Altra Olympus 4 Performance Review
TAYLOR: Max cushion on the trails is pretty much owned by a singular company that provides ample top-notch options. If you run, we don’t have to tell you who (but yeah we’re talking about HOKA). But let it be known¬– “they” are not the only ones slayin’ the game as of late.
Enter the Altra Olympus 4, a shoe that’s as hulking as it sounds and ready to handle the fire of the gods. Like many of Altra’s 2020 lineup, the Olympus 4 sports a new and fresh look. It’s even been featured on Hypebeast, which you know would’ve been insane for any Altra shoe three years ago. That said, it is one of the few models that retains some of its classic technology. So, if you have been in the Altra cult since the beginning, listen up.
Recently, I reviewed the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR 6. If that shoe is Godzilla, the Olympus 4 would be King Kong. Do not even try to twist this into a larger metaphor of who would crush the other in a monster street brawl, and definitely do not make this a political matchup… it’s a shoe review, dangit! All I am saying is that they are both huge shoes and are very similar in properties and performance. That said, the Olympus is different enough to distinguish itself as its own “monster” on the trails.
ERIN: This is, I think, the third iteration of the Olympus that I’ve reviewed (maybe it’s the second?) and now that I’ve also tried the HOKA Stinson ATR, I concur with Taylor’s Godzilla versus King Kong comparison. They’re both… I mean, they’re big shoes. Real big. Almost comically so. Who would win? Well, that’s not really the point of this review, I guess, but leave a comment if you want to answer.
TAYLOR: It’s hard not to appreciate Altra as a company. They stick to their core beliefs while churning out new ways to make the zero-drop foot-shaped shoes exciting enough to keep coming back. I’m generally impressed by the overall feel of my body when I consistently wear Altra on the trail.
Balanced is the word they use to describe their products and that’s how it feels. Better than anyone, Altra has balanced cushioning in a zero-drop shoe. The Olympus is one of the few remaining Altra shoes that keeps the A-Bound midsole (also used in the Lone Peak 4.5). It’s pretty cushy because of the 33 mm stack, but it’s slightly firmer than Godzilla (refer to intro).
Zero-drop cushion and a wide base offers a lot of inherent stability. I appreciate this because I really do not like the feeling of a posted arch or heel– especially on the trails. This feels natural and– as I said before– very balanced.
Innerflex grooves in the midsole give more flexibility for a better running experience. Though it is indeed big, the Olympus rolls very smoothly through each stride at low-to-moderate paces.
The grooves also help drop weight on the Olympus (.3 oz from the previous model). My men’s 10.5 weighs in at 12.2 ounces, which, for the amount of trail protection you are getting, is pretty reasonable. There really isn’t a limit on how far you can go with these as long as you’re on appropriate terrain.
Another layer of protection and trail security is added with a Vibram MegaGrip outsole. If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you’ll know that there is not a whole lot to discuss here. MegaGrip is one of the high-bar outsoles over any terrain. It’s made even better with Altra’s specific Trailclaw lug pattern. Perfectly placed lugs underneath each metatarsal offer a better grip and better energy transfer.
Great all-day underfoot protection is not the only thing you’re getting with the Olympus. All-day comfort is coming from the topside too. An engineered mesh upper provides a soft feel and great breathability. The Olympus 4 has a new thin gusseted tongue that provides a noticeably better fit and another comfortable touch.
Durability is usually a concern with Altra’s uppers, but I’m not concerned in the least. There are a few overlays that cover the toe cap, laces, and lateral sides that give a little extra support to an already durable mesh. If there’s any further concern, Altra’s four-point gaiter attachment will allow for more protection from the elements.
ERIN: Altra gets some serious points for actually improving this shoe rather than making it worse. Not to single out Altra, because plenty (see: all) companies do this, but I have a particular bone to pick with Altra after they low-key ruined the Superior and the Timp (my opinion, yadda yadda). One of the best parts about the Olympus, though, is what they didn’t change: the Abound midsole. Some people love it. Some hate it. I’m in the former camp: I’ll take Abound over Quantic any day.
Speaking of the midsole, is there a rocker in this shoe? That’s mostly rhetorical and I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but it has a very smooth roll-through; maybe it’s just a combination of the Innerflex grooves in the outsole and that sweet, springy Abound. It feels good.
OK so the cushion is great, the ride is great. Shoelaces? A length that is perfectly acceptable! Outsole? The always-reliable, super grippy Vibram MegaGrip. Now on to the womp womp part.Sho Altra Olympus 4 – Men Shop Altra Olympus 4 – Women
TAYLOR: There are just a couple of things that I do not like about this shoe. Number one: ouchy on my bank account! [EDITOR’S NOTE: Taylor is an elementary school teacher, he deals with ‘ouchies’ on the reg] Shelling out $170 is no joke! If I’m spending that kind of money on a shoe (or anything), it better be top-frickin-notch!
Number two: Overall, the fit is a little like eating a platter of fully loaded nachos without a napkin or utensils… a bit sloppy. That cheese is movin’. I kind of expect it from a max cushion shoe, but I was really hoping for a supremely secure fit like that found in the Altra Timp 2.
The combination of such a wide base, tons of cushion underneath, and the Altra foot-shaped principle do not make for the best combo for having a locked-in fit. The heel felt pretty secure, but my midfoot and forefoot skated around inside the shoe on any switchback or semi-technical footing. This ensures that the Olympus 4 is best kept to low (technicality) and slow.
ERIN: I concur with everything Taylor said. While the Olympus 4 looks sleeker than prior Olympuses (not a difficult task to achieve), the fit is really not great. I like a wide toe box as much as anyone, but the midfoot needs to be secure, otherwise, you’re just asking to bust your ass running on anything even remotely technical. Or downhill. Even cinched down, my feet slid all the damn way over the place in these. Too much lateral movement, too much heel slippage. It’s too bad, because there are some promising updates here, but I’m not risking an injury to run on Abound. Also, $170? Pump the brakes.Sho Altra Olympus 4 – Men Shop Altra Olympus 4 – Women
TAYLOR: The Olympus 4 received a few performance and cosmetic updates that are all welcomed. As with most maximal shoes, the Olympus has some limitations because of its overall fit and stack height. It is very trail-ready though! I really enjoyed this shoe for the “low and slow” trail miles. My feet felt great during and after every single run in the Olympus 4. If you often spend hours on the trails and love the OG Altra fit, check into this one.
You can pick up the at Altra Olympus 4 for $170 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Sho Altra Olympus 4 – Men Shop Altra Olympus 4 – Women
Have something to say? Leave a Comment
Thanks for your reviews!
A couple of quick questions:
Compared with your recently reviewed Hoka Stinson ATR 6, which one do you think has a softer, “pillowed” cushion?
And which one secured better your midfoot?
Hi Berto. For both of those answers, I’d go with the Stinson.
Great, thanks Taylor!!!… I think I know what would be my next shoe… 🙂