Altra Timp 5 Review – The Race Ready Olympus killer

Discover why the Altra Timp 5 might just be your next favorite ultra-race day shoe. Offering a solid, stable platform and a comfortable fit, it's designed for speed and technical terrains, not daily training.

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Weight

9.8 oz / 277 g for men’s US9

Stack height

29mm total stack height
Zero Drop

Made for

Rocky dry trails
Shorter distances

Fit

Low volume
Average midfoot
Average toe box
True to size

Feel

Protective under foot
Good lockdown
Stiff for a low-stack shoe

Pros & Cons

+ Good toe protection
+ Price
– Too narrow for some people


There are a lot of mixed reviews on the Altra Timp 5 on the internet. But I’m convinced many of them have it wrong. 

  1. It is wider than people think. 
  2. This is a prime race day shoe, not a daily trainer. 

My gut instinct tells me the Timp will take over the mantle as a prime Ultra Race day shoe due to its solid, stable platform, lighter weight design, and secure, comfortable fit. 

And while I certainly wouldn’t suggest anyone uses this shoe as their daily trainer due to its stiffer nature and max stack height, I’ve found it helped me go much faster in tough rocker terrains, making it a great race day pick! 

Pssstt… If you just want to watch the video… click below.

Fit

Which Altra Shoe is for you?

Take a quick 4-question quiz to identify the perfect Altra running shoe for your feet! You'll get both road and trail options based on your answers!


Is the Timp 5 narrow?

I’ve heard many complaints about Timp 5 being narrow, but I’ve got a different take. I’ve got a slightly wider midfoot than most, but with a few adjustments, the shoes were fine. When measuring the midfoot, I found the upper to be roughly the same width as the Lone Peak (101mm for the Timp, 103mm in the Lone Peak). Would you believe that based on other reviews? I personally believe people are getting the depth and width mixed up. 

altra timp 5 toe box

Another shallow shoe from Altra

As with other Altra models, the Timp 5’s are shallow upon first try. The depth of a shoe is often overlooked, but it can make a huge difference to the fit. Because Timp is relatively shallow, it “feels” tight on the foot for many people. I believe people are mistaking this tightness for width issues. If you’ve ever tried the Superior, you’ll know what a shallow shoe feels like, and on the opposite end, you have the Lone Peak, which is a deeper shoe. But there’s a simple solution that I often use when I find a shoe is too shallow for my feet. 

Replace the thick 4mm Altra insole with something thinner, and you’ll get an average-depth shoe again! I always have insoles hanging around, so I used an old Inov8 one, which I measured at around 2-2.5mm thick. That 2mm reduction made a whole world of difference. The shoe was no longer overly tight but instead comfortable and “secure.” 

If you’re looking for a different insole option, take a look at the Xero Shoes website or the Vivobarefoot website, as they sell replacements for decent prices. 

If you want to keep the original Altra insole, I would say that after around 50km, you’ll feel like you have more room because the thick insole will pack out. It could be worth sticking with it and waiting that long if you found the shoe mildly restrictive. 

altra timp 5 toe cap

Does the toe box offer enough space to splay?

The toe box isn’t the widest on the market, but it’ll work for most of us. Altra’s foundation is built on “foot-shaped” shoes. Part of this is a wider toe box, allowing the toes to splay naturally, improving foot engagement. I would classify the Timps toe box as the middle of the line in terms of Altra toe box widths. 

The little toe side of the toe box tapers too aggressively for some. You may find the toe box too constricting if you have a very large toe splay, especially around the smaller toes. For example, it’s not quite as square as the toe boxes you’ll find on the Lone Peak. I’ve never managed to correct my turned in little toe after many years in soccer boots, a similar issue that many of us face, and I found enough space around the little toes. 

The big toe has more than enough room with a nicely squared-off design. For the big toe, there’s little to no tapering, which is great if your big toe extends out like mine. That is important to enhance foot function and an optimal running gait. 

altra timp 5 heel tab

What is the heel lock like?

