Updated: Mar 26, 2022
The newly updated Timp 4 provides a nice combination of thick sole with a stiffer ride while maintaining an extremely comfortable and breathable upper
The Timp 4 from Altra is a great option for any trail runner that wants a stiffer feel from the sole while still providing solid protection from obstacles on the trail. It is one of the most cushioned uppers I've ever experienced from a trail shoe and has amazing breathability. However, because it is so breathable a nasty spill on the trail or coming into hard contact with hard roots or rocks could damage the upper because it is so ventilated.
-stiffer, responsive sole
-crazy comfortable support around the ankle
-upper may be susceptible to damage
-not as soft a ride as the Olympus or Lone Peak line
-no spring like the Mont Blanc
Timp 4: Stiff comfort
This is my first excursion into the Timp line from Altra and I am not disappointed. Ever since I got back into running in 2017 I've been a huge fan of Altra. They have been the most durable, comfortable shoes I've worn from any company. They have yet to fail me and as I've transitioned from road to trail running I've started to experiment with every trail shoe offered by Altra.
When your run is going to take you across all kinds of terrain and may take more than 200,000 steps to complete foot-care is paramount. I have completed several 50Ks, three 50-milers, two 100Ks and four 100-mile races. By the end the most strained and fatigued part of my body is my feet. Reliable socks and shoes have gotten me across every finish line and I had on Altras every single one of those races. I continue to experiment with different models to find the best shoe for every trail and race I run.
This review is based on my experience with all of Altras trails shoes currently available, from the minimalist Superior 5 to the titan of cushion and foot protection that is the Olympus 4. Bear that in mind as we go through the details of the Timp 4 as any comparisons will be made to all of these shoes.
If I had to describe the Timp 4 in two words it would be these: stiff comfort. Compared to the Lone Peak 6 or Olympus 4 the Timps have a lot stiffer feel in the midsole. They aren't uncomfortable, but they have a lot stiffer, but responsive feel to them. However, the upper that is in contact with the ankle is soooo comfortable! It has a snug fit, but has a soft comfort feel to it. It is probably the most comfortable upper I have worn.
A breath of fresh air
A long day on the trails can take you through several stream/river crossings, rainstorms, or stagnant heat where every pore in your body is dumping sweat to keep the body cool. In these instances a breathable upper can mean the difference between finishing a run ready to go on the next and dragging yourself across the finish line with blistered and battered feet that look like a cross between ground beef and grandmas prunes. If you've ever run 20 or more miles with water-soaked feet you know what I'm talking about.
You are bound to get wet feet, if you run long enough, if only from sweat build-up. The Timp 4's have the most breathable uppers of any trail shoe I've worn to date. In Idaho we don't ask if it's windy, only which direction it's blowing from. I have literally felt with wind blowing through my shoes, across my feet, and actively cool them down. It actually feels amazing and almost like barefoot running (which I absolutely love). I am currently writing this from a good friend's house in Washington State and he prepared a nice, muddy stream in his back yard for me to test out dry-times in these shoes.
It was about 40 degrees outside, but sunny when I did my run after tearing through the stream. By then end of my hour-long training session the shoes were mostly dry and my socks were just damp. You shouldn't have any problems getting these to dry out to a decent level in a short time if you happen across any significant amount of water in your training.
The downside to the quick-dry air mesh is that it may be more susceptible to damage than the other trail uppers. Take this next bit with a grain of salt, however, because my experience occurred while playing soccer and I kicked cement edging. I ripped a hole in my new Timps that only had about 20 miles on them, but I kicked that sucker hard and it is a small hole. It probably would have happened to any other upper if I had done the same to it. Of note my foot was fine and I didn't lose a toenail or bruise a toe, so the protection provided by the shoe is top notch!
Get a grip!
I now have over 30 miles of running in these shoes that vary from roads, dirt trails, pined forest single-track, and sidewalks and have not had any problems at all with the trip. The MaxTrac outsole provides all the grip most will ever need. It is only surpassed, in my opinion, by the Vibram Litebase on the brand new Mont Blancs. I am a huge fan of Vibram soles and I have never felt a grip that compares to those shoes.
That being said, I have no qualms with the MaxTracs and would have no hesitation to take these out on any trails I will face this coming running season. I have finished multiple hundred-milers in Lone Peaks, and they sport the same outsole and have never failed me.
Here are the detailed specs for those who need an objective review of the Timp 4s:
Weight: 10.9 oz/ 308 g
Midsole: Altra EGO™ MAX
Stack Height: 29 mm
Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh
If you want a stiffer feel to your shoe with no sacrifice to comfort the Timp 4 is a fantastic shoe. I don't feel like you can go wrong with Altra as they have provided me with the most durable, comfortable shoes I have found to date. The price tags continue to climb in shoes, but they are still cheaper than a single 100 mile race entry fee, so maybe I shouldn't complain.
If you want a more comfortable ride (think running on clouds or marshmallows) then I'd personally go with the Lone Peak 6 or Olympus 4 if money is no object. For those who feel more secure with a stiff or springy ride the Timp 4 or Mont Blanc is for you. If you need minimalist shoes with a blend between the two then Superiors are the way to go. Whatever you choose, get out on those trails and put some miles on your shoes!