Friday, March 13, 2020

Altra Running Timp 2.0 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dom Layfield, Canice Harte, and Don Reichelt

Altra Running Timp 2 ($140)
Stats
Approx.Weight: men's 9.9 oz / 281g (US9)  / women's / (US8)
  Samples: 10.4 oz / 295 g US M10, 592 g (pair). 
Timp 1.5 11.4 oz / 323 g US M10,  647 g (pair)]
Stack Height: 29mm, 0 Drop
Available now. $140

Pros
Dom:  Tons of cushion
Dom:  Roomy forefoot.  (Though snugger than most Altras.)
Dom:  Impressively light weight.
Dom:  Across-the-board competence in all conditions.
Canice: Fit and comfort. Altra keeps their “FootShape” toe box yet locks down the midfoot for a relaxed but secure fitting ride
Don: Struggling to find some Pros with this shoe, sorry Atlra. 

Cons
Dom:  Very different fit than previous Timp 1.5.  Will likely be ill-received by aficionados of previous shoe.
Canice: The midsole feels a bit flat to me. I wish it had more bounce or liveliness. 
Don : This is not a Timp, it’s a total redesign and not a good one. The upper fits TIGHT, with no room in the toe box, at all. Fits a half size short. 

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  2019 was a quiet year, with his only notable finish at the multi-day Dragon Back race in the UK.
Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman as well as many other Ultras. He regularly competes in expedition length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as traditional road races and triathlons.
Don is a competitive ultra runner with races under his belt, including a 16:27 100-mile trail PR and a third place finish at the 2018 Badwater 135. Primarily runs the trails in Colorado but also holds a marathon PR of 2:45. 

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  I liked the previous Timp 1.5.  It was a solid shoe that was decent in all respects, but not really a standout in any way (except perhaps comfort).  The new Timp 2.0, however, is a clear winner.

Dom:  Firstly, version 2.0 is much lighter: by a full ounce per shoe.  Secondly, version 2.0 has a generally snugger fit, with much better foot retention.  It makes the old 1.5 feel sloppy. Nominal stack height is unchanged at 29 mm, but the sole in the new Timp feels firmer.

Dom:  In my opinion, these changes are all for the better.  But arguing about this with Don, who vehemently disagrees, made me realize that perhaps my perspective is overly skewed toward racing.  Because the old Timp 1.5 has a looser fit and a softer sole, it arguably makes a better training shoe. But as a race shoe, it’s not even close.  The Timp 2.0 is head-and-shoulders superior. This is a shoe that I would (and likely will) pick to race my next 100-miler.

Canice: I really like the Timp 2. Sure I would like the shoe to feel more lively when I’m running but I love the fit and overall comfort. And while I may want a more lively feel to the shoe, it absorbs impact and rocks incredibly well. Blend all that with the classic Altra “Foot Shape” toe box and you have a winner.

Don: I was a big fan of the Timp 1.5. This shoe does NOT live up to that shoe. It’s very tight fitting, leaving little to no room in the toe box. It does have a road shoe feel, which is a huge positive for a trail shoe, but it really feels like Altra sold out a bit of their soul to create a shoe for the masses (which, I totally get, but Timp fans will not be happy.)  It feels like Altra has tried to take this shoe into the Road/Trail hybrid type positioning, which is quite disappointing based on how much I loved the 1.5 for big mountain ultras. Although I’ve never needed to with an Altra in the past, I would consider going up a half size on these because of the short and shallow fit up front. 

Upper
DomThe Timp 2.0 upper is spookily close to perfect.  I really don’t know what I would change to improve it.  Too often, shoe manufacturers seem to think that a thick sole stack needs a really stout upper.  But the Timp 2.0 upper is light and flexible. It provides just enough of everything; the tongue is just padded enough; the heel counter is slight, but just enough to stabilize the shoe; the laces are lightweight, but not overly thin (like Torin 4).  Even the toe bumper seems exactly right. To my mind, the balance between weight, comfort, and performance is right on the money.

Dom:  Compared to its predecessor, the toe box is snugger, and built on a more performance-oriented last (similar in shape to Superior 4).  There is still plenty of room, but less foot slippage. Notably, the toe box is shallower, with a tapered front end that reminded me of the Nike Terra Kiger 5.  In testing, I was aware of the sensation of the upper pressing down very slightly on my big toe. This might be a red flag if you have recurrent issues with nail irritation, but I haven’t yet found it to be a problem.  Importantly, it seems to improve forefoot security: one of the drawbacks of a wide forefoot fit is that it is harder to stop your foot sliding around in the shoe without cinching the laces up uncomfortably tight. I felt that the low height of the Timp 2.0 toe box helped foot retention.   Hopefully this does not result in angry toenails after 12+ hours of running!

