Monday, December 10, 2018

Altra Running Timp 1.5 Review: A Maximal Trail Shoe with Distinctive Personality

Article by Dominick Layfield and Jeff Valliere

Altra Running Timp 1.5 ($130)

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  Wow. I didn’t think I was going to like the Timp.  Previous incarnations of the Lone Peak have provided enough rock protection and support for me to run hundred mile races in them, and I couldn’t imagine wanting much more.  High stack shoes often have stiff soles that remove much sensation of the ground underfoot Moreover, extra protective trail shoes often come with stiff “supportive” uppers that overly restrict the foot.  To my surprise and delight, the upper of the Timp is very soft and light, and the sole is flexible and compliant. Instead of being a whale, these shoes are a delight to run in.

Dom:  My sample pair felt a little large, but I assume this is deliberate given that the Timp is targeted more for long distance than cruising than for fast, high G-force efforts.  The spacious fit allows room for a little foot swell. But notably, cinching down the laces to take up extra midfoot space somehow doesn’t result in the uncomfortable squeezing that it does in some shoes.

Jeff:  I too was initially quite impressed with the Timp 1.5 as I took them out of the box and first tried them on.  The upper is very sleek and stylish, yet subtle grey with orange accents contrasting nicely. It feels lighter in the hand and especially lighter on the foot than it’s 11.5 oz. weight would imply.  Comfort/cushion feels amazing and the outsole looks very capable in a variety of terrain. Quality feels top notch with seemingly good protection and a protective toe bumper.

Official Weight: 10.5 oz M,  8.7 oz W
Dom’s US M10 sample pair: 11.4 oz, 323 g (US M10)
Jeff’s sample pair: 11.5 oz, 325 g (US M10)
Stack Height: 29mm/29mm,  Zero Drop
$130. Available November 2018.
Dom:  The upper of the Timp 1.5 is outstanding.  It feels light and soft, but somehow pulls off the trick of holding the foot firmly on top of a high stack without the sensation of being constrictive.  
As mentioned above, I found that the upper could accommodate a range of foot volumes without bunching or crushing midfoot.  (Obviously, my foot only has one volume, but I experimented with different socks, and adding extra insoles.)
Dom:  The mesh is very lightweight with an open weave. The outer mesh is laminated to an inner white membrane-like liner that limits stretch and dust intrusion.  The tongue is fully gusseted, stays in place well, is comfortable and reasonably well padded.
Jeff:  The upper is very smooth and clean looking, thin, flexible and breathable, yet simultaneously well constructed and durable.  
The midfoot overlays are thin, yet numerous, thus distributing the pressure in a way that is snug and secure, without being uncomfortable or overbearing.  The gusseted tongue is a nice touch, improving step in ease and comfort, but I’m not sure it has much effect on foothold/security, as would be the case with the Salomon Sensifit system.
The laces secure snugly on the first try and have just a little bit of give to them to pull tight without losing any snugness while pulling.  I would like to see an extra set of eyelets however.
The toe bumper is really burly, but not overly bulbous, as I have had concerns with on the Lone Peak and found myself stubbing rocks (in part because of the wide toe box/foot shape), but that is not the case here with the Timp 1.5.
Fit is true to size and I find heel hold and midfoot security to be a marked improvement over any Altra I have run in to date.  The heel is more welcomely/securely narrow and has just the right shape and amount of padding, vs. the wide, boxy skater shoe sort of design I have struggled with in the past.  The toe box is classic Altra which is most likely why a potential buyer is considering the Timp 1.5 in the first place. Though overall I find foothold and stability to be an improvement and sufficiently secure for moderate to easy running on less technical terrain, I find that when in steep technical terrain, rock hopping, sidehilling or cornering fast, I still get a bit more foot movement than I prefer.  I find myself stopping to try and compensate with the laces, but the improvement is marginal at best and I end up create too much lace pressure on the top of my foot. Wearing a thicker sock helps, which is fine because it happens to be cold now. Better than any Altra I have used to date, but I still tread cautiously.

