Altra Timp Review

For a long time, I have searched to find the perfect 100-mile shoe for my slightly arthritic, duck-shaped feet. As a lover of minimalist and lightweight shoes, I was finally relegated to the fact that what I thought was good for me (sub-eight-ounce sexy shoes) was not necessarily good for me over ultra distances. Long a fan of the Altra Superior, I’d hoped that the company would make another model with the feel of the Superior, but with a bit more protection and without the somewhat sloppy feel I’d experienced in the Lone Peak 3.0. The new-for-summer-2017 Altra Timp ($130) seemed to fit that bill.

I first saw early versions of the Altra Timp on Jeff Browning’s feet during the 2016 Hardrock 100. The shoes looked burlier than the Altra Lone Peak while still maintaining the signature Zero Drop and FootShape toebox that has become synonymous with Altra. What follows is my impression of the Altra Timp after spending a great deal of my summer trail running in this shoe.

The Altra Timp. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Altra Timp Upper

The first thing you notice about the Timp are the cool colorways and reflective patterns across the upper. The second thing you notice is just how burly this upper is constructed. A perforated rubberized toe rand spans across the entire midfoot and toebox as well as the heel cup of the shoe. The water-resistant mesh utilized throughout the upper is thick and durable, and the tongue is well cushioned and gusseted with an asymmetrical lacing that works great at holding the foot in place. But, overall you get the feeling that the Timp is a tank, and perhaps a bit overbuilt. With the Timp weighing in about 12 ounces for my size 10, it certainly isn’t a lightweight shoe.

While I don’t ever anticipate putting a hole in this upper, I did learn to be wary of getting the Timp wet on the trails, even from the morning dew that collects on grasses next to summer trails. Getting the Timp wet caused the insole to bunch up in the front of the shoes on any downhill trails,  which caused quite a bit of discomfort in my metatarsals and toes, not to mention the regular breaks to fix the insoles once they’d dried out a bit, and this was in the high-mountain conditions of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado where it tends to be fairly dry. I can’t imagine how these insoles would stay in place in the wet and humid environs of the northwest, midwest, northeast, or southern U.S. trails. While I was able to solve the problem with a spray adhesive from the hardware store, it was a bit disconcerting to have to mitigate at all.

A note on the shape and last of this shoe if you’re an Altra fan: rather than being based on a more locked-down trail fit like the Altra Superior 3.0, which some runners would argue as having a shallow toebox, the Timp is actually based on the last of the Torin, which has perhaps the widest toebox in all of Altra’s line. Some runners will appreciate this, but the base of such a wide shoe can actually feel too wide and sloppy, in my opinion. The Timp does feature a nice gaiter trap with a hook on the far end of the lacing and a velcro GaiterTrap on the heel, which keeps gaiters nice and snug.

The Altra Timp lateral upper.

Altra Timp Midsole

The Timp features a full-length EVA midsole with a stack height of 29mm. Altra combines the 24mm midsole height with the approximately 5mm insole to get that combined 29mm stack height. This would place the shoe firmly between the Lone Peak 3.5 (25mm) and the Olympus (36mm) in the Altra line. However, the Timp’s midsole kinda’ loses its chutzpah about 100 miles into the shoe’s lifespan. This was severely disappointing, and it was something that I also experienced in the Torin 2.5. It seems that the very wide platform/toebox of this last causes the EVA to more or less disperse and lose integrity underneath the forefoot, and I found the stack height and EVA of the Timp far less durable than the Superior 3.0 or the Lone Peak 3.0.

The Altra Timp medial upper.

Altra Timp Outsole

Altra employs its DuraTread outsole rubber with the TrailClaw tread pattern on the Timp, which is very similar to the outsole as seen on the Superior. While I anticipated that this outsole would provide a more durable rubber compound, I found that it wore down prematurely, and the softer rubber toward the inner forefoot showed significant wear after 100 miles. The more durable outer lugs wore down less quickly. While I like this lug pattern overall, I did feel like the shoe as a whole doesn’t supply much security when it comes to steep and loose terrain as the midsole basically splays flat when going down steep downhills or uphills. I don’t think this is really a problem with the outsole as much as it’s the philosophical nature of Altra’s designs, which are meant to be extremely flexible. While this flexibility is comfortable for all-day running, it doesn’t inspire much confidence on technical terrain.