Canice: Altra strikes a nice balance of comfort and durability here. Altra has managed to keep the upper flexible and breathable while using strategically placed overlays to increase durability.

Canice: The tongue is gusseted and Altra continues with the “GaiterTrap” which if you have Altra gaiters works great. You’ll also find reinforced eyelets and nice toe protection.

Don: The upper is where most of my complaints of this shoe come from. It’s tight. Like, really tight. For a brand that is known for their wide and accommodating toe boxes… this is a huge miss. I’m a huge fan of Altra because they fit my feet better than most brands, but I had hot spots on both sides of my feet, as well as on the top of my foot with this shoe. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The hot spots from the top of the toe box were seriously concerning and I had to change my shoes in the middle of a run because I was concerned about blistering. 

Midsole
Gets Quantic midsole foam instead of prior A Bound and EVA. Superior 4 os also Quantic while LP 4.5 is still A Bound and EVA.

Dom:  The Timp 2.0 shaves off a noticeable amount of weight compared to its predecessor, even while the overall stack height remains the same.  I also felt that the underfoot feel was a little firmer. Much of this can be attributed to Altra’s change in midsole composition: from previous A-Bound/EVA to newer Quantic foam, previously seen in Superior 4.0.   The Timp has enough cushion to thunder over almost anything. In testing, I tried to stomp down on every sharp prominence I could find, and never experienced more than the slightest discomfort. However, this ‘upgrade’ will not make everyone happy.   The downside to super cushioning is diminished ground feel. That makes the Timp 2.0 an excellent shoe for ultramarathon racing (particularly at longer distances), but possibly less suited to everyday training.   
Dom:  One notable difference between the Timp version 2.0 and version 1.5 is that the footbed in version 2.0 is much thicker than before.   In fact, it is about as thick and firm a footbed as I’ve ever encountered included with a shoe. The footbed is molded and varies in thickness, but at the thickest point I could measure with calipers, its thickness is around 7 mm.  At the same point, the Timp 1.5 footbed is about 5 mm. It will be interesting to see how durable this foam turns out to be. The Timp 1.5 footbed packed down a fair amount with use.
Foot bed comparison:  The new Timp 2.0 has a super-stout footbed [top].  Compared to Timp 1.5 [middle] and Lone Peak 4.5 [bottom]

Dom:  I experimented by switching out the super stout footbed from the Timp 2.0 with a flimsier version from the Lone Peak 4.5.   This didn’t change the underfoot feel as much as I was expecting (which in retrospect, is perhaps not surprising, as this is the frosting on an already tall cake).  But it did noticeably alter the spaciousness of the upper. The change really opened up the toebox, creating wiggle room both laterally and vertically, and making the shoe feel much more like the Timp 1.5 (albeit with improved midfoot and heel retention).  

Canice: Plenty of cushion to absorb impact while holding up to rocks and tree roots.

Don: The Timp 2.0 runs like a road shoe, which for a trail shoe is a huge compliment. It feels smooth and well cushioned over most terrain but I felt like it was most suited for smooth or groomed type trails, and it lost some of the feel on more technical stuff (which is a positive for some people, but a negative for me.) The midsole did well from house to trail, proving that it can serve as a road shoe in a pinch as well. 

Outsole
Dom:  The outsole of the Timp 2.0 is highly competent across the board, and strikes a sensible compromise between stiffness, grip, and efficiency.    This is not a specialized shoe that will perform particularly well in mud or wet grass. But it also flexes nicely, and rolls well on road and dirt.  Grip on wet rock is fine, but not the class-leading wet traction of the King MT 2 or Hoka Speedgoat family (which use Vibram Megagrip rubber). 
Canice: You’ll find lots of traction and well placed flex points to give the shoe a nice feel.

Don: As Dom mentioned, this is not a shoe that’s meant to specialize in anything, but also doesn’t really do anything poorly when it comes to traction or grip. I was surprised on taking it onto the roads a little between trailheads, and how smoothly it translated from trail to road and back. 