Dom:  The EVA midsole in the Timp provides a plush ride.  With a 29 mm total stack height, the Timp 1.5 has tons of cushioning.  If your taste leans toward a firmer, more responsive shoe, the Timp may feel overly squishy.
Jeff:  Agreed with Dom, the Timp 1.5 has very plush cushioning, which is great for long miles and moderate paces, but is definitely not snappy or particularly responsive.  They do however strike a reasonable balance between performance and all day comfort, just definitely not a high speed race shoe (Some of that because of the stability limitations depending on terrain and your foot volume).  The 29mm of cushioning provides excellent protection while maintaining a muted, but good level of ground feel.

Dom:  I used the Timp 1.5 in a lot of dry dusty conditions, and during one unusual day of wet weather in LA.  In both dry and wet, I found grip to be great. The outsole covers the bulk of the bottom of the shoe, and I would expect durability to be solid.   I remain unconvinced by the heel flap (Altra used to calls this a “trail rudder”), but it doesn’t seem to do much harm.
Jeff:  The outsole of the Timp 1.5 performs well in a wide range of conditions.  The aggressive lugs are well spaced and shed mud well and provide great grip in dry conditions, average in wet conditions and grab well on packed snow (though definitely not a winter shoe).  Durability is good thus far with very little wear visible. The heel rudder seems a bit unnecessary, I too do not find it to be cumbersome, but have not found it to be helpful either.

Dom:  I’m tempted to compare the ride of the Timp 1.5 to a vintage Cadillac.  The thick, spongy feel may not be to everyone’s taste, but I really enjoyed it.  That said, I wouldn’t want to race short distances in the Timp, but I would certainly consider it for long events and for high volume training.  One of the upsides of the soft sole stack and flexible upper is that underfoot trail feel is still surprisingly good.
Jeff:  The ride is smooth as Dom says, which is great for longer runs and easier days.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Dom:  For me, the Timp 1.5 was a winner.  The thick, soft cushioning makes the shoe very forgiving, while the underfoot ground feel remained impressively good.  The upper is compliant and neutral, and combined with the spacious toe box and flexible sole, makes this a shoe that encourages natural foot movement and will better maintain foot strength than more “supportive” and restrictive maximal trail shoes like e.g. Hoka Speedgoat.  All this comes at a surprisingly reasonable weight (almost identical to Lone Peak 4.0 and Superior 3.5 with StoneGuard in place). This is not a shoe I’d race in, but I think it makes a wonderful training shoe, particularly for longer efforts.
Dom’s score:  9.8/10
-A maximal shoe with a distinctive personality.  There’s really not much to complain about that wouldn’t be a critique of the underlying design philosophy.  The neutral upper, spacious fit, soft sole, and zero-drop platform mean this shoe is not a match for everyone but it will put a big smile on my face.
- Spacious fit not reassuring in technical terrain.

Jeff:  This is the best Altra yet for me and one I can see continuing to use beyond testing.  Previous Altras were just too loose and boxy for me, fit was never quite right and stability was always greatly compromised even on moderately technical terrain. The fit of the Timp 1.5 is much more dialed and I feel comfortable and secure on most trails, but do still find some wavering on the technical, rock hoppy off camber stuff, or when pushing hard through corners.
I think the Timp 1.5 is a fine choice for a long distance trainer or ultra race shoe for those looking for all day comfort over dialed in speedy performance.  Quality, comfort, style and attention to detail are superb.
Jeff’s Score: 9.7 /10
-.2 for weight.  Though reasonably light feeling, I think it could still shed an ounce (maybe by ditching the heel rudder and very infrequently utilized gaiter hooks/loops).
-.1 for wet traction.
Comparisons (Note:our reviewers did not run the Timp 1.0 but we did review here)

Altra Lone Peak (RTR review)
Dom: LP4 felt less cushioned than its predecessors, which perhaps makes sense now that Altra is inserting the Timp into their trail shoe line-up.   Both shoes offer excellent ground feel and both manage to balance a wide toe-box with good foot retention. The LP4 upper is a little stiffer, holding the foot more securely than the Timp, and making it a better option in technical terrain.  With 25 mm of stack and a rockplate, the LP4 feels firmer underfoot than the Timp (29 mm). Despite the difference in stack, the LP4 and Timp 1.5 are the same weight.