Another interesting aspect of the Timp is that it lacks a rock plate, and I was completely unaware of this until the writing of this review because this shoe really does not lack protection.

The Altra Timp outsole.

Overall Impressions

Altra is really doing a lot of things right here, and there are designs that are not being used by other trail running companies. First of all, this asymmetrical lacing design is so great that it reminds me of the discontinued Brooks Green Silence, which had the best asymmetrical design ever. The fit is also pretty darn good, with a snug heel and midfoot prior to the egregiously wide toebox, which just doesn’t work as well for trail running as it does for roads. I will say that it has a bit more of a structured feel than the Lone Peak 3.0, which may be too flexible at times, but the Lone Peak retains its cushioning integrity much longer.

As a trail runner who is partial to the fit and last of the Superior, I feel that the Timp missed its mark by being based on the last of the Torin, which is too wide and sloppy for a trail shoe. While the Timp is initially a comfortable, sort of chaise-lounge-of-a-trail-running-shoe, it loses its charm with the deadening of the midsole. It would be great to see Altra change the last of this shoe and possibly use a more resilient midsole foam. These features, combined with a better insole and lighter-weight upper materials, would make a shoe worthy of their trail line. Until then, I’m sticking with the Superior.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

The Altra Timp view from the top.

Categories: Shoes
Tags: Altra
Tom Caughlan :is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

View Comments (28)

  • I'm an Altra fan, and a huge fan of the Timp. I own 3 pair. I agree with your conclusion--while better in heel and midfoot fit than other Altra models, like Olympus, they remain too sloppy to comfortably take downhills with confidence. The outsoles are grippy--but I found over rough, rocky terrain the lugs were literally torn off the outsoles and in those flexion points at the metatarsals, midfoot and back to the heel rock penetrations are repeated and painful. On a recent run through Franklin Mountains State Park near El Paso, TX, three cactus needles penetrated all the way through the bottoms of the outsoles into the insoles. As for the uppers, multiple rock penetrations laterally through the perforated toe rand and toes themselves left my feet feeling beat after 25 miles of rough trail and the uppers themselves abraded and ripped. Both shoes performed great on light trail, for 160+ miles, but were virtually destroyed after only 13 miles of rougher trail on the Upper Loop at Flatrock Ranch. A brand new pair with only 20 break in miles suffered similar over-wear including the toe caps separating at Franklins. Comparing the upper and toe rand with Scott, Sportivas and Salming models, I believe they are simply insufficiently robust to be protective while the shoe remains heavy. I still love the Timps for ultra distance on light trail and minimal vert, and agree with you the platform may be improved by moving to the Superior last, providing an integral light rockplate, and better overlays and toe rand to be protective.

  • Thanks for the great review, Tom. I've been stalking the Timp since it first came out, but thought it was going to be too thick for my liking, so I just let it go until recently. I read a bunch of reviews and decided to get a pair. Some reviewers said that it was everything the Lone Peak should have been but wasn't, so that piqued by interest, since I dislike the most recent version of the Lone Peak (toe box all the wrong shape; too cushy and unstable on off-camber and off-trail footing, etc.). I must say I love the Timp, and I see it as being my go-to shoe. I've also had a pair of the Torins, which I disliked (too thick; too cushy; weird feeling of heel being lower that forefoot) and relegated to farm chore shoes (which they excel at--great for digging with a shovel and manure hauling). I don't find the Timp anything like the Torins, except that they are built on the same last. The Timp has a firmer feel, and still has some ground feel. I have found the Timp traction a bit slippery on early season snow, but nothing that traction devices can't remedy. I think when I get the Timp sole scuffed up a bit more, the traction will feel ok--it performed quite well on scree and damp dirt downhills. Just for reference: I'm a woman who wears a men's 10.5, as I prefer the fit and shape of the men's Altras. Did I say I love the Timps!

  • Lol "the tongue is well cushioned." What shoe did you review, Tom? It's maybe the thinnest I've ever seen. Literally no padding whatsoever. And no mention of how slippery the shoe is when wet? It's the same issue they had with the original Olympus and the Lone Peak 2.0--they become greased banana peels in the slightest bit of moisture--incredibly dangerous. "[T]his asymmetrical lacing design is so great..." Really?? How? Why? It's maybe the worst thing about it--it crosses the toe box at a weird angle and rubs the toes raw underneath it. Beyond that it serves no purpose. Also, these are not zero drop and Altra should stop marketing it that way--the huge front rocker puts the toes at a weird angle and suspends then above the heel. True zero drop is having the last completely flat and toes and heel on the ground at the same time and Altra hasn't had that since their original Lone Peak. With the rocker you have to lift your heel 4" before your toes touch the ground. NOT zero drop. And super awkward and inefficient.

