Altra Timp Performance Review
Erin: Hi friends! This shoe review is coming to you from the other side of a race about which I have some feelings that I’ll do my best to refrain from sharing but could be summed up rather succinctly with a thumbs-down emoji (PG) and/or a middle finger emoji (R).
Lucky for you guys, I’ve taken the liberty of wear-testing the Altra Timp on single track, fire roads, ski slope slip-n-slides, and even a few miles of 16th street in our nation’s capital. The Timp is a cushioned trail shoe with a 29 mm stack height, fitting nicely between two existing Altra models: the Lone Peak (25 mm) and the Olympus (36 mm).
Matthew: My first experience with Altra and a foot-shaped, zero drop shoe–they’re specialty–was the Instinct. It was a doofy-looking silver and red clown slipper, and I ran nimbly (I imagined) on my tippy-toes, like some stocky ballerina. Hey, it was the heyday of Born to Run, okay, so BACK OFF!
Anyways…while I’ve dabbled with a few other road and trail offerings from Altra over the years, none of them got me that excited, and I moved away from zero-drop shoes and stopped worrying about infinitesimally small differences in stack height and all that other natural running fuckery.
I was surprised when I got Thomas’s email that I was getting the Altra Timp in the mail, mostly because I assumed he had misspelled gimp (he’s into some weird shit, but who am I to judge). On paper, the Timp piqued my interest: a plush shoe designed for long days on a variety of trail surfaces. Here’s how she fared.
Erin: The Timp is the first Altra shoe I’ve run in, and it’s also the first time I’ve run in a trail shoe with so much cushioning. I didn’t have grand expectations regarding the responsiveness of the shoe, as I prefer something a little firmer (and, to be honest, lighter; the Timp weighs in at 8.9 oz for women and 11.1 oz for men). However, even though the midsole is very soft and pillowy-like, I didn’t feel like I was sinking into the shoe; I also didn’t find it felt as heavy as it is. I was even happy with how it felt on the pavement when I had to bail out of a trail run midway through due to my stupidity.
The race mentioned above was a great test for this shoe, which was developed for long days of trail running. The wide toe box and offset lacing seem designed to accommodate swelling, and the 360-degree reflectivity, which I found an odd choice, at first, for a trail shoe, is pretty cool if you’re running, say, a 100 miler or anything else that has you running during the night. I didn’t run that far, but 50K of steep climbs and equally steep descents meant I was on my feet for over 6 and a half hours, and overall, I was happy with my decision to wear the Timp.
Probably my favorite part of the shoe is the MaxTrac outsole; the 4 mm lugs under the midfoot may be bothersome for some runners, but I can’t feel them through the shoe, and the traction on these is excellent. Heavy downpours on Friday night left the race course incredibly slick on many of the downhill sections, and people were wiping out all over the place, but not yours truly (and this is a feat, believe me). The Timp also has a 4-point gaiter trap, which seems cool, though I’ve never used gaiters so I can’t say anything intelligent about it. I did appreciate the gusseted tongue, which worked well to keep out gravel and dirt.
Matthew: The Altra Timp’s upper does a great job of both preventing water from getting in and also allowing it to escape once your foot gets soaked. I did an A/B run with the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 on a very wet day on already soaked trails, and the, Timp stayed comfortable the whole time, while the Speedgoat 2 felt like running on a mushy pillow. I know upper durability is one area that Altra’s been dinged for in the past, and so far I’m happy to report that my upper looks brand new (at least after washing off the dirt and what I hope was dog shit and not human shit from my last run). The toe bumper is also stout and doesn’t kill your toes if they end up mashed against it (which does happen a bit for me as sizing is a wee off–see below)
The midsole feels plush, and step-in comfort was top notch: maybe a tad less bouncy than the Speedgoat 2, but still pretty lively. I was surprised to see it weighs 11.4 oz. in size 9, as it doesn’t feel that heavy on foot. It’s also very flexible front-to-back and side-to-side, which makes it feel very nimble despite being a lot of shoe. It’s like Charles Barkley: tall but not the most towering, a solid performer in a variety of positions, a solid rebounder, and can move fairly quickly despite being hefty.
I’ve spent some time in the original Lone Peak, Olympus, and Superior, and felt meh about their outsoles. The rubber wasn’t the grippiest, the outsole patterns seemed more aesthetically than functionally inspired, and they didn’t seem super durable. The Timp features a MaxTrac outsole that I find sufficiently grippy on wet surfaces, but maybe not as super-glue sticky as something like Vibram MegaGrip (see on Speedgoat 2). The lug height and pattern is super versatile and cleared mud well, was great on smooth single track and dirt roads, climbed well on sheer stone surfaces, and even handles pavement well. It also seems durable, with minimal wear after about 50 miles on mostly hard terrain.
The overall width of the Timp’s platform made it feel inherently stable for me on all but very off camber terrain, which is important as they sit almost 30 mm off the ground, including the lugs. There’s no rock plate, but I never felt anything poke through the beefy insole.
Erin: The biggest complaint I have about the shoe is the amount of lateral movement in the forefoot, which was noticeable to me when running steep downhill sections. I rolled my ankle quite a few times while wearing these and felt a lack of stability; maybe this is due to a combination of the stack height, which I’m not used to, and the super wide forefoot. The offset lacing also makes it difficult to get the shoe as tight as I’d prefer it. The upper tended to stretch out throughout most of my runs, even more so when the shoes got wet, although they do drain pretty well.
I had a lot of trouble keeping the laces tied; I always double knot, but found myself having to re-tie once or twice during most runs. The other minor annoyance I had was the heel rudder; it extends out pretty far from the back of the shoe and just asks people to step on it. It’s bothersome enough that I’m considering cutting it off but I probably won’t because I’m lazy and I’d rather just complain about it.
Matthew: My regular size 12 had ample width in the toe box, as I’d expect from Altra, but I could have used just a tad more length, especially on descents. It wasn’t a huge problem out on the trails, but it’d still be nice to have a bit more room.
I’m on the fence about the anatomical lacing system. It spread pressure more evenly across the top of my foot, but I couldn’t get exactly the right tension I’m used to. Heel hold wasn’t exactly as dialed in as I’d like either, so I felt a bit shook letting it rip on the first few downhills. I switched to a lace-lock which helped me feel less butt-hurt about the fit.
If I can be shallow for a second–of course, I can, it’s Believe in the Run–these look like the tramp stamp of trail shoes. I half expected them to come with a can of Mountain Dew or Axe Body spray. Something about the pattern of the upper just makes the look douche-tastic to me. The design is X-Games chic. You get the point–they’re kinda fugly.
Altra Timp Conclusion
Erin: The Altra Timp is a great shoe for long days on your feet. Those who prefer a more minimal, lighter shoe shouldn’t be scared off by the weight; they do feel much lighter. I think if Altra changed the lacing to something more traditional that allowed for a tighter fit, this would be a great shoe. Even so, this shoe will be my go-to for longer, more technical trail runs.
Matthew: Overall I enjoy the Altra Timp. I had no issue running in their zero drop platform on the trails despite spending most of my time in conventional shoes. The toe-box width made my piggies feel positively pampered and added to the shoe’s stability on tough terrain, and the midsole cushioning was supremely comfortable, yet still pretty lively for so much shoe. They get knocked down a few points for a slightly baggy upper and being fatties, but they’re versatile shoes I’d be happy taking out on all but extremely technical terrain. The Timp retails for $129.95