Altra Timp 5 trail running shoe | Tested and reviewed

Gear expert James Forrest puts the Altra Timp 5 to the test in the wild trails of the Lake District

from Altra
RRP  £121.49
Star ratings for Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

by lfto |
Updated on

Altra says the Timp 5 will enable runners to “harness the grip, comfort and confidence you need for a full day on epic trails”, adding it’ll inspire you to “make dust clouds, jump rocks and run forever”. This all sounds awesome, and the zero-drop devotees at LFTO are sure that this is one of the best trail running shoes of 2024. But is the Timp 5 really the right shoe for you?

Altra is a brand with a distinct philosophy. It is all about two things: a zero-drop platform and a spacious foot-shaped toebox. The former means the shoe has the same height in the heel and the forefoot, a minimalist style designed to give a balanced stride and a level platform for each step. The latter enables the toes to relax, splay and move in a natural way, without being compressed or restricted, as is the case in much footwear.

Such an approach is polarising. Fans of the brand claim Altra’s wide toebox delivers superb comfort for big mileage runs, while the zero-drop platform helps rekindle your body’s natural biomechanics (rather than being put off-kilter by excessive cushioning and support). Critics, however, say the toebox is too roomy and imprecise for technical ground, while the zero drop style risks lower leg injuries and takes a long time to re-adjust to. Which side of the fence will you fall on?



  • Innovative design
  • Lightweight
  • Wide comfy toebox
  • Grippy Vibram outsole


  • Zero drop approach will polarise opinion
  • No waterproof version
  • Lugs not the deepest


The uppers of the Altra Timp 5 are made from a lightweight and breathable mesh, which delivers good levels of comfort and feels reasonably durable. It’s perhaps not the softest and most flexible, but for most runners it will work well. You get minimalist TPU overlays at the toe and heel, with a semi-wraparound design. These add a touch of toughness where required, ensuring the shoe copes well with rocky and rugged terrain.

Side profile upper of Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

The tongue is comfortable enough, and has a stretchy bellows-style flap at each side for a sock-like, snug fit around the top of the foot. Internally the toebox is pretty roomy, but – by Altra’s usual super-wide standards – the Timp 5 is narrower, less voluminous and more dialled-in than many other pairs. If you have very wide feet, or particularly love the over-sized toebox of other Altra shoes, the Timp 5 might not hit the mark for you. We found it very comfortable, however.


Before we get to the specifics, it’s important to make a distinction between “barefoot” footwear and “zero-drop” footwear. It’s easy to mistakenly think they are one and the same, but they aren’t. Barefoot brands such as Vivobarefoot and Xero Shoes make stripped-back footwear with no cushioning, designed to allow your feet to move more naturally, almost as if they were barefoot. Altra’s shoes, conversely, do feature underfoot cushioning, albeit with the same amount of cushioning stack height at the heel and forefoot, so the drop is zero.

Side profile and midsole of Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

Indeed, Altra don’t really use the term zero-drop in their marketing and instead refer to it as “balanced cushioning”. The Altra Timp 5 has a 29mm stack height of Altra EGO Max foam in the midsole, which provides “light and luxurious performance with a little extra bounce and added durability”. This adds a decent level of cushion and zip underfoot, but we’d describe the all-round cushioning as moderate compared to super-bouncy, mega-cushioned trail running shoes such as Hokas. The flip side is that the moderate 29mm stack height strikes a lovely balance between cushioning and “ground-feel”, and you do get some nice underfoot responsiveness with the EGO Max foam.

If you need more or less cushioning, Altra has other options available. It’s three best-selling trail running models are the Olympus, Timp and Lone Peak. In simplistic terms, the Olympus is the most cushioned, the Lone Peak is an excellent minimalist trail running shoe, and the Timp sits in the middle. The standout feature of the Timp 5 is, of course, the zero-drop platform – what Altra calls its “balanced cushioning” platform, which positions your heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground to “encourage better alignment, better form and low impact landing”. This feature is make or break of the shoe. We found it pretty comfortable and manageable during our test runs, but we’re far from zero-drop experts. We usually run in the Inov8 TrailFly, which has a 6mm drop, so our over-riding sensation was the need for more time.

