Altra Olympus 2.0 Trail Running Shoe Review

Altra’s sleek Olympus series has a third edition – the Olympus 2.0. These trail running shoes are an improvement upon the old, or so advertised. As both a track and trail runner, these peaked my interest and came off as a very valuable buy. Altra added Vibram Megagrip, which makes these shoes useful off the trail as well – the sticky grip allows a runner’s training to have versatility by being able to grip onto many surfaces. Muddy trails, wet pavements, and the track can all be easily and safely traversed by these shoes.

Other changes were: reduced weight, more traction, and a new tread design. After a few hours, a lot of the shoes highest and lowest points showed.

The Olympus 2.0 sports a maximalist platform of 36mm with soft foam. This means there is less response, but more cushioning. On a trail with a healthy amount of rocks, this is perfect for protecting your feet while also absorbing the energy that would cause other shoes to wobble. On the track, a slower response time will slow you down, but they serve as good trainers due to comfort. For races however, stick with spikes.

Pros:

The Olympus 2.0 is designed for comfort. Plenty of foam throughout the entire shoe protects your feet, and helps keep them snug as a bug. Because of this, trail running can be very comfortable – rocks are no issue with the amount of foam and cushioning this shoe provides.

What also increases comfort is the zero heel-forefoot drop. This helps promote better form and reduce jarring shakes when running, reducing the impact to the knees and moving it to the ankles where you have more control. Mid-foot and forefoot striking aid with balance and power, being the most efficient form. This is perfect for a trail shoe as there are many rocks and bumps to tackle along the way.

Wearing zero-drop running shoes is a great start for developing, not only excellent forefoot running mechanics, but better running efficiency. This comes from a study by [Buchheit] at el. 2010 [Study]. The study found that smaller heeled running shoes was associated with less lactic acid build-up in runners who performed repeated sprints.

~ Bretta Riches from runforefoot.com

Traction with these shoes is wondrous, and the Vibram Megagrip helps the 2.0 provide much more grip than the 1.5. Slipping and sliding was much more prominent in the older shoes. Traction was abysmal.

However, the new tread design is minimalistic but effective. It allows the shoes to dig into the ground on uphills and downhills to prevent wasting energy and improve speed. These shoes can grip in, even on muddy trails. The soft foam makes the runner lose speed, but the new grip regains the lost speed by allowing you to drive power more efficiently.

Despite the tall stack height, the weight of these shoes is light. Light shoes improve foot placement and cadence, and helps deliver more power to the ground to make use of the high traction. A lighter shoe is always better – heavier shoes will drag you down.

Finally, a minimalistic design removes unnecessary weak points while keeping the shoe stylish. Everything needed is there, and nothing extra. Anything more would waste space, add excess weight, and potentially weaken the balance. Fluff is unnecessary with these shoes.

Cons:

No one shoe is perfect though.

Compared to the previous editions of the Olympus series, the 2.0 has a narrow toe box. If you came to these shoes looking for the same wide toe box, you might have to look elsewhere – spending your money on an Olympus 1.5 or even a new series of shoes is a better idea. The Olympus 2.0 is designed with comfort in mind, but they will not be comfortable if your toes are squished up.

Another issue with these shoes is that the heel lacks as much rubber as it used to have on older editions. Instead of rubber, there is foam. This is to reduce weight, but shortens the lifespan of the shoes if you are a heel-striker. Less surface area for traction is the cost.

Similarly, along the centre of the outsole is just foam. The outer edges are equipped with the Vibram Megagrip, but the inner part of the shoe lacks it. This could prove to be a weak point and lead to less power delivery.

To reduce weight, the sidewalls have also become thinner. This makes the shoes more breathable, but reduces durability. Durability is important, especially on the trails. One slip-up and these shoes might be torn.

Wrap-up:

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • High Traction
  • Zero Heel-Forefoot Drop
  • Lightweight
  • Minimalistic

Cons:

  • Narrower Toe Box than Predecessor
  • Weaker Heel
  • Thin Sidewalls
  • Centre of Outsole Lacks Grip

Want to compare the Olympus 2.0 to other Altra trail running shoes?

Check out our comparison post between the Olympus 2.0, Lone Peak 3.0, and Superior 3.0 running shoes!

Some improvements the Olympus 2.0 could use are thicker sidewalls, reverting back to the original toe box size, and adding more rubber to the bottom of the shoe. The outer edges have the Vibram Megagrip, but the centre piece is just foam. This could waste a mid-foot strikers potential energy.

Despite all of this, this shoe shows itself to be a powerful asset to any trail runner. Comfort is a key feature. Adventures beyond dry city trails needs extra traction, and these shoes deliver. To the country we go.

The writers here at Runners Equipped would recommend this shoe to trail running fans.

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Final Verdict of the Altra Olympus 2.0 Review


Caleb Thompson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and other Amazon stores worldwide.

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