Today, we’re going to be comparing two underrated stability shoes from Altra, the Altra Provision vs Paradigm.
We’re going to be taking a look at the two latest iterations of both shoes, the Provision 6 vs Paradigm 6.
But while they’re both stability running shoes, they do not serve the exact same runner.
So which one offers better stability? Let’s find out…
Altra Provision vs Paradim
If you’re not familiar with Altra, it’s a little bit different from most other running shoe companies on the market.
Their goal is to provide a more Natural Ride System (NRS). What do I mean by that is you have a balanced drop where the heel is level with the forefoot for a zero-drop shoe.
Their shoes are also supposed to be shaped like your foot with a really wide toe box to accommodate your toes as they sprawl out once they hit the ground.
If you’re in a hurry, these are the main differences between the Altra Provision vs Paradigm…
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It’s natural to compare the Provision 6 to the Paradigm 6. The difference is the Paradigm 6 has more stability elements with larger guide rails on both sides of the shoe.
It also has two millimeters more stack height coming in at 30 millimeters with that EGO Max which is just bouncier compared to the EGO foam we get on the Provision 6.
So, the Paradigm 6 is a max stability max cushioned trainer while the Provision 6 is essentially an everyday trainer with some mild stability elements built into the shoe.
The Provision doesn’t have these overbuilt walls or mechanisms to provide a ton of stability. It just has a gentle guide rail on the medial side.
So both of these road running shoes are geared towards an underserved area of running.
The Paradigm serves runners looking for a max cushion shoe that also offers max levels of stability, which is an approach we don’t quite often these days.
The Provision serves runners who just want some mild stability like the New Balance Prism does where it’s not overly stable or overly built.
Related: Altra Torin vs Escalante
Weight, Stack & Drop
In the Provison 6, we have a 0mm heel drop with 28 millimeters of stack height in the heel and 28 millimeters in the forefoot.
The Paradigm 6 runs on the same 0mm drop platform with 30mm of stack height in the heel and 30 millimeters in the forefoot.
The Provision comes in at a weight of 8.9 ounces (252 grams) for a men’s size 9 and 8.0 oz (226 grams) for a women’s size 8.
The Paradigm weighs in at 10.3 ounces (292 grams) for a men’s size 9 and 9.2 oz (260 grams).
As you can see, the Provision is the lighter of the two and it’s actually about 8% lighter than the Provision 5.
But the weight of the Paradigm comes down to the increased stack height and how the shoe offers stability for the runner, which is what we’re going to be talking about right after the specs chart…
|Altra Provision||Altra Paradigm|
|Men (size 9)|
→ 8.9 oz (252 grams)
|Men (size 9)|
→ 10.3 oz (292 grams)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 8.0 oz (226 grams)
|Women (size 8)|
→ 9.2 oz (260 grams)
|0mm drop||0mm drop|
|EGo midsole||EGO MAX midsole|
|Sandwich mesh||Engineered mesh|
|FootPod rubber outsole||FootPod rubber outsole|
The Provision 6 features EGO foam on the midsole which is different from the EGO Max on the Paradigm 6.
I will say that the midsole on the Provision is a little bit stiffer. I think the EGO foam is just a little bit more dense and a little bit less squishy, which gives the shoe just a little bit more rigidity.
It’s not a super rigid shoe, but it’s just more rigid than the Torin 5 for example, which helps with the overall stability with that medial sidewall or guide rail.
Related: Altra Lone Peak vs Superior
With the new EGO Max compound, the midsole has been completely refreshed and is arguably the most impactful update (pun intended) to the Paradigm 6.0.
Ego Max is the same kind of foam featured on the Torin 5. According to Altra, this is currently their bounciest most plush foam to date, which is great for your easy-day efforts.
But compared to other super plush midsole compounds, EGO Max isn’t a mushy foam. It’s pretty dense and will provide enough responsiveness and cushioning while you’re running without sacrificing stability.
So, while it’s not the bounciest foam on the market, it definitely is better than the EGO on the Provision or the Paradigm 4.5 or 5.
Not only that, but while EGO Max is softer and bouncier, it is a little bit more durable and has more energy return.
