altra timp 4 cover
Shoe ReviewsTrail

Altra Timp 4 Review: Altra at its Finest

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.9 oz. (309 g.) for a US M10.5 / 9.2 oz. (260 g.) for a US W8.5
  • Michael is throwing shots at UNC and the Lakers, apparently
  • Ego Max is excellent, at least for the first 50 miles
  • Ain’t no blowouts with this reinforced upper
  • Available now for $160

TAYLOR: Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank. That’s the Altra Timp 4 roller coaster climbing to its pinnacle. It gained a lot of love at its inception and the first update and started turning heads by the Timp 2. It’s still one of my favorite trail shoes for anything from daily runs to long outings in the mountains.

Well, then the third version came around and stirred the pot a little too much. It felt like a step in a new direction, and the drop was more disappointing than exciting, to be honest.

Even at TRE this past year, there wasn’t much interest in the upcoming Timp. Some of it was due to forthcoming options like the Mont Blanc and Outroad, while the underwhelming Timp 3 played a factor.

My excitement flipped like a light switch as I slipped the Timp 4 onto my feet. It’s a vastly different experience from the last few iterations, that’s for sure.

MICHAEL: Throughout my years of trail running, I’ve had the pleasure of running in some of the most prevalent trail workhorses from brands like Brooks, Saucony, and Hoka. While I’d consider my pallete sophisticated and well-rounded, two glaring exceptions existed in my trail shoe history: Salomon and Altra.

The rugged, ultra-cushioned Altra Timp 4 lands as my first foray into the conversation of zero-drop footwear, one dominated by the polarizing opinions of people either singing the praises of Altra (and subsequently getting YOKED calves) or runners like me shying away from the scene for fear of inflamed Achilles tendons and sloppy, roomy uppers.

I hope my review provides a good reference point for the zero-drop curious who want an honest opinion on whether or not the zero-drop craze will bolster their lower leg strength as a serious training tool or leave them sidelined with their Achilles throwing up hopeless, tired threes like the Tar Heels in the last 30 seconds of the championship game.

SAM: In a 2021 survey done by The Trek, over 70% of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail wore trail runners instead of hiking boots or shoes. Of that 70%, over half wore Altras. That means, according to their sample, that about 41% of all hikers attempting the 2195 miles of footpath between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine wore Altras for the majority of their hike. If thru-hiking was a game of Monopoly, Altra would be sitting with hotels on Atlantic Avenue through Boardwalk and grinning maniacally every time someone else picked up the dice. Cha-ching.

That isn’t even the most interesting shoe fact to come out of that survey — 2% (seven different people) were forced to change shoes because of a raccoon. Anyway, after never owning any pair of Timps, I got my new Altra Timp 4 in the mail, ran a quick 5 miles in the shoe, and then took it out on a 5 day, 80 mile AT trip. Wiser hikers know this was a poor choice. To them I say: maybe, maybe it was.

altra timp 4 rear side

The Good

TAYLOR: Altra has been in the process of making the Timp a long-distance rugged terrain shoe, and it shows in various positive ways. We’re talking about a complete overhaul (yet again) to make this happen with a new midsole, upper, outsole, everything. The rebuild makes for a unique experience, but you’ll find some familiarity if you’ve been in any past iterations of the Timp.

Pause. We can’t go any further without saying that Altra’s been making steady gains in the cosmetic department over the past few years, but still, nothing has been genuinely catching the eye. 2022 is their banner year, though — This new Timp 4 is definitely near the top of the list for looks.

As with its cousin, the Mont Blanc, this year’s Timp receives a midsole swap from Ego to Ego Max. This foam was also in the Torin 5. Even though all three shoes have the same 30mm stack, each case feels slightly different. The Timp is the least “responsive” of the Ego Max crowd, but there’s still an accent. The cushion is the primary priority, like in the Torin, and I thoroughly enjoy the sensation. Believe it or not, the underfoot feel is somewhere between a Nike Pegasus Trail 3, Hoka Challenger ATR 6, and the Speedland SL:PDX (without the plate). Anything from easy days to long runs can be done in great comfort. The moderately high stack and flexible foam also allow traces of ground feel. I’m a pretty firm believer in being able to feel a little something underfoot.

