Thursday, May 17, 2018

Altra Olympus 2.5 - Product Review

As always I'm not going to talk about things you can read about on other websites. I would want to share pointers which are not out there at the moment wrt this shoe.

Fit - Get Half-Size Bigger!

Straight up - I found out that the fit is indeed a bit smaller than the standard US9 for my feet - so if you've had confusion & doubts because you read different reviews from different websites, trust me get half-size bigger than your normal sizing. Having said that it's a bit interesting for my case actually because my left foot is actually half-size smaller, it was perfect for the left... the right, however, yearned for a shoe half-size bigger.

My solution is just to wear thinner socks. (I would recommend injinjis or stiegen)

And with such fitting, my poor right foot has been suffering bit more toe-crushing during the hill descends compared to my left - and I kept tightening the shoe-laces to ensure the mid-section is as secured as possible, holding the feet in place & not the toes keep jamming into the shoes, give the toes room to splay.

Having said that the uphill grip is actually pretty damn fantastic. The foot/shoe synergy was fabulous during the uphill climbs because the shoe/feet are more aligned.

But with the extra half-size, one could wear thicker socks and the toe-crushing during downhills won't be as bad.

The shoes will feel a bit puffed up cushiony from the box as well - and everything would feel a bit tight. I even contemplated wearing the shoes without the insert at first - it was THAT fluffed. New shoes I suppose. As I finished up my 3rd run in these shoes, I know the material has been stretched and the cushioning dampened by a fraction... and it is now slowly moulding to my sole/feet a bit more & hopefully I continue to develop that synergy between feet & shoes. All this, in addition to the half-size issue, made me think hard & long whether I've made a mistake with the sizing and the choice of shoe!

Heel Cushioning - Going Downhill

So I circled out the area where it was causing skin abrasion during the downhills. The extra heel cushioning held the feet well during uphill, however during downhills, this extra cushion would jab into the back of your feet and cause abrasion. Which was what happend to me. Way round it? wear sufficiently protective socks! Thin injinjis didn't cut it. I would probably need to add extra tape on my ankle as well around that area.

Grip - Muddy Terrain

So I'm hoping the pictures will show that yea it was pretty muddy - and yea the grip was SUPERB. I guess many shoes with deep talons would do well in these conditions, it wasn't as if it could grip even on a log or stone with slippery surface.. (yet to find a shoe that will!)

Compared to TOPO MT2

I do feel that TOPO does feel a fraction snuggier. hmm.. perhaps its because TOPO uses softer material, the Olympus does feel much hardier in terms of overall material. The few times the VIBRAM sole brushed against my legs, it felt rough and tough.. like it would last forever. I wouldn't be able to say the same about the TOPO's sole..

The shoe-shape design is very similar but not 100% the same as welll..

I've yet to fully test how well both shoes drains, and whether the upper material dries out quick. But judging from the material itself, my guess would be the TOPO.

Still early days to be honest.. and that's all I have for now, hope you've found this early review useful anyhoo.. thanks for reading.

Happy running folks!


So with the increasing mileage I'm gathering with these shoes - I am finding the INSERT is adding another layer of cushioning & thickness that's pushing the overall feet against the upper. And it has been uncomfortable to say the least - downhill especially. The toes get jammed way too much etc. So with all the above factors combined, ie. smaller sizing, jabbing heel support... the best workaround so far I have is simply...

Remove the insert
Wear protective socks

The roominess of the shoes for my overall feet is absolutely improved when I remove the insert, its just the shape of my feet vs the design I suppose. So if you have similar challenges, you can try this method too..

By removing the insert it also means the feet is closer to the ground, and for a maximalist shoe - this is going to help with the tech downhills where you want cushioning but also not lose that ground-feel too much - for better stability & control.

As for socks, I splurged further & bought these Drymax Lite Trail Run 1/4 Crew online - thinking the fold-down or turn-down would add the extra layer of protection against the jabbing heel cushion... we shall see whether my theory works after this weekend.. (update: it worked! however hotspots were developing at heel area during technical descents.. the lack of sole locking in heel movement would be the likely reason ~ will need to resort to taping to overcome that.. )

The insert is decent quality & provides extra cushioning.. 

Shaving that extra few millimetres for the toes were absolutely necessary in my case.. 

Just a pic to show what I think is a normal feet that I own.. 
Drymax.. unfortunately only found online in Aus (as far as I know)

UPDATE - almost a year later.. (yes I haven't been running much so help me God!)

So almost a year later.. this shoe has been through 600++km now & I thought it would be a good idea to share how it now looks like! Never mind that there's already 2 version of Altra since 2.5 - it might serve as a good reference of how recent versions would wear out.. :)

So the wear-out points for me were...

  1. Big toe joint area - my left foot is smaller so it's only the right shoe that has suffered in this area.. pretty big tear on the side upper.. I've done a bit of DIY sewing to hold it in place (don't judge me!))
  2. Little toe area - both shoes have similar tears showing.. and will continue to tear
  3. Heel cushioning area - natural wear & tear.. it has made the area softer & no longer jabs painfully into my heel like it used to.. 

Pretty obvious these tear points were due to the shape of my feet, so if yours measure similarly against mine - it's worth noting that the upper of 2.5 will wear out in these areas..

Few more 20ks & I should be retiring them for neighborhood runs (still plenty of cushioning left!) - I must say the grip/cushioning has remained the plus point throughout.

And the only minus point I can think of would be the narrow heel base = less stable - which they've fixed in later versions. And make sure you get a half-size up. I've heard that version 3.0 fits similarly to the 2.5. And the 3.5 fits differently again.. might be good idea to hit the shops if you're shopping for the Olympus.

1 comment:

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