Article by Shannon Payne and Mike Postaksi
Altra Running Timp 4 ($160)
Shannon: While I have always found Altra to make incredibly comfortable shoes, the versions I have previously tried (both road and trail) weren’t really options that I’d consider for longer mileage, and were rather just for short and easy jaunts for the sake of changing things up. Something about the zero drop just made my footstrike feel a bit off, although that’s likely just a byproduct of typically running in shoes that have a slightly (or sometimes significantly) higher drop. The feeling is quite different in Altra. Previous versions of the Timp have had a slightly lower stack height, and the revamped cushioning and more ample cushioning of the newest iteration had me intrigued and I wanted to give the brand another shot, and I’m sure glad I did.
Mike P: My previous Altra trail shoe experience has consisted of 4 shoes: Lone Peak 3, King MT 1.5, Superior 3 and 4. I have tried on recent versions of most recent Altra trail shoes, but none of them really worked for me. Recent Lone Peaks have been way too wide to even consider. I found the Olympus to have too much volume all around. Most importantly, recent Timp versions just felt a bit unexciting and also didn’t feel like they had enough support underfoot. They just felt a bit too flat for my taste. So I’m interested to try something new, and I’m glad that Altra completely revamped the Timp so now maybe I can start over with Altra.
More cushioning underfoot, feels more protective on rougher terrain than the previous Timp(s). Still, it doesn’t feel like “a lot of shoe,” something most Altra fans will likely be happy about Shannon
Lightweight enough for faster runs, forgiving enough for longer runs Shannon/Mike P
Very versatile outsole; tame enough for dry, hard packed surfaces but still aggressive where need be Shannon
I really don’t care about colors, but this orange wome’s colorway is rad Shannon
Comfortable, slipper-like fit and feel Mike P
EGO MAX midsole feels lively, dense and even throughout, but also light Mike P
Lace…so much extra lace. A very small gripe as I don’t mind tucking it away, but what is all this extra lace for? Shannon
Not enough bite in the outsole tread – especially up front Mike P
Fit a bit insecure laterally for technical terrain Mike P
Approx. Weight: men’s 10.7 oz / 303g (US9), women’s 9.3 oz / 263g (US8)
Sample: men’s 11.2 oz / 318 g (US 10)
Stack Height: 30 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot
Available now from our partners including Running Warehouse HERE. $160
Shannon is a Colorado native currently residing in Northern California. NorCal is nice, but Colorado has her heart. Having run competitively for around 20 years, she was a 7x All American at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was a 2x member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, 2x winner of the Mt. Washington Road Race, and was 3rd at the 2014 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship. Her favorite shoes currently include the Hoka Torrent, Saucony Kinvara, and Brooks Launch, and her favorite runs include anything that goes uphill.
Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras – anywhere from 50K up to his favorite – 100M. 5’10”, 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker – he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A 2:40 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 – 9:00/mi. Mike shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, with plenty of forefoot space, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.
First Impressions and Fit
Shannon: Like I’ve said before, color is never make or break for me, but oh my did they make this shoe pop. Also my immediate first impression is that this appears nothing like the Timps of old and doesn’t feel very similar either. In my opinion, not a bad thing! Although that’s certainly not to say previous versions weren’t good, this one is just different.
My first step-in feel was WOW. This is quite a soft shoe, with Altra’s signature ample toebox which to me has always felt great, and with enough shoe underfoot that I knew it would be do well for a variety of distances and terrain, but still light enough to appeal to those who don’t like the feel of a ton of shoe. I had high hopes for this Timp already.
In terms of fit, my women’s size 8 fit is true to size.
Mike P: First impression for me is all about fit and feel. As mentioned in the intro, I found previous Timps to be unexciting overall. They just felt a bit stiff, as well as flat underfoot. I know some people really liked them, but I imagine you’d have to be more of an Altra adherent to appreciate their fit and feel.
Thankfully, for me at least, the new Timp 4 feels completely different than its predecessors. The increased cushioning is readily apparent just standing in them, as well as much improved flexibility even with the big slab of EGO MAX midsole. My gripe about previous Timps feeling flat underfoot is completely gone with the Timp 4. The combination of likely a bit more contoured footbed + Ortholite insole + deep flexible midsole cushion really feels great underfoot.
As far as looks – I think they’re one of the best looking trail shoes out right now. The combination of mesh upper with the block overlays, and the mesh netting and contouring of the midsole foam – it just looks really aggressive and cool. Definitely a shoe I wouldn’t mind cruising around in outside of running.
