DESCRIPTION: High Cushion Trail Shoe
MATERIAL: Upper: PFS2-M | Midsole: Ultralight EVA with A-Bound™ | Outsole: MaxTrac™ Rubber with TrailClaw™
DESCRIPTION: High Cushion Trail Shoe
I’ve been riding the Altra train for quite a while. The first time I ever really ran on trails it was in a pair of the Altra Lone Peaks 2.0’s in Tucson, Arizona. I initially had mixed feelings, mainly because my feet were so used to running in traditional shoes, but once I adapted my stride to work with a zero drop shoe, I was sold. Here we are, almost 5 years later, and I’m still a sucker for the wide toe box and the comfort of Altras. Although a lot of people have likely heard of Altra, not many know how they got started. I was able to catch up with Chloe Stauffer over at Altra to fill you in.
Ingenuity and curiosity are truly the base of where Altra originated. With the market lacking something that fit the bill for what they wanted, Golden Harper and Brian Beckstead decided to take matters into their own ovens.
Yes. Toaster ovens.
If you can believe it, the first design they made was created using a pair of traditional running shoes, a knife, and toaster oven. You see, Golden and Brian wanted to create a shoe that fit the natural contours of the human foot. Feet aren’t the same width at the toes as they are at the heel, and they don’t have a 12-15mm drop from their heel to the toes, so why did basically every shoe out there follow that model?
Their idea? Toss a shoe in a toaster oven, get it to the point that they could (semi) easily carve out the midsole and level the cushioning. Without really knowing it, they were creating the foundation of their now highly recognized Zero Drop technology.
They took this concept and put all their research into developing the first actual Altra shoe in 2010. By this point, they had sunk all that they had into this project, and they needed it to work. They choose to give it the ultimate test, so Brian signed up to run the Wasatch 100 wearing only their Altra design.
As you can imagine, there was a lot riding on these shoes holding up and quite literally keeping Brian on his feet. With what likely seemed like the weight of his future riding on his shoulders, he flew through the race, and by mile 94 he was hours ahead of his previous years time. The best part, his feet were blister free and he felt good. They realized they had succeeded in creating something that worked, and all the emotions crashed down on them. They knew they were going to make it. In the following months, they began to produce their first release of shoes featuring their signature innovations: FootShape, Zero Drop, and Fit4Her. The first public shoe release dropped in 2011.
Don’t think this was the end of Golden and Brian’s hustling. Oh no, they took their first release of shoes and got the news out the old-fashioned way: Road Trip. They drove across the nation telling every running store they could about what they had created. This caught the attention of a lot of people, and they began to rack up awards right and left, and even joined the ICON Health and Fitness family.
Since that point, they’ve gone on to invent industry-changing technology (TrailClaw, GaiterTrap, Altra EGO, A-Bound, Stabilipod…) and become an international success. They were even acquired by the outdoor retailer giant, VF Corporation, and are living their #ZeroLimits mantra to the fullest. All in all, Altra has changed a lot of things for the running community.
There are so many shoes that Altra makes that I would love to give a try, but for this round, my feet were graced with Altra Timp. The Timp is great option sitting between Altra’s mid-cushion Lone Peak and max-cushion Olympus. I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical of this shoe prior to trying it out. The asymmetrical lacing is something new for Altra, and with most asym-lacing systems I’ve experienced in the past, I’ve developed some sort of a blister along the way, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Fit and Feel (5/5)
If any readers have not tried on a pair of Altras, I would highly recommend it. Every shoe, including the Timp, is built with their signature FootShape design. This may sound like a gimmick, but honestly, it is a comfort you need to experience firsthand. I’m not saying that everyone will love it, but I am personally a huge fan and advocate for this shape. Your toes have ample room to splay naturally, and you don’t feel any restriction in your natural movement.
The feature that adds the overall comfort of the Timp is the Zero Drop platform. With Zero Drop, both the heel and the forefoot are on the same height, so your foot sits as it would naturally on the ground. This makes the shoe feel like an extension of your own foot, but for those of you who are not used to it, you may feel that you’re on your heels more than you expect.
