Shoe Review Bonanza – The Altra Lone Peak Initial Thoughts

Here at Ultra168 Towers there has been an influx of shoes in the last few weeks, with a number of brands pushing their wares as the season slowly begins to wind up. Perhaps the one that raised the most eyebrows is the new Altra range, which includes the Lone Peak that came along courtesy of Injinji. It certainly generated quite a few comments when posted on our Facebook page, and I believe yours truly described them as Hokas but without the steroids. Indeed the shoes remind me hugely of the Merrell Trail Glove, which at the time I thought was a great concept, but the lack of foot protection was to be quite frank, crazy.

The Lone Peak - solid on the wet stuff and leaves some pretty cool footprints too. People behind you will think that a small child is beating them...
The Lone Peak - solid on the wet stuff and leaves some pretty cool footprints too. People behind you will think that a small child is beating them...

The Lone Peak is a happy medium of the Trail Glove and the Hokas, in that we have a zero drop shoe that actually has some kind of protection on the foot, but doesn’t feel like you’re walking on stilts. In the Merrell Trail Glove I think there was a great concept, but just don’t ask me to run 100 miles in the suckers. I took them over to NZ last year and put around 8 hours in them and my feet were pretty sore and bruised. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for the more barefoot style of shoe, but for me, it’s not in a big race, and certainly not if you intend on finishing at the pointy end with any kind of foot leftover.

The Hokas, well I’m in no position to comment as I’ve never pulled on a pair, so it wouldn’t be right for me to pass judgement. One thing I do want to genuinely find out however is the rationale for having such a large sole and the reason behind this? But back to the Altra Lone Peak…

Here we have zero drop shoe, which in plain English means ‘Achilles – Beware’. Because there is no heel to toe drop that means your Achilles has further to travel as your foot hits the ground when compared to other shoes where it would strike the ground first, followed by the toe – or so the theory goes if you’re a heel striker. What I’m not going to do is get into the whole debate of running style, but suffice to say, with these bad boys, you need to spend some time adjusting to the shoe and strengthening your Achilles and surrounding muscles. What’s great about the Altras is that it comes with a ready-made manual that explains all of this and how to adjust to ‘zero-drop’ shoes. Thank God for some sanity by one of the manufacturers, instead of just trying to push their wares and collect a pay cheque, latching onto a so-called craze without a thought for how it will affect runners.

Before hitting the trails with them, I spent two days just wearing them at work so that I had them on my feet for a good amount of time before any running was done. One thing I have to say about them is that they are extremely comfortable shoes and I would have no issue just putting these on for a run straight out of the box. What is also very noticeable is how wide the toe box is, and the ability to move your forefoot within that box too.

Marcus had the pleasure of trying these fellas on our little sojourn down to Cox’s River on Saturday just gone, and what a test to put them through. A wet track, multiple streams to run through and some slippery mud, all made for a great test of these latest additions to the minimal shoe craze. Here’s his thoughts so far. As a general rule, we like to put in 10 hours into a shoe before we feel like they’ve been given a proper road test, so here are his initial thoughts having spent 5 hours in them on Saturday.

“I love this shoe, it has a certain high degree of thinking that has gone into it, and with that I have a lot of confidence in taking it for a long run straight out of the box. Unlike other brands which make stuff up, they actually tell you how to transition and where the change will come from and why it works.

As for my experience – 30 kms on Saturday in soaking conditions, they drained really well, still feel a little heavy.They are about 11 oz and so compare to a Cascadia and Salomon XT wings for weight. They gripped really well on the Six Foot track, both wide open trails and the more technical Nellies Glen descent. At no time did I feel I had to choose my footing too carefully. Being zero drop they don’t feel that low, just more in touch with the trail. They are like my Talon 190’s for feel, but with SpeedCross like cushioning. It would make an ideal 100 mile shoe as by the end of the day I felt I could wear them all day and night.