So the EGO on the Provision apparently is less durable and has a little bit less bounce. However, it does have an excellent level of cushioning and might help in the stability area just because it’s less soft and gives the runner a little bit more of a stable platform to utilize.
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The Provision creates stability using a small Guide Rail on the medial side. Essentially, a Guide Rail is a wall of foam that keeps the foot aligned if it happens to need it.
This is an innovative approach to stability that Brooks are also using on their stability shoes like the Adrenaline GTS 21 and 22 and the Glycerin GTS 19.
So, if you tend to roll to the inside, the small guide rail on the medial side will help correct your gait or at least give you some support in that area.
There is however no guide rail on the lateral side like we see on the Paradigm 6, which is a big differentiating factor between the two shoes.
As I mentioned, the Provision has no guide rail on the lateral side, which seems strange.
It seems like it would have been an easy add and really wouldn’t have hampered the experience that much considering how small this guide rail is on the medial side.
So, if you’re someone who tends to underpronate or roll to the outside, then this shoe might not give you the support needed there.
Overall, The EGO Max foam is softer, bouncier, and more durable. But I’m confused as to why the EGO Max isn’t on the Provision.
I get it’s a little bit firmer compared to EGO Max and it’s supposed to give you a little more of a stable ride, but then the Paradigm 6 has the EGO Max foam that’s more of a stability shoe than the Provision 6.
The midsole features an update to the Guide Rail stability mechanism on both sides.
The Guide Rail stability technology is unique in the way that if you need stability, it’s there for you to use it. And if you don’t need stability, you don’t really interact with it at all.
The whole point with the Paradigm 6 is if you overpronate (roll inward) or supinate (roll outward), you’ll hit that Guide Rail and it’ll guide your foot back into a more correct state of running.
Also, there’s no stability pods, no plastic, and no torsion bars. The stability elements are delivered only through those two walls of Ego Max.
Which Stability Level Should You Get
The Provision 6 is a great shoe, especially for people who need just a hint of stability in their running shoes.
It has that foot-shaped natural feel to it with that balanced approach, and if that’s something you like, I think this will be right up your alley.
It’s not too heavy for a typical daily trainer. The foam is very comfortable and it does a great job of providing an excellent level of cushioning.
It isn’t too soft, it isn’t too hard, it really does provide a comfortable experience.
The Paradigm 6 is going to be great for you if you need a shoe with a lot of stack height and a ton of stability through your footstrike.
It’s going to be great for your overpronation issues, Plantar Fasciitis issues, flat feet issues, or supination issues.
It’s also great for bigger runners because the Paradigm is built like a tank.
Again, if you do need a stable experience, the Guide Rails do a great job of keeping your foot in the correct motion of the correct gait and giving you that stable ride and experience people are coming to this shoe for.
Just like Altra is doing with the Provision and the Paradigm, Hoka does the same thing with the Hoka Arahi 5 and the Gaviota 3.
Foot Shape Upper
The foot shape design in the upper is one of the big points for Altra in their running shoes.
On the Provision, the upper is a fairly thin engineered mesh that Altra call their sandwich mesh with about average breathability.
In the toe box section, you get that plastic bumper guard that supports the mesh in that region along with some plastic overlays across the top of the toe box and some more plastic overlays as you get towards the rear of the shoe.
Most of you probably already understand that Altra is known for their foot-shape geometry. So the upper is their classic foot-shaped silhouette designed to accommodate the forefoot so you can get that really wide toe box that allows some room for the toes to sprawl out once they hit the ground.
On the Paradigm, the upper is pretty much just your standard engineered mesh upper with some ventilation areas in the toe box and on both sides of the shoe.
Also, in the toe box area, you do have this small plastic guard that wraps around the entire toe area to basically support the mesh upper and give you some added protection.
Just like the Provision, the Paradigm is shaped like your foot to give you a little bit more room in the toe box so your toes can spread out naturally and give you a more natural running style.
On the Provision, the tongue is pretty comfortable and has a decent amount of padding as you get towards the top. It is non-gusseted meaning it’s not attached.
