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Altra Timp 5: Zero Drop Trail Running
By Matthew Klein

The Timp series from Altra has always sat in an interesting space. A longer trail running shoe with a moderate-to-high stack height that wasn't as max as the Olympus or as traditional as the Lone Peak. A weight that definitely steered it to longer rather than any uptempo efforts further added to that. Billed as a trail shoe that could handle any surface, it lacked the versatility to move quicker over those long miles. Version 5 comes in almost an ounce lighter to fill that gap. The same versatile longer-distance trail shoe now comes with a sub 10 oz weight and a Vibram outsole, providing security and nimbleness that almost makes for a brand-new ride. 

Altra Timp 5
Price: $154.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.8 oz, 277 g (men's size 9), 8.6 oz, 243 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 29 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Classification: Trail Running Shoe





RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Altra Timp 5 is a versatile, longer-distance trail shoe for those who want a wider, anatomic fit over a variety of technical terrain. A slightly firmer EGO MAX midsole provides plenty of cushioning with a touch of responsiveness underfoot. The Vibram outsole, lugs and flex grooves provide an adaptable grip to a variety of softer surfaces. The upper is standard for Altra with a wider toe box and slightly wider fit while maintaining a secure midfoot. A unique velcro strap at the back provides the ability to secure gaiters for muddy terrain, adding another layer of versatility. An anatomic, cushioned zero drop trail shoe for longer miles, the Timp 5 returns lighter (by almost an ounce) and ready to take on almost anything on softer surfaces.

SIMILAR SHOES
: Topo Ultraventure 3

FIT


The Altra Timp 5 fits me slightly long in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is on the wider side throughout the length of the shoe but especially in the forefoot. As expected with Altra, the forefoot is wider and anatomic. The volume is fairly normal. The laces do stop prematurely and I did experience some creasing along the top of the toes. This did cause slightly uncomfortable pressure over the top of my foot which has improved as the upper broke in. The midfoot fits slightly wide-to-normal. The tongue is gusseted, moderately thick and the laces stay secured easily. I did not have to lace lock this shode despite having a little more width. The heel features a flexible heel counter and a decent amount of cushioning around the collar. I had no issues with the counter and even those with sensitivities should be fine. The security was quite good once I got the laces tied down despite the wider fit. This will still work best for those with normal-to-slightly wider feet, while those with narrow feet may struggle a bit. The upper mesh is tough with a strong toe guard. This makes the internal aspect of the upper a little scratchy, so socks are definitely recommended with this shoe. 




PERFORMANCE

The Altra Timp 5 is a varied terrain long-distance trail running shoe. The 29mm, zero drop midsole features full-length EGO MAX. Although billed as soft, the actually feel underfoot is slightly firm with a little bit of bounce. It feels consistent regardless of the mileage you have run on it and the slight firmness gives it a touch of responsiveness. The 9.8 oz weight (men's size 9) is a welcome change from the prior version. This makes it feel more nimble on foot, which is helpful with climbing and foot work on unsteady terrain. The zero drop is noticeable and the heel does feel quite low. Fortunately, when the forefoot flex grooves finally break in (which take 10-15 miles), the early forefoot rocker combined with the flexibility takes the edge off the zero drop heel. The heel is beveled slightly with a small trail rudder. This makes for a solid and fairly normal heel transition upon landing. Going through the midfoot and forefoot initially provide a stiff transition. As the shoe fit me slightly long, I felt like it was extremely stiff at first (which made the zero drop more noticeable). As my foot swelled a tiny bit over longer miles and the shoe broke in, this feeling went away. Once this is broken in, as mentioned the forefoot transitions well and seems to adapt decently to varied terrain. There is no rock plate (to my knowledge) but the thicker midsole has been protective enough I have not had any issues with rocks.

Purpose-wise, the Altra Timp 5 is best for longer trail efforts. The lighter weight does make it more nimble but the slightly longer fit and midsole make it feel better over longer consistent efforts. I could see this being an ultramarathon race shoe for many people, although I personally would need a bit more heel drop. It handles a variety of surfaces quite well thanks to the Vibram outsole that has great grip. I have used this on wet dirt, dry dirt, gravel and some mild mud without issue. The lugs grip especially well on long climbs and have even tolerated some road use (although I would not suggest that extensively). After 20 miles of use (including some road) the outsole has remained intact with no noticeable wear. Thus, with the midsole consistency, I would expect this shoe to last for a long time.

STABILITY


The Altra Timp 5 is a neutral shoe without any traditional means of stability. However, there are a few subtle methods that provide some mild guidance. The wider width of the forefoot adds inherent stability to the front of the shoe. The small midfoot sidewalls on the medial and lateral sides also provide mild guidance. The forefoot flex grooves, once broken in, combined with the slightly early forefoot rocker also provide some forward guidance. Outside of those mild things, this is a fairly neutral shoe that will not interfere too much with your mechanics. 



Thoughts as a DPT: Sizing Choice in Long Distance Trail Shoes
By Matthew Klein
 
Sizing in a trail shoe can be challenging. On one hand, extra length is good to deal with the natural sliding that can occur with traversing steep downhills and the normal foot swelling that can occur with the longer on foot times associated with trail running. On the other hand, a more true to size fit can provide more security and your foot mechanics are more likely to line up with the geometry/flex grooves of the shoe, especially in the forefoot. In the case of the Altra Timp 5, I noticed the slightly long fit immediately. It made the forefoot feel extra stiff due to hitting the front just slightly off from where the flex grooves were. This did break in with time and would always felt better the longer I ran due normal foot volume changes with increased running time. However, I tend to prefer shoes to fit true to size and close, so this an adjustment.

