Altra Olympus 3.0 Review Facts
The Altra Olympus 3.0 is a new and improved version of the brand’s previous maximalist trail shoes. With added flexibility and increased breathability, the traditional cushiony, 33mm zero-drop sole, Vibram MegaGrip rubber and Natural Ride System on the outsole for a better grip and traction, this is a really good shoe for everyone except runners who want to tackle highly technical trails. This is due to the fact that there’s a trade-off between stability and cushioning at play here. Although this might seem like a big deal to most inexperienced runners, the truth is that a vast amount of runners never end up going on technical trails, but prefer long-distance hiking and running on moderately rough terrains, which require good cushioning much more than utmost stability.
The outsole of the Olympus 3.0 is made of lugged Vibram® MegaGrip™ compound. This is a type of rubber which is tough and sticky (some would even characterize it as tacky), meaning that its grip on the surface is extraordinary, whether we’re talking wet or dry surfaces. The Vibram rubber ensures the longevity of the outsole. Another interesting detail is the tread pattern – it’s called the Natural Ride System (NRS) and consists of two parts. The upper part is outlined in the shape of toes, while the lower part of the pattern is foot-shaped. This tread pattern promotes the natural positioning and movement of the foot, despite the significant stack height. The Vibram rubber and the NRS conflate into one durable outsole.
The midsole of the Olympus 3.0 isn’t changed; it’s still the classic Altra A-Bound midsole. The A-Bound is a dual-layer EVA material that’s also environment-friendly (made out of recycled articles) and offers really great foot protection. However, A-Bound isn’t everything the midsole has to offer. It’s been refreshed with the grid-like innerflex grooves system that increases the flexibility of the shoe. It allows your foot to move and bend more, increasing your performance and comfort. This is a maximalist
shoe intended for rough terrain and longer runs, and it has a cushioned midsole to match that purpose. Bouncy, but not too soft or spongy, the cushioning will take you over rocks, roots, and other trail obstacles without feeling them too much under your feet.
This trail shoe comes with an improved upper, compared to Altra’s previous models. The quick-dry, abrasion-resistant, trail mesh material is strengthened and more durable
than the previous ones, and comes with added toe area drainage. The mesh is more breathable than with the previous versions, but it’s strong enough to place the Altra Olympus 3.0 into the supportive/stiff category. The sides of the shoe feature overlays that are stitched to provide shape and a stable, firm fit. They are intended to protect from injuries and prevent your foot from slipping forward. The tongue is just thick enough to not cause overheating, but it allows you to lace up the shoe tight, without feeling the laces on the top of your feet. Those who like to use gaiters will be happy to find a 4-Point Gaiter Trap feature on the back of the shoe. It’s a hook-and-loop tab that will make the incorporation of the gaiter easy and effortless, preventing the dirt and debris from creeping in.
When compared to a regular running shoe, the Olympus 3.0 couldn’t be called a light shoe. However, at around 12 ounces for a men's size 10, it’s really not that heavy compared to the other high-stacked shoes in the trail
The improved mesh upper provides better breathability compared to Olympus 2.5. That being said, the mesh is still a bit thick and stiff for this to be a super-breathable shoe. While there are shoes like Speedgoat 2
that offer more breathability than the Olympus 3.0, you won’t have a problem with overheating and sweating, even on longer runs. If you’re concerned about blisters and other breathability-related issues, you’ll probably find that this shoe is satisfactory. However, if you have high standards and expectations, you’ll probably find some shoes with thinner uppers better than the Olympus 3.0.
Let’s face it – the Altra Olympus 3.0 is not the belle of the ball. But what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in comfort. This is the most cushioned Altra shoe to date, which will make you feel like you’re almost gliding over the rough terrain. In addition, the foot box is traditionally shaped more like a duck’s foot, leaving all the elegance, but also the toe space, behind. If you have a wider foot
or you just enjoy having extra room to stretch out your toes and move them around, this is the right running shoe for you. The firm grip of the upper combined with the additional toe space and amazing cushioning really hit the comfort sweet-spot. In the Olympus 3.0, your feet won’t be compressed nor feel fatigued even after a long run.
Note: some customers have reported that this shoe runs small for half a size, so keep that in mind if you decide to order online, without trying it on first (although we’re against ordering shoes before trying them on and seeing how they fit).
As we’ve said, this isn’t a shoe that will captivate you with its beauty, unless you’re into that kind of retro-meets-futuristic-meets-dad sneakers type of look. The shoe is completely flat and significantly elevated from the ground (33mm to be exact), so it’ll inevitably make you look higher. Although some customers have characterized the shoe as straight-up ‘ugly’, we wouldn’t go that far. The pattern of the upper is somewhat confusing, although if you really, really look at the lateral sides, you’ll notice that it’s supposed to be the topographic map of Mount Olympus. This is a cool idea in theory, but the delivery kind of falls flat. On a brighter note, there are several interesting color combinations of this shoe, and the black and burgundy one will definitely be welcomed by people who are not keen on flashy shoes. While it’s obvious that the Olympus 3.0 isn’t a cool, stylish shoe, it’s also worth pointing out that it doesn’t try to be. And something about the blatant lack of effort ultimately makes it just a little bit cool.