Toebox on Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

We reckon we need to put in many, many more miles to truly re-adjust to a zero-drop platform and, only then, we will be able to provide a full insight into the design’s pros and cons. In terms of stiffness, you get a good amount of flex at the toe, but there is a reasonable amount of rigidity in the midfoot and heel. This helps ensure decent levels of stability and protection. But, all in all, the Timp 5 is more on the lightweight, flexible end of the spectrum.


The Altra Timp 5 comes with a premium quality Vibram Megagrip outsole unit. Altra says this “high performance sticky rubber compound features unparalleled grip on wet and dry surfaces, rugged longevity and optimal ground adaptability”. The lug pattern is quite varied and complex, featuring cleats – up to 4mm deep - shaped like chevrons, pentagons and in a myriad of other angular formations. During our test runs, we were impressed with the traction and bite of the outsole.

Lugs on Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

We found it shed mud well and didn’t collect dirt and grit like some outsoles do, and it held solidly on mixed terrain during ascents and descents, including at slightly higher speeds. But we’d suggest that some outsoles with deeper cleats, such as the inov8 Mudtalon, will provide better grip in muddy, wet conditions, and overall the Timp 5 is probably better suited to hard-packed trails.


Altra took the original Timp 4 model and built the fifth iteration with “the same comfort you love, but dropped a few grams” to ensure a lighter weight, streamlined model. At just 283g per shoe (men’s UK 8), the Timp 5 is definitely ultralight. It’s 44g lighter per shoe than the Scott Kinablu 3 and 52g per shoe lighter than the Inov8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max.

Heels on Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

Other features to note include a pull loop at the heel to help with getting the shoe on and off, and a little Velcro tab at the base of each heel counter, which can be used to secure a trail running gaiter in place, thus preventing debris and dirt entering the shoe.


There is not much information available online about the eco credentials of this shoe. But Altra’s PR team told us that the brand is “working on adding more recycled and sustainable materials” to future versions of the Timp. They added that the Timp 5 does have some recycled content in the lining fabrics and the laces, as well as the packaging materials. As such, it’s safe to suggest that this isn’t the most environmentally conscious trainer on the market, but at least Altra have made a few efforts to improve the eco credentials, and more is planned for the future.

Price and Competition

At £135 the Altra Timp 5 is well-priced, and offers a reasonable saving compared to other trail running trainers (the Arc’teryx Sylan GTX is £95 more expensive and the Asics Trabuco Max 3 is £25 dearer, for example). In terms of performance and comfort, this shoe will polarise opinion. Some will love it, others will despise it – and that’s fine, because Altra has been a Marmite-y brand since its conception.

Altra Timp 5 trail running shoes

Ultimately this shoe is designed for runners who favour the natural feel of a zero-drop platform, as well as the added comfort of a wide toebox for slow, big mileage days. But, for many other runners, the zero-drop approach is a niche world that will take a lot of re-adjusting to. Plus – even if you put in the miles with a zero-drop shoe – there’s a chance it won’t work for you or agree with your body, particularly if you’ve become accustomed to maximalist cushioning, chunky midsoles and high drops over many years. (which, if that's what you're looking for, you should be in our best road-to-trail running shoes article) So it’s a gamble, and one you have to be committed to for the long-term. Is it worth the risk? Only you can decide – but, if you do go for it, Altra is one of the best brands out there for high quality, zero-drop outdoor footwear.


A niche trail running trainer with a distinctive design including a zero-drop platform and wide toebox – but the design may polarise opinion.

How we tested the Altra Timp 5

Our tester for the Altra Timp 5 trail running shoe was James Forrest. James is one of our long-time freelance gear testers both for LFTO and our print magazine, Trail. He puts every shoe through its paces on his local trails in the Lake District, covering enough distance to destroy even the toughest ultra trail running shoe.

James forrest trail running

As well as being a prolific long-distance walker and runner, James is also one of the most high-profile outdoor writers in the UK.

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