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Tough Shoe for Tough Workouts: Altra HIIT XT Review

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Altra, a Utah-based running shoe company, breaks into the fitness world with the HITT XT – a tough, stable, and comfortable cross-training shoe. We wore the Altra HIIT XT through four months of workouts (and counting) during our review.

Altra HIIT XT Review

From the start, Altra Running built shoes to keep runners’ feet comfortable and healthy. The shoes’ zero heel-to-toe drop and wide, foot-shaped toe boxes let feet flex and move without restriction.

The new HIIT XT was designed with the CrossFitter/weight trainer in mind. It’s a departure from the brand’s running line, with an outsole and upper designed to thrive in the weight room and on the court. We tested a sample for this review.

Altra HIIT XT Review
The author in his native habitat; photo by Ali Michelle

In short: The HIIT XT ($99) provides a stable platform for CrossFit workouts and lifting heavy weight. But Altra’s running background is apparent during short runs, making it an ideal shoe for athletes with varied workout regimens.

Altra HIIT XT Review

I’m a CrossFit coach and gym owner. My athletes and I tested the shoe for four months over a wide range, including Olympic and power lifting, gymnastics, box jumps, runs, and rope climbs.

Our test pair (men’s size 10) weighed an average of 11.9 ounces per shoe. They cost $99.

HIIT XT Grip and Durability

The sport of fitness is not easy on footwear, and I’ve worn out countless CrossFit shoes. I’ve seen burst sidewalls, soles split in two, and even a rope burn right through an outsole. The HIIT XT’s outsole has shown almost zero wear after months of abuse.

Altra HIIT XT Review

The wide toe box and contoured heel cuff provide a perfect fit right out of the box, giving wearers a stable, firm platform for lifting weights and “farmer’s carry” workouts.

The HIIT XT functions OK as a running shoe for short distances, but don’t push it beyond a couple miles. It excels as a lifting and court shoe, making it an ideal choice for CrossFit.

Altra HIIT XT Super Sticky Outsole

The Altra HIIT XT’s outsole provides glue-like grip. This is made possible by its combination of diagonal and diamond-shaped tread patterns combined with sticky rubber.

The outsole allows for stability and traction on courts during fast directional changes, and on wood during box jumps.

It extends up the instep, adding grip and protection for rope climbs. Most CrossFitters start to slip down a rope as they tire, but every tester came off the rope reporting zero slippage.

Altra Durable Upper and Outsole

Altra HIIT XT Review

The outsole extension is a key ingredient in one of our favorite features: the shoes’ impressive durability. “Three months of thrashing in these shoes, and I’m showing more wear than they are,” said one tester.

Besides some very minor wear on the outsole, we were surprised to see almost no wear on the places that most CrossFit shoes break down – the sidewalls and the instep.

HIIT XT Comfort, Features

Altra’s signature wide toe box and foot-shaped last meant zero break-in period and 90 days of blister-free workouts. And the removeable insole allowed us to tweak the shoe for different workouts – remove it for deadlift days, put it back for run WODs.

Altra HIIT XT: Not a Running Shoe

It bears mentioning again: While the HIIT has running shoe roots, it’s not a running shoe. But it works fine for short sprints and directional changes, where the sticky rubber sole helps it thrive.

But on longer runs, the shoe is stiff and overly firm. If you spend more time running than lifting, Altra and many other brands make better options.

Overall Impression: HIIT XT

With its supportive fit and adjustable insole, the HIIT XT can handle everything you throw at it in the gym.

It’s not the classic weightlifting shoe, but try running 400 meters in one of those. On the other hand, a 400-pound deadlift would crush a running shoe. This handles both.

The Altra HIIT XT is a classic gym-oriented shoe that’s just like CrossFitters: faster than a lifter, stronger than a runner.

–Billy Brown is a competitive CrossFitter who trains six days per week at Jefferson State CrossFit, a gym he owns and coaches at in Northern California.

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