When the Altra launched this year, there was a lot of buzz and anticipation surrounding the shoe.
As a trail runner, I was excited to see what it offered. Having run in both the Lone Peak and the Olympus I eagerly awaited its release to see if it lived up to its claim of being somewhere in the middle of the aforementioned models.
Having run 104 miles in this shoe, exclusively on trails, I forget that I am wearing these shoes.
The MaxTrac outer sole with its proprietary TrailClaw has yet to encounter any terrain that they can’t handle. The 4mm lugs grip nicely, yet are spaced mindfully enough that they don’t hold onto packed dirt or mud excessively.
Altra seems to have gotten the amount of cushioning just right. I ran in the Olympus coming off a long stretch of non-running and it worked well considering my worry about my older, 42-year-old knees and hips at the time.
Where the Lone Peak was not enough cushion, the Olympus was a bit too much, and the Timp is, well, just right with a 29mm stack height. The Altra Timp gets my vote for “Goldie Locks” shoe in the cushion department. After 104 miles, the EVA A-Bound material retains its cushion.
The reflective material on the upper fabric is a nice touch, especially if you are linking up your trail runs with some urban miles. The gaiter trap, as with all Altras, remains a feature that in my opinion could be left out.
The Altra Timp slides on to your foot and from the onset feels like more of a minimal shoe than it is.
While the 11.1oz weight is a bit heavy, the shoe floats on the trail. The gusseted tongue really works nicely to keep it from floating off to one side.
The classic Foot Shaped Altra design allows your toes to splay out and find their own natural spot.
While some dislike this roomy feel, I find it extremely beneficial, especially for the trail runner. When long distances result in foot-swell or lengthy downhill stretches force the foot forward in the toe box, the extra space is a godsend.
Altra’s trademark ZeroDrop design allows your foot to achieve a very natural barefoot-like footfall. Runners new to this should really seek out a specialty running store with a treadmill. Test them with an in-store run and see if this style is right for you.
I’ve raced twice in this shoe (10 and 13.1 mile trail races) and have done one 22 mile trail run in them and have never experienced hotspots, blisters or any heel slip. I love the way these shoes feel on the long course.
The asymmetrical lacing gives the Timp a unique look. The lacing delivers a snug fit but for the life of me, and others that I’ve spoken with about it, I cannot divine any technical reason for the design. It does, however, make for a fun conversation piece.
The DuraTread sole is as burly as they come. While not a Vibram sole, the rubber really stands up to any amount of abuse you throw its way. After 100 miles, I can barely see signs of wear.
The uppers are well constructed. The material is dense, yet breathable and doesn’t hold onto water like the padding of the Olympus does.
The aggressive TPU covering on the heel and the toe are well thought out pieces of protection in areas that receive a high amount of abuse.
The Altra Timp definitely lives up to its promise of striking a middle ground between the Olympus and the Lone Peak. The combination of aggressive tread, sleek feel, and ample cushion make it a great member of a trail runner's toolbox.
At an MSRP of $130.00 it is reasonably priced and worth every penny in my opinion. I will continue to run and race longer distance events in this shoe.
I loved Torin 3.0; the fit was great out of the box, the ride was exceptional, and the transition to zero drop running was seamless.
Timp, however, was shaping to be a very different story.
I was curious in Timp because, first and foremost, I have an obsession with trail shoes. I really do believe there are as many different trail terrain as there are Eskimo words for snow and find it a constant challenge to match the terrain with its best suited "tool" for the job.
Most of my races also tend to be on the trail, quite often ultra distance, and I relish the opportunity to test the shoes under the rigours of a race condition.
Superior and King MT are rated light in terms of cushioning while Lone Peak is rated moderate and Olympus, maximum. Classified at high cushioning, with stack height of 29mm, Timp falls smack in between Lone Peak's 25mm and Olympus' 33mm, a potential sweet spot.
Now, this was of interest to me: having had prior experience with an early version of Superior and found it a bit too minimal yet not necessarily light, on paper Timp looked like the kind of shoe with the right balance of trail feel versus comfort over the longer distance.