    Altra, if you're reading this, here's what to do:
    1- Flatten the last completely. No rocker.
    2- Put a Vibram sole on it like you finally did for the Olympus; your current rubber is dangerous when wet and you know it.
    3: Ditch the asymmetrical lacing nonsense and pad the tongue.
    4- Keep stack height, it's perfect.
    5- Reduce volume/width, especially in the midfoot.
    6- Lighter. Start by losing all the rigid decorative nonsense like the logo and such--they are also the reason the upper gets shredded because they make the material bend around it.
    7- Lose the tag thingy in the back--serves no purpose and has a risk of getting snagged on rocks and trees etc.
    8- Soften and reduce the height of the upper heel piece--it digs into the Achilles tendon. Or maybe bifurcate it.
    9- Altra you've lost it. Bring back the original Lone Peak and the ethos that came with it--true zero drop, good materials, no bs

    Also, irunfar you maybe need to get a reviewer who takes the job seriously.

  • I’m a huge fan of Altras and was so excited to get these. However, despite me being a lower mileage, slow runner, the uppers ripped out on both shoes within three months from purchase. Perhaps it was from being to loosely-goosey on technical terrain which they definitely are. I believe this effect is also causing forefoot blisters-something Ive never had trouble with before. I also noticed the midsole breakdown-they lost their luster even before the uppers started to rip. Overall, quite disappointed in this shoe. Altras have many positives, but they definitely have a durability issue.

  • So many good things to like about this shoe...but so little confidence?

    Ran the Rut 50k and IMTUF '17 in the Timps after blowing out the interior sidewall on two pairs of Olympus 2.0 in training, losing confidence in the Olympus past 100 miles. Have to agree with others that the Timp tongue is absolutely on the minimalist side, and it's prone to "squish up" and fold over itself when the laces are tightened up decently. The huge toe box in the Timp actually allowed me to jump down a full shoe size which meant the tongue quit overlapping itself. I'm a 10.5 in the Olympus and found the 9.5 Timp worked well.

    In the end, though, like the Olympus, I'm concerned with the Timp for any long distance unless the shoe is brand new. I literally ran IMTUF with a brand new pair (and had a back up pair still in the box with crew) to ensure they'd make it. Despite this reviewer's "tank" comparison for the upper, I just returned a pair this week when the sidewall blew out a 2" opening just above the burly, protective, rubber wrap-around (less than 100 miles on them). I never saw that coming, but it seems to be a weak upper material issue; even if the protective wrap around (great for saving toes) seems excellent, the uppers material connecting to it HAS to hold and last. For all the good of Altra's light weight, maximalist ideas, perhaps "the" critical flaw in the Olympus and Timp is a weak upper material? I'm loving their shoes, but I'm not sure how long I can stick with multiple pairs/designs that habitually give out, even explode, around 100 miles. I would sacrifice weight in a minute to gain some Altra confidence beyond 100 miles. Plus, for whatever reason, there's little warning (ie, wear signs) before the Altra sidewalls blow out--no small hole that grows over time (ie, the old Innovate shoes did this)...when the Altra goes, it goes. Better hope you're not in the backcountry when this happens.

  • I like the shoe. Had the same problem with the insert moving. We swapped out the rock plate and insert from a pair of superiors. This solved the insert issue and tightened up on the over roominess. Wet rock running just plan sucks. Dry anything is good, mud is reasonable.
    East coast mid pack runner. 240 miles on the shoe. Ran 3 races: 50k, 50miler and 71 miler, no blisters.

  • " The shoes looked burlier than the Altra Lone Peak while still maintaining the signature Zero Drop and FootShape toebox that has become synonymous with Altra."

    I'm not the only runner who sees centimeters (centimeters!) of soft foam on a shoe and thinks the opposite of burly. Hard foam and rockplate are burly!

    • Cody L Custis-

      With the shoe "looking burly", I was referring to the extra overlays and reinforced rand and heel cup, not the amount of foam. I apologize for not being more clear.