Downsides were that the lacing was too long and not confident I could get a snug enough fit even though I played with them a bit. It is unusual for me to stop and recheck my lacing as I often get it right first time. On saturday, I probably did it half a dozen times. I might try some new laces in them to see if I can get a better fit.

I still have no idea what the mud flap does as i tried going back on my heals to test it. Maybe on scree or steep descent off Solitary it might help. The huge toe box that felt weird to start with but come the end my feet felt fresh having loads of movement, and importantly not the slightest hint of Achilles or calf strains on Sunday or Monday.”

We’ll be putting some more time into these shoes over the coming weeks, so watch out for a full review soon.

For those that like the website blurb, we’ve taken the liberty of pasting it here for you too:

Inspired by the Lone Peak, one of the rockiest, toughest mountains on the Wasatch Range, The Lone Peak™ was designed to conquer the Wasatch 100. While the foot-shaped design allows athletes to stay relaxed and comfortable for hours, this do-everything mountain shoe promotes happy feet, increases ankle stabilization and improves form with the Zero Drop™ platform. The Lone Peak™ features an innovative, sandwiched StoneGuard™ system that deflects rocks into the midsole for a smoother, more stable ride. Stand above the rest with the ultimate trail running shoe.

The Techy Stuff

  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Zero Drop™ EVA/A-Bound Midsole
  • Foot Shaped Design: Male FS-1 Last
  • NRS: Natural Ride System
  • TrailClaw Outsole
  • StoneGuard and Trail Rudder
  • Strengthen and Support Insoles
  • Quick dry abrasion resistant mesh upper with minimal seams
  • Asymmetrical Lacing, HeelClaw, and A-Wrap for Superior Fit
  • Drilex Premium Liner
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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

4 thoughts on “Shoe Review Bonanza – The Altra Lone Peak Initial Thoughts

  1. Bought a pair of Lone Peaks and at first didn’t like the slight arch support interferring with my already high arches. But after a while didn’t notice this.
    I really liked:
    > the low profile sole
    > the zero drop heel – it’s like barefoot running with protection and some cushioning
    > the grip on any surface
    > that sharp stones do NOT push up through the sole
    Overall assessment – great trail shoe. 4.5 stars out of 5.
    I didn’t like the roomy heel – I had to pack a pad into the heel lining to stop it slipping sideways.
    I also bought a pair of Instincts which are more of a road shoe. These are the BEST running shoes I’ve ever worn ! I’m 62 years old, 6′ 1″ , 175lbs and run about 60ks per week.

  2. This truly might be my dream trail shoe. I’ve only been out for a couple runs so far (each about 7 miles on muddy, tropical forest, rooty, single-track) so my 4 stars is only because I can’t truly comment on durability yet. I’m very enthusiastic though. I’ve long been a huge fan of the *mechanics* of the barefoot craze, but I still need some protection for the ruggedness of trails I typically run. I’m always finding myself compromising somewhere…a “minimalist” trail shoe allows for the mechanics that I like but hurts my feet on rugged trails.. A “beefy” shoe protects my feet but doesn’t allow for the mechanics I like because of excessive drop.

    This shoe from Altra, however, gets everything perfect for my preferences. Zero drop allows for the barefoot mechanics I want…and it provides excellent protection at the same time. This is no minimalist shoe in that regard.

    Sure, all else being equal, I would like to see it a bit lighter…but the thing is that if it were lighter, all else *wouldn’t* be equal. It would compromise on protection or durability to get lighter. And it’s not heavy as it is…just not what you would consider ultra lightweight like the “minimal” shoes.

    I’m *finally* finding myself bombing down rooty and rocky trails with confidence…knowing that I have ample protection…and all while maintaining a midfoot strike like I prefer due to the zero drop. I’ve been waiting a looong time for this shoe!!

    I find the fit to be true to size. I pretty much wear a 9.5 in everything and that feels just right in this shoe as well.

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