Ride
Dom:  The Timp 2 shoe has a super plush, highly protected, maximalist feel.  It goes about its business with quiet, unobtrusive efficiency. But the downside of the ample protection is that ground feel is muted, so personally I would not choose this a daily trainer.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in a 100k or 100-mile race. It is comfortable, surefooted and rock solid in all conditions.  

Canice: For me the Timp 2 has the perfect amount of cushion and I would happily race in this shoe. As said before I think the shoe could use a little more “pop” when toeing off but in truth, it’s ride feels great. I just want a little more.

Don: I felt like the ride of this shoe is perfect for longer, smoother trails. It runs like a road shoe and has some pep to it if you want to pick up the pace. But the ride was too muted for me to want to run anything technical with it, I just didn’t enjoy that much with this version of the Timp. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Don: I am usually a pretty big Altra fanboy, and really loved the previous versions of the Timp, so I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it’s been the biggest disappointment I’ve run in in some time. This is a new shoe, and calling it a Timp was a mistake. The fit is very tight, completely unlike Altra. The ride and midsole are good; but the tight fit negated that for me. When making this shoe, it really feels like Altra was trying to make a shoe for the masses, which I hope pays off for them because this feels like it could be a good shoe; just not a good Altra if you’ve been a brand regular. I think it will fit in nicely for someone thinking about Altra, who is used to a more traditional toe box but interested in what balanced cushion (what they are now calling Zero Drop) is all about. But, anyone who loved the previous Timps (or likely other Altras) will likely feel entirely disappointed in this update.  

Dom:   After reviewing many “good-not-great” shoes, I was blown away by the Timp 2.0.   For me it absolutely nailed the trade-offs required for an outstanding ultra running shoe.   Altra radically overhauled the Timp 1.5, and version 2.0 is different in character. I loved it, but fans of the previous shoe may not be happy with the changes.

Until now, I felt that nothing came close to the Hoka EVO Speedgoat, in terms of protection at a comparable weight.  The Speedgoat (in EVO flavor) at least, remains slightly lighter -- see detailed comparison below -- but the Timp is within striking distance weight-wise, and offers a more comfortable fit.

The Timp 2 offers maximal protection at a competitive weight, while still providing Altra’s signature wide toe box and anatomically-friendly fit.  I agree with Canice that this is Altra’s best trail shoe to date. My only caveat is that this is probably more cushion than most people need for everyday training.   But overall, it's hard to find fault with a shoe this good.
Dom’s Score: 9.6 /10
Ride: 9.5, Fit: 10, Value: 9, Style: 9, Traction: 9.5, Protection: 9.5, Weight: 10.

Canice: Of course this is subjective but for me the Timp 2 is Altra’s best all round trail shoe. I like the other models but if I could choose only one, the Timp 2 is it.
Canice’s Score: 9.6/10

RIDE
FIT
VALUE
STYLE
Traction
Rock Protection
Overall Score

30%
30%
10%
5%
15%
10%


9.3
10
9.7
9.5
9.7
9.5
9.6

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
New Altra Timp 2.0 on left, previous Timp 1.5 on the right

Altra Timp 1.5 (RTR Review)
Dom:   To reiterate what I wrote above, the new Timp is completely overhauled and very different in character.  It is a lot lighter, and has a slimmer fit with much improved foot retention. For me, all of these changes are for the better.   However, if you loved the old Timp, you may be upset that Altra ‘messed up’ your baby. With its softer sole and looser fit, the old Timp was arguably a better everyday training shoe.

Dom:  Other aspects:  After side-by-side testing, “firmer ride” is perhaps more subtle than I expected.  Much less sliding forward and banging toes on steep descents. The pointless “Trail rudder” flap out the back end of the shoe has gone.  The overlay side attachment points for Altra’s 4-point gaiters are gone. The toe bumper provides more protection in Timp 2. Gear loop on heel is gone.  

Don: Like Dom said, if you liked the Timp 1.5, you likely won’t like this shoe. It doesn’t really fit me, caused hot spots, and doesn’t feel like a shoe I want anything to do with in big mountain races; which is where the Timp 1.5 thrived on my feet. 

Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (RTR Review)
Dom:   I find it hard to get excited about the Lone Peak 4.5.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a thoroughly decent shoe. But it’s difficult to come up with a usage where it is the ‘best’ shoe, even compared to other Altras.  I never liked the “rock plate” introduced in version 4.0, which I felt did almost nothing but make the shoe heavier. The Timp 2.0 is about 20 g (0.7 oz) lighter per shoe and provides much more protection and far better foot retention.   If you want more ground feel, I’m a fan of the Superior 4. The LP4.5 sits uncomfortably in the middle. It offers the extra-roomy forefoot of classic Altras, so runners with full-on hobbit feet can still find happiness. Personally, I’d hold my breath and wait for version 5.   If it looks anything like the Timp 2.0 with more ground feel, it should be worth the wait.

Canice: For my part I run the Timp and hike in the Lone Peak. The Lone Peak is wide and loose while the Timp 2 holds your foot securely in place and has the classic Altra “FootShape” toe box.
Hoka EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)
Dom:  Both shoes offer a similar amount of (almost excessive) cushion and protection underfoot.   (Official numbers 32/28 mm for Speedgoat, 29 mm flat for Timp.) EVO Speedgoat is slightly lighter (by 11 g / 0.3 oz per shoe in US M10).   I would argue that the prodigious protection of either shoe is excessive for daily training, but wonderful for really long efforts. I would give the nod to the Timp in terms of both comfort and foot retention, but that may be because Altra is a better match to my foot shape.  If you have narrow feet, Hoka may work better. At $160, EVO Speedgoat is slightly more expensive than Timp 2 ($140). Sam asked whether I noticed the zero-drop of the Timp vs the 4 mm of the SG: the answer is ‘barely’. In side-by-side testing, I was more aware of the wide “bathtub” wrap-around foam in the heel of the SG, which makes the shoe feel more protective, but less agile. The SG heel collar is also a little higher.

Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)
Dom:  See discussion above of EVO Speedgoat vs. Timp.  The regular flavor of Speedgoat is significantly heavier (634 g vs 570 g for EVO SG, 592 g for Timp 2 - per pair US M10), and lacks the stretch panel across the forefoot that I felt was a key ingredient to EVO SG comfort.   Notably, the SG4 is now available in a “wide” version. (Based on my experience with Hoka’s Challenger ATR 5, I assume that sole dimensions are fixed, and that the wide version just has a slightly enlarged upper fabric.) But having mentioned the “wide” SG4, I have to say that I think most people leaning toward it would be better served by the Timp 2.0

Don: For the first time in my life, I’ll recommend a Hoka over an Altra. With the widened platform on the regular Speedgoat 4 (and even wider if you opt for the ‘wide’ version!), it fits so much better. If you blind folded me, I would definitely have guessed that the Hoka toe box was an Altra, and vice versa.  (Hoka sz 12.5, Altra Size 12)

Nike Pegasus Trail (RTR Review)
Don: I really think the Timp 2 falls well into the road to trail category that the Peg trail does. Again, I never thought I’d say this, but the upper on the Nike feels much, much better on my feet than the Altra. 
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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15 comments:

Curt said...

Altra needs to split their lineup into those with a "Performance Fit" with slightly wide toeboxes ala the Timp 2.0 and Superior 4.0, and the "Regular Fit" for the gigantor hobbit foot crowd ala Don. Otherwise, every update is going to make someone unhappy. Too wide. Not wide enough. Too much clown shoes. Not enough clown shoes. Too much heel rudder. Not enough heel rudder. Wait nevermind no one likes the heel rudder.

Great reviews as always guys and gals! Much appreciated!

Curt said...

I should also add that a smaller footprint can lead to more accurate foot placement and faster turnover. I have a wide foot, and I'm still swimming in a lot of Altra's releases.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Don was just using the wrong size shoe, too narrow AND too short. Would probably have made for a better review if you had sized up Don.

scot said...

I love the 1.5’ and was stoked for the 2 release. Not a fan of the 2. It’s ok at a 1/2 up and using the insoles from my 1.5’s. Still (after 2 mo’s) having issues with my big toe going numb and hot spots on the top of my foot. I really want to love them but I may have to say goodbye for now. At least till a new version

Jeff J said...

Sounds like a great shoe to me and one I’d love to try. Shame no Vibram MegaGrip on the sole though so I’ll pass and be anxiously waiting for the arrival of the all new Olympus 4 which looks amazing. Yet more cushion, MegaGrip, and hopefully a fit like this Timp.
Sorry for asking (since this is a Timp review) but any idea on testing timeframe for Olympus 4?

Dom Layfield said...

Completely agree, Curt. And your comment about the heel rudder made me literally laugh out loud.

Dom Layfield said...