Dom: On the subject of the Lone Peak, the character of the Timp reminded me of the older (pre 3.0) version of the LP, albeit with substantial improvements.  I liked the LP 2.5 as a training shoe, but it never felt secure enough for racing. Unfortunately I no longer have a pair to compare.

Skechers GOrun MaxTrail 5 Ultra (RTR review)
Dom:  These shoes have a lot in common, in that they are both high stack shoes with soft, spongy soles and spacious, neutral uppers.  The MaxTrail (31/27mm) is lighter (592 g vs 647 g per pair US M10), and has more conspicuous innovation in the construction. The lack of secure midfoot retention in the MaxTrail 5 means that it is possible to roll off the high stack in uneven terrain.  The Timp 1.5 is much more stable and predictable.
Jeff:  The MaxTrail is faster, lighter and more responsive, but is less likely to be utilized on trails due to the really loose and non secure upper.  For faster running on straighter less technical trails, I would choose the MaxTrail, but any other time I would go with the Timp 1.5.

Saucony Peregrine 8 (RTR review)
Jeff:  The Peregrine 8 has better foothold and is more secure, particularly in technical terrain and has much better overall traction.  Weight and response are comparable. Of course Altra has more room in the forefoot, though not problematic in the Peregrine, could be an advantage in the Timp 1.5.

Topo Ultraventure (RTR review)
Dom:  The Topo is a more traditional shoe than the Altra.  Both have wide toe boxes, and high stacks (30/25 mm in Ultraventure vs 29/29 in Timp).  Ultraventure upper is more supportive, and sole is firmer. Likely this makes the Ultraventure a more mainstream shoe.  But the somewhat bland Ultraventure lacks the personality of the Timp 1.5. I would opt for the Timp for daily training, and the Ultraventure for racing long distances.  (And neither shoe for racing short distances!)

Hoka Speedgoat 3  (RTR review)
Dom:  Despite both being maximally cushioned, these shoes are diametrically opposed in design philosophy.  The Speedgoat stack is similar (32/28 mm) but sole is much stiffer with more rock protection. Similarly, the upper is much more restrictive, holding the foot tightly against the sole.  Combined with a narrow toe box, this makes the Speedgoat far more secure, and arguably a better race shoe. Conversely, ground feel is almost non-existent in the Speedgoat, as is toe splay or natural foot motion.  It’s hard to describe either shoe as ‘better’ since they are so different in character. Pick your poison.
Jeff:  Dom summed up well here.

Hoka Challenger ATR 5 (RTR review)
Dom:  See above discussion of differences between Timp and Speedgoat.  In some ways, the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 offers a middle ground between these two extremes.  The Challenger sole is softer than the Speedgoat but stiffer than Timp; Challenger upper is less restrictive than Speedgoat, but not as spacious as Timp.  The Challenger is about an ounce per shoe lighter (586 g vs 647 g per pair, US M10)
Jeff:  Agreed with Dom, the ATR 5 is good middle ground between the Timp 1.5 and SpeedGoat 2 or 3.

Hoka EVO Mafate (RTR review)
Jeff:  Fit of the EVO Mafate is a bit more forgiving than Speedgoat, but not nearly as spacious and Timp 1.5. The EVO Mafate is lighter, has more cushion, but that cushion is WAY more responsive. The EVO Mafate is an ideal race shoe for mid to longer distances and though not a top pick for the most technical terrain, can hold it’s own with good technique and strong technical skills.  The Timp 1.5 is more of a casual use shoe.
Dom: With similar stack heights (33/29 mm in EVO Mafate vs 29/29 mm in Timp), both have tons of cushioning, but EVO Mafate is lighter by about ½ oz per shoe.  EVO Mafate is more forgiving to heel-strikers. Better ground sensation in Timp but EVO Mafate feels faster and is notable for excellent on-road performance too.   I have found Mafate outsole wears away quickly. Also worth observing that EVO Mafate is more expensive ($170) than Timp 1.5 ($130).