  • Altra employee here. Stack height corrections: The Lone Peak 3.5 stack height is 25mm, not 20mm and the Olympus stack height is currently 36mm, not 32mm.

    Thanks for the review!

  • I want to love Altra so much but their durability continues to haunt all of my experiences with these shoes. Totally unacceptable to experiment with durability on customers. 200 max miles of life before failure is socially, environmentally, financially and performance totally unacceptable.

  • Wanted to like this shoe as I love the Paradigms. But it the mid sole turned flat and hard 80 miles in. I like the lacing and upper although my foot tends to rotate inward on technical trails, leaving my big toe vulnerable to hitting rocks. The reason you need gaiters with these is because of the silly braking flipper on the end. All this does is flip debris up and into your shoe. It is a heavy shoe but doesn't feel like it on longer runs. I agree that it's sketchy on wet rocks and good on dry surfaces. I have screws in them now for the winter. They work fine with the softer snow underneath but once the dirt comes back they will get recycled.
    Pretty disappointing to spend $130 for a shoe that will only see 200ish miles. I think they have something here but the shoe needs major upgrades to the midsole and outsole, along with locking down the forefoot a bit. And while I like the reflectiveness to be seen, I find it distracting when running with a headlamp seeing glowing shoes. They're trail shoes they really only need a few reflective parts.

  • Re: "burley" uppers--I also initially felt the uppers and toe rand were pretty stout, and glad they didn't seem as stiff as my experience with the Olympus. But, either in practice on rough trail or possibly as they wear in, I find that rand doesn't do much more than act as a soft layer on top of the mesh, is too pliable to be effectively protective. Compared to the rands and overlays on Salomon, Scott, Salming and of course the nuclear strike proof La Sportivas, for the weight, they do not compare favorably to other trail shoes marketed for mountain, rough and off-trail use. I checked the log on my Training Peaks account--my first pair of Timps blew out at 160 miles. Most of that was light trail. I think you're generating feedback because a lot of us see the potential of this shoe--it just isn't "there" with the first release. I've communicated all my thoughts with photos directly to Altra. Looks like they're following, but there's some good input here and I'd suggest everyone contact them directly with your constructive thoughts.

    • Richard-

      Great comments. The upper certainly "looks burly", and while I didn't experience any blow outs (I rarely do in any shoe as I'm just not that hard on anything but the outsole), you're right.... This rand isn't nearly as effective at kicking rocks as most other trail shoes.
      Its great to see Altra involved on this thread, and it is also great to see feedback going directly back to the company to really dial it in.

  • I had a pair imported to the UK before they were available here as I usually run in the Lone Peaks and wanted to give the Timps a go. I've now done 500 miles in them including a 100 mile trail ultra. The uppers have started to deteriorate but only after 3-400 miles of UK winter running (think MUD!). I do prefer the more superioresque, locked in feel around the ankle etc rather than the cushiony feel of the Lone Peak. On the negative side I really didn't feel the benefit of the extra cushioning and felt this maybe flattened out prematurely. On another note the shoes squeek like mad every step. I became known as the 'squeeky shoe guy' on the 100 miler and had absolutely no chance of surprising anyone as I passed them en route as anyone within 100 metres could hear me coming. After 24 hours of this I became convinced there was actually a giant frog on my heels chasing me down. It also makes it impossible to creep out of the house super early for a sneaky run. Has anyone else experienced this?

  • I’m 200 miles into my second pair of Lone Peaks but just got the Timp after my Nov half left my left foot a little sore. I suffer from bouts of plantar fasciitis and neuroma but both have largely disappeared after running in Altras. I’ve only run 11 miles in the Timps but I thought they felt great. I guess I will see how they hold up but they way they lace up and where the upper rests on my foot works well for me.

  • I really want to love the Timps but my first pair the lacing eyelet ripped after 111 miles so i return the shoes and took my second pair with me to Pinhoti 100 miler. A creek crossing just 10 miles in sent the insole working itself out the shoe. Luckily I had two other pair of Altras with me. Really Altra test your shoes in all conditions before you release them !

  • Any shoe over 10 oz's is a nonstarter right out of the gate for me. Other companies have been able to make stellar trail shoes, even to cater to the 100 milers, that don't weigh that much. Heavy is 'slow.'