On the one hand, the heel is a godsend – it fits perfectly and is secure; on the other hand, it’s a little too stiff. One aspect of a trail shoe that you want to see is good lateral stability to ensure you don’t slip off the base of the shoe. To do that, you need some structure to the upper to lock the foot in place. This is how the heel of the Timp is built up. It is relatively stiff, a precise fit for an average to narrow heel, and perfectly shaped to lock your heel in place. 

You could argue that the secure heel is inhibiting foot function and acting more like a conventional shoe. And that’s fine if it’s what you want. But I wouldn’t advise it for all your trail running outings. Sometimes, you need to let your foot do the work to ensure you maintain strong foot and heel movement. The Timp doesn’t really allow for this. 

What size to order?

If you replace the insole, true-to-size works absolutely fine. Personally, I found true-to-size worked out. At first, I felt like more little toe room would have been nice, but after trying the ½ size larger, I knew it wasn’t for me. That is because the ½ size larger put the toe rocker further towards the front of the foot, making it feel a little unnatural to me. 

I know others who have used ½ size larger method and had better results. I’ve also had many conversations with Timp 5 wears that enjoyed more room with a ½ size larger. So if you have a wide toe splay and midfoot, sure, try ½ size larger first. 

Feel

Up front, I think it’s worth noting that this is not a minimal/barefoot shoe. 

You likely already know that if you’re looking at a 29mm shoe, but other aspects steer it in the direction of the conventional shoe. 

But that may not be a bad thing. It all depends on what you want to use the shoe for! 

Do they feel flexible?

No! Especially not for Altra shoes. If you’re expecting a similar ride to the Lone Peak or Superior, you’ll be very disappointed. This is a completely different shoe. It has very little flex both towards the toes and laterally. And because of that, the ride is very “conventional”, much like Hokas. 

The lack of flexibility should reduce foot fatigue and lower leg stress in the long run. When you’re looking at a long race, that could be exactly what you want! You want your legs to be fresh for as long as possible. However, I have seen differing opinions around lower leg stress, with Doctors of Running specifically saying the toe rocker could cause more calf strain. And I did feel this somewhat after a long 40km weekend in these shoes. 

altra timp 5 outsole

Are the Timp 5’s Zero Drop?

Yes, they are zero drop, but it’s tough to feel sometimes due to the dynamics of the shoe. As with most Altra’s, the Timps are zero drop, meaning the heel sits at the same height as the forefoot. This puts the foot in a position similar to being placed flat on the ground, but due to the stiffer midsole (I’ll get to that in a minute), it’s far from feeling like a barefoot shoe. 

A slight ramp of the midsole up from the forefoot towards the toes contributes to a small toe rocker. But no this is not toe spring! It differs from the toe spring because the toes are still level with the ground, helping them sit in a natural position. You will feel the toe ramp, especially from the forefoot forward, and it can help keep the legs turning over when running uphill or on level ground.

That doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing, though. It reduces foot activation and the foot’s natural windlass mechanism. Over time, if you continue using shoes like this, your foot can weaken and cause issues elsewhere. 

How much ground feel do they have?

The 29mm Ego Max midsole is pretty firm, and because of its large stack height, any hint of ground is nonexistent. As a minimal runner, I don’t love this aspect of the shoe, but if you’re coming from brands such as Hoka and other conventional brands, the feeling will be relatively similar. It’s an opportunity to try some Altras without deviating too far from what you’re used to. 

The firmer and stiffer midsole creates a rocker-style ride, which can help in races but doesn’t contribute to a great running form. This fact puts them solely in the race category for me. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them; I actually did, but you won’t be seeing me run in them week to week. I can see the shoe working perfectly for a longer Ultra and fast rocky trails. 

altra timp 5 muddy

How do they perform on different terrains? 

Thanks to the awesome Vibram outsole, this shoe worked great in the mud, snow, and dry! I often worry about overselling the Vibram outsole technology, but this shoe is a true representation of how Vibram can improve a shoe 100%. There’s just no comparison with the Timp 4 which performed so poor in many conditions. The only time I’d say this shoe suffered was in the deep mud, but really no Altra solves that problem. 

Thanks to the stiffer, well fitted upper, the shoe works great in technical rocky terrain. Not something I thought I’d be saying for a high stack shoe. But that stiffer, “tight” upper that others are complaining about comes in handy when your jumping from rock to rock! There’s no sliding around in the shoe, and once you plant your feet, there’s no budging of the foot! It’s exactly what you want from a speedy race shoe. 

