ALTRA Solstice XT
What I love most about this shoe is the overall shape. It hosts a very wide frame and an even wider toe box that allows your feet to naturally splay inside of the shoe, much like they do when lifting barefoot. It allows me to lock into all four corners of my feet for excellent stability, while the 7 mm drop offers a little extra lift and support. Plus, the versatile design of this shoe also performs quite well on cardio days, making it a superb cross-trainer.
Below, I wanted to really dig into all of the advanced features that make the ALTRA Solstice XT one of the best cross trainers out there on the market.
A very wide toe box allows toes to naturally splay
Great for circuits, cardio, or powerlifting
Low profile for added agility
Flex grooves in the outsole offer heightened flexibility
Caged upper isn’t as breathable as expected
Not great for long-distance running
Limited traction for outdoor runs
One of the best features of the Altra Solstice XT is the performance of the midsole. It is composed of High Abrasion EVA foam that offers a plush step-in feel. If you love something that feels light and squishy, you are bound to fall in love with the feel of this shoe. While walking or warming up, your feet feel surrounded by plush cushioning. However, as your intensity increases, the midsole firms up for excellent energy return. Quick and snappy movements will just come naturally with this high-performing midsole.
It is also important to note that while it may look like a zero-drop training shoe, it actually hosts a modest 7 mm drop. This subtle drop provides you with just a little added support and impact absorption in the heel counter. It’s perfect for snappy drop sets, but it also gives you a little extra edge when engaging in heavy compound lifts such as squats or deadlifts.
I love the overall simplicity of the outsole. It is composed of a full rubber outsole with tightly spaced grooves that really help you grip the ground under your feet. These tiny flex grooves built into the rubber offer heightened agility and flexibility, and boast a slightly tacky finish that makes you feel like you are really glued to the ground.
Under the full rubber outsole is Altra’s InnerFlex plate. This plate cuts a grid both horizontally and vertically throughout the entire shoe, which increases your overall flexibility and movement. This technology is only found in Altra training shoes and allows heightened agility and comfort while keeping the overall weight down. The cut of the rubber outsole paired with the Innerflex technology makes this shoe much more nimble and built for face-paced and snappy movements that feel comforted and controlled.
There’s a lot more going on in regards to this upper than meets the eye. While it looks like your basic mesh upper, it hosts hidden stability features that help lock your feet in place. It has a synthetic caged saddle that contours to the shape of your foot for a secure fit. On top of that saddle is a layer of lightweight mesh materials that work to lift hot air up and away from your foot. This saddle works to really hug your foot, and lock the shoe in place for quick and snappy sets.
One of the downsides that I noticed with this shoe is that it is deceptively hot. While it looks like a light and breezy minimalist trainer, the internal synthetic saddle that boosts lockdown also locks hot air up against your foot. For most, this hot structure isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is worth mentioning for those looking for something that is a little more cool and airy.
The Altra Solstice XT is a shoe that can adapt to whatever you are doing at the gym. The flexible outsole and modest cushioning are great for circuits, running on the treadmill, or engaging in CrossFit. It really shines when you start to pick up the pace, whether it’s during cardio, playing basketball, or knocking out a few quick circuits.
However, this shoe is built for more than just speed. The overall cut of this shoe is also great for powerlifting as well. The wide frame and super-wide toe box are cut to mimic the natural frame of your foot. When engaging in challenging compound lifts, the cut of this shoe allows you to really press into all four corners of your feet for added stability on powerlifting day. Basically, it’s a shoe that can tackle a little bit of everything.
Altra really nails the fit of this shoe - there are no tapered toes here! Taking a quick look at the cut of this toe box, and you can tell that this shoe was designed to give your toes plenty of room to naturally splay. While this is great for stability when running, it really shines when engaging in powerlifting. Even if you have a foot that is a little wide, you will find that this shoe fits like a glove. Plus, the caged upper offers a secure fit for those with narrow feet while giving your toes plenty of room to move inside of the shoe without sacrificing stability.
Overall, most users found that this shoe fit true to size. The wide cut of the shoe in addition to the smart lacing system is able to accommodate a wide variety of feet. However, while you may be a size 10 in your Nikes, that’s not always true when switching brands. Be sure to take good measurements of your feet and compare them to Altra’s sizing chart to get the right size the first time around!
I love the style of this shoe. It is classic and minimalist, and something that won’t go out of style anytime soon. It boasts a low profile that helps with overall movement and agility, but also a classic silhouette that goes with just about anything. Speaking of a classic style, one of the downsides of this shoe is that it is only available in limited color options. It comes in classic white, black, or navy blue color selections. If you love bright and punchy color palettes, you may find this shoe to be a bit underwhelming.
The price of this shoe runs about in the middle of the road. It isn’t the most expensive trainer out there on the market, but it is far from the most expensive. When you take into consideration the overall versatility of this shoe that can easily transition from the treadmill to the weight bench, it’s an excellent value. If you need a good pair of gym shoes that can adapt to your versatile workout schedule, the Altra Solstice XT is well worth the initial investment.
Comparisons to Previous Versions
Compared back-to-back, the Solstice is designed more for quick and snappy movements, as well as cardio. Where the Solstice XT really shines lies in its versatility. It may cost you a little bit more than the OG (but not by much), but you will gain a more comfortable fit, as well as enhanced features that can easily transition to different styles of weight work without suffering from loss of support.
Trainers built for weight training are often a bit more rigid and don’t offer that plush step-in feel that I love. The great part about the Atra Solstice XT is that it offers users plush cushioning in the midsole without sacrificing ground feel. Plus, the cut of the outsole is strong and supportive, yet small grooves in the rubber boost agility and movement. Whether you are cross-training, running, or powerlifting, the Altra Solstice XT is a great choice.