Northface Altamesa 500 Trail Runner: Ambassador Review

Ambassador Review of The Northface Altamesa 500 Trail Running Shoe

Review by Ambassador, Steve Buelna 

Shop the Altamesa 500 in Men's and Women's

First Impressions: I first noticed that the shoes were lighter than I anticipated. I also took note of the wider footplate towards the front of the shoes. I imagined this might help provide stability and reduce the potential for rolling an ankle. This seemed to be and accurate guess as I put the first 75 miles or so on these shoes.

First Run: I put these shoes to the test of a wide variety of conditions. Out of the box I ran 9 miles which included pavement, rocky terrain, smooth pine needles covered trails, rocky shale, mud, and even snow. The shoes proved to handle all those conditions very well. I noticed the toe box was very breathable and the upper as a whole stayed secure on my foot. I really enjoyed the feel of the foam in the footbed. It appeared to strike the perfect balance of being absorbent, but also responsive.

Shoe Breakdown:

  • Foam - as mentioned, this is probably one of my favorite aspects of this shoe. Great absorption without energy loss. Typically trail shoes hurt my feet to run on pavement, not the case for these trail shoes. Even rocky terrain like Sawtooth Trail was quite pleasant for the Altamesa 500s.
  • Shoe Upper - Good fit without any weird hot spots. Most noticeably breathable in the toe box area. Appears to be plenty durable and I am anything but easy on my shoes.
  • Sole/Traction - Seemed to handle all the various surfaces and conditions well. The extra width in the forefoot at least delayed ankle rolls if not preventing entirely.
  • Laces - Yes I will rate that too. These are great laces and hold in place quite well. Nothing more annoying than having to stop to tie your shoe

Pros and Cons:

As you can see from above, I really like these shoes. Incredibly comfortable and versatile. I think the foam sole would make it a go to shoe for me for training and probably anything over a half marathon distance. The only con I had was on a steep downhill MTB trail that cause a blister in my arch. But I can’t be certain that that wasn’t more from the socks I had on and less from the shoes. I would not only highly recommend these to others, but will likely be replacing these with the same model when it is time to retire them.


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