The upper follows up with a good balance of durability, comfort, and breathability. Paired with the foot-shaped last and more roomy experience than in the past, this woven knit upper is most similar to what was on the OG Timp. TPU overlays run along the midsole and upper juncture nearly 360 degrees across the shoe and the eyelet chain. There’s been a lot of flack for blowouts in the forefoot, but if that happens to you in the Altra Timp 4, you should stop juggling chainsaws in your running shoes.

Altra always has the comfort of a balanced footbed (no drop) and foot-shaped design. The Timp 4 seems to fall in the middle of the company’s three lasts, so it’s not a slim fit like the Timp 2. The whole upper lays easily on foot. Expect an experience closer to the Olympus’ more spacious fit than anything else. For me, this particular fit brings a mix of feelings, but I do appreciate the comfort of more room as the run gets longer.

Thankfully, unlike the Mont Blanc, the reconstructed heel collar provides a very nice base for the shoe. It tends toward the more “minimal” construction but doesn’t feel flimsy. It’s structured enough to give a decent lockdown. The heel collar finds a nice malleable, structured, and comfortable balance. Some extra padding around the rim of the heel collar assists with fit too. In past models, the rough heel cup tore the crap out of my heel after about 50 miles, but there shouldn’t be any of that rough play going on here.

Maxtrac outsoles have been a solid option for the Timp in the past. The 4 shows a newly configured outsole with multidirectional lugs for all travel directions, but the lugs seem to be slightly shallower. At any rate, the Altra Timp 4 runs very smoothly on various terrain, including gravel and paved road segments. This brings some versatility to the Timp series, making it a solid option for rough trails, but it can get you from your doorstep to the trailhead with ease.

To prove its trail readiness, Altra has integrated a lot of specific pieces to assure long-lasting comfort. Gaiter attachments have always been part of that. The new midsole, as mentioned, helps in the all-day comfort department. To help maintain its integrity, a mesh web conceals the foam in the forefoot. There are also very noticeable holes in the foam, which provide a very noticeable level of drainage too. A functional pull tab that is large enough to be a spoiler rounds out the trail accessories.

altra timp 4 overlays

MICHAEL: In Altra’s lineup, the Timp is pitched as a higher-cushioned, protective ‘cruiser,’ and it holds up to that claim. The zero-drop profile promoted a midfoot and forefoot strike on flat terrain, leaving me feeling like I was always running with good form. While the new Altra Ego Max midsole didn’t boost my pride during the run, it provided a dense yet soft and responsive ride on the trail. While my longest run in the Timp 4 was only 13 miles, I think the shoe will surely hold up to its reputation of being a go-to ultra-distance cruiser. As long as you’re accustomed to the drop, the Ego Max midsole will leave your legs feeling fresh day after day of mileage. If you aren’t accustomed to the drop, the Ego Max cushioning is forgiving enough to help you transition into zero-drop use without tearing up your feet, soleus, and calves.

The Timp upper is a solid one-piece knit, with lightweight overlays around the midsole and toe box of the shoe and additional overlays and padding in the heel collar. The overlays provide some subtle protection, and the knit construction is simultaneously super durable and rugged without feeling stiff or thick. Overall, it has a nice stretch while still offering the durability to last for many, many happy miles.

In terms of fit, the Timp held up to my preconceptions regarding the midfoot lockdown of an Altra shoe. Both the heel counter and tongue of the shoe incorporate wonderfully soft yet thin padding that allowed me to secure the midfoot of the shoe without cutting off circulation in my ankle and not feeling overly cumbersome or bulky with padding. Fantastic work, Altra. Despite the extremely loose-fitting forefoot of the shoe, I had no problems with toe jamming while white-knuckling and heel-braking my way down some of the steepest descents on the local menu. The midfoot, heel counter, and tongue of the Timp 4 are top-notch.

