Altra Timp 5 First Impressions

Are these the shoe that kills the Olympus?

Altra Timp 5 First Impressions

OK straight off the bat it's worth noting I had sizing issues with the Timp 5, and I think my experience with them isn't a fair representation of what they are like as a shoe.

To that end I'll write the first impressions as objectively as I can with a view of "If they had fit well, what would my thoughts have been".

The Timp have been a staple shoe in Altra's line up for many years, but recently have fallen into a bit of a "what would I use them for" style rut. If you want more ground feely minimal shoes focused on comfort you go with the Lone Peak. If you want more stability and support you get the Olympus. And if you want a racing shoe you go for the Mont Blanc.

Up until the Timp 4 the grip on them wasn't good enough to supercede the Olympus / Mont Blanc, as it used the same, not particularly great Maxtrac outsole that the Lone Peaks had, and they were a sturdy enough shoe that you may as well have gone for the tankier models for the cushioning.

The Timp 5 does a great job of placing the shoe back in it's rightful place by adding a Vibram Megagrip outsole, a plushier upper whilst keeping that lovely Ego Max midsole.

The best summary I can come up with is that they start like the Altra Olympus, a sturdy, supportive cushioned shoe built for long distance. Then they take a solid 70g of weight off them making them lighter than even the Mont Blanc, slap on a Ego Max midsole (which for my money is bouncier and more comfortable than the Olympus) and keep the Vibrams Megagrip outsole, albeit with a reduced lug depth so they are more general purpose.

I think in 2024 we're going to see the Timp 5 gain popularity on trail running start lines, and for me it does beat the current Olympus 5 for most use cases.

It's not without some flaws though, so let's dive in.

The Specs

Starting with the upper: anyone who's ran in a Lone Peak recently will feel right at home here. It's a plush, padded layer with a good heel cup and some generous cushioning around the tongue to reduce lace pressure.

The tongue itself is gusseted for that sock like feel and to reduce debris coming into the shoe. At the front we have a fairly solid toe bumper, and the usual gaiter d-ring plus velcro on the back.

Moving on to the midsole we've got 29mm stack height with an Ego Max middle. This is the same one found on the Torins (marathon focused road shoes) and the Mont Blanc (ultra focused trail shoes) and is both comfy and bouncy, without feeling like running on clouds.

Outsole wise we've got a Vibram Megagrip coated base of 3mm lugs evenly spread across the base. That's not the deepest, most aggressive pattern but the coating does well on slippy rocks and gives a good general confidence.

Stability is something to note here too, the outsole is fairly rigid, very similar in feel to the Olympus, which means you'll lose that ground feel but it will help reduce foot fatigue over distance too. Generally they feel stability focused as a shoe.

Test Runs

In total for the first impressions I covered 20k hiking and 10k running in the Timp 5s, over a mixture of woodland trail, tarmac, slippy mud and stony descents.

I also kept them on as a general purpose shoe for a day in the office.

I wish I had a chance to do more testing, however as we'll see in the sizing bit later that wouldn't be wise!

What I Liked

Stability: these shoes feel stable, supportive underfoot, like they are a good sturdy platform to run in. It reminded me a lot of the Olympus, a little tank-like in their construction.

However unlike the Olympus they didn't come with the clunkiness the extra weight brings, being one of Altra's lightest trail shoes now.

The midsole is just my favourite, that Ego Max works well on the Torin, it works well on the Mont Blanc and it works well here. I feel like I'm kicking the Olympus a lot, however as that shoe uses a more traditional EVA compound it tends to flatten out quickly and you lose that bouncy feeling. The Lone Peaks used to be the same, and it was like chalk and cheese when they changed to an Ego mid.

The upper is comfy, well padded and has plenty of protection stopping the laces causing irritation.

A more solid toe bumper: Altra's Lone Peak and Mont Blancs use these minimal light overlays that wouldn't stop a fly giving you a sore toe, so it's good to see something sturdier here.

Good general grip: these aren't ones to wear winter fell racing, but they've got an all rounder grip that would suit spring and summer trails nicely.

What I Didn't Like

A constricted feeling: the upper, the way it wraps around your foot, combined with the toe box, feels a lot tighter than other Altra models. I felt like my foot was held in place, which may be a good thing, but in quite a stiff way. It could be a breaking in issue, with the padding getting more supple over time, but it didn't feel great.

That 3mm lug depth is shallow, and it's the one thing I think the Olympus will hold over the Timp 5 going forward. I took them on a particularly muddy stretch, where the path is on an angle, and the Lone Peaks, with their inferious coating, would have ate that ground up much better. I know they are designed as more of an all rounder, but something to be aware of.

The toe box: I wear Altras for comfort over distance, that chance to splay my feet. This was more likely down to the sizing, but the toe box, being Altra's "Standard" fit instead of the wider "Original" fit is more narrow than Lone Peaks or the Olympus. One to be aware of when trying these on.

The lateral side of the upper rides quite high: this is 100% personal, but it kept rubbing the ball of my ankle when my foot was at an angle. Heel locking helped with this a little.

One final minor note: as with the Lone Peak that plushy padded upper does take a fair whilst to dry when it gets wet. It's ok mid run, but they'll be spending a lot of time under a radiator if you run in British weather.

A Note On Sizing

OK so here's why I won't be doing a full review of the Timp 5s, and why they are currently drying waiting to go back into their box.

Altra's sizing has been all over the shop for a while now: the Lone Peak and Mont Blanc fit me perfectly in a UK size 14, the Torin's are a little short but as road shoes it's not a big deal, and the Olympus I can get away with but it's short enough that I wouldn't trust the fit for an ultra.

I've got the Timp 5s in the biggest size available, and the second they were on my feet I knew they'd be too short. It's strange though, it's not the length per say, my big toes had plenty of room. Instead it's the way the toe box is rounded in a foot shape, but with that more narrow "Standard" fit. My middle toes hit the toe bumper immediately and nothing I did stopped that.

I tried repositioning my foot, tying a heel lock, even taking the insoles out to get a little more space, to no avail. By the end of the run home my middle toes felt very swished and I reckon anything longer and those toenails would go black.

So for me, being that this is Altra's biggest available size, the Timp 5 is a shoe I can't use.

If you're thinking of these I think sizing up a half to a full size more than your normal walking shoe size would be prudent, as would trying them on in a shop first. I'd say they size up the same as the Altra Olympus, but with the toe box being less spacious it's worth double checking how they fit your foot shape.


So on the positive side, I've got 1 less choice for race day in June! Now my options are either the Altra Mont Blancs or the Lone Peaks, both shoes I love to bits and think I'd have a good time with.

My savings account is well and truly emptied after blitzing through Altra's line up this last month, not allowed to buy any more shoes now unti.... oh hey is that a Mont Blanc Boa edition?