The one area I mentioned earlier that I was skeptical of was the asymmetrical lacing, and that was quickly put to ease. Altra has done a great job of putting the right amount of additional material around the lacing eyelets to prevent blistering or weird fitting issues. I was also happy to find that the lacing gap was just about perfect. In the older Altra’s the uppers would almost touch when you snug up the laces, but with the Timp I still have a decent inch wide gap between the uppers.
In Use (9/10)
I don’t really know where to begin here. I’ve put about 220 miles on these shoes, and they are amazing. They are sturdy, comfortable, durable, and an overall rock solid trail shoe. I might dare say they are my favorite overall running shoe to date.
Let’s start with the overall ride of the shoe. The Timp has a 29mm stack height, so it is on the higher end of the cushion spectrum, but unlike other high cushion shoes out there, I never felt that I was unstable. I ran in the Hoka Challengers in the past, and on a few training runs and race day, I rolled my ankle on tricky descents. Right from the get-go, I felt grounded with the Timp. I attribute this to the overall width of the shoe’s platform and the way the shoe still feels close to the ground. Even though the stability is there, the cushioning is incredible. It is honestly like running on two marshmallows, but marshmallows that help propel you to run faster. Marshmallow isn’t the right adjective though because they don’t feel “squishy”. They find a beautiful balance between soft on the knees but responsive enough to help your stride rebound forward.
This cushion comes in handy as well on the rougher terrain. I’ve hit some rocky trails in these shoes, but the Timp does a great job of protecting your foot. The MaxTrac rubber outsole with the TrailClaw lugs do an amazing job of keeping you grounded on any surface. Running in loose sand or mud, you can feel the lugs dig in and stabilize you as you push off. The Timp’s also provided great stability on descents. I don’t know if Altra has a specific name for it, but the elongated outsole on the heel helps provide added grip when you’re stride is more heel heavy going downhill.
The final thing I want to note is how this shoe maintains its comfort over distances. I just completed the Dirty 30 (actually 32 miles) on some crazy inclines and rough terrain, and through it all there was never a time that I even needed to think about my feet. Sure my knees, lungs, and mental state may have been shot, but my feet felt great. I found that that cushioning was perfect for long runs, even at the added weight. It isn’t the lightest shoe on the market at 11.1oz, but you would be hard-pressed to find a shoe that will keep you running this comfortably, so it is a small price to pay.
With the Timp, you also get something that I appreciate, especially running in wet or sandy conditions. Altra has developed a feature for their shoes that is called Gaiter Trap. They have strategically placed a patch of velcro on the heel of the shoe, as well as a metal ring towards the toe that Altra gaiters connect too. This is ingenious and keeps your gaiters secure and appropriately covering your laces and ankles, preventing essentially any debris from getting into your shoes. The catch here is that it only works with Altra gaiters, but you can pick them up for $20, or roughly the same price or cheaper than other comparable options.
If had to point out one area for improvement other than weight, it would be the durability of the outsole and lugs. This may be unfair because I tend to abuse my shoes by taking a 4-5 mile run on the streets en route to the trail, but even then, the lugs show a decent amount of wear at 200 miles. This really doesn’t bother me much, but for those of you who like to make a shoe last 400+ miles, this could cause an issue. The outsole is fairly quite well, honestly, but it is beginning to separate at the toe of the shoe. Again, this isn’t a huge issue, but if it continues to progress it will begin to cause some problems.
Overall, this shoe has performed exceptionally well and continues to provide an unparalleled comfort for long distance runs. The Timp is the most flashy or tech loaded shoe in Altra’s quiver, but it hits a home run in my book. I would love to see Altra take the concept behind this shoe make some tweaks to lighten it up and reduce outsole wear. With that, It would be a dynamite shoe on all levels. Well done Altra!
That wraps up this review, but be sure to swing by again in the next few days for more reviews! In the meantime, don’t forget to get outside and unleash your adventure!