The combination of the Vibram rubber outsole, dual-layered EVA A-Bound midsole and the abrasion-resistant upper makes this an extremely durable shoe. The midsole might seem like a soft spot, just because it’s so voluminous, but the material it’s made of is highly resistant to tearing and similar kinds of damages. However, the rougher the terrain, the less durable they become. One customer has pointed out that after 200 miles, the rubber cap of the outsole started to come off, so keep in mind that while they’re made to last, they are far from indestructible.
The main type of protection that the Altra Olympus 3.0 offers is the protection from the bumpy, rough and sometimes even sharp terrain. With the cushioned and elevated midsole, your feet will be protected from discomfort, and the rubber outsole will prevent slips and injuries. While this shoe isn’t waterproof or water-resistant, it’s quite sturdy. Because of the added drainage in the front and the quick-dry upper, going through water and rain won’t be an issue.
With the kind of cushioning
that the Olympus 3.0 has, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect amazing responsiveness. The sheer volume of the sole makes it difficult for this shoe to be as responsive as some lightweight shoes with thinner foam soles. However, in the category of extremely cushioned shoes, this one is as responsive as they come.
The Altra Olympus 3.0 is a neutral running shoe, so it won’t suit runners who have flat feet and overpronation issues. With the thick, cushioned midsole and the stiff upper, paired with the wider outsole and the rubber grip, this shoe offers more than enough support for a runner who doesn’t need any additional arch support. The ankle area is laced-up a bit higher than regular shoes, which offers additional support on long-distance runs and rocky terrain, although it could be uncomfortable at first for people with high arches. The softness and springiness of the midsole provides great support for runners who suffer from knee pain.
This is where the Olympus 3.0 really shines. You name the terrain – this shoe can easily overcome it. Not only is this shoe suitable for both dry, technically demanding trails and/or wet terrains, it’s also good for 50 or even 100-mile runs, where you really want to feel the terrain as little as possible. The cushioning will protect the feet, and the sturdiness will enable a smooth sailing through (almost) any terrain.
If not for its durability, the Olympus 3.0 would be an average-to-high venture in terms of its price. However, seeing that it’s made out of durable, high-quality materials, the price becomes much more acceptable, although it’s far from the ‘bought-on-a-whim’ category. This shoe is an investment and it can’t double as a lifestyle shoe, so be sure that it suits your needs before you make the purchase.
The outsole of the Olympus 3.0 combines Altra’s TrailClaw design and Vibram rubber. It provides exceptional traction regardless of the terrain. The only types of terrain on which this shoe doesn’t shine are terrains with deep mud or a thick layer of sand. Other than that, the tacky outsole rubber is bound to stick and grip to any surface, wet or dry, and adapt to it seamlessly, granting you a slip-free run.
This maximalist shoe is just flexible enough
to enable it to bend so as to mimic the natural movement of the foot, especially while climbing or going through very uneven terrain. It’s all thanks to the innovative innerflex grooves system of the midsole, which provides a better overall performance and slightly increases the speed. On the other hand, this isn’t one of those bendable shoes that values flexibility above everything else – it’s still sturdy and stiff enough to provide you support while tackling complicated trails.
The heel of this trail shoe is wider than the rest of the sole by a whole centimeter, which is really useful when you’re 33mm above ground, to begin with. However, this isn’t enough for it to be a carefree shoe that offers stability
on every trail. Increased attention is a must on technically demanding, uneven terrains; the stack height of the shoe makes it easier to twist an ankle in these circumstances than with some other stability shoes. Sacrificing a bit of stability for extra cushioning isn’t uncommon for this type of maximalist shoe. It’s mostly a matter of runner’s preference whether they choose extra cushioning or better precision. It’s impossible to have both in equal amounts. However, if you plan on taking on a lot of off-camber trails, consider getting a lower, more stable shoe.
The Altra design is known for its high-stack platform with zero drop. If you’re not familiar with them, zero-drop soles mean that the heel and the forefoot are the same distance above the ground. Usually, running shoes have at least some drop, typically ranging from 3-12mm. That’s not to say that zero drop is a bad thing – on the contrary. The natural position of our foot also has zero drop, so this type of shoe is best if you seek to promote natural foot alignment, as well as bouncy, low-impact landing. Be careful, though, because if you’re used to running in higher-drop shoes (8mm and over), transitioning to zero-drop right away could cause some comfort issues and even an injury. Give your body an opportunity to adjust to the new running style and movement mechanics and get a transitional shoe first to avoid injury.
- Vibram MegaGrip outsole
- Extra cushiony midsole that minimizes the impact of uneven terrain
- Extremely comfortable, toe box allows for stretching and movement
- Moderately breathable
- A-Bound midsole with innerflex grooves system
- Medium-to-high price
- Not as stable as some lower-stacked shoes
- Not stylish at all
The Altra Olympus 3.0 is a pretty straightforward maximalist trail shoe. It’s meant to dampen the rocks, roots and the uneven terrain and it delivers perfectly. It provides great grip on almost any terrain and it’s a good option for long-distance runs. However, the extra cushioning comes at the cost of stability; although it wouldn’t affect most trails, it’s not the best option for technical ones. On the other side, if precision isn’t your top priority, you’re looking at a slightly unappealing looking, but all-around great shoe.