Author: Anonymous road and trail junkie who is completely impartial and likes to dip his toes in many a shoe. 

You had me at hello Torin.

The traditional Torin 4 over the past 6 months has been my go to, do-it-all-shoe. I found myself gravitating to it more and more as it offered me the lightweight  flexibility and rocket like toe off for a fast 5km, but had plenty of comfort and under foot protection for a marathon distance also.

It suited my personal running preferences because it offered me that mid level cushioning that didn’t make me feel too high off the ground, and had enough flex in the forefoot of the shoe .

Then I was offered a chance to test the all new Torin 4.5 Plush. I didn’t originally know much about it, but the word “plush” was pretty descriptive and I envisioned a shoe that would elevate comfort over speed.  Having now clocked a little over 200km now in my Torin 4.5 Plush, I’ve spent the past week thinking of ways to describe the differences of the 2 shoes. The best I could come up with was to compare them as luxury sports cars (apologies if cars aren’t your thing). Disclaimer – I don’t own and probably will never own either of these cars.

Think of your original Torin 4 as your stripped down, race ready Porsche 911 with bucket racing seats – Damn it feels good, how could it be any better? Now step inside a Rolls Royce Phantom (Torin 4.5 Plush!). Holy Moly! It’s a level of comfort you never thought existed. They both have a rocket for an engine, but comfort always wins. 

As with most Altra’s, somethings always stay the same. Both shoes maintain the Altra Foot-Shape Toe Box that the company is famous for. It offers plenty of room in the toe box without your feet sliding around. I get a really nice lock down when lacing up. Both shoes are also neutral and built on Altra’s Balance Cushioning system (0 Drop).

Let me start with the clear and obvious differences:

  1. The new Torin 4.5 Plush has 28mm of cushioning (as opposed to 25mm of cushioning on Torin). 3mm may not sound like a lot but you can clearly see the difference and the added 3mm gives you the impression of a strong cushioned shoe.
  2. The new Torin 4.5 Plush has a knit upper, where as the previous version had an engineered upper.

Within my first run I was able to appreciate the differences of the new Knit upper. It was not ridged nor loose (like the Torin 3.5 Knit which was just way too loose), and was lightweight and breathable. It hugged the food beautifully which just added to that feeling of smooth comfort straight out the box.  My foot was able to flex and bend, thereby maintaining my explosive toe off that I’ve come to enjoy in my previous Torin. The Cushioning is soft under foot, and I would attribute this to the strobel layer that has been added underneath the insole.  

The 2 shoes essentially have the same midsole compound (called Quantic), and so the additional cushioning and softness underfoot comes from the strobel layer. It’s soft and squishy like a premium bed mattress, but there is a real spring to every step. I find myself running faster without noticing it.

The heel fit has been improved. It soft and comfortable, as opposed to a rigid heel structure that other shoes are utilizing. It just added to the feeling of PLUSH.

Another notable difference is the tongue, which has been upgraded to be lighter, thinner and more performance based tongue. It gives you that feeling of fast performance despite being in a stonger cushioned shoe.

This shoe definitely tries to find the balance between PLUSH comfort and performance and for the most part, I think Altra have got that right. This shoe is fast enough for a morning 10km run, and comfortable enough for an Ultra marathon. This could be your recovery and long distance shoe. I would recommend this shoe to anyone who enjoys a strong or max cushioned shoe, that is soft and responsive underfoot. If you enjoyed the Torin 4, you’re going to love the 4.5 Plush. However, if your preference is to lighter firmer shoes, I think you’ll be better off with the new Escalante 2.5.

A final note on durability: After roughly 200km of road running in them, my shoes still look fairly new. Outsole durability is so far looking excellent, and I’m still getting plenty of responsiveness out of the midsole.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback on the Torin 4.5 Plush, leave your comments below. I’ll be watching out for them daily!


(p.s. Toni is not the author, just the publisher)

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