them for over two months on various terrains and hills, I have not had any problems in them – all sockless, hot and cold weather, windy or sunny.

  5. stephan says:

    I was super-eager for these to come out. Unfortunately, one run with them and back to Altra they went. I found the sole a little on the stiff side, but I could have lived with that. I could not, however, live with the fact that on downhills, my toes hit the front end. Adding to that, the thin tongue (I suspect to save weight) meant that when I tried to tighten the shoes up to keep my foot in place better, I ended up with angry red marks from all the laces.

    I love the idea of Altra – just not sure on the implementation of this one.

    • NickP says:

      Some runners like stiff outsoles, some softer and more cushioning. It’s more subjective and personal.

      I run on steep hills in both up and down directions (asphalt and concrete) when I do serious training but dominantly on rolling hills (non-technical trails) for long runs – I don’t have any problems with them in Altra ONE though.

      I also wear my shoes loose (shoe laces are not tied tightly at all). No toe jams…

  6. Brian Hazard says:

    I’ve got five pairs of Altras, and The One is my favorite. I PR’d in the half a couple weeks ago wearing them.

  7. Jashad says:

    Has anyone noticed something that feels like bunched material inside the toecap of this shoe?

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