Our verdict

The VIA Olympus 2 marks a notable leap forward from Altra, enhancing cushioning and durability while maintaining the beloved features of its predecessor—spacious fit, slightly rockered geometry, and unparalleled comfort. We were thrilled by its updated plush midsole, though we noted it's still on the heavier side and the tongue could benefit from a gusset. Despite these minor points, we are convinced that for zero-drop runners seeking a reliable companion for long runs, the VIA Olympus 2 is unmatched.

Pros

  • Incredibly roomy toebox
  • Authentic zero-drop design
  • Extremely cushy and soft midsole
  • Superb all-around durability
  • Cozy upper
  • Remarkably stable
  • Ideal for long runs

Cons

  • Limited ventilation
  • Tongue not gusseted
  • Still a bit heavy

Audience verdict

84
Good!

Who should buy

We're convinced that the Altra VIA Olympus 2 is a top pick for:

  • Altra enthusiasts seeking the ultimate marathon training shoe, offering unparalleled comfort.
  • Those curious about zero-drop footwear but unwilling to sacrifice cushioning.
  • Individuals with wide feet desiring a shoe that perfectly accommodates their broad foot shape, thanks to its exceptionally spacious design.

Altra VIA Olympus 2

Who should NOT buy

While the VIA Olympus 2 boasts many strengths, we caution against making a sudden switch if you're accustomed to 8-to-10-mm offsets. For a smoother transition with ample cushioning, we suggest starting with a mid-drop shoe like the Hoka Clifton 9 before fully committing to a zero-drop option.

Furthermore, we advise against choosing the VIA Olympus 2 for those who prioritize a lightweight and flexible shoe. Instead, the Altra Torin 7, with its featherlight build and the same zero-drop design, offers less stiffness and more agility.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 parts

Breathability

Upon examining the VIA Olympus 2, our initial focus was on breathability.

Employing our eye-catching smoke test in the lab, we quickly realized that the shoe's ventilation didn't live up to our hopes, meriting a score of just 2 out of 5. This positions it as more suitable for the colder months.

Despite observing numerous ventilation holes in the toebox and medial side through a light test, the actual airflow was minimal.

Intrigued by this discrepancy, we utilized a microscope to delve deeper.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 ventilation holes

We discovered that Altra employed a dual-layer structure, combining an external engineered mesh with an internal layer of soft, green fabric. This choice, while enhancing comfort, unfortunately compromises breathability.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 mesh

The shoe's upper is notably plush and comfortable, yet this comes with a notable reduction in ventilation.

While we wouldn't recommend this model for scorching summer days, its cozy construction offers enough breathability the rest of the year, especially when paired with super-thin socks.

Test results
VIA Olympus 2 2
Average 3.8
Compared to 227 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

One great perk of less breathable uppers is their tendency to excel in our durability test. Eager to see how the VIA Olympus 2 would hold up, we pitted it against our Dremel for an ultimate showdown.

And the winner is the VIA Olympus 2! Following such an impressive showing, we were thrilled to award it a perfect 5 out of 5. This mesh is built to last, making it an exceptional choice for road runners seeking a durable upper.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Toebox durability
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 5
Average 2.4
Compared to 161 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Following the outstanding initial test, our expectations were really high. Nonetheless, the heel padding didn't disappoint.

In our second Dremel assessment, we were greeted with another fantastic outcome. While it may not have reached the pinnacle of excellence, it stood out significantly when compared to the vast majority of running footwear. That's a 4/5 for us.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Heel padding durability
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 157 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Next, we turned our attention to the outsole. With such a robust upper, it's crucial that the outsole matches in durability—after all, a durable mesh paired with a less resilient rubber just wouldn't make sense. You need the entire shoe to be tough!

Altra VIA Olympus 2 outsole

The outsole features Altra FootPod technology, which simulates the anatomy of the foot. 

Our initial examination focused on the outsole's hardness. To our surprise, we found it to be significantly softer than its predecessor at 73.3 HC, a 19% reduction in hardness. This raised some eyebrows in the lab, as softer compounds can sometimes wear down quicker.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 73.3 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 278 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

So, naturally, we revved up the Dremel once more—this time at double the speed (10K RPM) and for an extended duration.

Astonishingly, the outsole showed merely 0.6mm of wear. While the VIA Olympus 2 comes with a price tag of $165, its durability aspect is absolutely amazing.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Outsole durability
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 0.6 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 139 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

We measured the outsole's thickness at 3.0 mm and, to be honest, we thought it somewhat thick for such a durable rubber.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 outsole thickness

Slimming down to 2.0mm could not only lighten the load—a welcome adjustment—but also enhance the shoe's feel while running.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 3.0 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Given its maximalist design, the VIA Olympus 2 isn't aiming for featherlight status—though we've seen ultra-high-stack models like the ASICS Superblast defy expectations.

Tipping our scales at 10.4 oz or 295g, this edition mirrors its predecessor's heft. While not overly heavy for its class, we really think that Altra could improve this model to dip below the 10-ounce mark.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Weight
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 10.41 oz (295g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

After measuring with our calipers, we recorded a generous 34.8 mm stack height in the heel, confirming this Altra's maximalist nature.

This ample cushioning makes it an ideal choice for heel strikers and those gearing up for long runs in a marathon prep.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Heel stack
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 34.8 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Shifting our focus to the forefoot, our calipers revealed a towering 35.0 mm of cushioning, ranking this Altra among the most generously padded shoes we've encountered in this region.

For forefoot strikers craving the ultimate cushioning in a low-drop shoe, we found that the VIA Olympus 2 stands out as a prime choice. That's a thick slab of foam!

