The Altra Lone Peak trail shoe has climbed into a niche of the trail running market that very few if anyone has yet to explore:
- zero drop (same sole height between the heel and midfoot)
- extra roomy forefoot
- cushioning and protection
- bringing un-sexy back
Altra is small Utah based company (their story) that delivered its initial zero drop road shoes early in 2011 and the Lone Peak late last Fall. I purchased a pair of their trail tread in early December and have scampered over 100 miles on…
walked on water…didn’t work…still fun
enjoyed some of this during the middle of my trail adventure
Before we get to my thoughts on the ride, let’s learn a bit more about this unique pair of trail running tread.
Specs of Interest
- Weight: 11.3 oz (size 9 per Running Warehouse)
- Ride height: 0 mm heel-to-forefoot difference
- No significant arch/medial support
- Special underfoot protection (plates in midsole, etc): StoneGuard
The Lone Peak is not your slipper, minimalist trail shoe. I would consider it in the moderate weight category. Coming from INOV-8 X-Talon 212 (~7.5 ounce) as my recent go-to shoe, I would compare the Lone Peak as a steady and strong diesel locomotive versus a spunky and responsive Ferrari (212’s). Get that baby in motion and she is going to stay in motion.
Bring the Zero Drop
The big bang feature of the Lone Peak’s is no difference in heel and midfoot sole thickness/height. Nada. Zero. 0 mm. Zilch. Forget about it!
Most traditional shoes have a heel-to-forefoot difference in the 12 mm range. What does this mean? More traditional shoes will have a wedge shape where the sole of the heel is 12 mm thinker than the sole of the midfoot/forefoot. The Lone Peak has thrown a giant boulder at that difference and made it a nice and simple zero millimeters which in Altra’s view allows for a more natural foot/ground contact (landing under center of mass (mid foot/forefoot), no/less heel striking).
I will have to say regardless of shoe / no-shoe, foot/ground contact is still 100% up to you. I have seen runners wearing VFF’s initiate ground contact with the heel on every stride.
Keep it Simple – Minimal Support
No big plastic or beefed up midsole on the inside/medial area of the shoe. The design is to let the foot function how it is naturally meant to function.
Protect thy Feet
Tucked within the moderately thick midsole is the StoneGuard. StoneGuard is designed keep the feet smilin’ when you step on a sharp rock or root.
Another aspect of the shoe is the tired feet piggy protection at the front of the shoe where the outsole wraps up the nose of the shoe. Stiff and firm protection for the late-in-the-race rock and root monsters.
Freeeedom….Freeeedom – Fit
The Lone Peak easily has the largest amount of toe freedom in the forefoot of any shoe I have worn. Most all shoes will taper throughout the forefoot, the Lone Peak has minimal taper and comes close to simply rounding off the shoe at the nose of the shoe. This can seem a bit clown-ish but that is quickly forgotten once laced up and scampering along a great trail.
While roomy in the front, the heel and midfoot can be firmly snugged into place.
The Subtle Bite – Outsole
The moderate to low-profile teeth/lugs on the outsole are designed to provide flat/uphill traction as well as gnarly, steep downhill support for when you need to sit back on your heels a bit. This multi-terrain support is due to the unique and opposite lug shape in the midfoot/forefoot and heel area.
The tail of the outsole also has a rudder hanging off the back of the shoe and is designed to provide support for really steep descents. I don’t sense much benefit of this extra material and it simply adds more weight. My trusty pocket knife it will likely see. Sorry Mr. Rudder.
The tread is also made from a sticky rubber that has more biting power when navigating technical terrain which can be nice. Often sticky rubber will wear down quicker but after 100+ miles, my tread still looks nearly new. Good sign!
The Trail Experience
After running over a variety of terrain over the last 100 miles with adventures up to around 15 miles (so far) on these shoes I can easily say I am a fan. Initially they look and feel a bit goofy with that big piece of shoe in the forefoot.
And this too, shall pass.
They may also claim honors as the top un-sexy shoe in the market…which somehow makes it kind of sexy and cool…kind of…well. Let’s just say the shoe is more function than fashion. It’s what’s inside that counts…or something like that.
As far as sizing, I stuck with my usual size 12. Good fit.
For me, the transition to this zero drop style was quick and without fanfare. Coming from a 6 mm drop INOV-8 shoe, I had no calf or Achilles sensations. Of course everyone has to travel their own path but this was a pleasant surprise for me.
The wiggle room in the toe box was nice, and Big through Little Piggy all gave a positive grunt.
Across technical (rooty and rocky) terrain, the midsole and StoneGuard buffering seemed near ideal for me. I still received some sensory feedback (pressure) in the foot but no O’shucks (or similar) moments.
I really dig the firmness of the midsole. I do not like a squishy, sloppy, where-am-I shoe/midsole. The Lone Peak really nails this feature and with the included A-bound layer (the thinner dark blue layer above the grey midsole layer) that is supposed to compress 2-3 times less than traditional foam, I should also see less trenching (midsole breakdown) within the shoe over time. When running my fingers through the inside of the shoe I can feel a little compression in the forefoot area but nothing significant.
The firm toe protection at the front of the shoe also came in handy a couple times. Dig it.
How does the Lone Peak handle the wet stuff?
Splashing through multiple water crossing, the shoe drained very well but seemed to stay moist for quite a while. This didn’t affect the performance/ride of the shoe but was noticeable.
For some, the weight of the shoe is no biggie but the weight change was definitely noticeable coming from the INOV-8 X-Talon 212. Although within a couple miles on the trail I no longer noticed it. To be fair I probably wouldn’t place the Lone Peak and 212 in the same trail shoe category but I think everyone would benefit from a light trail shoe that provides the appropriate or desired amount of protection for the individual. I would love to see the same firm and moderate midsole but somehow reduce the weight by a couple ounces.
And if I am making a wish list, I would include a more flexible sole.
As far as being multi-purpose (road and trail), I would consider it a straight-up trail shoe. I would think the sticky(softer) rubber lugs may wear down pretty quick on the concrete/pavement.
As someone that likes a less wedgy / more flat shoe but also appreciates some firm cushioning, the Altra Lone Peak provides that go-all-day…and night ride. And what a sweet ride it is.
Running Form Support
One thing I really like about Altra is they offer multiple formats of tips and support to gradually transition to a none heel strike gait if that is new to you.
Under the cover of the shoe box – BAM!
Education pamphlet inside the box – BAM!
And if you need to hear more of the same, the Altra website contains this info as well.
And the info is brief and simple to understand!
The Altra Lone Peak is a moderate weight zero drop trail shoe that can smile and grit its teeth through a wide range of dirt lovin’ terrain while providing an extremely roomy toe box and a moderate amount of firm cushioning and object protection. This shoe seeks adventure!
The trail runner that would most dig the Altra Lone Peak:
- interested in zero drop tread
- wants forefoot/toe box roominess
- accepts a moderate weight shoe
- would like firm cushioning and object protection
- desires minimal support
- will keep it off-road
Btw, Altra also makes a female version of the shoe that is also called the Lone Peak (with light blue trim and stitching).
Share your thoughts!
Who else has worn the Altra Lone Peak trail shoe? What are your thoughts on the shoe?
You can purchase the Altra Lone Peak at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com
Posted on 26 Jan 2012
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