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Altra Timp 5 Trail Runner Review

Altra Timp 5 Trail Runner Review

The Altra Timp 5 is a highly-cushioned zero-drop trail running shoe with a wide toe box that’s popular with hikers and backpackers. They have thick Vibram soles made with Megagrip rubber (new) that provide excellent traction on dry and wet surfaces with multi-directional lugs that assist in turning and braking. The uppers are made with a porous nylon mesh with a fine weave for drainage with printed overlays that help reduce abrasion. They have Altra’s “standard” size toe box that lets your toes splay out for enhanced comfort with an impressive amount of toebox protection to help keep your toenails intact. Like all Atra trail runners, the Timp 5 comes with a gaiter trap on the heel to secure a gaiter and help prevent trail debris from entering the shoe.

RELATED: 10 Best Hiking Shoes and Trail Runners

Specs at a Glance

  • Best Use: Trail Running and Hiking
  • Trail Runner Shoe Type: Rugged Trails
  • Cushioning: Maximum
  • Waterproof/Breathable: No
  • Heel to Toe Drop (mm): 0
  • Heel Stack Height (mm): 29
  • Forefoot Stack height (mm): 29
  • Upper: Nylon Mesh
  • Rock Plate: No
  • Midsole: Altra EGO MAX foam (ie. foam)
  • Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
  • Vegan: Yes
  • Wide Sizes Available?: No
  • Weight: 1 lb 4 oz / pair (men’s size 10.5 US)
  • Sizing: I found them true to size

The Altra Timp 5 is a heavily cushioned trail runner that provides noticeably more comfort and shock absorption than the Altra Lone Peak 8 (see review) we reviewed recently. Since they’re both zero-drop shoes, I thought it’d be interesting to try both since I am on the hunt for a new pair of trail runners that I can stock up on for hiking and backpacking this year. Numerous readers have also encouraged me to try the Timp over the years and this latest model, with a new Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole, sounded quite promising. (Altra customers have been griping about the poor traction and durability of Altra’s proprietary outsoles, which are still used on the Lone Peak 8, for years.)

The Timp is a highly cushioned trail runner with a Vibram Megagrip sole.
The Timp is a highly cushioned trail runner with a Vibram Megagrip sole.

Trail Feel

The Timp’s signature feature is an oversized toe box which lets your toes splay out as if you were walking barefoot. Altra shoes are available with toe box volumes of different sizes: the Timp has a standard size toe box volume, where the Lone Peak 8 uses Altra’s original wider toebox. This is very different from many trail runners, which still have narrow toe boxes that restrict toe movement, although many brands have expanded theirs in recent years to compete with Altra and respond to user preferences.

The Timp has a large and exagagerated toe box that lets your toes splay out.
The Timp has a large and exaggerated toe box that lets your toes splay out.

The Timp is a zero-drop trail runner meaning that the heel and the toes are an equal distance from the ground. This allows for a more stable foot strike and a more natural and efficient stride, with impacts spread out across the entire surface of the foot.

One of my favorite features on Altra Running shoes is the gaiter trap, located on the back of the heel of the shoe. It’s a piece of velcro that makes it very simple to wear a Dirty Girl Gaiter which attaches to velcro at the back of the heel. A gaiter trap like this is a necessity if your shoe’s outsoles are flat, without a heel arch, which is the case with the Timp. I find it mind-boggling that other brands don’t offer the same functionality on their trail runners since gaiter use is so prevalent.

The Timp (and all Altras) have a gaiter trap behind the heel to secure a gaiter.
The Timp (and all Altras) have a gaiter trap behind the heel to secure a gaiter.

Stability

The Timp 5 is a stable trail runner, in part, because it’s a zero-drop shoe where your forefoot and heel are at the same height. With its 29 mm stack height and flat outsole, it’s less prone to ankle rolling because you’re pretty close to the ground. That and the enhanced proprioception you get from walking with spayed toes make it much easier to sense and adapt to changing trail conditions and terrain.

Protection

As a trail runner, it is important to have a shoe that is going to protect the bottoms of your feet . You also want a breathable upper that allows your feet to ventilate while keeping out particulates of mud, sand, and grit that will wreak havoc on your socks.

The thick cushioning, mesh overlays, and front kick provide ample toe protection.
The thick cushioning, mesh overlays, and front kick provide ample toe protection.

The Timp 5 does both. The thick cushioning in the Timp sole provides great shock absorption without being sloppy, particularly for hiking, even though the shoes do not have a rock plate. There’s also a substantial degree of toe protection up front provided by the cushion, overlays that protect the toe box from abrasion, and a front toe kick.

The finely pored breathable mesh of the upper does a good job of preventing coarse sand and grit from entering the shoe. This is a big deal since many trail runners with large-pored mesh uppers fail miserably on this dimension, especially in sandy desert terrain or when fording streams. The mesh also drains well and dries quickly, particularly at the front of the shoe where there’s less padding in the uppers. The heels, in contrast, take much longer to dry because the padding is so much thicker in the heel cup.

The Timp’s sole has soft and grippy lugs with channels to divert water.
The Timp’s sole has soft and grippy lugs with channels to divert water.