As pretty much all of my trail races tend to be of ultra distance, comfort over many hours on feet was paramount.
The folks at Altra appeared to be on the same wavelength, and Timp is described on the company website as suited for Ultrarunning, Long distance, and Fast packing.
I received Timp and Torin 3.0 in the same shipment from OSC, the UK distributor for Altra who had kindly arranged the test pairs. Immediately, I clocked the difference in the size of the boxes, despite both shoes being rated US 11.
And sure enough, as foreshadowed by the bigger box, slipping the shoes on, I immediately felt that they were too loose, too much volume, simply too big. So much so that I had doubts whether I could walk in them, never mind tackle uneven trail terrain.
Aside from the seemingly ginormous proportions of the shoe, Timp also features a few other design quirks, some functional, others merely aesthetic.
The main (ostensibly) functional feature is asymmetric lacing. I say ostensibly because as far as I can tell there is no discernible improvement in foot holding a result of this.
Due to the sheer roominess of the shoe, especially in the forefoot, and because the lacing does not go far enough down into the foot, I found it difficult to tighten the laces enough to provide a locked-down secure feeling.
Given the worryingly loose feel in the forefoot, the one saving grace was that the heels seemed to lock down fine.
As mentioned in my review of Torin 3.0, heel fit is key to successfully incorporating Altra into your running shoe rotation. Due to foot-shaped box, Altra by definition is meant to feel somewhat roomy in the forefoot, but I just didn't expect it to be so loose!
Asymmetric lacing can be a fine concept – witness Brooks Green Silence – but in this case, I felt it was poorly executed.
The other unusual design feature is the upper. Made of what appears to be a fairly tough reinforced quick-dry mesh with laser-cut TPU overlays for added strength and protection, it features 360-degree reflectivity which, if nothing else, looks pretty cool.
Midsole & Outsole
Timp's midsole is composed of Ultralight EVA with a layer of denser high energy return A-Bound to provide some snappiness.
As prominently mentioned on the side, Innerflex is also present in there somewhere, it is similar to the guidelines and flex grooves are seen in the outsole of other brands, except in Altra's case it's in the midsole.
The outsole is described as composed of DuraTread sticky rubber in a TrailClaw formation.
The lugs sit 4mm deep and certainly look robust enough to tackle rugged terrain, as long as dry. Given the lug configuration, along with the loose fit, I had no intention of venturing into the mud on these.
That brings us to the heart of the matter - the trail test. Manufacturers can and do throw a lot of technology and jargon at us, but all of that means not a jot if the shoe cannot hold up in the rigours of the outside.
As is customary, I planned to wear them at an upcoming race, but not without some trepidation, since I was still uncomfortable with the excess volume in the forefoot and inability to secure the foot with the asymmetric lacing system.
But again giving way to my duties and obligation as a tester, I took Timp to the Midsummer Munro, which is a half marathon distance with over 3000 feet of ascent in the Surrey Hills south of London.
The result was not revelatory but rather encouraging. Despite the semi-technical nature of the route, I actually enjoyed running in Timp with its cushioning. Despite substantial heft ("they're a boat" said my friend Sean upon seeing them), perhaps due to their relative lightness at 315 grams, the shoes never felt too cumbersome.
I decided to go with Timp in my upcoming 100-miler, the North Downs Way 100.
Donning the chunkiest socks I had (which happen to be the Drymax Trail socks - great socks by the way), I embarked on my race at 6 am on a Saturday morning, finishing a little after 7 am the following day after more than 25 hours.
It was a hot weekend of what has been a hot summer in England - joint hottest on record in fact. The trail was bone dry throughout, except in the pre-dawn hours following day when the dew was present on the grass fields. But no mud.
Despite the heat, and despite the dust, there were no blisters. In fact, with their roomy toe-boxes, I can not envision anyone suffering from blisters in any Altra.
The cushioning was spot on, providing adequate protection over the varied terrain despite absence of rock plate (or Stone Guard as Altra has coined it). Towards the later half I might have suspected some EVA compression but can never be sure since 60-70 miles in the feet tend to be, well, tender, regardless of the shoe.