A degree of foot swelling is a normal occurrence during longer-distance running. It occurs mostly due to hemolysis, or the destruction of red blood cells during the impact associated with footstrike (Telford et al., 2003). During ultramarathons, it can also be due to increased fluid and electrolyte intake, which are necessary parts of fueling during these longer efforts (Cejka et al., 2012). Foot swelling also naturally occurs throughout the day during non-running activities. It is not uncommon for your feet to be a quarter size larger by the end of the day thanks to gravity, standing, etc. For running, it is incredibly important to have shoes with enough length during long-distance events. Foot swelling and changes in length with short shoes can result in pressure injuries, blisters being the most common, on the ends and sides of the toes. Other compensations can also occur that applied over many miles can potentially put the runner at risk for intrinsic foot muscle/tissue overuse. 

Shoe choice between short and long-distance trail races/efforts are completely different. Close-fitting shoes may be fine over 5k-10k trail races but once you go longer, based on the risk of pressure injuries, it is advisable to consider having a shoe with a little extra length. It should not be too long as the forefoot rocker geometry may not line up with your toe joints, causing the shoe to feel stiffer and potentially increasing the workload imposed on the calf and other plantarflexor muscles. A shoe like the Altra Timp 5 that has a little extra length is good. Others may find that depending on individual specific foot swelling, a different size might be needed. The best time to try on trail shoes (and most shoes to be honest) is in the afternoon/evening. In the morning, your feet are naturally smaller (barring some kind of nocturnal swelling issue) and swell throughout the rest of the day. Trying them on during the end of the day will give you a more accurate fit after longer efforts/times on your feet while running. You will still need to do some simulation runs for your race to figure out how much your feet swell and then you can adjust accordingly. Just remember not to be stuck to a specific shoe size. Different shoes fit differently and you may need different lengths depending on the race or effort you are using the shoe for. 

References:

Cejka, C., Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., RĂ¼st, C. A., & Rosemann, T. (2012). An increased fluid intake leads to feet swelling in 100-km ultra-marathoners-an observational field study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition9(1), 11.

Telford, R. D., Sly, G. J., Hahn, A. G., Cunningham, R. B., Bryant, C., & Smith, J. A. (2003). Footstrike is the major cause of hemolysis during running. Journal of Applied Physiology94(1), 38-42.




RECOMMENDATIONS

The almost full oz (28 g) drop from the prior version is a major accomplishment in addition to getting a solid stack height trail shoe under 10 oz. The grip is great and the ability to transition through a variety of terrain is good. I mentioned some of the stuff with the upper fit but based on the purpose of this shoe, I would not recommend changing that as it does allow for appropriate foot changes with increasing mileage. My major recommendation is around the midsole. Altra advertises the EGO MAX as a softer and resilient foam. While the foam has some resiliency to it, EGO MAX is not soft. Especially not compared to other foams on the market. I personally like my shoes to be slightly firm as it adds a touch of stability for me but over long distances others may not agree with me. So not just for the Timp 5, I would encourage Altra to lower the density of their foam to match their advertising. 

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR


The Altra Timp 5 is for those with normal-to-slightly wider feet wanting a zero drop, anatomic fitting trail shoe for longer efforts on a variety of trail surfaces. The toe box is wide as per usual with Altra and the shoe fits slightly long to accommodate swelling associated with longer efforts. Those who like slightly firmer rides will do best here as the EGO MAX is slightly firmer but stays consistent over longer miles. The weight drop is great and brings it into a competitive space with many trail racing shoes. It also differentiates it from shoes like the Altra Lone Peak as a lighter, slightly higher stack option for both training and ultramarathon racing. Hopefully, this same treatment will occur to many shoes in the Altra line up for 2024 and I am excited to see what they put out next.


GRADING

Matt
Fit: B+ (Anatomic fit, wider forefoot, fits slightly wide throughout but still secure. Slightly long). 
Performance: 
B+ (Slightly firmer and consistent ride. Good grip for a variety of surfaces. Lighter for a trail shoe)
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Mild sidewalls and wider forefoot. Neutral outside of that)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Solid drop in weight but advertising for soft foam needs to match actual feel of foam. Outside of that, nothing crazy new)
Personal: B (Solid shoe for longer efforts but a bit too low heel drop especially when combined with the longer fit and in turn stiffer forefoot for me. I can still appreciate it and the fit does resolve with longer miles)
Overall: B+ 

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Altra Timp 5
Price: $154.95 at Running Warehouse

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FURTHER READING: More Trail Shoes

Altra Lone Peak 8 - A lower stacked, protective shoe built for technical trail running
Brooks Divide 4 - A light trail runner on a $100 budget
La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX - Winter ready running in every way possible
Reebok Floatride Energy 5 Adventure - A road-to-trail trainer for those who want a narrow fit
Salomon Glide Ride 2  - A solid moderately stacked trainer for the trails
Salomon Sense Ride 5 - A lower cushion, well-riding trail shoe that can do a bit of everything
Saucony Blaze TR - Surprisingly light trail running for $100
Saucony Peregrine 13 (and ST) - The lightest, yet also most cushioned model in the trail line
Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 - An excellent walking, hiking option for runners and hikers alike
Topo Athletic MT-5 - An anatomic fitting, moderate cushion trail runner
Xero Shoes Scrambler Low - A minimalist trail trainer with a generous fit

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Altra for sending us pairs.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Altra Lone Peak 8

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