Fit-wise, I’m happy with my US 10. I’ve got a full thumb’s width up front, which is just right for a trail shoe. I’d call them true to size. My previous Altras have been size 9.5, and they felt just a bit short. I’m happy with the extra space in these, and the ability to try different socks, including Injinji toe socks.
[Front and rear gaiter attachments, tongue stay loop also big enough to serve as lace loop]
Mike P: The biggest element of the upper is of course, the space in the toebox. Previous Timps have been a bit on the narrower side relative to other Altra models. I’d say there’s a bit more volume in this toebox than previous versions. Definitely not Lone Peak-level space, but it should be suitable for most that do enjoy or need it. The mesh upper material in the toebox area is a bit looser, so I don’t feel any pressure either on the outsides or over the top of my forefoot. There’s definitely room to stretch as well, so as long as you are properly sized, toebox space should not be an issue with the Timp 4.
I find the overall fit of the upper to be really great, almost slipper-like in comfort and feel. This may be a bit of a detriment on more technically oriented trails, but it’s great for most anything else. The sides of the upper wrap further over the top of the foot, so the gap the laces span is shorter.
[Well-padded tongue, Ortholite insole – textured on top]
Also the gusseted tongue is very well padded, contributing to the slipper-like feel. You don’t feel the laces at all over the top of the foot. The mesh material is dense, but not rigid, and free from any structured overlays. Throughout my testing, I never felt any tension over any areas of my foot. I believe the feel of the upper will be consistent and work for many different foot volumes.
For those that were paying attention to the Mont Blanc review (RTR Review), and the potential issues with the rear/heel of the shoe – I’m happy to report the rear of the Timp 4 is more structured and works just fine. There’s a semi-flexible heel counter that adds support and structure. It looks like the same plasticky material as the toe bumper, but perhaps just a double or triple layer. Inside the heel, there’s padding in the upper heel cup that wraps over both sides of the heel and Achilles. Pretty standard stuff, and it works. Note to manufacturers – simple is good, stick with what works. I had zero issues with heel slippage.
Mike P: There’s a few different design elements at play with the midsole. Firstly, EGO MAX foam – 30mm front to back. It feels consistent and even throughout – there’s no dead spots or areas that feel either softer or firmer. The flexible Timp 4 shares the same 30mm stack height of EGO MAX with the more rocker based Mont Blanc.
It just feels like one, consistent slab – which is a good thing. The increased cushioning is definitely noticeable – if feels soft and perhaps even plush, but responsive at the same time. I never had any feeling of bottoming out. The second design element is the mesh that wraps the midsole at the front of the shoe. I believe this was added to perhaps add a bit of firmness or control for midfoot/forefoot landings. A similar design is utilized in the Saucony Endorphin Trail which also features a larger stack of bouncy-ish foam. I’m not sure how effective it really is, but the EGO MAX at 30mm up front can tend to feel a bit unstable at times.
The next interesting design element is the Inner Flex – I originally thought it was those 3 holes on each side of the midsole under the forefoot, but those are actually drainage holes. Inner Flex is a series of tennis string-like cuts into the top of the midsole. In any case, both the Inner Flex as well as those drainage holes do work to enhance the shoe’s flexibility. It’s apparent when flexing the shoe in hand that the first one (towards the rear) really compresses and creates a flex point. The front two likely compress, a little less so, during toe flex and toe-off. So something seems to be working very well as I was struck by how the cushion felt dense yet flexible at the same time. Without the flex, I’m sure the ride would feel a bit “slabby”.
[Great forefoot flex- note the Inner Flex at the 3rd “hole”]
Shannon: I loved the soft, flexible and forgiving feel of the EGO Max foam utilized in this shoe. Usually, you don’t get a super-cush ride that simultaneously moves with the foot. Think Hoka here: you get a ton of cushioning material, but flexible it is not. Which is fine, that’s not the name of the game with Hoka. With the Timp, you get what I felt to be a delightfully cushioned ride, but yet the shoe really bends and flexes with the foot, making it great for very irregular terrain.
Speaking of Hoka, for a moment I mistook the drainage holes on the lateral parts of the Timp’s forefoot to be something akin to Hoka’s earliest models, where the wearer could actually drill their own holes into the lateral aspects of the shoe’s foam to create more inherent stability. But that’s an aside. I didn’t get to test these guys out in wet conditions yet so am unsure how they would have drained, but it seems they thought of every trail condition with this shoe.
