Altra Olympus 6 Review: Steady as a...Mule?

The Altra Olympus 6.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

I recently got back from a trip to Arizona where my husband and I rode mules around the rim of the Grand Canyon. Whether that sounds terrifying or amazing is up to you, how you handle heights and how you feel about 1500-pound equine mammals. I’m not a huge fan of either, but the guides assured us multiple times that these weren’t just ordinary mules–they were sure-footed mules. In fact, this phrase was probably repeated about seven times during the process of booking and arriving at the excursion.

When you’re at the mercy of another animal at the edge of a 6,000-foot land erosion, sure-footed sounds pretty good. But what about when you’re on your own, tackling tricky terrain? Isn’t sure-footed the best thing to be, even better than being quick, nimble or lightweight?

If you agree with me, the Altra Olympus 6 might just be the trail shoe for you. Read on to learn more.

Shop Now

Tech Specs

Altra Olympus 6

Weight 10.2 oz (W), 12.2 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 33 mm/33 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 0 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Trail
Price $175
Comparable to… New Balance More Trail v3, HOKA Stinson 7

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

Olympus 6 offers a max-cushioned ride

The men's and women's pairs of the Altra Olympus 6.

The Altra Olympus 6 maxes out on stack height, being the most cushioned trail shoe in the brand’s lineup. Altra uses a compression-molded EVA foam to create a firm underfoot feel and a wide base for a stable ride. A Vibram® outsole with grippy lugs offers traction over tricky terrain.

“The feel and ride of the Altra Olympus 6 is what I’d call utilitarian,” says Nate, an avid Altra fan and experienced trail runner. “It’s not super springy or responsive because you probably don’t need that on the trails. It’s quite stable and relatively firm underfoot while feeling protective, even without a rock plate. The foam isn’t the most exciting to run in, but it protects my feet, allows for sure-footed steps and feels balanced on a variety of terrain. What more could I want?”

While Max agrees that the Olympus feels protective underfoot, he has reservations about the shoe’s weight and stack height. Maybe he’s not feeling so sure-footed after all…

“I took the Olympus 6 out for a short trail run where I like to test most of my trail shoes. It consists of an old rail trail filled with rocks, roots and a classic dirt trail section. The wide base helped me feel stable and confident on this section, while the rubber toe guard added some protection,” he says.

“Underfoot, I felt a bit sluggish. Will all the bells and whistles added for comfort and protection, it all starts to add up in the overall weight. While the Olympus isn’t overly soft, I feel like I’m quite high up off the ground. This isn’t a feeling I like while running trails when my footing matters tremendously and the wrong step can result in a sprained ankle. I tend to reach for a more responsive, nimble trail shoe in which I can feel a bit of the ground underfoot. I think the Olympus 6 would do just fine on gravel and some hard-packed dirt trails but I wouldn’t feel great about dive bombing some loose dirt descents.”

Upper maxes out on comfort

The women's Altra Olympus 6.

Everything about the Olympus 6 feels maxed out, including the upper.

I didn’t get to run in these shoes as I’m rehabbing an ankle injury and trail running is just not a good idea right now. However, I still wanted to try these on and get a feel for them. As I slid them out of the box, they looked like some major chonkers. Not only is there a thick slab of foam underfoot, but there’s a suede-like material that wraps around the internal heel collar and feels like a warm, velvety hug from your grandma.

There’s also a mysteriously grippy rubber strip around the edges of the midfoot and a loop at the base of the lace cage to attach a trail gaiter. If I was putting some serious miles in on the trails–which I won’t be doing–these would be a top contender.

The fit feels pretty true to size, which was surprising to me because when I looked down at my feet they looked like miniature whales. The toe box looks huge and that, combined with the tall stack height, just makes these shoes look chonky. But I actually don’t notice any excess room within the toe box when moving around, because the midfoot is so locked down that my feet don’t have any room to slosh around. I never thought I would be a fan of the weird, boxy last Altra uses (formally known as their Footshape Fit) but it might be growing on me.

I mentioned earlier that Nate is an avid Altra fan, partly due to their Footshape Fit. Altra running shoes offer one of three different Footshape Fits–Original, Standard and Slim. The Original is the roomiest of all three options, while the Slim is the narrowest. The Olympus 6 uses an Original Footshape Fit.