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Forefoot stack
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 35.0 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Altra reigns as the absolute leader of zero-drop running shoes, and the VIA Olympus 2 lives up to this reputation.

Our precise measurements confirmed a virtually non-existent drop of -0.2 mm, solidifying its status as a true zero-drop shoe.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Drop
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 -0.2 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

In our test runs, the Ortholite X55 insole delivered exceptional comfort, something we later confirmed in the lab with a precise 5.0-mm measurement.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Insole thickness
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 5.0 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Here's the biggest upgrade in the VIA Olympus 2 compared to its predecessor. The original's midsole, clocking in at 25.6 HA, gave a firmer ride. However, this latest iteration astounded us with a 14.5 HA score, translating to a 43% increase in softness.

This transformation is not just on paper; it's palpable with every stride, offering a zero-drop ride that's both plush and lively.

Altra's EGO MAX foam—a blend of EVA and TPU—fuels the midsole, enhancing both energy return and bounce. This new formulation keeps the name, but leaves behind the previous firmness, steering towards a more cushy underfoot feel.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 EGO Max

And we're all for this shift here in the lab, though we acknowledge it boils down to individual preference—if you prefer firmer midsoles, you'll be better with the v1.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Midsole softness
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 14.5 HA
Average 21.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 225 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

After 20 minutes in our freezer, the EGO MAX foam's firmness increased by just 19.9%—an impressive result for a midsole primarily composed of EVA. This suggests that even in the harshest winter conditions, the change in the foam's feel will be minor.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 19.9%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 224 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

While officially a neutral running shoe, our testing reveals it could also cater to those with slight stability needs. Packed with stability features and leveraging the natural support of its zero-drop design, it promises a supremely stable ride for forefoot or midfoot strikers.

Conversely, heel strikers seeking additional support, particularly those lacking adequate dorsiflexion, might lean towards a more supportive, higher-drop shoe like the Hoka Gaviota 5.

Torsional rigidity

Maximalist shoes like the VIA Olympus 2 often feature high torsional rigidity due to the substantial foam underfoot—a notion we quickly felt during our initial runs.

Subsequently, our hands-on evaluation solidified this impression, earning the shoe a 4 out of 5 in rigidity. Hence, it's clear that agility might not be its strongest suit.

Test results
VIA Olympus 2 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 276 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter strikes a balance, mirroring what you'd find in typical daily trainers. This is a deliberate choice that we like for a shoe aimed at providing enough heel support while also being capable of tackling 20-milers.

Test results
VIA Olympus 2 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Next up, we delved into the shoe's measurements, kicking off with the forefoot width.

We recorded it at a solid 115.2 mm—fairly standard, though the shoe presents a wider feel while running, likely attributed to its zero-drop geometry.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 115.2 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

True to Altra's signature design, both the midfoot and heel are generously wide.

Our precise measurement of 95.3 mm at the heel confirms it, offering rearfoot strikers a substantial platform for a secure and stable landing.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 95.3 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

In a previous test, we highlighted the VIA Olympus 2's rigid build, yet its true test of longitudinal stiffness awaited our rigorous 90-degree challenge.

Conducting four precise measurements with our force gauge, we averaged 41.3N, surprisingly high for a non-plated shoe. This level of stiffness is reminiscent of some plated counterparts.

Test results
VIA Olympus 2 41.3N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We subjected the EGO MAX foam to another round of stiffness testing under cold conditions and discovered a barely noticeable change—only a 12.1% increase in stiffness. This result is definitely great.

Test results
VIA Olympus 2 12.1%
Average 36.2%
Compared to 280 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

In all of our lab tests with Altra shoes, we're expecting superb spaciousness, yet the VIA Olympus 2 sets a new standard here. Measuring an incredible 104.4 mm in the widest part of the toebox, its upper offers exceptional room, making it an ideal choice for wide-footed runners.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 toebox

However, individuals with narrower feet might find a better fit in the previous version, which measures 101.4 mm.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 104.4 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 298 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

In our meticulous lab process, we consistently measure at two critical points—the widest part of the upper and the big toe zone—for every upper we test. The Altra FootShape feature truly excels in this area, boasting an impressive width of 91.1 mm. This ensures abundant room for toe splay, accommodating all foot shapes without exception.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 toebox

While its unique, clown-like silhouette may catch some off guard, the design screams comfort. The shoe's form, as hinted by the FootShape name, mirrors the natural shape of the foot.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 91.1 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 172 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Our most significant disappointment with the VIA Olympus 2 is its absence of a gusseted tongue. Despite the first version lacking one and the lockdown being satisfactory, and while getting the same experience with the v2, we believe that a shoe priced at $165 should at least feature a semi-gusseted tongue as a standard offering.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue of the VIA Olympus 2 hits the perfect sweet spot with its cushioning, measuring 6.1 mm in our test—a slight trim from the previous version's 7.5 mm.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 laces

This reduction contributes to a small decrease in weight.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Tongue padding
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 6.1 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 295 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

The VIA Olympus 2 maintains a consistent design lineage with its predecessor, which means it also lacks a heel tab.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Heel tab
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 None

Removable insole

We discovered that Altra's footbed isn't glued down, but swapping it out might be trickier than usual due to the toebox's design.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Removable insole
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The VIA Olympus 2 lacks reflective elements—a disappointing oversight. We strongly advocate for their inclusion in the next version for enhanced safety during night runs.

Altra VIA Olympus 2 Reflective elements
Test results
VIA Olympus 2 No