The Altra Rivera is an all-new neutral everyday training shoe that’s light, lively, soft, versatile and fun.
It’s built on a responsive, moderately thick midsole and includes a balanced cushioning platform and foot-shaped toe box that Altra engineers into all of its shoes.
We think it’s one of the best new shoes of 2021 and one of the best models Altra has ever produced.
Everything about the Altra Rivera is new, but most notably is the new design serves up a more streamlined look and feel. It not only looks fast and smooth, but that’s how it feels and runs too.
The combination of the lightweight, one-piece Altra Ego midsole and the stretchy, secure and cleanly designed one-piece engineered upper bring a soft, but energetic ride to all types of training runs.
All Altra shoes are built with a “footshape” toe box that is wider and more spacious than most other shoes, thus allowing a runner’s toes and the transverse arch to splay and flex to allow for more effective muscular output for natural stability and optimal propulsion at the toe-off phase of a stride.
The toe box of the Rivera is spacious like most of Altra’s shoes, but it doesn’t have a bulbous shape or excessive roominess like most of its predecessor’s in the brand’s lineup.
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
The reason Altra builds its shoes on a level platform is to allow the heel and forefoot of a runner’s foot to always be an equal distance from the ground. Unlike shoes with elevated heels and sloping profiles, Altra’s shoes create what the brand calls an optimal foot alignment that cultivates natural running form and encourages low-impact footstrikes.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Altra Rivera fits true to size with a narrow-medium width in the heel and arch and just a touch more room in the forefoot. (It doesn’t feel nearly as roomy as most Altra shoes.)
The Rivera’s step-in feel is soft, smooth and comfortable, and it oozes a light and agile performance-oriented vibe the moment you start running in it.
The ride is sublime — buttery smooth, springy and effortless. (For Altra fans, it feels like a magical mashup of the Escalante Racer and the Torin 4.5 Plush.) Light, supple and peppy, the Rivera inspires quick-cadence running, good running form and enjoyable experiences.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
New runners will appreciate the Altra Rivera for its versatility, while experienced runners will like it for its light and fast performance.
With such a luscious combination of juicy cushion, lightweight vibe and upbeat performance, the Rivera can be a versatile, do-everything training shoe. It’s perfect for a long-run specialist as well as a fast-workout specialist.
It’s also a great shoe for tempo runs, progressive long runs, fartlek workouts and longer interval sessions. It’s also light and energetic enough to be a race-day choice for 5K to the half marathon.
PROS: ALTRA RIVERA
The one-piece engineered mesh upper provides a seamless on-foot experience while still holding the foot onto the platform and providing optimal breathability. The moderately reinforced heel counter, padded tongue and cushy heel collar round complement the cozy and secure fit and feel.
The Rivera features a lightweight, one-piece Altra EGO midsole that offers loads of shock-absorbing protection as well as considerable energy-returning responsiveness. It’s Altra’s premium cushioning foam and it serves up smooth heel-toe transitions as it works with the natural movements of a runner’s foot.
The combination of the Innerflex grid-like grooves in the midsole and the minimal rubber across the outsole allow a runner’s foot to flex naturally while allowing the shoe to be lighter and more agile.
CONS: ALTRA RIVERA
There really isn’t much downside to Rivera. It’s not ideal for a runner who needs anti-pronation support and it might take a bit of time to adjust to a zero-drop or level platform if you’re used to running in shoes with a 4mm or 8mm offset.
Aside from these minor points, it’s a great shoe.