The Altra Olympus 2.5 is a shoe that, for me, changed the experience of long distance trail running. Packing a staggering 37mm of underfoot multi layered cushioning, it makes running jagged rocky trails feel like galloping on clouds. What impressed me even more though, was the incredible energy return provided with each stride. Combine these elements with the traction and durability provided by a Vibram megagrip outsole, and you’ve got a shoe that has what it takes to bring your distance trail running game to the next level.
|A Quick Overview|
|32mm dual layer midsole, plus a 5mm insole combine forces to create the smoothest ride I’ve ever felt.|
Energy return that makes each stride as easy as the one that came before it.
Renowned Vibram megagrip outsole provides great traction on most surfaces, and won’t wear down.
A new look that will be far more appealing than previous versions to most.
Zero drop platform and wide toe box allow for a natural running gait.
|Feels a little clunky on technical terrain and lateral movements.|
Sizing runs a bit short.
Some runners may not appreciate the lack of feeling the terrain underfoot.
Comfort: 11/10 (Yeah, I did that)
We’ll start with the obvious highlight here. This is the section where this shoe really steals the show. I have had the opportunity to run in a pretty fair variety of shoes from many different companies at this point. Each have their strong points and their weak points. So when I come across one that is easily the best in any section, it really stands out to me. And I have to say that this is easily the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn in my life.
Every time your foot strikes the ground, it feels like it is sinking into a luxurious pillow top mattress. I actually wish that my mattress was as comfortable as these shoes. In fact, when I first started running in them, I was concerned that it would take all of the energy out of my stride. I quickly learned that it had the opposite effect.
When your foot first makes contact with the ground, the insole feels like stepping into clouds. As you move through the first half of your stride, the first layer of midsole feels more like lavish memory foam; cradling your foot as is slows it to a gentle halt in downward momentum. Finally, as you’re moving into your toe off, the second layer of midsole acts as though it has stored all of the energy of your downward stride. I then returns it to you like a spring when you push off.
In addition to the platform of luxury underfoot, the newly redesigned upper is plush with minimal seams. I never felt a hot spot form, regardless of the distance I was running that day. In fact, my feet never once got sore while running in these shoes. A light, breathable fabric is used through a good portion of the upper, allowing good air flow to keep your feet dry. Synthetic overlays keep your foot in place, preventing friction rub. Finally, the foot shape toe box that allows for natural toe splay while running prevents foot cramping and blisters.
Essentially, this shoe is the Bentley of trail shoes. Extreme luxury overlaying an unexpectedly powerful engine that turns long hard miles into an easy cruise.
When it comes to traction, these shoes are perfect for what they’re designed for. Running over packed trails is no problem. Rough and rocky terrain? Easy. Even on wet grass and pavement there were no issues at all. This all stems from the intelligently designed outsole. At the base of the heel and the front of the toes, ribs of gripping rubber streak across the entire breadth of the sole. This allows for a strong bite into the surface when your foot is landing, and when toeing off into your next stride. Through the midfoot, there is more of a lug design to the outsole, ensuring that your foot won’t slip midstride.
The only problem (that I’ve found) comes in when faced with deeper mud. A little mud is no problem, but when trying to run through more than ½ inch of the nasty stuff, I did notice some foot slippage. So if your usual running trails consist of swamps, you may want to look for a shoe with longer lugs. Otherwise, these will do the trick.
Foot Protection: 10/10
I can’t imagine what you could run into on the trails that could injure your feet in these monsters. Underfoot, you’re looking at a 32mm dual density midsole that will keep whatever you’re running over from affecting your run. This is stacked on top of a hard rubber outsole that will stop most rocks and roughage in their tracks. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Altra incorporated a sandwiched stonegaurd rock protection system next to the foot. With roughly 70 miles logged in these shoes already on some of the toughest terrain around, I have yet to encounter anything that felt painful underfoot. If you’re still feeling unsafe, a built in gaiter-trap will allow you to strap a gaiter on to keep anything from getting in from the top.
This is another section in which these shoes are perfect, if being used for what they’re made for. These are distance running shoes. If you’re looking for something for cross training at the gym, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. There is simply too much underfoot to provide the stability needed for sharp lateral movements.
That being said, when used in their proper field, they’re hard to beat. A wide base keeps your foot stable through your gait cycle. Flex grooves built into the outsole ensure that the proper area of the foot is being kept in contact with the ground, while also making your stride feel natural. A zero drop platform keeps your body in alignment, preventing many of the common injuries caused by running with higher heel to toe differentials. Additionally, a fitted heel and midfoot keep your foot in place, while a wide toe box allows your toes to splay out naturally. This enables your body to rely on its built in systems for stability.
Altra has made some major updates in the look of these shoes since previous models. That’s a very good thing, because the first model needed some definite style updates. But they’ve improved with each version to come out, and I think most everyone would agree with me that these are the best looking ones yet.
A nice bright blue with more subtle grey insignia gives them a modern look. An organic, curved platform with crosshatched overlays gives them a natural but sporty feel. The only downside on the looks is unavoidable with a max cushion shoe like this, which is the large base. They’ve done a good job of making the oversized midsole look natural, but it’s impossible to take away the fact that it is still bulky. Overall though, I definitely like the updated look of this version.
Final Score: 45/50
A Brief Sumary:
To summarize, the only real disadvantage to this shoe is the lack of versatility in purpose. It is a trail running shoe, through and through. If that is what you’re in the market for, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a shoe that you’ll be more impressed with. If you’re looking for a shoe that you can do crossfit or play basketball in, look for something with a lower stack height. But for the dedicated trail runner, the Olympus offers a level of comfort and energy return that I’ve simply never felt before in a shoe.
The Olympus 2.5 is available for $150 and you can find some sales online. However to find the size you want try here or click on our affiliate link on the border of our website.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Altra Olympus 2.5’s via Spotter Up. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.