The Altra Olympus has arrived, and things are looking pretty awesome! It’s been a lot of fun to watch the evolution of Altra from a small startup company to a major player in the shoe market. With their zero drop and wide toebox DNA in every shoe, Altra has provided comfortable and functional shoes that athletes absolutely love. The Altra Lone Peak has been one of the most popular shoes on the PCT and JMT over the last two years, and it’s easy to see why. Altra shoes give the toes room to splay, with no friction or rubbing, and the zero drop provides a wonderfully stable platform.
One of the new trends in hiking and trail running is the craze of maximalism. Started by Hoke One One, shoes with fat and thick midsoles have been gaining market share every month for the last two years. I saw the value of this for trail runners, but never thought it would take off in the hiking world. I was wrong. Just this summer, the number of hikers wearing maximally cushioned shoes grew by leaps and bounds. Altra’s Olympus, looks to be a major player in this market, and has all of the right attributes and tools to do so. Below, you will find my unboxing preview of the shoe, and after I can log some proper miles, I’ll give an updated review.
Sizing and Fit:
I did quite a bit of trail running in a pair of the Olympus 1.0, so I’ll use that shoe as a reference to the 2.0. I usually wear a 12.5 in my trail running and hiking shoes, and the Olympus is no different. This shoe fits true to size for me, and similar to the new Lone Peak 2.5. I love how Altra has refined their designs. I think the best word to describe the evolution of the Olympus 2.0 and Lone Peak 2.5 is precision. The fit and feel of these new Altra’s is top notch.
The upper on the Olympus 2.0 gets a complete update. It’s radically different than the 1.0, and marginally different than the 1.5. The upper is made of a breathable tight weave, that looks to do an awesome job at keeping debris out, while maintaining the great breathability of the earlier models. The upper of the 1.0 was a little porous, so I’m really happy to see this update. This new upper just feels really nice on the foot. It’s flexible and soft, which should be great for long runs. Just like all other Altra trail shoes, the Olympus 2.0 comes with the Gaiter Trap Velco tabs on each heel. The foot shaped toe box incorporates a new toe guard, much like the Lone Peak 2.5. I think that is a consistent theme I found with this new Olympus, it feels similar to the Lone Peak 2.5 with the upper. In my opinion, that’s a very good thing.
The midsole is what sets this maximalist shoe apart from the Lone Peak 2.5, and sets it next to it’s counterparts from Hoka. The Olympus 2.0 has a 0mm drop, with a 36mm heel and forefoot. The cushion upon first wear is similar to the Olympus 1.0 that I put a lot of miles in. I know many love the softness of the midsole, but I wish it were a little more firm, maybe a compound like Altra uses with their Paradigm. That’s another shoe I’ve done a lot of running in, and that midsole is just about perfect. I love a dense shoe though, so keep that in mind. If you like a soft to medium soft midsole, this shoe will be perfect for you.
The midsole starts with the Altra A-bound layer which is the thin energy return slab of cushion that sits right under the foot. After that, Altra uses a dual layer EVA midsole slab for impact absorption and energy return. Much like the Olympus 1.0, the 2.0 has a gradual amount of toe spring, which is the upturn of the toes to propel the runner forward. I’m really liking the feel of this midsole, and think that lovers of previous Olympus models will feel at home with this new 2.0.
The new outsole on the Olympus 2.0 is the most exciting thing about this new shoe, and maybe one of the most exciting things for Altra in general. The Olympus 2.0 has a brand new Vibram Mega Grip outsole! This is huge news for Altra fans, and all of you who ran in previous versions of the Olympus. The outsole on the Olympus 1.0 and 1.5 was not very good. The tread was shallow and oddly designed, and the compound used was not very durable. This was really the only big knock on an otherwise very well designed shoe. This new outsole takes the 2.0 into the level of elite status, and should make many trail runners very happy. Vibram is known for designing very functional and durable outsoles, and the Megagrip compound is used all over the industry by leading shoe manufacturers.
The tread pattern of this new Olympus looks aggressive. With thick lugs all over the outsole, I’m sure this thing will grip much better than the old outsole. One of the biggest complaints of the old outsole was that it was virtually useless (and dangerous) in mud or slick conditions. That complaint will probably all but disappear with the outsole update. The sizing, spacing, and directional pattern of the lugs, looks to offer a nice package to combat rocks, roots, leaves, mud, and anything else a trail can throw your way.
The only problem area I’m seeing on the new outsole is the area of non coverage and exposed EVA. If you look closely at the pictures, the L shaped lugs in the middle of the outsole are not Vibram Megagrip. This can be good and bad. The bad is that this section may not be very durable. The good is that a full coverage outsole lacks in flexibility, whereas removing this section of rubber will offer better flex. The removal of a full coverage outsole also decreases the weight of shoe. Only time will tell how this section of the outsole holds up against rocky terrain. I’ll make sure to detail this in an updated wear review once I’ve logged enough miles.
The price of the Olympus has increased to $150, probably from adding a Vibram sole. This price point is a little high, but on par with similar offerings from Hoka, Salomon, and other leaders in trail running. If you enjoyed your experience in the Olympus 1.0 and 1.5, make sure to grab this shoe, as it surely is an improvement on previous models. This is also a great shoe for those running in Hokas, but find the lasts too narrow, and toe boxes too constricting. Finally, make sure to let me know your thoughts on the Olympus if you’ve had a chance to run in this new model!