Our verdict


The Altra VIA Olympus is the max-cushioned road runner that zero-drop fans have been waiting for. Though it managed to rain on its own parade with a firmer-than-expected midsole, this shoe more than made up for it with a comfy upper, stable platform, smooth ride, and the wide fit Altra loyalists have long demanded.


  • Comfortable and premium-feeling upper
  • Roomy, unmistakably-Altra fit
  • Secure lockdown even for narrow feet
  • Smooth and responsive ride
  • Good for any distance at an easy pace
  • Effective, but not obtrusive, rocker
  • Copious amount of padding
  • Breathable
  • Absorbs impact well


  • Cushioning on the firm side, but a toss-up on how firm
  • Doesn’t feel like a zero-drop shoe
  • Substantial break-in period
  • On the heavier side

Who should buy the Altra VIA Olympus

Consider getting the Altra VIA Olympus if you:


Who should not buy it

Cushioning in the VIA Olympus has been a topic of hot debate among reviewers. Some say it’s firm-ish, others say it’s brick-ish. If you’re after actual soft cushioning on a zero-drop running shoe, look at the Altra Paradigm 6.0 or the Vanish Tempo.

And for zero-drop shoes that actually feel like zero-drop shoes, among the best is the Altra Rivera.


The upper echelon of uppers

Reviewers had nothing but praise for the Altra VIA Olympus’ upper. They found it super plush (too plush for some), nicely padded, and well-ventilated — especially around the toe where the mesh is thinner.

  • “My feet are so happy at the beginning, middle, and end of the day”
  • “May not be considered stylish, but boy are they comfortable”
  • “Bondi- goodbye! Hello, comfort!”
Fact check

Assessing breathability with the help of a smoke-pumping machine, we rated the shoe's breathability as 4 out of 5, where 5 is the most breathable.

Altra VIA Olympus (left), Adidas Runfalcon (right)

Fact check

In the video test below, you can see that the most breathable (=transparent) areas of the upper are located in the toebox and on the sides. 

Fact check

Not much air is able to pass through the tongue given its generous padding — 7.5 mm over the average 5.6 mm.


Worth the wait?

As one of a handful of max-cushioned, zero-drop road shoes, Altra’s VIA Olympus had a ton of runners drooling over it upon its release. Stacked with 33mm of Ego MAX midsole — the same tech used on the Paradigm 6.0 that its owners loved — fans were all but ready to dip their feet into this pillow of a shoe.

But alas, what was supposed to be a triumphant debut has been met with decidedly mixed reactions, more specifically on its biggest draw: the cushioning.


Maximum “cushioning” on the VIA Olympus

Most running-shoe experts, along with a number of reviewers, had opinions on the VIA Olympus’ midsole along the lines of feeling like a “homogeneous pillow of deep and dense cushion” and getting “average-plus placement on the soft-to-firm scale.”

However, comparing it to the slightly less-cushioned Paradigm, scores of users were puzzled at how adding more foam can make a midsole that much firmer.

“Definitely tweaked the firmness on the Ego MAX compound for this one,” said one reviewer. Other reviewers were more expressive with their disappointment, stating that it’s “hard as a rock from toe to heel,” and felt like “running with cinder blocks on both feet.”

Fact check

Based on our durometer measurements of the foam softness, we wouldn't categorize the VIA Olympus as a firm shoe. It sits right at the average of road running shoes and falls into the "balanced" range. It is, however, firmer than 55% of shoes.


Disclaimer: We repeat the durometer measurement five times before claiming the final result. The photo above shows the final measurement.

Fact check

In cold temperatures, however, the foam does get noticeably firm. After sitting in the freezer for 20 minutes, the shoe got an astonishing 50% firmer! For reference, most foams only get about 25% firmer. This is something to keep i mind if you are primarily going to use the VIA Olympus in cold weather.


Runners agreed, though, that the high stack was able to satisfactorily perform its duties of absorbing impact and reducing ground feel.

Fact check

Measuring the shoe's stack height, we found that it deviates slightly from the stated parameters. Instead of the 33-mm stack and a 0-mm drop, our caliper measurements show that there is 34.3 mm of foam in the heel...


