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April 3, 2014 Comments (3) Featured, Gear Reviews, Store, Uncategorized

Altra Olympus Review

Olympus Jump

2014 is the year of max comfort shoes. Nearly every brand in specialty trail running is making a shoe with a significant stack height, but it can be said with confidence right here at the beginning of this article that no one is doing it quite like Altra. The long awaited and now highly coveted Olympus is on the market and literally off the shelves. We at TAUR pressed for the opportunity to perform a mass review and have had multiple people test and provide their feedback on their experience. There was nothing surprising about the results, the shoe performed admirably and we are proud to present our results.

Average Number of Miles on the Olympus per tester: 100

Heel Fit: 3.8 

(Note – the best possible score was a 3, indicating a perfect fit. A 1 indicated the fit was too tight while a 5 was too loose)

The advantages of performing a mass test is that you get testers with different shaped feet, running styles, and body types. It’s never a “one and done” situation where the only real result is the outcome of a single person in only a few runs on a single set of trails. Heel size and fit is such a varying characteristic in shoes that it can only be quantified through multiple testers. To have an outcome of a 3.8, where the outcome was on the looser side, is still very good. Here are some of the comments from our testers.


Mark – “No heel slip and no abnormal pressure. Comfortable even without socks. Compared to the Hoka Mafate 2 it’s a better heel.”

Matt – “Heel fit is comfortable and snug enough. Materials are soft and smooth.”


Craig – ” I wore an 11 and 11.5 and the heel was very loose in both. There was nothing I could do with lacing that would fix it without cutting off circulation to my foot. And I don’t have a narrow heel. Ultimately, it wasn’t a problem and I never got blisters, but it did allow for more dirt to get into my shoes.”

Davy – “Too loose for my problem pronating foot. I’ve had to insert some padding it keep it more snug.”

Ample Toe Box

Ample Toe Box

Toe Box Fit: 3.0 

(Note- the best possible score was a 3, indicating a perfect fit. A 1 indicated the fit was too tight while a 5 was too loose)

Altra is known for two things; Zero Drop and foot-shaped toe box. If there is one thing they have dialed in above everything else, it is the fit in the front of the shoe. No one does it like Altra and because of that this portion of the test was a unanimous PERFECT.


Zac- “Perfect toe box fit for me. I wasn’t swimming in it but I also wasn’t constricted at all. Unlike the traditional taper of most shoes, Altra hits the mark by making the toe box naturally foot shaped for feet to splay and room for swelling during long runs, which actually improved the overall balance and ground feel vs a more tapered fit than that of Hoka’s.”

Leslie – “Genuine foot shaped Altra toe box.”

Craig – “Typical Altra toebox – Amazing. So comfortable, it’s hard to explain.”


There were none, not a single one.

Men's Olympus in Black/Orange

Men’s Olympus in Black/Orange

Treat Aggressiveness & Durability: 4.0 

(Best possible sore of 5)

The Olympus is designed as a cross-over shoe, allowing for both trail and road wear. It can be said that most testers were skeptical when first wearing it that it wouldn’t have enough traction to hold up on aggressive or loose trails. It certainly isn’t as aggressive as the Lone Peak, but still offers relatively good tread across the length of the shoe. Most were surprised at how well it held up and stuck to the trails, even in dodgy conditions.


Matt – “Traction is sufficient, but not aggressive by any means. These will be great for 80-90% of the trails, with a little extra care needed for snow or other loose terrain.”

Zac – “It’s nice to have a recessed tread patter versus a lug based tread pattern. It made for all the traction that I needed on both mud and dry trails while being able to maintain a smooth feel on the road. This is the first hybrid shoe I’ve worn that actually works great on both road and trail.”

CONS (not much of one):

Craig – “It’s really not bad, but definitely not as aggressive as the Lone Peak or Cascadia. I didn’t notice any problems with slipping though, so overall it was ok.”

