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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- Have you run in the Altra Timp? What do you think of the shoe overall?
- What specific features of the Timp do you like, and which do you feel could be improved?
- If you are an Altra shoe frequenter, how would you compare aspects of the Timp with the brand’s other models?
[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!]