The original Altra Olympus was held back by the low-profile tread pattern. After going back to the drawing board, the Altra Olympus 2.0 now features a grippy Vibram outsole and revised materials elsewhere to take the maximalist to the next level.
Altra Olympus 2.0 Features
- 36mm stack height with zero drop
- Quick-dry trail mesh uppers
- Foot Shape Toebox
- Vibram Megagrip Outsole
- Natural Ride System
- MSRP: $150
Cushy but fast trail runners
My first run aboard the Olympus 1.0 felt as if I was running in sand. They were well-cushioned, but lacked significant treads for serious off-road duty. I’ve since relegated them to road running and quite like them for that purpose. Apparently, I’m not alone in that experience and Altra listened with the introduction of the Olympus 2.0.
This new design addresses the traction problem square-on by introducing a chunky Vibram outsole. It’s chunky, yes, but not clunky — there’s a difference. Under all conditions, these new outsoles provide traction for days. It doesn’t matter if the dirt is soft and squishy or hard and rocky — these things just grip. And, no that doesn’t make them clunky, but occasionally they did have an increased propensity to catch on roots as your foot is swinging forward to make that next step.
Making that next step is smooth and natural. The Zero Drop design and squishy, but supportive, midsole makes for easy strides. While some might knock maximalist shoes as feeling slow, there’s no way I’d pull that punch here. They don’t feel slow at all — just well-cushioned and efficient. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed these shoes as I’ve given my body a break from some of that jarring that happens with lesser-cushioned shoes.
As with all Altra shoes, these feature their Foot Shape toebox, which makes a significant difference in the overall fit and feel of these shoes. Just the other day, my parents asked me what shoes I was wearing because they looked so much more, well, foot-shaped. When I told them how much my feet appreciate not being crammed into a pointy toebox, they “got it.” It doesn’t take a degree in biomechanics to recognize just how awesome it is to be able to wiggle your toes and push off with your entire forefoot. Every pair of Altra’s gets a leg-up due to that feature alone.
I truly do feel like the new Olympus isn’t compromising speed and efficiency in any way. I can speed up or slow down and climb or descend in complete comfort and confidence. They feature a smooth stride and comfort galore.
Something that’s a little bit of a bother with the 2.0’s are the laces. For some reason, they don’t slide very easily through the eyelets. It’s easy to get pressure points and sometimes it’s difficult to take them off without manually pulling several levels of laces, one at a time. In addition, and more vexing, is the instability I’ve felt on the trail. Most of the time, these ride with comfort and stability, but I seem to roll off obstacles and scree a little more than I’d like. I haven’t had a full ankle roll yet, but I’ve tipped over halfway on several occasions. A full ankle roll could potentially be more devastating from a higher perch, so it is certainly worth mentioning.
On a recent run, the Vibram soles were tested for their mud-shedding capabilities. The soft clay soil on one of the trails I run has a tendency of turning any shoes into platform shoes in a jiffy. I was pleasantly surprised that these soles never allowed for that extreme of a mud build-up. In fact, they shed mud quite well — thus maintaining excellent traction at all times.
Note on fit: As with all my running shoes, I size up a half size. For me, the size 11’s were true-to-size and offered me just the right wiggle room for comfort.
- Vibram soles deliver traction for days
- Foot Shape Toebox is worth the price of admission
- Excellent breathability
- Sheds mud with ease
- Perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness
- Seem just slightly more unstable than I’d like
- Laces don’t pull freely through eyelets
The Bottom Line: Altra Olympus 2.0
I’ve had a tendency to grab these shoes, when given the choice, more often than any other shoes I have on the shelf. Once you run in Altra’s Foot Shaped toebox, zero drop and extra comfort, it’s hard to go back to a regular shoe. The Olympus 2.0 certainly improves on the original in every way.
Buy Now: Available at AltraFootwear.com
The evolution in the Olympus series has brought significant improvements to the design. In particular, the Vibram outsole is fantastic and the overall comfort and efficiency is hard to beat.