Reviewer Bios
Dom Layfield  lives in Southern California after several years in Park City, UT.  He is an avid trail runner who likes to race. He holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT, and has worked as a researcher in orthopedic biomechanics. 
His 2017 achievements include first place in the dead of winter 2017 108-mile Spine Challenger race in the UK, breaking the course record by an hour, first place in the Quicksilver 100K in California, and 14th at the Western States Endurance Run. In 2018 he ran 2:46 at the Los Angeles Marathon, and then, coming back from foot surgery finished 50th at UTMB.
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 2d Masters in 2015. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the Colorado 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several. 

The Timp was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Ol said...

Guys would you recommend this for Lakeland 50 in the UK? My first ultra but looking for something responsive, cushioned, light, grippy. I ran a marathon in reebok runfast pro and train in Skechers go run ride 7 but not very clued up on faster trail shoes for ultra distances.

Telemarker said...

Hi Unknown,
It's hard to give a good answer to this without knowing more about your foot shape, personal tastes, and running experience. That said, if you're racing marathons in the Reebok Run Fast Pro, which is a very light shoe, then I might guess that you'd prefer a less heavily cushioned shoe than the Timp 1.5. I also notice that the two shoes you mention are both 6 mm drop, so you might find the switch to zero-drop Altra shoes a bit of a shock. Given the traits you're looking for in a trail shoe, the Hoka Torrent sounds like a good candidate. This is lighter than the Timp, and firmer underfoot while still providing a decent amount of cushioning. It also has stellar grip. See the RTR review here:

Ol said...

Thanks Dom - foot shape - high arch - running experience - active club runner - 18 min 5k - 30-40 miles per week average, one marathon so far at 3:11, half (hilly) at 1:29. Appreciate the link / suggestion. Will check it out!

Bobcat said...

For high arch feet I can recommend Salomon. A good starting point is the Sense Pro 3. Light, fast, grippy, responsive.

Ol said...

Thanks mate

John said...

I am looking for an Altra as a gift to be used primarily for long distance hiking (PCT) , not running. I really can’t decide between the Superior 3.5, LP 4, or now this Timp. Any recommendation would be greatly appreciated.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi John,
I would lean towards LP 4 or Timp over Superior. As you may know LP is the top choice shoe on the PCT and Appalachian Trail according to surveys. I can see the Timp 1.5 with its now better support and increased cushion potentially supplanting LP
Sam, Editor

Bobby B said...

What is the sizing like compared to the LP4? :)

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

I was hoping for some wisdom. I ordered the Timp in my true to size 10 and 10.5 and am struggling with sizing. I like wide and roomy. Most brands don’t work for me. I have the Torrent and the Wode ATR (both in 10) and was 10.5 in the Kigers and WH up until the new versions which just didn’t work. When you say true to size for the Timp 1.5 (never wore to the 1) has that been across the board? I’ve heard some people recommend going up 1/2 size from their LP4. With medium socks the 10s are “snug” for Altra with EXACTLY a thumb up front standing still, especially on the larger foot. Thinner socks give me more of that Altra feel which I like and with summer coming my main choice. But don’t know if you’ve found or would recommend allowing for more length or that swelling won’t be handled as well and you’d recommend going up? The 10.5 have more than a thumb for sure and that very classic Altra feel, likely not good for fast as tech runs. But I have the Torrent for that. I know feet are all different and you can’t know for sure, but any advice or thoughts? Do they break in or stretch out?

Beth F said...

I was thinking to buy this shoe for free running. Thanks for your review, I guess I will be choosing this shoe as my holiday's partner.