[Sharper lugs in the rear and along the sides, more smoothed out across the front]
Mike P: My thoughts on the outsole are a bit of a mixed bag, as I believe the outsole itself to be a bit of a mixed bag. There’s solid MaxTrac rubber coverage underfoot, but the rubber itself is quite soft, as well as flexible. As I recall, previous Timps had firmer rubber, or at least they seemed more technically oriented. Also it seems to me the lugs themselves are lacking a bit of “bite”. The lugs in the rear are more angular and sharp, as well as some of the lugs along the sides up to the forefoot (basically the black rubber).
But then up front, the lugs become more rounded and smoother. They definitely seem more oriented towards a smoother ride as opposed to performance in technical terrain. Durability of the rubber is a question mark for me – it seems like it will wear faster. I noticed some quicker wear and abrasion on the lateral sides of the forefoot around my landing area (see 2nd picture below).
I guess it all depends on the shoe is positioned for the market or how you intend to utilize the shoe. If you’re thinking of it as a door-to-trail shoe, or a long cruiser on moderate to semi-technical trails, the outsole works really well and contributes to the smoothness of ride. If you’re looking for something for technical, mountainous, or muddy conditions, this outsole may be a miss for you. You’ll be left wanting for more traction – especially under the forefoot.
[The two rows of opposing “V” lugs provide a smooth ride, but not so great traction. You can see some more rubber abrasion gradually increasing towards the lateral side – towards my landing area (right side of picture). This picture is after 35 miles in mostly dry and sandy conditions, with a bit of rocky terrain mixed in]
Shannon: The Timp’s outsole is neither overly aggressive nor particularly tame. Rather, it’s a highly versatile outsole that would accommodate dry, packed surfaces, to more muddy muck. The reverse lugs in the heel give some added confidence on descents as well. As Mike mentioned previously, the rubber is quite soft. While I haven’t stacked quite enough miles onto these just yet to see extremely significant wear, I do see a bit of wear even in its early miles. To be fair, I have jumped on asphalt and concrete with them en route to the trail multiple times,, which I could definitely see wearing down the outsole considerably faster due to it’s softness. The grip once on the trail though was fantastic, so in my opinion it serves its purpose.
Mike P: By far my favorite riding Altra shoe to date. In any type of terrain from smooth to moderate to semi-technical, smooth is the word. They definitely run lighter than their weight, the cushioning feels comforting underfoot, but never mushy. You can get into a groove and just cruise in these. Also of note – I found the cushioning in the rear substantial enough to allow a good amount of varied rear-foot striking on descents. I find most zero drop shoes tend to be a bit harsh in this regard, but no problems here.
I think the flexibility of the shoe really makes the ride shine. I can imagine the 30mm of EGO MAX foam, minus the well done upper, minus the Inner Flex, minus the flexible outsole – feeling maybe a bit interesting due to its bounciness, but dull overall. The Mont Blanc (RTR Review) has the same stack height, is clearly more rocker based and stiffer (no Inner Flex) with the same EGO Max foam, of course a different upper and a Vibram LiteBase outsole . But the Timp 4 is just designed for a different kind of ride. The upper feels like a slipper, the midsole feels cush yet responsive, and the outsole flexes and doesn’t get in the way.
[Don’t step on the sharp rocks too many times]
I do have to add a couple of caveats to the other side of the ledger though. The upper, while super comfortable, may not be as secure as necessary in technical terrain. Without any overlays, and especially sitting on top of 30mm, it’s not strapped down enough to reign in lateral movement. Again, this goes back to intended usage, as well as comfortability running in Altras. I’m sure there are dedicated Altra users out there who may be more adept at handling these in more technical terrain.
On the protection front – the midsole is thick enough to blunt sharp rock edges, but the outsole is a bit soft to contribute much protection. I didn’t catch any zingers in these, but I did notice that the outline of rocks and protrusions does push up a bit into the bottom of the foot. Those types of “hits” underfoot do tend to add up, especially during longer distances and ultras. Just something to note and consider, and again, also quite subjective based on running style and shoe preference.
Shannon: I really enjoyed the ride of this shoe for the most part. No, it’s not a road shoe, but it felt great hopping onto the street for a mile or two of getting to the trail head. It’s smooth, it’s soft, it doesn’t feel bulky, it’s got a nimble ride to it, and it’s a quiet ride underfoot, with no slappiness to it. On more technical trails strewn with lots of rocks, it wasn’t extremely protective like a shoe with a rock plate would be, so be wary of that if that sort of terrain is your jam. Conversely, a rock plate would likely stiffen up this shoe and change the ride considerably. You win some you lose some. I didn’t have any issues with heel slippage or a sloppy feeling as there are multiple eyelets to utilize to really lock in your heel.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Mike P: An Altra for the people! I think this shoe will do really well for Altra. It looks great, rides great, and feels great on foot. I’m not an avid Altra user, but I am a fan of forefoot space, and these will definitely be part of my rotation going forward. I tended to think of each model of Altra trail shoes as having its own specific niche. LP for hiking, firm feel with super wide toebox. Olympus for max volume and cushioning. Superior for lightweight, more traditional natural feel.
