Altra Timp 2 Review | High Cushioning Trail Running Shoes
The latest addition to the Altra Zero Drop trail running range is the Timp 2. The Timp has sat between the Lone Peak, which offers a nimble & flexible feel designed to cope with all trail conditions and the Olympus, Altra’s maximum cushioning trail shoe, designed to go the distance on firmer trails. A 100-mile shoe or the shoe for those who appreciate a lot of cushioning. The issue for many is that the Lone Peak isn’t cushioned enough to cope with road to trail and the Olympus isn’t nimble enough for them on single track and broken trail. As a result of this missing middle ground, the Altra Timp was born.
There have been a lot of changes from the Timp 1 to the 1.5 and now the 2. It’s tricky to make a shoe that feels like a road shoe on tarmac and harder trails yet is stable enough to cope with a selection of trails.
For many Altra fans the Timp 2 might take them by surprise. The fit is a lot snugger than previous versions and smaller in length than other Altra running shoes. I found that I needed to go up half a size on my usual Altra size to get some space at the front. This is the same in the Women’s version of the Timp 2 too. If you found the previous versions or the Lone Peak a bit ‘sloppy’ then the Timp 2 could feel good for you. The upper features more dual-density mesh and less overlays. There is some toe protection supplied by a welded-on overlay at the toe cap but generally this is quite a soft upper designed to flex with the foot. The upper locks the foot into place a lot more than in other Altra shoes, giving a much more secure fit. Although it still has the same broad, toe shaped toe box with width and height of the shoe is narrower than previous versions of the Timp and Lone Peak. I found that there was still room for my toes to splay out on impact but I could feel the sides of the shoes. In previous versions and the Lone Peaks my toes are completely free and I am unaware of the sides of the shoes. For those newer to foot shape toe boxes, this fit will feel a lot less strange then other Altra running shoes. The heel cuff and tongue feel no different to previous version. The lack of a plastic heel cup will be a bonus for those with heel spears. Other runners probably won’t notice as the upper is pulled in snuggly around the foot to give a good fit around the heel.
The Quantic midsole gives a very soft and bouncy ride. This is very similar to the Torin 4 Plush in feel and cushioning level. Essentially the Timp 2 is a trail version of the Torin 4 Plush. This makes it feel very smooth and comfortable on the tarmac. The Maxtrax outsole gives a good grip on most trail surfaces. The lugs aren’t long enough to cope with deep mud but everything else is actually fine. The outsole is made of a soft rubber in order to give good grip on wet surfaces but is also durable enough to not wear out quickly on harder ground.
Initially I thought that the stack height would make the shoe unstable on rooty or boulder-filled paths. This isn’t the case, as the soft Quantic midsole absorbs the lumps and bumps of the trail in the same way that a mountain bike tyre would. You can feel the ground, but I have had no issues with bruising or my feet feeling battered after a run. The lack of a ‘rockplate’ to prevent sharp rocks or stones going through the midsole might put some runners off, but I think that with a midsole as thick as 29mm this isn’t required. The addition of a ‘rockplate’ would also affect the ride of the shoe and make it less flexible and therefore less smooth on the firmer surfaces. The ‘innerflex’ in the midsoles means that the Timp 2 bends where your foot wants to bend, which gives a very natural and unencumbered ride.
Personally I tend to prefer less cushioned and more responsive feeling shoes and initially the Timp 2 felt too soft. However, I now find that I am reaching for them when I am doing my easier and longer runs! Having been used to more volume in the toe box I also thought that the more locked in fit was too snug. Having done a few hundred miles in them now they don’t feel as snug as I am used to the fit and I have had no problems with rubbing or abrasion.
The Timp 2 has a gaiter trap at the heel and a loop at the base of the laces to take the Altra 2 point gaiters.
In summary the Altra Timp 2 is a fantastic, comfortable road to trail shoe. It works well on all but the most severe of trails and muddy fields, because it is very well cushioned to feel smooth on your road run into your favourite off-road routes.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Hoka Challenger: A similar level of soft cushioning but, in a very different shoe. The toe box is more pointy and the fit narrower. The rocker will give a less natural feel for some and for others it will remind them to pull their feet behind them increasing cadence and reducing over striding.
Topo MT-3: A similar shaped toe box to Altra. 3mm heel to forefoot drop. A much firmer more responsive ride.