Altra Olympus Review

From Fellrnr.com, Running tips
Jump to: navigation, search

The Altra Olympus has the soft cushioning that is similar to the Hoka range, combined with zero drop and a nice wide toe box. It's remarkably flexible given its cushioning, with an outsole that works well on the road. Like the Hokas, the cushioning means the shoe works well on stony trails as well. Like other Altra shoes, the tongue area is wider than most shoes, reducing the pressure slightly on the top of your foot. Unfortunately, the Olympus is nearly as heavy as the Hoka Mafate, but the Mafate is better ate earning its weight, with a lot more cushioning and an outsole that works in nearly every terrain. While the Olympus might pretend to be a trail shoe, it won't handle the soft mud or slick rock in the way the Mafate will. For an even more stark comparison, the Hoka Clifton is much lighter while providing even more cushioning. I've rated it as "Highly Recommended." (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

Altra Olympus top
Altra Olympus bottom
Altra Olympus inside
Altra Olympus outside

1 Characteristics

  • Why you’d buy it. You're after a Maximalist shoe that fits your foot. However, you might be better with the lighter weight and better cushioned Hoka Clifton , or the all-terrain Hoka Mafate.
  • Cushioning . The midsole of the Olympus is not quite as soft as the typical Hoka foam, but it's softer than the earlier Altra shoes like the Torin.
  • Drop. Altra is known for their zero drop and the Olympus is no exception. However, while the thickness under the ball and heel is approximately the same but there some rise under the arch. This gives some medial support to the ball of the foot, but it does not push up on the arch in a way that causes problems. The Olympus tapers gently and evenly from the ball of the foot to the front, which is quite different to the Hoka which has an abrupt taper at the front of the shoe. Like many Maximalist shoes, the rear of the midsole is cut away to create a bit of a rocker. However, rather unusually the outsole extends back, which may be an attempt to absorb heel strike. The midsole wraps around the lower part of the foot improve stability, reducing the stilt like instability you can get with a thick sole.
  • Structure. This shoe uses single density of foam, though the wrapper that extends above the level of the liner painted a different color to make the shoe look a little less bulky.
  • Flexibility. The Olympus is fairly flexible for shoe of this thickness and this flexibility tends to increase over the first few miles as the foam breaks down and softens.
  • Outsole. The Olympus has harder rubber over most (but not all) of the surface of the sole. Note that the five ovals that are colored to match the midsole and positioned almost like toes are actually outsole, not protruding midsole. .
  • Shape. The shoe is the classic Altra shape, which follows the outline of the human foot much better than other makes. This gives it a broader toe box, but I find there is not enough height for my toes and I still have to cut the toe box open. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. The upper is a thicker material than most road shoes, but is reasonably breathable. The weave of the material makes it quite tough and abrasion resistant. There is good padding around the ankle opening.
  • Tongue. The Olympus has a classic tongue rather than a tongue-less sock style of upper. The tongue is partially attached on the inside edge to keep it positioned (see below for an image). The tongue has minimal but adequate padding.
  • Lacing. The flat laces work well and remained tied. Like many Altra shoes, I find the position of the uppermost eyeholes a little old, with the top hole too high and the next hole a little too low. The shoes come from the manufacturer laced in a way that indicates they think you should do a "heel lock" style of lacing, which I hate. I find that approach is very hard to get the tension right.
  • Heel Counter. The Olympus has a surprisingly firm heel counter which is reinforced by the midsole foam rising up around the lower part of the heel. However, there are no strongly defined edges, so it should not cause a problem. The heel counter comes as far up the back of the heel as is normal for running shoe.
helping-hand.jpg
Please support this site

This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the
products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free
from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It
also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.

2 Cushioning and Shoes

It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.

3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Altra Olympus

How Altra Olympus compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Altra Olympus compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Altra Olympus compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How Altra Olympus compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

4 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

4.1 Olympus and Hoka Clifton

Comparing the Olympus and the Hoka Clifton, the Clifton wins on light weight and superior cushioning.

