Nick our Footwear buyer has been trying out the latest version of the popular Timp from Altra

Over the last 4 months I have been testing a pair of the Timp 4 and it is worth having a quick chat about them as they share many similarities to the Timp 5

First off, they have kept the same foot shape. The shoe is designed around their “Standard” foot shape last which is for Altra a medium width, but compared to other brands it runs on the wider side I think. It is just wide enough for my foot which measures an E width on a Brannock device. They are quite a bit narrower than the Lonepeak which is based on Altra’s “original” foot shape. They size up as normal for length , I measure a 10 UK and a 10 in the Timp 5 fits perfectly

Both shoes are based on the zero-drop principle, this is where the foot sits completely flat in the shoe. Most running shoes have a “drop” between 2 and 8mm which means the heel sits higher inside the shoe compared to the toes by this figure. There are other brands out there using the zero-drop barefoot style of running shoe however Altra are the class leaders in doing it with a heavily cushioned midsole

With a stack height of 29mm the Timp is not unusual for a trail shoe, but it is well cushioned to say the least. I would say that going much higher on the stack height leads to a reduction in how nimble the shoe feels, and on rough ground or really technical trail it can manifest in a feeling of instability as you just don’t feel at one with the terrain under your feet.

A good example is trail running in a pair of dedicated road shoes like the Hoka Clifton 8 with its 36mm stack height and super soft foam, I did one 20 mile run on Dartmoor last summer and felt like I was close to twisting an ankle way too many times as they just wallow around on the uneven ground

The Timp 5 is a bit lighter than the Mk4 which is always a bonus when performance has been improved not compromised. Compared to the Scarpa spin planet I reviewed last summer it feels really light and that is a massive help to me over the marathon distance runs I have been tackling.

The new version of their EGOMAX foam is being used in the 5, which is slightly lighter and slightly bouncier than the old Ego in the mark 4. I like it a lot and it does feel like it gives a little more energy return or bounce, although I had no complaints over the old foam at all having run 350 miles of mixed trail and road in them with no issues over 2 months.

The other big change between the models is the Timp 5 benefits from a liberal coating of Vibram Megagrip rubber on the bottom of it. Now this really does make a difference, especially if you are like me and do a lot of mixed road, lanes and easy trail running. The old Maxtrac rubber on the MK4 was most definitely not the grippiest, especially on wet smooth tarmac or wet slippery rocks. No such problems with the Megagrip, it is a class leader and I have had it on many different shoes and it has only ever performed brilliantly in all conditions.

I feel like the Megagrip on the Timp 5 is even stickier than on the approach shoes I have had in the past and after a few initial slower attempts, I have no issues with jumping on and off wet rock on the trail at pretty much full speed, it inspires that much confidence. I can’t say much about the durability as yet, having only covered 150 miles in them, but they are showing minimal signs of wear on the lugs and I am sure the Timp 4 were more worn than that at the same mileage

The new upper feels quite different to the MK4 version, number one point being that it is a much tighter weave fabric which feels like it has less give. This will no doubt translate to greater durability and overall capacity to hold the foot and provide more control and stability, which it does, but I don’t think it feels quite as nice on the foot. It means that in use the 5 seems a little on the narrow side compared to the 4 when you first put it on.

However, within a matter of 20 miles they did seem to ease up and became ok across the metatarsal heads where they were a bit tight. Overall, I think the structure around the instep and forefoot is better in the 5, however the tongue and collar of the shoe have been downgraded in comfort. The MK4 had a really nice 3D fit version which I feel was comfier especially when running down or up steep gradients. The Timp 5 is also slower to drain as the new fabric holds the water in a little more.

Both versions are the first shoes I have ever used with a zero drop, which took some getting used too, maybe 2 or 3 runs of 6 to 10 miles before I felt like my feet were making proper contact with the ground. Difficult to explain but I felt like the traction in the forefoot was not there for a while, like I was not toeing off the ground properly, this feeling soon went away though and now I feel pretty natural in them.

I am a heavy guy, + 90KG so I (#my knees) really appreciate the generous level of cushioning, they feel pretty good on all surfaces other than really sharp shattered rocky ground where you can sometimes feel a bit of feedback from the odd stone through the midsole where the foam is exposed.  

Deeper mud or peaty areas on the moor they can also struggle with a bit, as the lugs are not that deep at only 4MM, however even on the grim days out, the new Timp 5 did a much better job is the loose terrain and the lug pattern seems to clean up quite well so you are generally not running around with a load of mud stuck to the bottom of the shoe which is good.

The midsole and structure of the Timp 5 does feel a little stiffer than the old version, though I can’t say by much, and they have softened up a little with more use, especially the upper. I prefer the new foam as it offers more rebound and feels a little more lively or racy than the MK4 which was definitely a solid plodder.

The most impressive thing about the Timp, whether it be the 4 or the new 5, is the way they manage to hold your foot and provide good levels of stability whilst still letting your foot spread out and feel super relaxed in the fore foot. I have been doing many long runs in preparation for a couple of ultra-marathons later in the year and have suffered no rub or bruising /tenderness on any parts of my feet since running in the Timps.

Overall, I would recommend the Timp 5 to anyone who wants a great do it all shoe, especially those who prioritise all day comfort over all out performance, wannabe ultra-marathoners take note. I have a lot of shoes to use but I have found that I have been picking the Timps for virtually everything other than the odd Tempo session I might run every other week, so both the old and new versions have had a thorough workout.

The MK4 has now seen nearly 400 miles and the rubber has definitely worn a little faster than I would have hoped although I have done a lot of road and easy gravel type trail in it so maybe it is unfair to say it is not durable, the rest of the shoe has held up ok and the foam still feels great. I think the MK5 is an improvement in most areas of performance especially wet grip and a nimbleness that the MK4 lacked