Shoe Review: Altra Lone Peak

Brand: Altra Zero Drop Footwear

Model: Lone Peak

Weight: 9.9 oz

Drop: 0mm

Stack Height: 22.5mm/22.5mm (with removable footbed), 17.5mm/17.5mm (without removable footbed)

Back in January of 2011 when I was looking for shoe options to replace my Nike Frees that had ripped open along the inside of the shoe, I stumbled across the Altra Running website and learned about their upcoming Instinct/Intuition and Lone Peak lines and immediately decided I wanted to try at least the Instinct to use for road running, which was pretty much all I did at that time. Unfortunately, the Instinct wouldn’t be released until a couple months later than I needed the shoes by, so I had to let that opportunity pass, but made a mental note to come back to Altra when I needed more shoes. Through the next few months I always dropped by the Altra booth if they were at the expo of the race I was running so I could try on the various shoes and talk to the reps. At the Chicago Marathon I saw the Lone Peak for the first time and knew that I had found the first pair of trail running shoes I would purchase.

Fast forward to late December of 2012 and I finally became a member of the Altra community with the purchase of my first pair of Lone Peaks. Unfortunately, right after purchasing them I came down with a respiratory illness that kept me out of running for about a month, and then I started on the beginnings of a 50K training program which prevented me from running trails. I did get to run in them here and there though, and my initial impressions were that they were much better for trails than my Inov-8 f-lite 195s I had used occasionally, and better than my Merrell Trail Gloves as well. The only downside I noticed at first was the additional weight of the shoe over the seven ounce weights of my normal running shoes.

Around May I decided running wasn’t very much fun anymore when I was following the demanding 50K training plan, so I decided to scrap the running plan (and the 50K, for now) and just learn to enjoy running again. As such, my primary focus was on running only trails and exploring the area around my house (where I found tens of miles of singletrack trails that were previously unknown by myself). Not only was I now primarily a trail runner, but I also was running zero-drop shoes exclusively.

The Construction

At first glance, the Lone Peak evokes a kind of nostalgic feel with the design, with very basic materials and a simple color scheme. The toe of the shoe has a protective covering that will offer some protection from rocks that are kicked up, or brush hanging over the side of the trail. The overall material of the upper is a very breathable mesh that feels cool and airy if there’s a breeze, and the outer side of the shoes has a profile of the Wasatch Range in Utah, where a lot of the testing was done on the shoe, including in the Wasatch 100 by Brian Beckstead, one of Altra’s founders.

The two best parts of the shoe are the aforementioned zero drop, meaning your heel and forefoot sit at an even height when wearing the shoe, allowing for a more natural running stride (and in my opinion and experience, better balance when running), and the wide toe box. Most shoes come to a point towards the front of the shoe, causing the toes to squish together instead of letting the splay out naturally, resulting in additional balance and a strong push-off. I’ve had problems in the past with narrower shoes (namely the Inov-8 f-lite 195) being so narrow that within 250 miles of wear my pinky toes have worn a hole through the outer material of the shoe. I definitely won’t have the same issue with the Lone Peak.

The bottom of the shoe is very, very generous with lugs guaranteeing purchase on any surface. The outsole feels very strong and rugged and it will be interesting to see how it holds up against the rough volcanic rock trails we frequent in the Las Vegas valley. There’s also a neat little “foot” design on the bottom of the shoe that adds a little flair. For protection, Altra has gone with a sandwiched StoneGuard, meaning the rock plate is sandwiched between two layers of cushion, rather than sitting between the cushion and outsole. This allows the bottom layer of cushion to absorb some of the impact from a rock before hitting the rock plate, reducing the chances of a rock causing your ankle to roll.

The Fit

As mentioned above, the toe box of the Lone Peak—and all shoes by Altra—is much wider than traditional running shoes, and the result takes some getting used to, but feels amazing once you’re accustomed to it. The heel and middle of the shoe is very snug and comfortable both with and without the removable footbed. I run in mine without the footbed. As snug as the back half of the shoe is, the front of the shoe is equally as loose and free. It can be a little off-putting at first not being able to feel much of anything on the front of the shoe, but I quickly learned to love it.

The Feel

Running in the Lone Peaks is so much more than I ever expected that they instantly became my primary trail shoe, replacing my Spyridon LS and causing me to sell my New Balance MT-101s. The rock plate works very well, with only direct strides on pronounced rocks causing even the slightest bit of discomfort. For the most part, the Lone Peak provides more proprioception than you’d expect, but none of the pain that you’d expect to go with it. The added weight of the shoe will take some getting used to, but the weight is worth it for the additional protection offered in exchange.

The lugs on the bottom of the shoe give outstanding grip running both uphill and downhill. My legs are much more apt to give out running up a steep, sandy hill than my grip is, and I can absolutely fly downhill with them, never once having to stop and wonder if the next step is going to give me the grip I need to stay upright. I’m not sure if the trail rudder sticking out of the back is to thank for the added downhill stability, but my senses tell me that its at least partially responsible.

The Conclusion

I’m very, very pleased with the Lone Peak and I look forward to doing the 200-mile review when I get there. Unless Altra comes out with an updated Lone Peak, I have a feeling that this won’t be the last pair I own.

Pros

  • Great traction
  • Zero drop design
  • Massive toe box
  • Snug feel around the heel and midfoot

Cons

  • Slightly on the heavy side
  • Retro styling

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