Vibram Sole and Lugs

The new Vibram Outsole provides great traction on dry and wet surfaces and has grooved channels to channel away water. The lugs aren’t very large but the rubber is soft like a climbing shoe and gives good purchase on hard irregular surfaces like rock. I’ve been wearing the Timps for the past 2 weeks, so it’s too early to determine how long the soles will last, but I suspect they’ll wear out close to the 300-400 mile mark, much like the Hoka Speedgoat 5, which uses the same Vibram outsole material. But the cushioning on trail runners is usually the thing that wears out first, not the lugs.

Recommendation

Altra’s Timp 5 Trail Runners are a great choice if you want a zero-drop trail runner with maximum cushion for hiking and backpacking. They have a large toe box that lets your toes splay out and relax with aggressive lugs underfoot that are positioned and oriented to provide enhanced traction and braking. The gaiter trap is a great convenience if you use gaiters that have a velcro patch in the back, while the shoes drain well but prevent sand and grit from entering where they can chew up your socks.

How does the Timp 5 compare to the Altra Lone Peak 8? The Timp 5 is a lot more shoe: more cushion, more traction, more protection, making them much better for hiking and backpacking (walking) than the Lone Peak 8. I’ve also found that the Timp 5 is a bit narrower in the middle and heel of the shoe and therefore less sloppy in terms of fit than the Lone Peak 8. Try both and decide for yourself.

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14 comments

  1. Great write up as always! I wanted to point out the Lone Peak 8s have the ‘Original’ foot shape which is wider than the ‘Standard’ of the Timp 5s. I found the Timps a bit on the narrow side for my liking.

  2. Once my Hokas wear out, I’m gonna buy a pair just to see if these can possibly surpass. Unfortunately, I have EEE+ width feet, which has been a curse. NB K.O.M. completely turned me off to the company and its products, the shoebox in a purported EEE/Wide was way too narrrow and more like the bridge between a D and an E. Somebody at NB made bonus by “sleeking” their trail runners. Timp 5 looks like it will deliver, but you never can know. For now, I love my (bright red) Hokas, they are very comfy.

    • I don’t know if I have EEE+, but I do have wide feet. I tried a pair at REI yesterday and neither the 10.5, which is my size, or the 11 worked for me. Not enough room in the toe box, especially on the big toe side of the shoe.

      • Get measured. Know that you are going to need to modify technical climbing shoes, for example. It sucks but it used to be worse, as a kid in the eighties the local shoe store used to try and squeeze me into D size when the feet just were not fitting at all. Pain. I was the jock in Latin class who immediately removed his shoes after taking his desk. Most teachers understood, some were jerks. My wrestling shoes were painful, the Mitre Barbarians I wore as a starter on rugby teams accommodated my feet rather well for a decade. It is possible to manufacture larger shoes and boots for those of us built a little differently.

  3. Just ordered a pair of Timp 5’s to switch into once my current LP’s wear out. Like you I found the LP’s a little sloppy in the heel area and based on this review thinking the Timp’s might be better. My journey with zero-drop’s started with Timp 2’s and really loved those shoes – just wished they lasted more than the 250 miles before the treads were gone. Hoping the updated rubber lasts a little longer.

  4. How does the Timp compare to the Olympus? Your review makes me think they are very similar, but maybe the Olympus has a wider type box.

    • I tried both the Timp 5 and Olympus 5 as a thru hiking shoe. I think the T5 sits between the LP8 and Oly5 in terms of support and ground feel.

      — The Oly5 has more cushioning and a higher stack height and feels more solid under foot. The ground patch of the Oly5 is wider than the T5 and their tread patterns differ. There is more torsional rigidity to the Oly5.
      — The uppers on the Oly5 are a softer mesh comon to running shoes, whereas the T5 mesh seems more robust and is stiffer. That stiffer mesh did crease a bit at my toes but not badly.
      — The Oly5 is not durable at all if you look at reviews. The T5 appears more robust and hopefully Altra has improved durability but may be too soon to know. Hopefully the Oly6 will address this.
      — The footbed of the Oly5 is a bit wider than the T5 and you can see this on the Altra site so it definitely feels wider when you have it on.

      I liked the T5, but once I put a 25lb pack on the Oly5 won me over because I wanted more underfoot. Definitely try them both to see what works for you.

      • Thank you, Steve K! I use the Olympus 5 and was interested in this comparison, I will be curious about the Olympus 6, but based on your feedback, probably hold back on the Timp 5. Thanks for you insight!

  5. I don’t know why Altra didn’t make the Timps in the “Original Shape”.

  6. I’m skeptical about the protection of a shoe without a rock plate but considering the terrain you hike on if you say the Timps are adequate I’ll take your word for it.

    • More than adequate. Rock plates are more hype than anything anyway. They really only matter if you want to hike on nails and you have a very thinly cushioned sole. :-)

      • Spot on. That has been my experience having worked as an outdoors footwear reviewer, previously, for 25 years. The only time it might matter is if you’re hiking in boulder fields mile after mile with a 45-60 lb pack—a little added torsional stability. That’s about it.

  7. The Timp 5 does not come in wide sizes

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