I was elated to be able to finish the 100-miler relatively unscathed feet-wise, and in a pair of shoes that hadn't exactly imbued me with confidence prior to the race. But in a race where so much can go wrong - and often do - to come away without any major issues (other than the usual exhaustion and fatigue) can be considered a resounding success, with Timp playing no small part.
Altra is on the button when they market Timp as suited for ultra running. Apparently many others use Timp for hiking as well. I could certainly see myself fast-packing in Timp. The shoe is designed for comfort over many hours on feet over many miles and certainly delivers on that front.
The only downfall in my view is the excessive roominess in the forefoot and inadequacy of asymmetric lacing to help dial in the fit better. We've all heard that feet tend to swell during long runs and ultras, particularly in the heat, but I personally haven't experienced feet swelling THAT much and think slightly less volume would go a long way towards improving the fit and therefore confidence in the wearer and at same time not detract from the shoe's ultra credentials.
For me, having played a big part in my successfully completing the 100-miler, Timp has become a keeper, even if it means being put back into the box and storage in waiting for my next long run or ultra race.
The one and only factor which would prevent Timp from being called upon more often for the shorter runs would be that the shoes remain substantial and perhaps something less cushioned and bulky such as Lone Peak may be better suited for the purpose.
Good to know
- The Altra Timp is a new shoe model that was named after Mount Timpanogos, the second highest mountain in Utah's Wasatch Range. With this as inspiration, Altra designed the shoe with long-distance mountain running in mind. It is suggested for the shoe to be used for Trail Running, Ultrarunning, Trail Racing, and Fast Packing.
- The shoe’s design encourages and improves natural foot positioning and toe-splaying while providing maximum comfort through high cushioning. Altra’s FootShape was also incorporated into the shoe’s design to give way to these foot movements.
- The outsole features Altra’s DuraTread rubber and TrailClaw tread design to tackle tough terrain – both muddy and dry. 4mm lugs on the outsole also makes it possible for the shoe to have maximum grip while running on the trail.
- As with other Altra trail shoes, the Timp is equipped with the GaiterTrap technology, which allows runners to securely attach trail gaiters.
Two of Altra’s patented technologies are found on the outsole of the Timp – the DuraTread rubber and TrailClaw tread pattern.
The DuraTread Rubber, which is also used in the Altra Timp 1.5, is an extremely durable type of rubber which Altra equips on most of their trail running shoes. This heavy-duty rubber is made to last and protects the bottom of the shoe from wear and tear. It also gives the shoe a good amount of grip on technical terrain.
The TrailClaw technology, on the other hand, is focused on providing the shoe with downhill and uphill traction. This outsole technology features strategically canted lugs, measuring 4mm in the Altra Timp, directly beneath the met heads of the foot, as well as other key areas underneath the foot, to offer maximum grip in various trail conditions.
The midsole of this trail running shoe is made up of Altra’s UltraLight EVA and its A-Bound technology. This special blend of foam runs evenly from the heel to the tip of the toe, providing enough cushioning underfoot. With a zero-drop construction, this well-balanced platform encourages runners to make use of a low-impact running technique for a more efficient stride.
The insole of the shoe has a 6mm contoured footbed. This contour follows the natural shape of the foot, providing the runner with a more comfortable fit and an improved in-shoe experience.
A water-resistant mesh makes up the upper of the Altra Timp, providing the runner with protection from splashes of water and tiny debris when running on the trail. For added visibility, Altra made this mesh upper reflective to help maximize the visibility of the shoe.
On top of the upper are TPU overlays which help reinforce the shape of the shoe and offer lightweight support to the upper. These overlays also cover areas that are prone to high abrasions like the toe box and the heel cap, protecting these specific areas from tearing on debris and rough surfaces.
The lacing system is unique because it is slanted rather than straight. This design makes it possible for runners to have a more controlled and secure fit on the top of the foot when the lacing system is tightened.
Altra also designed the Timp with their patented GaiterTrap technology. At the heel of the shoe is where you can find the GaiterTrap. It is a Velcro provision that can cater to the secure and easy attachment of Altra’s trail running gaiters.