  • Similarities
    • Price. Both are expensive, but tend to have a good lifespan.
    • Trails. Both will handle rocky trails quite well, but not mud or slick rocks.
  • Advantage Altra Olympus
    • Shape. The Altra Olympus has a better toe box.
    • Drop. The Altra Olympus is zero drop.
    • Longevity. The Altra Olympus has more outsole, so it will resist abrasion better though the Clifton has tougher exposed midsole than most.
  • Advantage Hoka Clifton
    • Weight. The Hoka Clifton is a lot lighter, which is a critical advantage.
    • Cushioning . Both are thickly, softly cushioned, but the Clifton achieves the cushioning with less thickness.
Altra Olympus top
Altra Olympus bottom
Altra Olympus inside
Altra Olympus outside
Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside

4.2 Olympus and Altra Paradigm

Comparing the Olympus and the Altra Paradigm, the Paradigm wins on weight:

  • Similarities
    • Shape. Both have better toe boxes than the more usual shaped shoes.
    • Drop. Both are zero drop.
    • Price.Both are expensive, but tend to have a good lifespan.
    • Grip. Neither has great traction on wet, slick surfaces or mud.
    • Cushioning . The cushioning is quite close, with the Olympus having more in the heel and the Paradigm having more in the forefoot.
  • Advantage Altra Olympus
    • Longevity. The Olympus has more outsole, so it will resist abrasion better than the Paradigm.
    • Trails.The Olympus will handle mild trails a little better, but it's a close run thing.
  • Advantage Altra Paradigm
    • Weight. The Altra Paradigm is lighter.
I actually ran with an Olympus on one foot and a Paradigm on the other. It's a great way of comparing two shoes, but don't try this at home as it's also a great way of getting injured.

4.3 Olympus and Hoka Bondi

Comparing the Olympus and the Hoka Bondi, the Bondi has slightly more cushioning and is lighter weight. If you're after shape and comfort, choose the Olympus, but if you want lightweight cushioning, choose the Clifton over either.

  • Similarities
    • Price.Both are expensive, but tend to have a good lifespan.
    • Trails.Both will handle rocky trails quite well, but not mud or slick rocks.
  • Advantage Altra Olympus
    • Shape. The Altra Olympus has a better toe box.
    • Drop. The Altra Olympus is zero drop.
    • Longevity. The Altra Olympus has more outsole, so it will resist abrasion better and wear more evenly.
  • Advantage Hoka Bondi
    • Weight. The Altra Olympus is a little heavier.
    • Cushioning . Both are thickly, softly cushioned but the Bondi is a little better.
Altra Olympus top
Altra Olympus bottom
Altra Olympus inside
Altra Olympus outside
Hoka Bondi B top
Hoka Bondi B bottom
Hoka Bondi B inside
Hoka Bondi B outside

5 Gallery

Altra Olympus dissected.
A comparison between the Altra Olympus and Hokas. Notice the difference in the way the sole tapers towards the front of the shoe.
Here is an external comparison of the Altra Olympus and the Altra Paradigm.
The Paradigm (top) has less grip and more flexibility than the Olympus.
Altra Paradigm, Altra Olympus, Hoka Conquest, Hoka Mafate, Hoka Stinson, Hoka Bondi (From left to right).
Hoka Stinson, Hoka Bondi, Hoka Conquest, Hoka Mafate, Altra Paradigm, Altra Olympus (From top left to bottom right by row).
Hoka Stinson, Hoka Bondi, Hoka Conquest, Hoka Mafate, Altra Paradigm, Altra Olympus (From top left to bottom right by row).
A close up of the tongue, showing how it's sown in on each side.
Hoka Stinson, Hoka Bondi, Hoka Conquest, Hoka Mafate, Altra Paradigm, Altra Olympus (From top left to bottom right by row).

6 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Bondi Review Pending $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 4
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Altra Escalante Review Escalante Review Pending $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 7
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Hoka Hupana Review Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.4 5
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Instinct 4.0 Review Pending $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Nomad Review Pending $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Topo ST-2 ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 8
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.