While previous versions of the Timp appear to feature tamer outsoles with exposed EVA, the new Timp steps up in the ruggedness department with a full-coverage, truly aggressive outsole pattern. While I didn’t find the Maxtrac compound particularly sticky, I thought the lug pattern did a great job on some of the softer, muddier trails I found myself running on. Despite the aggressive outsole, I found that the Timp 4 also ran surprisingly smooth on some of my door to trail routes, adding to the shoe’s versatility.

Lastly, I want to point out a few features that I appreciate as a trail runner. The gaiter attachment points, a massive pull loop, and drainage holes (which perform exceptionally well, I might add) show that this isn’t Altra’s first lap around your local long-run loop.

SAM: There’s a whole lot of good in this new version of the Timp, especially for Altra fans. First, this is a good-looking shoe. Between this and the Mont Blanc, Altra has really stepped it up with its design. The texture change in the midsole and the weave of the upper make for something you want on your feet, even if you’re going to smear dirt all over it. I have the blue/grey colorway, but, man, that orange version looks electric.

The upper is tough as nails and very comfortable. 80 miles of sticks and rocks impaling the woven mesh and bashing against the painted on scree guard produced no visible wear (other than the expected dirt and grime). My feet stayed more protected (and cooler) than I expected. The loose weave of the mesh is breathable and does little to restrict airflow.

In another happy surprise, this shoe feels fast and snappy despite its trail runner weight. It edges really well on technical trails and the EGO Max foam really absorbs and reflects whatever you pound it through. It fared well for me as a transition shoe as I ran it from road to trail and back again. I even set a 5k PR (which for me is NOT fast) in it on an “open up after 80 miles of slow” run post backpacking.

Shop Altra Timp 4 – Men Shop Altra Timp 4 – Women

altra timp 4 sole

The Bad

TAYLOR: Even with all of its goodness, the Timp 4 has a few warnings. There isn’t one kryptonite aspect, but there’s potential for this shoe to have a shorter life than desired.

First of all, the Timp gained weight. With how rapidly tech is advancing in shoes, there shouldn’t be many cases of shoes picking up extra ounces. My US M10.5 came in at 11.5 ounces — a gain of nearly a full ounce. Thankfully, the package doesn’t feel that heavy while on the run.

As in the past, the Maxtrac outsole shows up in both the good and the bad. Durability is one of the concerns. Even after 40ish miles, some lugs are starting to look pretty chewed up. About half of those miles were on gravel roads, less than a handful on pavement. Also, the new Maxtrac feels less tacky. Consistently dry conditions or somewhat sloppy conditions were fine to traverse. When the two crossed over (which is like all that I run on in the spring), things got iffy. Going from a wet patch to rock or dry surfaces almost always came with a surprising lack of grip.

Along similar lines, even with 40 miles on the shoes, I can feel some settling of the responsiveness in the midsole. This is natural, but you don’t often notice the contrast so early or suddenly. Every run had an outstanding level of honey butter cushioning, but the rebound had quickly fallen away. I hope that this doesn’t mean the Ego Max midsole will find itself in the dump after 150 miles. Time will tell.

Also, to no surprise, there was some definite midfoot and forefoot play going on. This can be typical with Altra shoes because of the foot-shaped design and sometimes wider, baggier profile. The shoe has had a range of fits and feels over the years, but this one lines up closer to the very spacious offerings like the OG Timp and Olympus series. The upper isn’t “baggy” per se, but it fits looser. It was semi frustrating to dial in the fit to a point I felt confident on more technical terrain. I felt like a dog owner whose pup keeps pulling the corkscrew chain out of the dang ground. I had to stop at least once to retie for a more secure fit every single run I went on. Even so, I was only able to cinch this one up to be moderately secure (much like the Olympus).

All that being said, the Altra Timp 4 wasn’t quite as spacious as the Lone Peak series. However, it does tend toward the more spacious end of the spectrum. If you’re one of the original cult Altra members, you’ll likely be searching for this kind of fit.