Overall Comfort for a Max Cushion Shoe: 3.2 

(Note- the best possible score was a 3, indicating a perfect fit. A 1 indicated the fit was too tight while a 5 was too loose)

Max cushion often gets a bad wrap because of the softness of the sole. While it soaks up sharp rocks it is often too soft, robbing the runner of any return on energy and the potential for rolled ankles. Altra targeted a stiffer mid-sole in the Olympus, allowing for increased return on energy and greater stability. The outcome: a max cushion shoe that runs like a regular running shoe.


Mark- “Very nice. I ran 29 miles in one day and felt almost no quad soreness the day after. During the run, I experienced less foot pain, quad pain and no cramping.”

Matt – “I was expecting an extra cushy (read TOO cushy) soft, bouncy ride – like my Grandmas 1996 Grand Marquis. What I found was a firm, stable responsive, yet very forgiving ride.”


Leslie – “I appreciate that it’s cushion is firmer than other max cushion shoes so it doesn’t feel soft to me. I am generally not a max cushion girl so these feel a little slow to me sometimes.”

Womens Olympus in Pink

Womens Olympus in Pink

Overall Opinion: 4.8

(Best possible score of 5)

Max cushion has a solid place in specialty running thanks to the Altra Olympus. This shoe has justified an otherwise controversial line, mostly because Altra has produced a shoe that doesn’t run like a max cushion shoe. If there are any negatives it falls somewhere in the aggressive toe kick or slightly wider heel cup. Outside of those this shoe hits the mark it’s first try out of the gate. Congrats Altra, you nailed it.

Final Comments

Matt – “Not generally a max cushion user, I was surprised at how much I loved these shoes. Wore them out of the box for 23 miles with zero issues (and very happy feet), and then on two subsequent 50K runs. I wasn’t stubbing my toes, tripping all over myself covering technical trails, or breaking by ankles from the higher stack height. I was able to run effortlessly and happily enjoy smiling feet and a quicker recovery.”
Mark – “The literal footprint of the shoe is small than the hoka, provides more flexibility in the shoe and feeling of agility and stability on technical terrain. Only complaint is the amount of forward release of the foot on steep downhills. Do have the heel lock lacing pattern in play but not helping much. Overall I’d give the shoes a 4.25 out of 5 compared to the HM2 which would be a 3.75 out of 5.”
Craig – “I did not go into this test planning to be a fan. But I’m sold. I have definitely found my next 100 mile shoe.”
Leslie – “I am new to the max cushion world of shoes so I am still learning when it appropriate to wear them or not. They are not quite as responsive or quick to me as something of standard stack height but really do save the legs some fatigue during long or big downhill runs. I look forward to getting to know them even better. I see the Olympus being a 100 mile dominating shoe. Note – the women’s Olympus does run 1/2 size short from the Altra Lone Peak 1.5”
Davy – “So far so good. I wish the shoe tongue was thicker. Shoe lace tension can be felt. The gaiter trap is too high, just doesn’t work, have to glue my own on lower.”
Zac – “Having worn other maximal cushion shoes in the past, I was pleasantly surprised with the Olympus. Although there are a few things that I would change in the heel counter (which tweaking the lacing seemed to fix) the forefoot and toe box feel more than made up for that. I never slipped once in any terrain and the stack height combined with the fit never once left me concerned of breaking ankles on even the narrowest of trails.”


For one testers head to head comparison with Hoka – check out Missy’s Altra Olympus – Hoka Comparison review.

3 Responses to Altra Olympus Review

  1. […] is the Altra Olympus. I have to say, after reading this review from Trail and Ultra Running by Craig Lloyd, I just might have to give these a try! Read on to see […]

  2. Miki says:

    Thanks for a very detailed review. How do you compare the sizing of the Olympus to other shoes (not Altras)? Did you have to upsize or downsize?

  3. […] Altra Olympus Review | Trail Running and Ultra Marathons – Posted By Craig Lloyd on Apr 3, 2014 | 1 comment. 2014 is the year of max comfort shoes. Nearly every brand in specialty trail running is making a shoe with a …… […]

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