Alternative to Altra Olympus?
May 15, 2022 at 7:22 am #3749367
I developed a strange and very debilitating foot issue in 2018. There was no definitive diagnosis but, it was thought to be nerve related caused by a back issue or some type of virus. I thought I was done backpacking…or even hiking for that matter. I then discovered the Altra Olympus. It was like a gift from the heavens! Between those and my feet improving, I was able to backpack and hike with impunity…mostly.
I wore out two pair of Olympus 3.0s. (I find them to be very long lasting) Then, version 4 came out, redesigned, and lighter. Perfect. So I thought.
Feels like Altra is using a stiffer foam. These shoes don’t feel as cushy as the 3.5s did nor do they bend as easily in the forefoot. There’s enough of a difference for my feet that I’m not sure I will be able to backpack in them.
Any other highly cushioned shoe out there with good traction and zero drop/no heel rise?May 15, 2022 at 9:30 am #3749368JohanBPL Member
Ah, so another wanderer has found me at the Olympus cave’s dead end. ;)
I don’t think there is any other model of shoe that is max cushion and zero drop, let alone with the same level of traction. Altra has that part of the market cornered to themselves.
To be fair, I found my Oly 4’s to get softer with some use, almost too soft for my needs.
The Hoka Speed Goats are going to be the closest thing you will find, I think. Great traction, but have a heel rise and a funky foot shape for some people.
It really sucks that companies like Altra alter their models too much from generation to generation. Every one of their models has a Goldilocks model version and then they butcher everything people liked about it for future iterations.
Might also be a corporate culture thing as well making Altra ruin previous versions. When they are paying big money to a team of people to develop new/different models and versions I think they can get a sort of sunk-cost fallacy going on. How can employees keep their jobs if they make the perfect shoe and then never have to work on it again, or for a long time. I’ve seen this happen in many large projects where change has to happen because otherwise people lose their jobs, even when the change is bad for the customers and brand.
La Sportiva is so VASTLY better in this regard. They have shoe models going on decades without any major changes. They tend to get it right the first time and stick with it.May 16, 2022 at 8:32 am #3749475
Thanks, Johan. What you said was what I was afraid of.
Those Hokas look decent…though they don’t appear to have a very wide toe box. And of course, they aren’t zero drop. Only 4mm difference though. I’m guessing that’s less than many shoes….correct?May 27, 2022 at 8:15 am #3750439SandyBPL Member
I would look at the new Altra Mont Blanc – less structure than the Olympus but same amount of cushion. Or the next model down for Altra in terms of cushion is the Timp.
I use Altras and Hoka Speedgoats interchangeably. The 4mm drop is not noticeable when you’re spending all day on trails that are constantly variable. Speedgoats are narrower and work for some (me) but not others. Really only one way to find out unfortunately. Cough up $170 and spend a day on dirt with them.
If I was you I’d give the Timps a try first.May 27, 2022 at 10:29 am #3750449Jo P.BPL Member
@sedimentaryLocale: Denver, CO
If you can take a 5mm drop, the Topo Athletic Ultraventures are extremely cushy and helped with my neuroma. Good traction and great durability too.May 27, 2022 at 12:44 pm #3750466PaulWBPL Member
@peweg8Locale: Western Colorado
The Speedgoats are offered in wide widths. When Altra started fiddling with their sizing a few years ago I tried a few different brands and settled on Hokas. I have very wide feet and the Speedgoats (wide) are perfect for me. Also, the Hoka Stinson, although not marketed as a wide shoe, is in fact pretty wide and fits me perfectly. It’s maximally cushioned and works really well as my recovery shoe. I never found heel drop to affect me as I switched back and forth between Altras and other brands. YMMV.May 29, 2022 at 8:51 am #3750560
Thanks for the additional replies, everyone!
I think there’s a local Hoka dealer. I’ll check them out. I will also see if I can find Topos to try on.
Re the Timps….I was wondering about them and actually came to the forum to ask if anyone could compare them to the Olympus 4. Though the specs show the Timps to have slightly less cushioning, it also appears the two shoes use a different foam. Could it be that the Timps may feel softer?May 30, 2022 at 11:33 am #3750634IanBPL Member
I had a similar experience with the Lonepeaks. Their earlier generations were too marshmallowie and later generations just a little too firm for my liking.
I made the switch years ago from LS Wildcats to Altra Lonepeaks and have burned through more than a dozen pair over the years.
The LS Wildcats (for me) are a superior, more comfortable and durable shoe over the Altras. For my feet the toe box on both of them are near perfect but I prefer the midsole and all around comfort of the Wildcats. Your tootsies may vary.
I’m now at a point where I don’t think the benefit of zero drop justifies the switch and I’m having some persistent plantar fasciitis issues that I hope a shoe swap may fix. I will likely return to Wildcats after my current pair of Lonepeaks are ready for the bin.May 30, 2022 at 3:25 pm #3750654Jo P.BPL Member
@sedimentaryLocale: Denver, CO
I’m chiming in again because I had to try on shoes this weekend (I’m recovering from foot surgery and can’t wear my beloved Topos right now due to the degree of toe spring). But I tried a bunch of models and found the Hoka Stinson 6 was just about as cushiony as the Altra Olympus. But, it has a 5mm drop.
Hoka offers free shipping & returns and a 30-day guarantee, so there’s little risk in ordering from the website either.
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