|Rating:||8.4 / 10|
|Comfort||1.8 / 2|
|Durability||1.6 / 2|
|Support Stability||1.7 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Value for Money||1.6 / 2|
Over the past few months I have been testing out the Altra Olympus 3.5 trail runners. The Altra Olympus is a model I had been trying to get a hold of for the past three years but for one reason or another, including my need for a size 15, I could never manage to get a pair.
Many people will be familiar with the better known Altra Lone Peaks which are currently firmly entrenched in the long distance hiking scene and with good reason. As much as I love them I find I just need a bit more cushioning underfoot. I have also tried the Altra Timps which are essentially a model that sits in between the Lone Peak and the Olympus ranges as far as cushioning is concerned, but for a number of reasons they just didn’t suit me.
The Olympus 3.5 has many features in common with the other trail running options from Altra. A ‘zero drop’ (your feet don’t slope from back to front) which is a common feature of Altra shoes, a narrow/medium rear foot fit, a wide toe box, a velcro gaiter trap at the rear, and a gaiter hook at the front which means that even as trail runner they can be used in areas where snakes are a concerned.
Altra is mainly known for two key features with their shoes. The first being the ‘zero drop’ which is also know as barefoot running and simulates walking/running in bare feet. If you haven’t used this feature then try it out slowly as many people can have issues with Plantar Fasciitis having become used to standard shoes that mainly have a drop (slight or otherwise) from the heel to the toe. The other main feature is the wide toe box which provides them with a very unique look. If you are into long distance hiking, your feet can often swell at least a full size and this wide toe box allows your feet to breathe and expand which is a feature I love.
Now to the specifics. When you look at these shoes the first thing you notice is the very, very chunky sole. In fact these shoes have 33 mm of rubber underfoot so if you haven’t used such a cushioned shoe before, the thing you will notice is you will feel like there is a bounce in your step as the rubber compresses and uncompresses when you walk. They also make you feel like you are leaning back and it took me a couple of days to get used to them. Many people don’t like this zero drop feature and if you have an issue with Plantar Fasciitis then I wouldn’t recommend them.
These shoe are very, very comfortable. One criticism of shoes with this amount of cushioning is that you potentially lose a bit of traction and feel for the ground you are walking. In my case I found the Olympus 3.5’s to have good grip (not as much as the Lone Peaks) while still providing good ground sensitivity. The shoe feels light to wear, they breathe well and dry out quickly when they get wet. And they can be worn straight out of the box without having to add any inserts or wear them in.
The Olympus 3.5’s come in a very large range of sizings all the way up to size 15 US which is what I wear so they are going to be available for most hikers. Having said that most retailers in Australia don’t carry the very large sizes in stock (the average shoe size for men is around size 10.5 US). So you may have to look elsewhere and in my case I purchased through Amazon Australia which sources the shoes directly for Altra in the US. The sizing runs ever so slightly small so if you have any doubt go up a size – if buying online then source from a supplier that has a good return policy if you aren’t sure on your size. The colours on these shoes are reasonably unique and once you know what an Altra shoe, is you can spot them a mile away!
I have also tested the Hoka footwear which also sports a high level of rubber underfoot but the Hoka’s suit people with smaller, narrower feet which is not me.
Now for the negatives. I could only really find one negative and that was the thick soft rubber compound that makes up the soles of the show that make these shoes so comfortable, wears more quickly than I would like. While I have only worn these shoes for around 4oo km based on the current wear rate, I estimate they will only last around 800 km before they lose support and grip (This pair of shoes ended up lasting 900km and it was the loss of support and cushioning that did them in). Most of my trail trail runners will last at least 1000+ km. From my perspective, the comfort these shoes provide outweighs the shorter lifespan.
These shoes won’t suit everyone but for me these shoes are one of the best I have used in the past three years and usually I test around 5-6 shoe models a year. Unless I can find something better, this shoe will accompany me on my long distance hikes during 2020.
Yes. These shoes have now become one of my two go-to options for my hiking needs and are what I am planning to wear on my 2020 long distance hikes
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If you have used the Altra Olympus 3.5 Men’s Trail Running Shoe or if you have questions, we’d like to hear from you. Post your comment or question below
Altra Olympus 3.5 Men’s Shoes
Altra Olympus 3.5 heel and toe view. Note the velco Gaiter Trap on the left shoe which is about twice the size of other Altra models allowing heavier snake proof gaiters to be used with these shoes
Altra Olympus 3.5 shoe front and lacing. The toe guard on the shoe front will protect you from all but the hardest kick
Altra Olympus 3.5 shoe insert
Altra Olympus 3.5 shoe sole
Close up of lugs of the sole of the Altra Olympus 3.5
Lugs on the sole of the Altra Olympus 3.5 after 400 km of use
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by Australian Hiker