“I have wide, high-volume feet and I generally dislike the feeling of my toes being smushed inwards,” Nate says. “I’m in love with the wide toe box and general spaciousness that Altra shoes provide. The Olympus 6 fits the bill here perfectly. It contours my midfoot, my heel doesn’t slip and my toes have room to do their thing. The tongue is also wide and flat with some thick padding which, in my experience, adds extra protection on the top of your foot when pounding down long descents.”

Altra Olympus 6 versus Altra Olympus 5

Tech Specs

Altra Olympus 6

Altra Olympus 5

Weight

10.2 oz (W), 12.2 oz (M)

10.4 oz (W), 12.3 oz (M)

Stack height

33 mm/33 mm

33 mm/33 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

0 mm

0 mm

Price

$175

$170

The Olympus 6 and Olympus 5 look pretty similar on paper because not much has changed in Altra’s max-cushion trail shoe. Both shoes use compression-molded EVA midsole foam, a Vibram® outsole and Altra’s signature zero-drop platform, meaning your heel sits at the same level as your forefoot.

However, some tweaks have improved the overall feel and ride of the shoe. Altra uses a more breathable engineered mesh upper in the Olympus 6, which reviewers noticed right away.

“The day I tested the Olympus 6 was a hot one here in Chicago, so it was an honest test of the shoe’s breathability,” says Max. “Thankfully there was a slight breeze and I could feel the wind through the upper.

Altra also updated the lug pattern on the Olympus 6 for better grip, and Nate and Max both noted the reliable traction over technical singletrack.

The outsole of the Altra Olympus 6.

How does the Altra Olympus 6 compare?

We took a look at some comparable models to see how they stack up against the Altra Olympus 6. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

Altra Olympus 6

New Balance More Trail v3

HOKA Stinson 7

Weight

10.2 oz (W), 12.2 oz (M)

9.2 oz (W), 11.3 oz (M)

10.8 oz (W), 12.9 oz (M)

Stack height

33 mm/33 mm

40 mm/36 mm

40 mm/35 mm (W), 42 mm/37 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

0 mm

4 mm

5 mm

Price

$175

$160

$170

If we thought the Olympus 6 was a chonker, we weren’t prepared for the New Balance More Trail v3 and the HOKA Stinson 7. Disclaimer: we didn’t actually test the above two shoes, but they are the most similar to the Olympus in terms of weight, stack height and where they fall within their respective brand’s trail lineups.

The most obvious difference between the shoes is that the Olympus has a zero-millimeter heel-to-toe drop while the More Trail v3 and Stinson 7 have 4 and 5-millimeter drops. Some runners prefer to have a heel drop to reduce pressure on their calves and achilles, while others find that the zero-drop reduces pressure on their knees and hips while allowing them to feel more connected to the ground.

The women's Altra Olympus 6.

Who is the Altra Olympus 6 best for?

The Altra Olympus 6 is best for trail runners seeking a durable, rugged and protective trail shoe with lots of bells and whistles that can handle high mileage and tricky terrain. How you feel about weight and stack height in your shoes will likely influence your experience in the Olympus 6.

The Olympus 6 is definitely on the heavier side when it comes to running shoes. For some runners, the added cushioning and protective elements are well worth the extra weight. Other runners may prioritize weight savings above all else and, in that case, should seek a lighter, more nimble shoe.

As Max mentioned, the max-stack height could be a concern for runners worried about stability on the trails. However, because the foam is pretty firm, the tall stack height didn’t feel wobbly or unstable to me or Nate.

Because of the extra cushioning and comfort-enhancing features like the “grandmotherly” suede heel collar, this is a shoe I would choose if I ever decide to do an ultra trail race–emphasis on the if–when I’d want to be comfortable for 30-plus miles. Plus, spending many hours on your feet in the way that ultra-runners do typically causes them to swell, so the Olympus 6’s roomy toe box would certainly come in handy.

“The Olympus 6 is a big trail shoe for big adventures,” says Nate, who’s had his fair share of adventures hiking through Chamonix in France and the Dolomites in Italy. “This is a perfect shoe for a trail marathon, a 50K or longer. It’s also great for backpackers and through hikers who want to opt for a more nimble trail shoe versus a traditional boot, but still want some of that protection, stability and ruggedness that a boot provides.”

Shop Now

Keep Reading