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Altra Lone Peak Trail Shoe Review

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…

technical terrain

groomed terrain

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

The Basics

  • 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

Big Boned

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).

INOV-8 Roclite 315 (9 mm drop) and Altra Lone Peak

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.

INOV-8 Roclite 315, Altra Lone Peak, INOV-8 X-Talon 212

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.

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!

Summary

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

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

15 Responses to “Altra Lone Peak Trail Shoe Review”

  1. on 26 Jan 2012 at 2:38 pm jared

    I had a pair of Altra’s Instinct road shoe that I ran into the ground and loved every minute of it. Just bought the lone peaks and have only been on a handful of runs, but they feel every bit as wonderful. I have full-bodied feet so the extra room is great. One beef is that I seem to have a hard time keeping the laces tight. Shoes that are too loose is a new experience for me, and I’ll take it over shoes designed for princess feet any day.

    Altra keeps it very simple, and I like that. Thumbs up.

  2. on 26 Jan 2012 at 9:11 pm Ken Childress

    I love mine, but have only wore them on short runs. I’ll bring them to Rocky, but will probably only wear them after I finish.

  3. on 27 Jan 2012 at 12:30 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Jared – Great feedback! Thanks for sharing your experience. I have the Instinct’s as well. Enjoy those on the road.

    Ken – Thanks for sharing Ken! I look forward to seeing you on the Huntsville trails!

  4. on 28 Jan 2012 at 7:50 am Steve

    I am so grateful goofy is now cool! I am a big fan of the Altra Instincts and use them for all distances and surfaces from road to trails. I have a pair of the Lone Peaks as well. Although they are a bit heavy and a little more stiff than the Instincts, I think they would do well on a really rocky trail (like Bandera) when you want a little more protection.

  5. on 30 Jan 2012 at 10:13 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Steve – Thanks for sharing you Altra experiences! Interesting to hear your trail experiences with the Instinct. No issues with the Instinct as far as traction on the trails? You wore them at IDB didn’t you?

  6. on 01 Feb 2012 at 2:17 pm Mark

    How does the Lone Peak compare to the Innov-8 Flyroc 310? Sounds like the intent is pretty similar (good protection, but without a ton of unwanted support features), but with a wider toe-box and zero drop as opposed to 9mm drop. Since you have reviews of both shoes, what conditions (trail type or runner characteristics) favor Lone Peak versus the 310?

  7. on 02 Feb 2012 at 7:53 am Steve

    Yes, I wore the Instincts at IDB. The main issue I would say would be on wet roots and rocks you gotta slow down a bit. For me that’s not too hard as I rarely get going that fast.

  8. on 02 Feb 2012 at 12:13 pm David Hanenburg

    @Mark – A few differences that come to mind when comparing the Flyroc 310 and Lone Peak (besides what you had already mentioned – toe-box and drop):
    – Lone Peak – Slightly more firm cushioning feel in forefoot.
    – 310s – Have a spunkier, more responsive feel. Feel like less-shoe when running.
    – 310s – Less upper fabric which would likely hold less moisture if splashing through water.
    – 310s – A bit more flexible sole.
    – 310s – Deeper lugs which could pack a bit more gunk with the right conditions/soil. The lug spacing is wider in forefoot than heel.

    Trails: Both the Flyroc 310 and Lone Peak will glide along groomed and technical trail…and smile. Maybe under nasty conditions with certain soil types, lower lugs may help reduce the packing of gunk.

    Runner Characteristics: This is kind of tough and dependent on the types of shoes you are currently wearing so I will stay more general. The Lone Peak has more firm cushioning than the 310 and has a diesel locomotive feel. The 310s have a more responsive vibe and simply feels like less-shoe than the Lone Peak.

    I am a fan of both shoes.