Fact check

...and 32.6 mm in the forefoot. This gives us a drop of 1.6 mm instead of zero.


Disclaimer: We always include insoles in our stack measurements.

Fact check

The insole of the VIA Olympus is well-cushioned. We measured it at 4.7 mm while the average is 4.5 mm.


Altra's Original Fit is back on the road

OG Altra connoisseurs were also excited to hear about the Original FootShape’s (a.k.a. Altra’s widest fit) return to the streets after models upon models of slimmer shoes.


Fans were happy to report that while it is “nowhere near the width of the Olympus trail versions,” the road-bound VIA Olympus still has that wide and accommodating fit reminiscent of their old Altra workhorses.

Fact check

We measured the widest part of the forefoot at 101.4 mm. This is wider than the average 97.7 mm. However, it is indeed slightly narrower than the trail-ready Olympus (103.4 mm). On the bright side, the square shape of the toebox creates more room for the toes than the majority of running shoes.


Runners suggest going true to size in the VIA Olympus.

Fact check

Based on our measurements of the shoe's internal length (260.0 mm) in a men's US size 8, it indeed runs true to Altra size. If in doubt, check with the brand's official size chart.


Unfortunately, some people on the far end of the wide spectrum still found the shoe's heel and midfoot narrow.

Fact check

Measuring the widest part of the upper in the rearfoot, we can confirm that the heel runs narrow in the VIA Olympus. It is 70 mm wide, while the average is 75.2 mm.


Narrow feet are welcome in the VIA Olympus

Even narrow-footed runners will not have problems securing themselves in the VIA Olympus. Its snug upper, padded tongue, fairly rigid heel counter, and extra outer lace holes allow users to cinch down its fit and provide for a good lockdown.

A bit of a clunker but generally smooth

For a neutral, “Balanced cushioning” (Altra doublespeak for zero drop) shoe, the VIA Olympus feels like neither—at least according to runners. First, it has such a wide base “that you get a ton of inherent stability out of it.”

Fact check

Based on our measurements, the sole is 114.9 mm wide in the forefoot. This is 2.3 mm wider than average.


Fact check

In the heel, the sole is 93.9 mm which is 4.3 mm wider than average.


Fact check

Combined with the firmer nature of the foam, it makes for a highly stable neutral shoe.

Another reason is the prominent rocker in the forefoot, which “removes a bit of that zero-drop sensation” and makes it feel more like a 2–4mm drop.


In any case, users enjoyed a smooth and fairly responsive ride, with a noticeable lack of bounce.

  • “Not so bouncy, not so dynamic type of ride”
  • “The rocker on this shoe makes the entire experience smooth and satisfying”
  • “The geometry made me enjoy running at easier paces.”

There is also barely any flex in the Altra VIA Olympus.

Fact check

The shoe has made it the top 4% of stiffest running shoes on our roster!

Measuring the shoe's resistance to bending, we found that it is 53% stiffer than the average.

Fact check

The VIA Olympus also received the maximum 5 out of 5 on our manual assessment of longitudinal and torsional flexibility.

Delayed gratification

Running experts suggest holding out judgment on the VIA Olympus until you’ve put some real mileage on it. While most of them agreed that the midsole has remained firm and stiff, a number noticed an improvement in the ride after breaking in.

They recommend logging at least a good 30 initial miles in the shoe “to unlock its real potential.”


Taking it easy from here on out

Seasoned runners consider the Altra VIA Olympus as a daily trainer that, besides being a great choice for their everyday miles, can serve as a long-distance cruising shoe.

Watch out for wet surfaces

According to a runtester, the outsole in the VIA Olympus has good traction on dry surfaces but can become slightly unstable when it’s wet.


Not a featherweight daily trainer

At 312g, the VIA Olympus is one beefy runner. It’s notably heavier than the 299g average weight of maximalist running shoes (>30mm heel stack height). A few runners contend, though, that it “runs lighter than its weight would suggest.”


VIA Olympus is pricey but worth it

The VIA Olympus retails for $170—more expensive than your average max-cushioned running shoe by $23, but fans maintain that it’s worth every penny.

Reflective touches

A few of the shoe's overlays on the side of the upper help to keep you visible at darker hours.