I’ve had plenty of experience with Altra, and their latest model, the Olympus 5 was already part of my running shoe rotation for 7 months.
Still, I wanted to put these shoes through more rigorous testing so I took them on two of my longest runs ever – a 25-mile run around Silver Lake in California and an 18-mile trek through Muir Woods National Monument.
After long hours on foot, I found that the shoe performed beyond expectations.
Both trails have varied terrain, so it was tough enough to truly explore where these shoes excel and fall short.
The thick compression-molded EVA midsole provided maximum impact absorption while still delivering a responsive feel as I transitioned from one stride into another.
While they became a bit hot when I pushed my hardest, the shoes felt light and breezy most of the time, and I had a great time running in them.
So, that being said, if you are looking for your next pair of top-notch trail running shoes, let’s delve into this Altra Olympus 5 review, where I will give you more info on how these shoes performed during my testing.
- FootShape™ toe box
- Balanced Cushioning™ platform
- Vibram® Megagrip outsole
Things We Tested When We Reviewed Altra Olympus 5
Constructed with engineered mesh and a compression-molded EVA midsole, the Altra Olympus 5 is a durable trail shoe built to withstand long miles on rugged terrain. In my testing, I found the upper to be highly resistant to wear and tear, even on rocky, technical terrain.
Unfortunately, I did notice some signs of wear on the exposed midsole after extensive use. This may be a concern for those who frequently run on highly technical trails, but overall, the shoe’s durability was good.
The new Olympus 5 features a Vibram MegaGrip outsole with moderately deep lugs, providing excellent grip on a variety of surfaces.
During my tests on technical terrain, I noticed a significant improvement in traction compared to the previous version.
The Vibram outsole performed exceptionally well on wet rocks and loose gravel, making these Altra shoes suitable for both moderately technical terrain and more challenging paths .
One minor drawback I noticed is that the exposed midsole in the front third of the shoe can wear down faster than the rest of the outsole, potentially reducing overall adherence in the long run, but this is not so uncommon with shoes in the same price range.
The Olympus 5 excels in comfort, offering a well-cushioned shoe for long distances. The EVA padding and Ego Max technology provide ample cushioning and support, while the zero shoe drop promotes a more natural feel during runs.
The only potential downside is that the cushioning may feel too soft, particularly for runners who prefer a firmer, more responsive ride.
Except for really hot days, the engineered mesh upper of the Altra Olympus 5 ensured good breathability when I was tackling long distances.
In my testing, I found that my feet stayed cool and dry, even in warm conditions.
This breathability sets it apart from waterproof models, making it an excellent choice for runners who prioritize ventilation in their trail shoes.
The Altra Olympus 5 is a relatively lightweight trail shoe, weighing 1 lb. 8.6 oz. This weight is comparable to other trail shoes in its class, making it suitable for those who prefer a lighter shoe for long distances.
While not the lightest option available, the Olympus 5 strikes a good balance between weight and cushioning, providing adequate protection without feeling cumbersome on the feet.
The Olympus 5 provides ample support for long runs on technical terrain, with its cushioned EVA middle sole layer and zero-drop promoting a natural running gait.
The heel tab and gusseted tongue help keep the foot securely in place, reducing the risk of injury in the Achilles tendon area, while the Vibram outsole offers an excellent grip and protection on moderate trails.
The Altra Olympus 5 does not have any specific waterproofing features, which can be both positive and negative, depending on your preference.
On one hand, this means that the shoe will dry out faster if it gets wet, and it also contributes to its breathability.
On the other hand, if you frequently run in wet conditions or require a waterproof trail shoe, the lack of waterproofing might be an issue.
8. Fit and Sizing
During my Altra Olympus 5 review, I found the fit and sizing to be consistent with all Altra shoes.
The wide toe box provided ample space for high-volume feet, which is a signature feature of Altra’s Original Fit series.
The heel counter and gusseted tongue kept my feet securely in place, minimizing heel slippage during long descents on technical paths.