    @Steve – That would be my thoughts as well based on the lug-less outsole. You have some turnover in those legs…who are you foolin’! 🙂

  9. on 26 Jun 2012 at 11:58 am Lisa

    I have all three versions of the Altra shoe. I’m in love!
    My first purchase was the Lone Peak (female). I purchased them at the Houston Marathon at the Altra booth. The Altra guys are very great to talk to!
    My concern was being able to run in them for the Sylamore 50K in Feb. (purchased mid-January). I transitioned exactly as suggested by the Altra guys. First week shortest run, second week mid-length run, 3rd week long run, then I used them for the Sylamore 50K.
    Anyone who has run Sylamore knows the varying terrain, I never felt let down by these shoes.
    I also used the Altra Lone Peak for the outbound part of Ouachita 50K. They handled Pinnacle Mountain with perfection!
    I was concerned about the toe box. I have had some shoes where the toe box is bigger than normal and the whole shoe felt sloppy. Not so with Altra Lone Peak. My toes love that room, but the shoe is secure. I don’t know how they did that, making all that room without sloppiness, but I’m sure glad they did!
    I now have the road shoe, Love it!! Altra Aspire,
    and the minimal shoe, Altra Eve.
    I try to put about half my mileage in the Eve to strengthen my feet (it is helping heal from Plantar Fasciitis).
    Another thing that deserves mention – the price point! I have spent much more on a pair of shoes and been left wanting. These are under $100.00 and I love them!
    Happy Running!

  10. on 27 Jun 2012 at 9:14 am David Hanenburg

    Lisa – Wow! Great feedback, thanks for sharing!! Cool to hear you have had such a good experience with their entire line. I enjoy their road shoe, the Instinct as well.

    Enjoy the journey!

  11. on 16 Jul 2012 at 4:52 pm Mickey sters

    I have switched completely to the Altras for trails snd road, and my feet andtoes have never been happier! The Lone Peaks are wonderful, and i have seen pictures of the new lightweight trail shoe they are releasing soonand it looks awesome! So do the new colorways in all the shoes!

  12. on 17 Jul 2012 at 10:49 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Mickey – Thanks for sharing your great experience! Real curious about those lighter weight versions coming out.

    How was the transition to zero drop?

    What shoes did you come from?

    Happy Running!

  13. on 18 Nov 2012 at 5:17 pm Jeremy

    I have very wide feet in the toe area and always have a hard time finding shoes to fit. I was recently on a trip to Seattle, stopped in a shop there and tried on everything they had and we were just about to give up when the guy said hold on. He went in the back and brought out a pair of Provisions. I laughed because they were so ugly but I figured I’d give them a shot. One trip up and down the block and I bought them. It is like they are made for my feet, I love them. I’ve been playing with barefoot running so the zero drop wasn’t a totally new thing, I kept my runs under a couple miles for the first few weeks, then didn’t worry about it anymore. I’m a fire fighter so I run on the treadmill at work a lot. My speeds increased right away, they just feel better running faster and my distances slowly increased and recovery time dropped. I decided to try the Lone Peaks so I ordered a pair because they didn’t carry them near me in FL. I got them and I wasn’t comfortable with they way they fit but Altra has a great return/exchange policy so I exchanged them for the instinct and they had the same fitment issues. But again Altra is wonderful and I exchanged them for another set of provisions. This last weekend I ran the Pensacola marathon in my Provisions and I love them. The Provisions have a flatter insole than the others do and I find it much more comfortable. I’m also thrilled to see that the local running store is carrying Altra’s now!

  14. on 06 Jan 2013 at 10:23 am Sam Placette

    I like the Altras but they wore really fast for me. I also though the heel was kind of flimsy, and it felt like it was squirming around a lot when hiking up steep hills or coming down fast on technical trails. I really liked the zero drop and the roomy toe box, and the midsole felt “just right”. I wrote up a full review with pictures of the wear pattern at http://samplacette.com/altra-lone-peak-review/

  15. on 22 May 2013 at 10:12 pm Jason

    David,
    Nice review man. Looking forward to comparing notes on the newer offerings from Altra.