The previous Timp was just kind of there, somewhat technically oriented, but not quite comfortable or cushioned enough to appeal to most. Altra seems to have focused on the technical mountain side of the equation with the new Mont Blanc, and moved the Timp more towards the smoother, comfortable, and cushioned side. It is definitely the most versatile Altra trail shoe right now, and should appeal to both Altra and non-Altra trail runners alike.
Shannon: This is a great shoe. Very versatile in terms of the terrain it can handle and runs it can accommodate. Honestly, this will probably be my go-to trail shoe for a while even though Altra has never been a go-to shoe for me despite the fact that I’ve always found them comfortable…something about them just didn’t agree with my footstrike, where somehow this one does. The amount of cushioning in this shoe inspires confidence for longer miles, yet it’s light and nimble enough for faster days. It felt great straight out the box and a dozen miles down the trail. I’m impressed!
Mike P’s Score: 8.65/10 This shoe is a solid 9/10, the overall score goes down a bit based on traction and rock protection, but those factors are more based on expectation and subjectivity.
Ride: 9 – Super smooth ride up to moderate+ terrain
Fit: 9 – Slipper-like, comfortable – feel matches the ride. Lacking some lateral security
Value: 9 – Very versatile across terrain and distance/duration
Style: 10 – Love the aggressive trail look
Traction: 7 – Rubber is soft and grips well, but lugs don’t offer enough bite, especially up front
Rock Protection: 8 – The 30mm midsole helps, but no rock plate. Ride oriented more towards smoothness than protection
Shannon’s Score: 9/10 Love it. My other favorites have been the Salomon Sense Ultra (the OG, not the later versions), the Hoka Torrent, the Terra Kiger, and the Asics Fuji Trail Lite. I’d throw the Timp right in there with them and maybe even give them an extra point for versatility compared to some of those previously mentioned.
Ride 9.5: Feels great. Smooth, flexible, nimble, but look out for especially rocky, aggressive trail surfaces.
Fit 10: Fit is true to size, doesn’t feel sloppy, and hugs the midfoot while still allowing ample room in the toebox. Works well even with a medium-volume insole or orthotic if you need it.
Value 10: A lot of bang for your trail shoe buck. Every shoe has gone up in price, so it helps if you can shrink your running shoe quiver a little bit. This shoe handles most any trail surface and condition and thus could accommodate many different runs.
Style 9: Maybe bright orange won’t be everyone’s jam. But I thought it was awesome.
Traction 9.5: I had no issues on any trail that I ran on and it felt fine to me on everything from crushed gravel to packed dirt.
Rock Protection 8.5: Maybe the one place this shoe fell a tiny bit short as you will feel sharper rocks. Keep in mind though that it’s meant to be a soft and flexible ride, a rock plate would not add to that. The amount of cushion certainly makes it more protective than many other trail shoes on the shelves.
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Altra Lone Peak (RTR Review)
Mike P: I haven’t run in LP since V3. They became much too firm and wide for my taste. The Timp 4 offers way more cushioning. The Timp width is not as wide as recent LPs, but I believe it is flexible enough to accommodate most who are looking for a wider toebox. LPs offer better foot lockdown and security, as long as your foot is wide enough to fill up most of that width. The Lone Peak 6, review linked above is said to improve on the lockdown. A definitive win for LP in the traction department as well.
Altra Superior (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): I have V4. The Superiors in 9.5 feel a bit short to me, I’d likely go with a 10.0 for sizing comparable to my Timp 4’s in 10. Superiors are more stable due to being much lower to the ground. That said, they are much less cushioned and you will have much more ground feel, whether you like that or not. The Superiors version of MAXTRAC outsole and lug pattern offers much better traction.
Altra Timp 3 (RTR Review)
Mike P: As mentioned above, I haven’t run in these but tried on versions 2 & 3 and did not like them. The new Timps are a complete revamp. The biggest gripe I’ve heard is that previous Timps were narrow, and not truly “Altra” in the toebox. I believe these, while not Lone Peak wide, do offer more volume in the toebox and should be more accommodating than previous Timps. That said, with the softer EGO MAX cushion, less locked down upper, and smoother outsole – the new Timp skews more towards moderate cruiser than all-mountain shoe.