While these zero-drop shoes feel a bit tighter compared to more cushioned Altra models like the Lone Peak, most folks should find the fit comfortable and true to size.
Also, longtime Altra fans will appreciate the slipper-like feel the shoe provides.
How It Evolved?
The Altra Olympus 5 has seen significant improvements from its predecessor, the Olympus 4. The three most notable differences are enhanced cushioning, increased stability, and better overall performance.
The Olympus 5 features a more aggressive Vibram outsole for improved adherence across various terrains. Additionally, the updated midsole offers increased cushioning for added comfort during long runs compared to the more standard EVA foam the previous model had.
Lastly, the newly engineered mesh upper provides superior breathability and support, making it a more advanced trail running shoe compared to the previous version.
How Does it Compare with Other Products?
Altra Lone Peak 7
The Altra Olympus 5 and Altra Peak 7 share similarities in their zero-shoe-drop design and wide toe box.
However, the Olympus 5 has a higher stack height (33mm) providing more cushioning for long-distance runs.
The $150 Lone model is lighter and offers a more nimble feel on technical terrain, while the Olympus 5’s Vibram outsole provides a superior grip.
The Olympus 5 is better suited for runners prioritizing comfort and underfoot protection, while its sibling caters to those seeking a more agile trail shoe.
Altra Mont Blanc
The Altra Mont Blanc ($180) is designed for mountain running, offering a stiffer, more durable construction compared to the Olympus 5.
It features a sticky rubber outsole and a rock plate for protection on rocky terrain, while the Olympus 5 has a softer, more cushioned midsole for comfort during long runs.
The Mont Blanc’s snug fit and added support make it a better option for tackling steep inclines and uneven surfaces, but it comes at a slightly higher price. The Olympus 5 excels in providing a smooth ride on less technical trails.
Hoka Speedgoat 5
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 ($155) is known for its exceptional cushioning and grip, much like the Altra Olympus 5.
However, the Speedgoat 5 has a narrower toe box and a more traditional heel-to-toe drop, which may not suit all runners.
The Olympus 5’s wider toe box allows for a more natural foot movement, while its thicker cushioning provides added protection on rocky surfaces.
Both shoes perform well on moderate terrains, but the Olympus 5 may be better suited for those who prefer Altra’s signature foot-shaped design and zero-drop philosophy.
Where Altra Olympus 5 Performs Better?
The Altra Olympus 5 excels in long-distance trail runs where comfort, cushioning, and stability are of paramount importance.
Its aggressive outsole and ample cushioning provide excellent protection on rocky, uneven terrain, while the wide toe box and zero-drop platform promote a more natural running stride.
The breathable upper and durable construction make the Olympus 5 a reliable choice for ultra-runners and those tackling challenging trails that demand both support and comfort.
Where Altra Olympus 5 Falls Short in Performance?
Even though the Altra Olympus 5 is a multifaceted trail running shoe, which works well off-season, it struggles to perform well on highly steep or muddy terrain, where an advanced outsole or rock plate could be essential for achieving maximum adherence and safety.
Moreover, its dense cushioning might seem less responsive when compared to lighter, more nimble trail shoes, resulting in a less ideal choice for high-speed runs or shorter distances.
Do We Recommend It?
We also like that they fit on various hiking boots and footwear, giving everyone the confidence they need to walk outdoors in icy areas securely.
With a 33mm stack height and a zero drop design, this shoe proved more reliable than the previous Altra Olympus I’ve tested over the years.
It provided good adherence on steep and dry surfaces, the laces were just as flexible as I needed them, and the new midsole took comfort to a new level.
They are a bit soft, which slightly cancels out the barefoot feel some may expect, but they have a wide toebox that creates a more relaxed fit for the whole shoe.
The $170 Olympus 5 isn’t designed for mountaineering adventures, but from my tests, it is a solid option for ultra-runners or those who prefer a well-cushioned, zero-drop trail shoe with Altra’s signature foot-shaped design.