Throughout the process of reviewing a shoe, I try to get feedback from trail running and ultrarunning friends, read other reviews, and ask local running-specialty store salespeople what their feedback has been. Of course I also run a ton of testing miles myself. This process culminates when I decide to either review a shoe or not. I have learned over the years, though, that whatever I say about shoes made by certain brands will be polarizing and likely cause many runners to disagree with me.
Altra has been building a die-hard fan base among ultrarunners for years. It is also clear that the fit and design of their shoes, especially the toebox, has influenced most running-shoe brands. However, the downside of having die-hard fans is the inevitable backlash you may face when you tweak a shoe throughout several iterations. With running-shoe-production calendars on a seemingly relentless pace to update every model annually, it is inevitable that updates will happen that the majority of fans of a shoe will not like. And the opposite is also true. In the case of the Altra Timp 2 ($140), I am a big fan of the updates.
Altra Timp 2 Upper
Lots of updates are afoot with the new Timp. So much so that runners who have previously run in past versions may not recognize this as the same shoe. The upper of the original Timp made the shoe look fairly massive, and the fit felt just as loose. It was a great shoe for cruising at ultra paces, but the upper material became very bogged down when wet and it overall just ran like a heavier shoe. With the Timp 1.5 update, which I really enjoyed, we saw more open mesh on the upper, dialed-in fit with more midfoot lock, and a much better insole that didn’t slide around on steep downhills or when wet. Forget everything you knew about those two shoes, though, as the Timp 2 is a completely different beast.
The Timp 2 features even more dual-density mesh and less overlays, but the mesh is fairly burly. A simple welded-on overlay at the toecap provides some protection, but most of the structure and lockdown take place because of the fit, which is quite a bit more snug than past versions. If you’re a runner who has found past versions of the Timp or Lone Peak to be a bit sloppy, then the Timp 2 may be your shoe. However, the fit is a very polarizing feature of this new Timp. While features such as the heel collar and tongue feel mostly the same, the width and height of the toebox are quite a bit tighter and more narrow. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an Altra running shoe, but I would place the Timp 2’s upper more on the road-shoe side of the spectrum in their line. There is still room for toe splay, but it isn’t unencumbered toe splay like in past versions of the Timp. You will feel the sidewalls of the upper, but if sized correctly you shouldn’t experience blisters or abrasions. In my opinion, the shallowness of the toebox may be more of a make-or-break feature of the Timp 2, and it’s just something that has to be tried on. Some runners will love the racier locked-down feel, while others will miss the wide openness of the Timp 1.5’s toebox.
Altra Timp 2 Midsole
In past versions of some Altra shoes using A-Bound foam, I’ve had the displeasure of feeling a midsole feel like it disperses under the middle of my feet and go flat like a cheap mattress. I thought I’d found the answer to this in Altra’s EGO midsole foam, which feels a lot to me like a Nike Zoom midsole and seems to hold up over the life of the shoe. However, Altra’s Quantic midsole, which is used exclusively in the Timp 2 midsole, rides like a more plush version of the EGO foam and it’s also lighter. This midsole is also used in the Superior 4, but at a much lower stack height. The Timp 2 midsole, with 21mm of this plush Quantic foam, seems to be the perfect recipe for comfort with a fast-feeling ride. Altra also uses InnerFlex grooves which help with the heel-to-toe transition of the shoe which gives it a nice amount of flexibility without feeling flimsy. As a midfoot striker, I appreciated the 29mm of protection. This is a shoe I felt comfortable taking on any terrain, but the Timp 2 does seem to perform best on mellow to moderate trails.
Altra Timp 2 Outsole
Altra employs their now standard MaxTrac outsole which gripped just okay in snow, mud, and clay conditions and it seems to favor dry and smoother trails. I did notice that in wetter conditions this outsole suffers from lack of grip, but seemed to wear well and be durable. The flex grooves in the outsole do improve the ride a great deal, and the Timp 2 would make a great hybrid door-to-trail shoe for cost- and waste-conscious runners. Another feature of the outsole that is noticeably missing is the much discussed Trail Rudder, which I’ve consistently cut off the back of my Altras for years. Thank you, Altra! The Timp 2 has a sleeker profile and looks less bulky overall without this feature.
Altra Timp 2 Overall Impressions
I’ve watched the trail running shoe market change over the previous three years and shoes have been erring on the heavy side with fewer models coming in below the 10-ounce barrier. With the Altra Timp 2, the company managed to shave over an ounce off the previous version, from 11.0 ounces to 9.9 ounces, and the result is a more lively shoe than previous Timps or even the Lone Peak 4.5 which I’m also currently running in. The additional bounce of the Quantic midsole foam over Altra’s traditional A-Bound midsole is very noticeable, and the unfortunate affect of testing both models at the same time is that the Lone Peak 4.5 has essentially been benched. I don’t feel like I’m lacking protection in the Timp 2 even though it doesn’t have a rock plate.
So, in noticing the obvious similarities between the Timp 2 and the Lone Peak 4.5, one may struggle deciding which model to buy. If you’re a runner who can handle the shallower toebox, the Timp 2 will be a winner due to being an ounce lighter with much better and longer-lasting midsole cushioning. However, if you’re someone who craves the toe splay of a traditional Altra toebox, I’d probably stick with the Lone Peak. Either way, besides the fit, these two models are occupying the same space in Altra’s product line so I’m sure we’ll see some differentiation in the near future.
Read up on more new trail shoes for spring-summer 2020.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Calling all Altra Timp 2 wearers, what do you think?
- Overall, what do you think of the changes made in this version?
- What about the specific features, such as the midsole cushioning, upper’s fit, and outsole? Can you share your thoughts on individual parts of the shoe?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]