Asics Fuji Lite 2 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10): A similar feeling ride – somewhat deeply cushioned yet lively and bouncy. The Asics foam feels lighter and more prone to packing, while EGO MAX seems denser and more durable, but still as lively as the Asics. Both shoes are not super stable, but the Altra upper is at least more comfortable, and you can manage your stability better with the wider toebox and extra toe splay. Asics does have better grip and traction.
Asics Trabuco 9 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): The T9 has a wide enough toebox to rival the Timp 4. I find it well suited to longer distances in terrain more technical than the Timp 4 can handle. Clear win for the T9 in the traction department – Asics Grip is great. The Timp 4 feels much more cushioned underfoot, and also feels like a more fun ride in moderate terrain.
Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): Just a touch less space at the front of the toebox in the Brooks 9.5 vs. Timp 4 in 10. I find that Brooks usually run a quarter size long. Brooks Loft V3 definitely feels lighter than EGO MAX with perhaps just a touch more spring. The Caldera has to manage that spring though by using a much wider base. Timp 4 with EGO MAX still feels lively, but even at 30mm is still manageable with a more normal width base. The Brooks is massively stacked, and therefore more protective for super long runs. I prefer the smooth and fun ride of the Timp for most runs.
Hoka Challenger (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): A close comp here. The Timp is more cushioned and noticeably more so in the forefoot. EGO MAX is also more lively. Even though the Hoka is not technically oriented, it feels more stable laterally than the Timp 4. Hoka offers their rockered ride, while you get more cushion and zero drop with the Timp. The Timp upper is definitely more comfortable, I get some pinky side pressure with the Challengers after a while. The Challengers really don’t do it for me, I much prefer the new TImp.
Nike Terra Kiger 7, 8 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10): A very close comp. They are very similar in the plush feel of the upper as well as cushioned feel underfoot, especially at the forefoot. I think EGO MAX is a better foam though – it feels more lively while Nike’s React and Air unit feels just as soft, but a bit dull in its response. The TK is slightly lighter, but the difference is not felt. Both offer similar levels of traction, but I find the TK’s lug orientation feels intrusive underfoot. I prefer the Timp.
Saucony Peregrine 11 (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): The P11 in size 9.5 is a snugger fit, but works better for security in technical terrain. P11 offers a firmer ride, flexible rock plate, and more secure upper. I like the new Peregrines a lot, and I reserve them for more technical terrain, while the Timps work better for smoother, moderate stuff.
Saucony Xodus 11 or 10 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): While my Peregrine 11’s work well in 9.5, the Xodus works better with a roomier fit in size 10. Xodus offers a more secure upper, flexible rock plate, and a more cushioned ride than the Peregrine for longer distances. It’s somewhat comparable to the Timp 4 in moderate terrain due to the increased cushion, but it’s a bit overbuilt for such terrain. The Xodus is heavier, and feels heavier, especially in moderate terrain, while the Timp runs lighter. Xodus would be preferable for long outings in mountainous terrain.
Scarpa Spin Infinity (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.5): The anti-Altra fit. The fit of the Infinity just did not work for me at all, and I had to give up on them after a few short runs. I was oversized in a 10.5, but they still squeezed my forefoot uncomfortably if I even remotely tightened the laces. If you really need Altra-level width in the toebox, I’d steer clear of Scarpas in general.
Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): Perhaps the closest comp here. Topo also features a wide toebox, but there’s not as much volume in the material, so it’s a bit tighter over the top and has a more secure fit. This works better in technical terrain, as the MTN Racer 2 is also more laterally stable. I do feel some pressure across the top of the foot with the MTN Racer 2, as it has a very thin tongue (big miss for them).
[Timp 4 upper wraps more over the sides of the foot, contributing to a slipper like feel. Also more upper material, looser in the front, MTN Racer 2 with very thin tongue does give some lace pressure across top of foot]
Timp 4 is more cushioned, noticeably at the forefoot. MTN Racer 2 wins on traction and rubber durability. I’d take the MTN Racer 2 for moderate distance mountainous runs, and the Timp 4 for everything else on the more moderate side of the terrain spectrum.
VJ Ultra (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.5): I found the VJs to run very small, the Ultras especially so due to the pointy toebox. The Timp has a far more comfortable upper, no issues anywhere at all while the VJ has a rigid and high ankle collar, as well as the sharply tapered toebox. That said, the VJ is much more secure and is tolerable when you really need the security and stability in very technical terrain. No contest in grip/traction, VJ is best in class. Cushion-wise the VJ foam feels just as soft, a bit lighter, but definitely is not as durable and is prone to packing out more. These are shoes for different arenas, VJ Ultra is much more specialized, the Timp much more versatile.
The Altra Timp 4 is available now including from our partners below
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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