Out of the starting blocks in this Altra Timp 4 ($160) review, I will be completely honest with you.
Although I am a previous wearer of Altra’s Lone Peak lineage, and I am not a stranger to the Altra world, this was my first experience in an Altra Timp. I have learned over the review period that this shoe has been through several iterations. Trail running friends and serious gear hounds have indicated that this version may be better built and more of a solid trail shoe than its predecessors.
The kinship is noticeable, but the Timp 4 is touted to be slightly tougher. It was relayed to me that the Altra Timp 4 may offer a little more durability than the Altra Olympus line, a little more comfort than the Altra Lone Peak line, and while it may not be as soft and springy as the Altra Mont Blanc, it provides more overall underfoot protection.
The Altra Timp 4 has an actual weight of 10.7 ounces in a U.S. men’s size 9 and a 29-millimeter stack height, coupled with its notable zero-drop platform. The Timp 4 was designed with Altra’s standard FootShape fit and is true to size. It is maximally cushioned and accompanied by a relaxed slip-on feel.
The overall comfort sparks the urge to hit the trails immediately, while the cushioned platform allows the Timp 4 to be a most excellent pavement-to-trail transition shoe. There are many aspects of this shoe to rave about, balanced with some aspects that could be slightly adjusted or redesigned for the next model. The Timp 4 is a solid shoe, and I am lucky to have had almost 200 miles in it, in all weather.
Altra Timp 4 Upper
The Altra Timp 4 saw a significant redesign in the upper, both structurally and aesthetically. The upper is a combination of tight-knit mesh with welded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlays. The toebox has added plastic above the big toe and is further fortified laterally, minimally on the medial side. One of the best features of the Timp 4 is the complete heel design. There is a soft lock-down fit in the heel cup, which is accentuated by an extra cushioned collar. It feels so nice.
Externally, there are significant welded overlays with added padding on both sides of the shoe. The heel is supportive on the bottom and snug at the top. The heel design also incorporates a rad pull tab, which I use frequently when debris finds its way inside. Alas, it is a quick shake and dump with a smart pull back onto the foot. At the base of the heel, there is a Velcro tab for Altra’s proprietary gaiter and a corresponding plastic loop at the base of the tongue for the upper connection.
I did not wear the gaiters, but if I continue to wear the Timps, it may be a necessary investment. Even though I am very keen on the extra padding at the top of the tongue, I didn’t enjoy the seam at the very top that cut into my ankle during long runs. I wear low “no show” ankle running socks. I do advise wearing quarter or crew socks while running in the Timp 4 to avoid this issue. Furthermore, the tongue is semi-gusseted, which shifted slightly during runs and is probably a contributing factor to the debris getting into the shoe, although minimally.
I have been running in the bright orange colorway. Initially, I was a little apprehensive to run in such a flashy hue, but the panache has been rewarding. In combination with the slip-on good feel and the color, this shoe begs me to run. The Timp 4 comes in four different colorways, suitable for many different personality types.
Altra Timp 4 Midsole
The Altra Timp 4’s midsole is engineered with the plush shock absorption of the Altra EGO Max foam. EGO Max is designed with training performance in mind. It heightens the trail experience by adding spring to the stride and by increasing overall comfort and responsiveness. I enjoy the midsole’s capacity to hit the ground, disperse the contact force, and then transfer the landing energy to a bounce release. Don’t tell the brand On Running, but I feel like I am running on clouds in the Timp 4.
The added comfort, however, didn’t come at a cost to the underfoot protection afforded by the EGO Max midsole, which is holding up quite nicely compared to other Altras. The midsole is flexible and soft, while the heel foam is a little stiffer, adding slightly more stability on uneven terrain. Altra also designs their shoes with their proprietary Balanced Cushioning platform to ensure that a runner’s heel and forefoot are placed at an equal distance from the ground, giving the shoe a zero-drop and a level alignment. If you are used to a rocker, this platform takes a couple of runs to adjust to. However, it did help hone in a solid and strong midfoot landing on the buttery southern Oregon trails on which I run.
Interestingly, the midsole has three drainage holes on each side of the shoes at the forefoot. They are additionally covered by synthetic mesh. I ran in a lot of snow and rain this spring while wearing the Timp 4s. I can’t say there was a significant advantage of the holes in regards to water release, because my feet were still wet, clammy, and cold. Perhaps the added holes contributed to the lightness of the midsole.
Altra Timp 4 Outsole
Elaborating upon the spring weather I ran in during our wet and cold spring in Oregon, I was able to significantly test the Altra Timp 4’s MaxTrac outsole. For six weekends straight, the hills and mountains received rain and significant snow, both in the local watershed and up on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I bounced at the opportunity to put rubber to the elements.
Overall, the Timp 4 had subpar traction on technical trail and in the snow. It seemed to hold up better on the wet granitic soils, allowing for a little more grab and powerful striding. The lugs are shallow with an alternating chevron shape covering the majority of the shoe’s underside. I have found that the outsole performs nicely in drier conditions and on trails unburdened by a lot of texture.
Since I am used to a more aggressive outsole in the other trail running shoes I have been testing and racing in over the years, I have assigned the Timp 4 to be a suitable mid-distance — 10 to 15 miles — trainer for hybrid and dry trail, sand, and slab conditions. It simply needs a little more bite in wet and slick conditions.
Altra Timp 4 Overall Impressions
The Altra Timp 4 is here to stay in my quiver — it is often the right arrow for the run on the calendar. Although it is not a racer, it is a solid trainer for moderately paced and mid-distance runs. I really enjoy the comfort and cushion provided by the EGO Max midsole and thoughtful design of the heel. I appreciate the protection and durability it has given my feet and lower body. I feel enough ground to know what I am landing on, but the softness and extra spring give rebound and energy savings.
It is also a decent climber, and as I mentioned several times, the Timp 4 is an amazing road to trail and back-to-road shoe. I am a huge supporter of zero-drop and foot-shaped shoes of all sorts. I firmly believe Altras help strengthen feet and ankles, while also giving bio-feedback for greater stride efficiency.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in the Altra Timp 4?
- If you have run in previous versions of the Altra Timp, what are your thoughts on the updates in the Timp 4?
[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!]