  • Thanks for all the customer comments here. I'm actually awaiting a pair or Timps to be delivered today. I'm a long time Altra customer but only because there are no other choices out there (for my feet). Literally all Altras I've owned fell apart within a very short time. Mostly the uppers are concerned. The latest Lone Peak and Instinct seem to be more durable. At least according to my experience. Altras are quite expensive over here and reading all those comments here will make me send back the Timps. While my weak ankle would appreciate some more cush (Torins turned out good) I'm simply fed up with throwing away more money.

    Please Altra, fix this durability issue.

    • Received my delivery yesterday. As already alluded to in my previous posting, I will send back the pair. However, I still want to share my sizing since this is information many reviews often do not report.

      My usual running shoe size ~10. Altras 10.5 (Instinct, Lone Peak, Torin). The Timp is too short in 10.5, probably due to the heelp cup. Shoe itself is just as long as the Torin. I usually size up to thumb's width between toe and shoe. I would have to go up to 11 probably.

      Just sharing, others may still be interested in this shoe.

  • There was a point Altra pretty consistently was reported to stand behind their products. I was told by their rep at an event I would probably get replacement pairs if I sent them photos. The response to my my report and photos showing one pair destroyed at 160 miles and another showing serious wear after only 40 miles was to thank me, advise my input is going to their R&D staff, and offer (mind, not actually provide) a discount code for my next purchase. I don't cut my nose to spite my face, and remain committed to the benefits the Altra brand provides, but that's a disappointing response to an issue that's uniformly reported across the trail running community. Multiple reports, including mine, that we're concerned enough that we stash multiple pairs in drop bags or forego the Timp altogether for ultra distances. In contrast, a report of a much less significant wear issue to Salming (I'm not a rep or ambassador for any brand), whose Trail5s I opted for to replace the Timps on the same trails that finished them off, got an immediate response from their CEO (yes, their CEO), and a UPS label to ship the worn shoes in exchange for a brand new replacement. AND they acknowledged the issue and the fix they'd already put in place to address it. That's an example of how you do it right. The 5mm drop on the Trail5 is entirely workable, and as another poster said, with the rocker design Altra may be fudging the functionality of zero drop anyway. It's of less significance on trail than road/Track in any event. If Topo Athletic expanded their trail line to offer some more aggressive grippy outsole and no-doubt ultra distance cushioning, I think Altra would be looking at much greater loss of market share than they already must be. As other companies move into offerings that address foot shape, toe box, lower drops and a range of cushion/stack height in more durable better fitting shoes that address protection and durability, Altra is going to need to respond with real moves coming out of R&D, and better materials and construction. I hope they will. At the moment I'm asking why I wouldn't just wear the Trail5 for all my trail training and events. I'm not coming up with many good reasons not to at the moment.

    • Our local trail running shop (Seven Hills) replaced my first pair of each the Olympus 2, Olympus 2.5, and Timp when the uppers all blew out with less than 100 miles. I did replace the replaced Olympus 2 by calling Altra and they were super helpful. That was last year though. I went up a little in size with each replacement. I also learned to not tighten them as much as other shoes to increase durability. That along with the larger size seems to cure the upper blowouts.
      I don't really wear my Timps running here in PNW because it's so wet. I do love the looks though and just wear them around town now.

  • Loved them from a style perspective, but scared as hell to wear them in wet conditions. Thus, they have turned into a “safe” running conditions kind of shoe and the only Altra sneaker that I think actually looks good on your feet outside of the trails. Disappointed overall...

  • These Timps are my first pair of Altras. I was recently hooked on Pearl Izumi's, so have been looking for shoes that fit my foot (wider toebox). I run in PNW. These are the best option I have found and I've had a number of good runs in them. However, after 200 miles, I have to reiterate the comments I see here: Bottoms have shown significant wear, almost done. The insoles move around. Because of this it seems like my big toes are about to poke through. And I have a 2 inch "tear" in the upper, just above the rubber line. I don't know if that's true wear, or if I actually tore it on trail roots. Either way, these will need to be replaced faster than any other running shoes I've owned. They fit, so do I get another pair and hope for better? TBD in the coming days.

  • I run the hell out of these shoes. I regularly do very long distances. All the comments seem to be true. But the shoe really only has a life of about 250 miles. As far as the wet running I think that's right especially if you're very aggressive. I've had luck by changing my stride in form when I'm going over wet Rock and loose material. I put Champion Montrails in my shoes and that seems to cure a few ills with the midsole

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