The Paradigm also has a non-gusseted medium padded tongue. I’m very happy to see both shoes don’t have that plastic thin tongue that’s on the Torin 5 that everyone seems to hate as it kind of cuts your leg up.
While both shoes are nothing to write home about in terms of the padding on the tongue, the lacing system does have one interesting feature as part of the interior of the tongue called InnovArch…
Lacing & InnovArch
In terms of the lacing system, it’s pretty standard except for this interesting feature on the medial side.
This is essentially another piece of inner lining that wraps up on the medial side of your shoe that sits between your foot and the upper and allows kind of more arch support as you tie the shoe tighter to help the overall stability.
Altra added some more plastic overlays on the outside just to accommodate that feature.
So, when you tie this piece and pull it tighter, it wraps around your foot and that’s why they have that kind of liner in there to prevent irritation while giving you a more secure fit.
As far as the heel is designed, there’s no hard internal heel counter on both shoes to provide a ton of structure to that heel region.
You can actually move it around kind of fairly easily, but it does have a little bit of structure to it, especially at the base with these internal plastic panels on the Provision and those Guide Rails that are kind of towards the rear of the Paradigm to keep your foot in place.
So while both shoes are pretty flexible and not that sturdy in the heel, the Paradigm does provide better heel lockdown thanks to those guide rails.
But the Provision does get a little bit of padding with these small foam bumps in the interior ankle sides of the shoe. This helps give a little bit better lockdown and comfort in that region.
Size & Width
In terms of width, Altra is coming out with a wide variety of sizing options changing from their original foot shape. Some other models will have different versions that are narrower, wider, or just have a different overall fit depending on what the runner wants.
I also believe Altra does have some slight differences between the men’s and the women’s shoes just to accommodate the differences between men’s and women’s feet.
Both shoes are pretty similar in terms of the outsole and both have a ton of thicker rubber coverage.
However, it’s important to note that Altra completely changed the outsoles from the Provision 5 and the Paradigm 5.
You do get this outsole technology where essentially each of these lines of rubber is supposed to mimic and move with the bones, tendons, and metatarsals in your feet.
I don’t know how much direct translation each of these lines has to the bones and tendons in your feet. However, it does allow the shoe to kind of flex a little bit easier and kind of bend a little bit more than if it was just a flat typical outsole.
You do have these flex grooves in the forefoot that do help with the flexibility although these shoes are much stiffer than the Torin 5, which is something you want in a stability shoe.
The other thing I’ll say is that the outsoles have these tightly packed individual lugs that are fairly soft to the touch. However, I will say that the rubber itself is fairly thick and you do get quite a bit of it.
Having a closer look at both outsoles, you can see on the Provision 6, those rubber lines go all the way to the heel which is not that well-built compared to the Paradigm.
On the Paradigm, those rubber lines don’t go all the way to the heel because, right in the midfoot, there’s this kind of rubber island shaped like a bolt that is supposed to provide more rigidity, which is another feature that makes the Paradigm even more stable than the Provision.
As a quick reminder, while both shoes are stability shoes, the level of overpronation control provided by each shoe is significantly different.
The Altra Provision 5 is not overbuilt. It’s a mild stability shoe meaning it’s going to provide just a gentle touch of overpronation control thanks to that small guide rail on the medial side.
It’s also going to be a good option for you even if you are a neutral runner and want something a little bit more stable on the medial side, especially when your feet tend to fatigue and kind of roll inward at the end of those longer miles.
On the other hand, the Altra Paradigm 6 is a max cushion max stability trainer. It’s going to be your shoe if your feet fall inward or outward excessively and you’re looking for an innovative approach to correct your overpronation issues.
Last but not least, both shoes look a lot better than their previous iterations. I think Altra made some drastic improvements compared to the Provision 5 and the Paradigm 5. The styling, the colors, and the options really are way better than the previous offerings.
I’m just happy that Altra made all the right improvements to make these even more comfortable more stylish and just more overall enjoyable shoes.
Well, that concludes this Altra Provision vs Paradigm comparison. I hope you found it helpful and as always, I’ll see you in the next one 🙂