Lastly, for the love of all things holy, GET A BETTER LACE SUPPLIER, ALTRA. I could rope cattle with these laces with them still tied. Sorry for my outburst, but this is an annual issue. The laces did lay nicely over the top of the foot, though, and they’re durable.

altra timp 4 heels

MICHAEL: While I found my experience in the Timp 4 to be mostly joyful, there were a few hiccups. Most of my dislikes should come with the disclaimer I’m an Altra noob, and some of my issues can and should be easily dismissed by the Altra faithful.

First, I found that the midsole took a while to break in. While this isn’t necessarily a downside, I think it should be mentioned so that potential buyers aren’t thrown off by a misleading lack of step-in comfort in a brand new shoe.

Second, the weight of this shoe puts it out of contention for race day use, simple as that. If the shoe had a rock plate, I’d give Altra a bit more slack, but the absence of a rock plate and lack of a rocker made the weight more noticeable than in other heavy ultra-cushioned shoes like the Brooks Caldera 6. That being said, the slight bounce of the Ego Max midsole did assist in helping the shoe feel a bit lighter than it is, especially on flat, cruisy terrain.

While the Maxtrac outsole wasn’t particularly sticky (wet rocks were sketchy, not gonna lie), its most notable drawback was the lack of a rockplate (or similar protection) in the shoe’s forefoot. Surprisingly, I got pretty beat up in the Timp 4 running through some rocky sections. Like the strength of the LA Lakers roster on paper, the Timp 4 appears to have a good shot at solid underfoot protection with 30mm of forefoot cushioning and a full-coverage rubber outsole.

This wasn’t the case, and my feet were pretty beat up after running through some rockier sections of singletrack. While I can’t blame this entirely on a lack of a rock plate (it probably also has to do with the fact I was running in a zero drop shoe for the first time), it would be a welcome feature. The weight is already too far gone to be considered for race day, and the addition of a rock plate would only further cement the shoe’s rugged versatility for any training run.

My penultimate gripe with the Timp should almost certainly come with a grain of salt: the big ol’ toe box simply isn’t for me. While the midfoot fit of the shoe was fantastic, I found the forefoot to be sloppy, cumbersome, and sometimes just flat-out annoying, especially on technical sections of trail where I was constantly catching on rocks, roots, and all manner of other trail paraphernalia. That being said, I know Altra shoes are beloved by so many (including my fiance) for the wide toe box and subsequent comfort and blister prevention, but it just wasn’t for me. Like Taylor, I found myself constantly stopping to adjust the lace tension in the forefoot and could never get it quite right. Of course, everyone’s feet are different, and I’d recommend these to a wider-footed runner in a heartbeat.

Lastly, HOW ON EARTH ARE THE LACES THIS LONG? I know I tie my shoes tighter than most, but due to the lack of overlays on the medial and lateral sides, the mesh stretched out a bit and only added more length to laces you could already quilt a blanket with. I’d heard tales before of the fabled Altra lace length, but man, this was a sight to behold.

SAM: No matter what I do with these, my heel always feels a little loose. While wearing thinner socks on day 1 of backpacking there was enough movement to create hotspots on the back of my heels after ten miles. Changing up my socks and playing foot doctor fixed this up, but I’ve never had this in any other trail shoe — especially an Altra. Remember, I foolishly tackled the AT under weight in these with no break-in, so maybe mark some of the issues to that. Whatever the case, they still never feel like I have the lockdown I like.

This shoe also has the same top-welded tongue that you can find on Altras like the Torin 5. While it seems to go away after you put miles on them, that top weld always slices neat little papercut-like gashes into my ankles for the first few runs if I’m wearing no-show socks. Not a shoe killer, but annoying.

Shop Altra Timp 4 – Men Shop Altra Timp 4 – Women

altra timp 4 side

Altra Timp 4 Conclusion

TAYLOR: Let’s put it this way: if you liked the OG Timp, you’ll enjoy the Altra Timp 4. If you were a fan of the 2, you’ll appreciate this model. If you found favor in the 3, you’ll be more than satisfied.

