First use of the absolute bargain I got this week!
When I got an email from SportPursuit advertising Altra shoes in their flash sales, I couldn't get on to their site quick enough. If you've used the site before you'll know they sell genuine sports clothing and equipment at huge discounts. It often due to manufacturers updating model lines, and surplus stock needing sold quickly. Unless you absolutely have to have the latest model of everything, this online store is the place for you.
I've run in Altra shoes for a few years. You've maybe seen their unique (and not to everyones taste) styling but if you're not familiar with the brand, they've built their range on the principle of natural running, with the 2 big selling points of 'Zero Drop' and a 'Foot Shaped Toe Box' - something I'll delve deeper in to at another time. The Timp sits with the Lone Peak in the middle of Altra's trail shoe range (not as light or agressive as the King MT nor as heavily cushioned as the Olympus) and try to bring a combination of comfort, support, and responsiveness. It's important to note that it's the 1st generation of the shoe that I've got my hands on. They have been updated twice since (Timp 1.5 & 2.0) but the updates haven't been breathtaking IMO.
So let's get in to the nitty gritty of the shoe.
SIZING & FIT: I'm normally a size UK8 (EU42) but tend to go up at least half a size in my runners. I found the Timp true to size and the UK8 fits perfectly, (surprising considering the other 4 pairs of Altras I have are all UK8.5). The fit was exactly as I expected - a wide toe box to allow foot spread, a neat heel cup, and the simple lacing system made them easy to adjust.
COMFORT: This is one area that the Timp excel. Straight out of the box, I felt as though this shoe was going to be good for any distance. You can feel the cushioning is there but it doesn't seem to interfere with feedback from the ground too much, and they certainly don't feel cumbersome like the Olympus. On the odd road I run to get to the trails, they were forgiving and provided great shock absorption. I've only run up to 10k in them so far but not once have I felt any pinching, tight spots, rubbing, or had to stop to adjust the laces. The sole is rigid enough to protect from small stones for example, but still retain enough flexibility to maintain feel and comfort. I was genuinely impressed by just how good my feet felt in this shoe. Score: 5/5
STABILITY: Being so comfortable I had reservations on how well the Timp would perform on technical terrain, and unfortunately this is where the shoe did let me down. If your runs include a lot of gnarly trails, twisty single track, and uneven ground needing rapid changes in direction and stride, then the Timp is NOT for you.
They simply don't offer the levels of support you'd need. On hard packed or well groomed trails, these are superb but even on what I'd consider to be moderate terrain, I felt as though I wasn't far from a rolled ankle. Apparently, with the Timp 1.5 & 2.0 the fit been 'tweaked' but I think big changes would be needed to instil any level of confidence.
The sole looks fairly aggressive and canted lugs provide a decent amount of grip on most surfaces without feeling like you're running on football studs. The rubber feels hard wearing so I'm hopeful the sole will last well. There is some slippage on wet rock, and it's wise to avoid tree roots in them, but they handle everything else quite well. Score 3.5/5 VALUE: It's difficult to score this one - I got these for under £45 so I'm getting a lot of shoe for my money (5/5). BUT, they're last years model, and availability at this price is pretty low. The current version retails at around £130 and I'm not sue how I'd feel about spending that money when the shoe has a couple of shortfalls (at least for me). Based on current pricing.... Score: 3.5/5 (But a definite 5/5 if you can get them cheaper) SUMMARY: I think these shoes will get lots of use. They have all the standard features of an Altra shoe - foot shaped toe box, zero drop, great comfort, and little extras such as the gaiter trap (4-point on later models). They are more comfortable than both the Lone Peak and Olympus (less cumbersome than the latter too). They'll be great for social runs, multi terrain runs, and heading out to spend a long time on your feet. I'd happily choose them for long distance runs (the likes of the Highland Fling), but unfortunately they're not for use in the mountains or even anything trickier than forestry tracks.