Absolutely. I commented as much to Don. The fact that he's comparing a 12.5 Speedgoat to 12 Timp is a red flag. I recommended we hold off publishing until he could get a size 12.5 Timp to try. If/when he does, we will update review.

Dom Layfield said...

That's useful information. Thanks for sharing, Scot. I would have thought a 1/2 size up from Timp 1.5 and insole switch would make Timp 2.0 feel very much like Timp 1.5. Interesting that you're still having height issues. Did you try any other insoles? Even Timp 1.5 were on the fat side...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "Sounds like Don was just using the wrong size shoe, too narrow AND too short. Would probably have made for a better review if you had sized up Don."

I was going to write the same. When a shoe fits like that, I don't even bother with 1/2 size up, I'd try full size up first. The ability to try on multiple sizes is why I prefer shopping in a real store, at least for the first pair.

Anonymous 2

Curt said...

Happy to help Dom. I do think it's interesting how Altra has addressed what I think of as the "flexion point" problem inherent to zero drop shoes. Namely, that a low drop allows for more toe extension and flexes the forefoot of the shoe in a predictable crease where the toe bumper ends. Over time, this repetitive toe extension (and midfoot plantarflexion on toe off) damages and then tears the upper material. They've tried addressing this in various ways over the years with stretch fabrics, softer fabrics, exaggerated toe bumpers, etc to mixed success. It looks like the Timp 2's sort of segmented overlays might achieve a gentler flex here and thus reduce that crease? Maybe?

This is the primary point of failure for most hikers in my experience, and Altra often gets criticized for durability when the issue is really an effect of the shoe geometry. Anyway! Dom, I'd still love to hear your thoughts on a huarache and/or tiny boutique zero-drop shoe company somewhere. Stay healthy all!

Will said...

Hi Dom (just because I find I mesh with your picks) and all -

I will want to try one of these more max shoes later but for now it is more than I need. I'm looking at all reviews, though, because I'm kind of stuck for a "long run trainer" after the TOPO MT-2 went away and a toe issue means that I need a little more structure than my Superior 4s. I'm not against drop, just not too much, and in fact think it may help my toe a bit, along with some more rigidity (again, just a bit... the TOPO seemed to make a difference vs the Superiors that I really did love but the MT-3 was too short/hot/heavy). I don't have honking feet, just find that a more natural toe box helps especially when midfoot is locked down. (I even tried Torrents and the toe box didn't kill me, even if I didn't like it, but don't like those shoes; I do run on the treadmill in Rincon and it seems ok.)

I run mostly rocky/somewhat hilly trail and want something that can do 1:30-3 easy hours to replace those two shoes with something a little less minimalist in structure. Any thoughts?

Curt said...

@Will, I'm not Dom, but how about the Terraventure 2? It should have more structure than the MT-3 with slightly better rubber and the same drop as the MT-2? Plus, I think the Marigold colorway is the coolest colorway of 2019. Alternatively, you could look at the Superior 2 through 3.5, which all used a slightly more firmer traditional EVA, which should provide more structure than the 4.

There's also the Nike Terra Kiger which has a 4mm drop, although I'm not personally familiar with that one. And I think a few of Saucony's trail shoes are 4mm drop as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I love the fit of the Superior 4 and the Torin 2. I have a narrow foot and these are the only Altra Trail shoes I've tried where my foot is secure. Does Altra have any other shoes - road or trail - that have a similar last/fit?

Thanks,
John

Dom Layfield said...

Hi Will,

Sorry for the delay in responding. My favorite Topo is the Runventure 3, which is somewhat like the MT-3 in character: lighter, a little less cushioned, and with a rockplate. I'm not generally a fan of rockplates, but the RV3 is very nicely executed. Notably, in my opinion, Topo have fixed the length problem that annoyed me with the MT3. It's not as soft as the Superior 4, but it's still pretty minimal.

If you want to move up in protection, the Topo MTN Racer is a decent shoe, but has some of the same length issues as the MT-3. The Terraventure 2 has a more protection than RV3, and a roomier fit than MT-3 or MTN Racer. It's a lot heavier than the RV3, though.

-- Dom

Dom Layfield said...

Hi John,

If you like Superior 4 and Torin 2, the recently-reviewed Altra Timp 2 will probably make you happy. The fit is a lot snugger than the previous version. It's an excellent, and more mainstream-fitting shoe. Of course, it upset a lot of people who liked the old, super-roomy shape, but you can't please everyone!

-- Dom