Altra’s Timp 4 takes a lot of the line’s former glories and brings them together to make a comfortable, durable, ready-for-a-backcountry-adventure shoe.

This is definitely the roomiest and most cushioned version of the shoe. So, take that for what it’s worth. Lone Peak fan? This is a slightly trimmed up and secure version (in terms of fit) with more underfoot protection. If you come from the Olympus side, this would feel like a more versatile and lighter version in many respects.

If you’re coming from the recently released Mont Blanc, the Altra Timp 4 feels more cushioned and comes in a more well-structured and versatile package.

There are some concerns about whether or not the package will hold up for a long time. Last year’s Timp 3 had some major delamination issues, and this year’s midsole and outsole are taking a noticeable hit before the 50-mile mark. Those are issues that only time will tell. It’s a solid enough shoe that I’ll be reaching for it for easy daily miles or long runs. So, check back in for an update in the future.

Personal plug: I’d love to see the Timp 4 bundle on the same last as the Mont Blanc with the addition of Vibram Megagrip.

MICHAEL: Overall, the Altra Timp 4 provides zero-drop enthusiasts with a versatile, rugged, balanced daily training option. While weight may restrict the Timp 4 from race day duties, it’s undoubtedly an excellent pick for long weekend training runs over varied terrain and conditions.

While the shoe didn’t convince me to drop my traditional trainers for zero-drop shoes, I did find the Timp 4 to be enjoyable and exciting. I would recommend the shoe to anyone interested in seeing what the Altra hype is all about. You might not get huge calves like some of my friends who swear by Altra, but I think there’s something to be said for running in a lower drop shoe from time to time to help strengthen the foot.

Altra shoes are extremely popular in the backpacking and thru-hiking community, primarily for their comfort and blister prevention. I think the Timp 4 has to be one of the best options for backpackers and thru-hikers looking to switch from clunky hiking boots to trail running shoes, especially with the drainage holes and the soft Ego Max midsole. This shoe is a winner for trail runners and thru-hikers alike.

SAM: I feel like I’m over here copycatting the conclusion of Taylor, Alex, and Matt’s review of the Altra Mont Blanc when I say that this shoe is so close to being a truly great multi-use long-distance trail runner and hiker, but it misses by just a hair. It’s great all-around, save for the heel lockdown and the weird knife-like snippet of tongue. Even with those two issues, I still tend to reach for these over the Lone Peak. The dialed-in fit, tough but airy upper, and the great midsole and tread make miles go down with less pain. Though the heels feel loose, they didn’t start causing me issues until I took them over ten miles. Then, with the right socks and lacing, I didn’t have further problems.

So, the Timp 4 might miss its goal of being the perfect big miles trail shoe, and it probably won’t ascend to AT superstardom — a position held by the Lone Peak at the moment — but it’s a solid, very comfy, very tough, moderate miles shoe that will take some speed. If Altra cleans up the heel in the next version, this is an all-out winner, and I can’t wait. Make sure you like the fit, and it’s going to be good enough that you’ll want to keep it locked up and very safe from stray shoe-thieving raccoons.

You can pick up the Altra Timp 4 for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Altra Timp 4 – Men Shop Altra Timp 4 – Women

altra timp 4 on foot

3 Comments

  1. I really wonder about that mesh on the forefoot of the shoe. I think Nike did that in the eighties. Either way, I see that mesh getting shredded on the rocky terrain. Also the price of shoes is getting to be crazy for how long they don’t seem to last so I am happy to hear that Altra is starting to build some of their shoes a little tougher.

  2. Hi, I am not a runner, but a hiker. I started wearing Altras when I developed severe neuropathy and ended up with AFOs. The wider toe box works pretty well for me. I am trialing the Timp 4 as a bit snugger and sturdier version. I wanted to respond to the shoelace length issue. I am thrilled to have the 2 extra lace holes to cinch in my narrow ankles and AFOs. When I use them, the lace length is perfect. So I am appreciative of them being so long.

  3. Really wanted to love this shoe but had to return two pairs due to premature wear in the heel cup. Really disappointing.

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