Altra Provision 4.0 Intro
The goal of all running shoe companies would be comfort while running and having you run as natural as you can. Altra is a company founded on this ideal and they continue to strive to meet it for all runners.
They do this with some key differences between their company and the other brands by offering a zero drop midsole (where all along your heel to toe it sits on the same height).
With the introduction of the Provision 4.0 they have introduced some new technology to help stability runners find their natural stride.
The Altra Provision 4.0 is the fourth edition of their most popular dynamic support or stability trainer.
Altra has two stability options, the Provision and the Paradigm, which is a max cushioned trainer. It has undergone some big changes since the 3.5.
The Altra Provision 4.0 competes with the Hoka Arahi, Saucony Omni, On Cloudflyer, New Balance 860 and Mizuno Wave Inspire. The Provision retails for 130 dollars placing it right in the middle of the mid tier stability trainers.
Altra Provision 4.0 First Impressions
I took the Provision 4.0 on a relaxed 4 ½ miles for their first run. There was an immediate bounce to them while also maintaining some responsiveness.
The shoes took multiple attempts to tie because of the Innovarch lacing system. The zero drop was evident from how my calves and the soles of my feet felt during and after the run.
I knew I was going to be in for an adjustment period based on what other runners have told me. On the medial side of my left foot I experienced a hot spot, an area where a blister would occur if I kept running.
I hoped this wasn’t a sign of what was to come from The Altra Provision 4.0.
Altra Provision 4.0 Sole Unit
Let’s start with the ground up. The outsole of the Altra Provision 4.0 is their trademark rubber footpod. This serves as a map of your foot bones and tendons to help it bend and move naturally.
The rubber is on the thin side similar to Saucony’s crystal rubber material. It added to the flexibility of the shoe. A guidance line runs from heel to toe also increasing flexibility.
There were areas of wear on the outsole after about 50 miles. The outsole handled both wet and dry conditions effectively.
The Provision 4.0 has an A-Bound, Altra’s recycled environmentally friendly midsole. It is an EVA compound known for the bounciness and protection it provides. A tennis ball like bounce is provided from the midsole.
Innerflex, grid like grooves in the midsole, help the shoe to be lighter and faster.
On the medial side of the Altra Provision is a guide rail located between the midfoot and heel. This is a similar technology that may have been seen in other stability trainers.
The only difference is Altra’s guide rail is made from A-Bound while other ones are a firmer material. This material gives the guide rail more of a dynamic feeling, engaging only when you need it.
The “difference of three” is Altra’s core principle, it directs their brand and sets them apart from the rest.
These three aspects, Footshape, Fit4Her and Balanced Cushioning, are found in Provision 4.0 along with all other offerings from Altra. Fit4Her is a technology they have developed to cater to the female foot.
This includes a narrower heel and midfoot along with a higher instep and longer arch.
The shape of the Provision 4.0 stands out from other stability trainers. It is equipped with Altra’s trademarked Footshape toe box.
The wider toe box allows for the toes to relax and spread out naturally as you run. It also gives the big toe more space for more powerful toe offs. The result is a more natural stride with more efficient toe offs.
Altra’s Balanced Cushioning platform means the Provision’s heel to toe drop is 0 mm. This means your heel and toes sit at the same height.
This was developed to provide optimal alignment, cultivate better form and encourage low impact landings. It encourages mid foot landings.
The zero drop is noticeably on the first run. It takes 10 to 15 miles in them to truly adjust to the drop. There is more strain on the soles of your feet along with calfs.
Altra Provision 4.0 Upper Unit
The upper of the Provision 4.0 is equipped with Altra’s newest stability innovation, Innovarch.
Innovarch is a thin layer of mesh material under the footbed that wraps around the medial (inner) side of your midfoot, where it splits into three sections to meet the tongue and become a part of the lacing system.
This gives the Provision a truly customizable fit for any runner along with providing stability when you need it. For these reasons Altra is marketing it to both stability and neutral runners.
This unique system can cause for some trial and error to fit the perfect fit for your runs. The reason for this is because of the three individual sections of the Innovarch and finding the right amount of snugness you need.
The insole of the Provision pairs up with Innovarch nicely. It provides ample cushioning along with having dimples in them. The result is a different sensation which translates into more awareness of your feet and how they feel.
The engineered mesh update has undergone a small update. It remains light, breathable, and flexible.
The tongue of the Provision is cushioned but unfortunately it isn’t held in place by the laces so it tends to slide to one side or the other on runs, but not to the point of being bothersome because of how wide it is.
Another area of the upper that takes some time adjusting to is the heel. The heel collar has enough but less cushioning than most other trainers out there. The absence of a full heel counter is noticeable.
It causes the heel portion to lack structure and a secure fit. The Adidas SolarGlide ST had a similar approach, fit and feel. Because of this fit it places more importance on the Innovarch and how you tie your shoes.
There wasn’t any heel slippage while running, just a longer adjustment period.
Altra Provision 4.0 Conclusion
When I started to review shoes for RunningShoesGuru I had a bucket list of brands I wanted to review. Altra was one of the first brands on the list. I was eagerly counting down to the release of Provision 4.0.
Runs with the Provision 4.0 got off to a shaky start but I am pleased to report that they turned out to be a sound stability trainer.
Altra is a brand that is founded on the principle of striving to have you a run as natural as possible. It is evident in everything they develop and implement in their offerings.
The Provision 4.0 is equipped with the latest developments and achieves that goal.
Like all Altra’s offerings, the Provision has a zero mm drop from heel to toe. There will be an adjustment period for your calves and soles to get used to this.
The zero-drop resulted in more of a midfoot/forefoot landing which took some getting used to as well. It took me about 15 to 20 miles to fully adjust but once I did my opinion of the shoe improved dramatically.
The Footshape Altra employs sets them apart from other brands and is a strength of the Provision. Like the zero drop this also has an adjustment period.
It is tailor-fitted in the heel through the midfoot with a wider toe box that truly encourages your toes to splay naturally. This resulted in smooth transitions all the way through my stride along with powerful toe offs.
The dynamic stability of the Provision is provided by a medial side guide rail along with the Innovarch lacing system. The soft guide rail gave me stability when I needed it because of its flexibility.
If utilized correctly the Innovarch is a game-changing technology. It took me a handful of runs to find the perfect amount of support needed from the three individual sections.
Along with adapting to this system which took some time as well. Once that period was over I felt like the Innovarch pairs up beautifully with all the other unique aspects of the Provision.
One drawback of the upper was the heel area. The lack of structure gave the sensation that it could cause heel slippage for some. It also gives you a strange sensation like you are wearing a clog.
The Altra Provision 4.0 is priced at 130 dollars which places it in the middle of a crowded moderate stability field. It’s equipped with features that make them a unique option.
Unfortunately, unique doesn’t mean the Provision is going to be the best trainer for everyone.
The Provision was a solid trainer that took time to love. At first, I had struggles finding the right fit along with the adjustment period.
Once I figured out how to tie them to fit my feet, and got over the adjustment period I found myself coming back again and again after I had logged my 50 review miles to run in them.
They gave me customizable stability along with providing a more natural stride.
We purchased a pair of Altra Provision 4.0 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.