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Trail Running Gear Reviews

First Impression – Altra Olympus 2.0

Altra Olympus 2.0

Altra Olympus 2.0

I haven’t been shy in the past, around anyone that will listen, about the previous generations of the Altra Olympus (the 1.0 and 1.5) and my general opinion of those versions of the shoe is that while they are meant to be a hybrid road/trail shoe, they are too heavy for the road and have really terrible traction for the trail, so they just aren’t really good for either.

DisclosureThis post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you make purchases after clicking on any links. These shoes were provided to me by Altra for the purposes of this review.  All opinions and written content are my own (unless otherwise noted).

That being said, I’ve been running in them since they were originally released and I find them to be a decent recovery shoe thanks to their maximal cushioning, and they are Altras after all which means they are zero drop with a foot shaped toe box, so that makes them better than most other shoes.  If I had to grade the previous generations, they would get a C (an F for weight and traction and an A for zero drop and foot shaped toe box – averaging out to a solid C).

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who provided that feedback to Altra, and if the new Altra Olympus 2.0 is any indication, they have clearly listened to the feedback and completely overhauled the shoe to address what I thought were both of it’s biggest faults.

Altra recently sent me a pair of the new Altra Olympus 2.0 to try out, and I finally had a chance to test them out on the trails.  I will be following this up with a more in-depth, long term review once I’ve had a chance to put a few hundred miles on them, but a lot of people have been asking me about the shoes so I thought I would share my initial impressions here while you wait for me to log more miles.

Specs

On paper, the Altra Olympus 2.0 shares similar specs as previous generations (and other Altras) with what would appear to be a few minor updates.  What may not be obvious here (and the biggest improvements in my mind) are the weight reduction and new outsole.

Technical Specs (from altrarunning.com)

  • Weight: 11.0 oz./ 312 g.
  • Cushioning: Max
  • Stack Height: 36mm
  • Sizes: 7, 8–13, 14, 15
  • Ideal Uses: Trail Running, Hiking, Fastpacking, Trail Racing
  • Designed To Improve: Running Form, Toe Splay, Stability, Push-off, Comfort, Traction
  • Last: SD6-M
  • Midsole: Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • Outsole: Trail Specific Sticky Rubber
  • Insole: 5mm Contour Footbed
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Trail Mesh

Other Features: Natural Ride System, GaiterTrap™ Technology

Weight

Altra Olympus 2.0 Weight

Altra Olympus 2.0 Weight

This was one of my two major issues with the previous generations of the shoe, and I’m happy to report that this shoe is lighter than both previous generations.  What makes it especially noteworthy is that the weight is finally going in the right direction.  Altra aficionados may recall that the Olympus 1.5 was actually heavier than the Olympus 1.0 which ironically was a side-effect of trying to improve traction by adding more depth to the tread pattern.  The end result being that the traction was still terrible (because the design was inherently flawed) AND the shoes were heavier.  Fortunately, both of those issues were addressed, and the shoe is a more respectable weight.  In my case, as you can see on the scale, a size 10.5 Altra Olympus 2.0 came in at 11.2 ounces, just .2 ounces heavier than the claimed weight (which may have been based on a smaller size).

Outsole

Altra Olympus 2.0 Outsole

Altra Olympus 2.0 Outsole

My other gripe with the previous generations of the Olympus was the traction.  If you were running on anything besides road or very smooth fire road, the shoes didn’t do anything to inspire confidence, or keep you from slipping and sliding down the trail.  The wet rock traction was non-existent, and any loose gravel on the trail made for quite the adventure.  Ever since the rumors of a Vibram sole first surfaced, and then seeing the Olympus 2.0 at Outdoor Retailer earlier this year, I’ve been dying to get my feet in a pair and see if they finally solved the traction problem.  Ladies and Gentleman, I’m happy to report that Altra has indeed!

My initial run in these shoes was at dusk on a local trail that thanks to recent weather, provided me literally every type of surface and condition possible in a single run.  Dry, wet, dirt, mud, snow, slush, ice, rocks, gravel, fire road, and pavement.  Once I got the shoes dialed-in, I found myself initially being cautious as the conditions varied, to actively trying to make myself slip, without success.  I was running through puddles and then jumping immediately up on to rocks to see if they would hold – they did, and I pounded through snow, slush, and ice without a trace of a slip or loss of traction.

Vibram Megagrip

Vibram Megagrip

I have to admit, Altra partnering up with Vibram for the Megagrip outsole is probably one of the best things Altra has ever done, since the whole zero drop, foot shaped toe box thing anyways!  I am thoroughly impressed with the grip AND the tread design (which you may notice is very similar to the highly rated Superior 2.0 tread design), and I look forward to (hopefully) seeing this sole make it’s way to the rest of the product line, in particular, I’d love to see it on the Lone Peak.

Summary

I’ve only had a single run in these shoes so far, so I can’t comment on durability but overall I’m impressed with this update to the Olympus and I personally think it will help the model out significantly, and hopefully some of the technology will cascade down to some of the other models.  I feel like the sweet spot for these shoes may be the back half of a 50 or 100 miler, recovery runs during training (day 2 of your back to backs), or if you just feel like a plush ride.  As I put more miles on the shoes, I’ll have a better sense of where exactly they excel, but based on prior experience with the model, that’s my hunch at this point.

If you are an existing Olympus wearer, then you are going to love the Altra Olympus 2.0.  If you tried the Olympus in the past and hated it, I urge you to give the Olympus 2.0 a second chance as I think you’ll be impressed.  All the other good things about the Olympus are still there, the zero drop, foot shaped toe box and gaiter trap but now the traction and weight issues have been addressed.

Here is a short list of my likes and dislikes so far, keeping in mind these could change over time as I put more miles on the shoes:

Likes:

  • Traction
  • Stickiness
  • Colors
  • Smooth ride

Dislikes:

  • Still heavy – A similar Hoka is upwards of 2oz lighter
  • Stiff upper – Maybe this will soften up over time, but I had a hard time adjusting the laces and balancing heel slippage with squeezing my feet too much (yes, I was using the heel lock lacing method)
  • Lack of trail feel – Hard to have a smooth ride and feel the trail though, so this is expected

Have you tried out the new Altra Olympus 2.0?  Let me know what you think in the Comment section below!

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2 Comments

  1. John

    I am a big Altra fan and love the Lone Peak 2.5. I have been running in the Alympus 1.5 and a little disappointed. The short tongue make’s it difficult to use the heel lock method and for some weird reason the when tightened down on my left foot. It creates an irritation on the top of the left foot. Tried to fix it with various lacing techniques and even cutting part of the inside tongue, which seemed rough. Hopefully they fixed that in the 2.0. Otherwise it’s a great long distance/recovery runner.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting John. I think you’ll find the Olympus 2.0 is improved in many ways compared to previous generations. For what it’s worth, I’ve had no issues doing the heel lock lacing on the 2.0.

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