Over the past few years, my preference for trail shoes has consisted of offerings with a low drop, firm and stable midsole, versatile and durable outsole, and non-friction upper. After having so much success running in the city with the Altra Paradigm, I decided to give the Altra Olympus a try when they hit liquidation on Running Warehouse. Although, I’ve been impressed with the overall performance of the shoe, the cushioning is far too mushy for my tastes, and I wish they would have gone with the same foam composition as the Paradigm. That’s really my only gripe with the Olympus, and the miles I’ve covered in the this shoe have been a joy overall. So far, I’ve taken these shoes all around the Claremont Wilderness and Marshall Canyon trails, including an 11 mile jaunt to the summit of Potato Mountain last week.
Note: I wear a size 12.5 in the Olympus which is true to size for me.
The upper of the Olympus is very comfortable and very stylish for a ultra cushioned shoe. The material used is somewhat breathable without being overly porous. I haven’t had an opportunity to run on a really hot days so I’m not sure how they would handle, as the upper material is a little thicker than what I like. I also haven’t had the opportunity to run in rain or wet conditions, so I’m not sure how these would drain, but I’ve read that they don’t handle water so well. Much like the Altra Paradigm, the lacing system is functional, and natural shaped toebox is a godsend.
The midsole of the Olympus is where the shoe falls short for me. It’s just way too soft. I understand that the ultra cushioned shoes reduce fatigue by minimizing impact, but these are so soft that I just feel like my energy is being sapped. This softness has also lead to a premature breakdown of the midsole material. Standing in the shoe, I can feel the lateral edges sloping down. I land on my lateral midfoot, and can feel that the cushioning has compressed a great deal in this area, and I’ve only logged 40 miles. This is not a problem I have with the Paradigm, and I’m considering using those for all future hardpack runs.
The outsole of the shoe has been slammed in quite a few reviews, but I really like it. Keep in mind that I live in Southern California, where mud and slick trails aren’t very common. For hard pack fire roads and the granite of the San Gabriels, these have held up just fine. I actually like the compact circuit design as it minimizes the damage lugs can sustain on rocky paths. I took the Olympus though some mud this weekend in Marshall Canyon and they held up quite well for my liking. If the midsole didn’t break down so quickly, I’m sure I could really push the limits on these outsoles.