How heavy are the shoes? 

For a trail shoe that’s not known for its race weight, I’m very impressed with its lightweight design! Coming in at 9.8oz (278g) for a men’s US9, it’s one of the lightest trail runners from Altra for a while (second only to the Superior). Considering this is a max stack shoe with a bunch of protective overlays around the shoe, this number is amazing. This is one reason why I think it’s an Olympus killer! Being a 2.5oz (71g) lighter than its max stacked brother is a huge advantage when taking this on longer runs. 

Durability

This is where I’m hoping the Timp 5 will really excel, especially when compared with the Timp 4. 

With the upgraded Vibram outsole and a firmer midsole, I’m confident that everything under the foot will last longer. The big questions comes to the upper materials and overlays. 

Can the upper withstand scuffs and scrapes?

The tough nylon like weave will withstand rock scrapes and scuffs. Altough much of the upper material is protected by the overlays, you’d be hard pressed to rip through the upper. It’s truely made for the trails. 

The welded overlays could be the weak part of the upper construction. Extending around the toe box and up through the midfoot, the overlays cover the areas of the shoes that could easily be scuffed up. And the toe overlay extends round further, hopefully stopping the horrible sidewall breakout many of our feet made in the Timp 4’s! But the big issue could be peeling. We’ve seen many of the newer Altra models have issues with overlays peeling prematurely, and while this is mostly aesthetic, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the construction. 

altra timp 5 upper tongue

How long will the outsole last?

Considering this rubber is provided by Altra, I’m expecting big things! Obviously, your experience may vary based on the conditions you put the Altra’s through. If you have a lot of rocky terrain, they’re going to wear quicker. But I’m much more confident in this rubber compound over the older Altra MaxTrac compound. 

The tougher rubber goes hand in hand with the firmer midsole. With a firmer midsole, even though it’s a tougher ride, you’ll find that the midsole will last much longer. That’s great if you’ve got multiple long distance runs planned for the year or are looking to drastically increase your mileage. 

altra timp 5 style

Is the build high quality?

Altra’s build quality has improved over the years, but they’re still catching up to the likes of Salomon and La Sportiva. I would love Altra’s to get to the 1000-mile distance, and while some may push their Altra’s to this distance, they’re doing so in a sorry state. I could only wish there was a way to get the Altra platform in a more durable package, but for now, I think 500 miles is the limit for most Altra models. That is “ok” in the running shoe industry, but it’s not amazing. 

With the failure of the Timp 4 in the durability department, I’m happy to say that we’ll see better results from the Timp 5. With all the aspects discussed above, I think it’s obvious we have a tougher shoe than the previous version, but only time will tell if it can go further than any offer Altra model on the market right now! 

Conclusion 

I hope it’s been clear that, whereas I don’t think the Timp 5 is a good shoe for foot health in general, it does the job of a high-stacked racer really well. 

As I’ve said many times, even as a minimal runner, I had a ton of fun in the Timp 5. As soon as I fixed the depth issue, I was dancing through the rocks at epic speed. 

If there’s any advice I could give to someone looking at a shoe like this, it would be not to neglect foot exercise and health. Running and walking in shoes like the Timp 5 all the time is not beneficial for your foot longevity, much like any other conventional shoe. Instead, you should try to work in some barefoot walking every day and then possibly consider some minimal running shoes to improve your performance and build overall strength!

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Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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4 Comments

    • Oh sorry! I’ve decided not to move forward with any Topo reviews. I wasn’t having a good time in any model I tried because of the arch support. I found it hard to look past it, so I felt it’s best to defer to others for reviews on Topos.

  1. It’s hard for this Timp 5 to be an “Olympus killer” if it doesn’t fit! And no, it doesn’t fit. Far too narrow and a bit of a strange shape too.

    • That’s a tough one. Every foot is different so most depends how much width and depth you need. I’ve not found the recent Olympus models to be overly wide, therefore I don’t find a huge difference there. The biggest difference is the depth, of which I’ve tried to address in the review.

      Have you tried them both? Is there anything you could add to help others who have similar questions?

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