The Altra Lone Peak is a popular choice for hikers. This shoe is a favorite of many hikers, especially thru-hikers. It’s also a popular recommendation on Facebook. Lone Peaks also have many detractors. It’s a high-risk, high-reward trail shoe. This review of Altra Lone Peak should help you decide if this shoe is right for your body and style of hiking.
Altra Lone Peak Overview
The Lone Peak is Altra’s best selling running shoe. It’s made for trail runners, not hikers. But the Lone Peak has a cult-like following among thru-hikers on long distance trails like the Pacific Crest Trail (2650 miles) or Camino de Santiago (500 miles). It’s also caught on with plenty of casual hikers, too.
Altra is different from the rest of the running shoe manufacturers for three reasons.
- Footshape toe boxes
- is gender-specific
- “zero drop” or “balanced cushioning”
Many brands offer gender-specific fits. Altra’s unique toe box design and zero drop are the reasons it is so controversial.
Footshape toe boxes
The brand’s spacious, Footshape-shaped toe boxes are a favorite among hikers and Podiatrists. I’m one of them. This extra space allows toes to spread naturally and helps with swelling during long hikes.
For hikers who require more precise footing on technical or steep terrain, this loose fit might not be suitable. Lone Peaks slip more on rocky trails than other trail shoes, so my feet feel a lot less comfortable in them. Many hikers with narrow feet dislike the Altra’s fit.
“zero drop” (or “balanced cushion”)
Some hikers swear to the “zero drop” or “balanced cushions” underfoot. Flat shoes are known as zero drop, which is a fancy marketing term. Running shoes and hiking shoes have extra cushioning underneath the heel to absorb shock and protect your lower back and feet. Altra, on the other hand, removed the heel cushioning to ensure that the forefoot and heel are at the same distance from each other. By making it difficult to land on your heels and the edges of your feet, you are trying to create a more natural running style.
Altra claims that zero-drop shoes will reduce injuries over time, especially knee and back problems. Some professionals believe that zero-drop shoes do not make a difference in injury rates. They also only work for athletes who have perfect form and physiology . Some claim that zero-drop shoes increase injury risk or shift injuries from your knees and hips to your feet. Others say that they a href=”https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a20846222/study-zero-drop–cushioned-shoes/”>make no difference in injury rates.
You should allow for several weeks to get used to zero drop shoes. This will give your muscles, joints, and tendons time to adjust. This means that you should only wear them for a few days per week, and then alternate with shoes with a higher drop. This will reduce injury risk and eliminate discomfort that comes with switching to zero-drop shoes.
Review of Altra Lone Peaks
Altra is a topic that many hikers are passionate about, both positive and negative. It was the trail runner most in demand at Appalachian Outdoors.
My Altra Lone Peak review focuses on the support, weight and comfort of this unusual trail runner. This should help you decide if it is exactly what you need in a hiking shoe.
My review was focused on the Altra Lone Peak 4/5. The brand new Lone Peak 6 (picture below) was just released this month. This review compares the Lone Peak 6 (2022), with the Lone Peak 5 (211).
Lone Peak: support
The Lone Peak isn’t a minimalist trail runner. It does offer less support for the foot and ankle than other trail runners and hiking boots.
This is by design.
Altra believes that supportive and cushioned shoes can actually increase the likelihood of people getting hurt. Lone Peaks have no support underfoot, other than a thin stone guard that may or may not prevent bruises from stepping onto sharp rocks. They also have little midfoot support and very little torsional rigidity (resistance against side-to-side twisting). Lone Peaks are unable to provide lateral support that will prevent the ankles from rolling.
My dad had foot and ankle problems, so my ankles would roll several times per hike in Lone Peaks. This is not something that happens in other trail shoes. My Altras also caused me to experience foot cramps and calf strains when I hiked on more difficult trails than usual. These issues may not be as common for more athletic hikers. The Lone Peak was not the right choice for me because of my flat feet and thin calves. Even though my lower body has logged 10,000+ miles over the past ten years, it is still well-seasoned for hiking.
This is an important decision point. The Lone Peak is the best trail shoe for you if you want to protect your feet and ankles while on the trail. Lone Peaks are a great choice if you like the idea that your feet, ankles and calves work harder to support and stabilize you during hikes.
Lone Peak: weight
Lone Peaks are popular among hikers due to their light weight. They are half a pound lighter than my recommendation for the best hiking boots. These shoes are a bit heavier than most trail runners, but this is often a plus for hikers.
Lone Peaks can offer some energy savings for both long-distance hikers and fast hikers, as there are many miles to cover. The average hiker does not hike far enough to make these weight savings translate into energy savings. Another reason Lone Peak is so popular is on long-distance trails, where weight is important.
Lone Peak: fit
Lone Peaks are available in wide sizes and have a wider fit, especially in the toe box.
Altras are polarizing in fit and feel. Altra’s Footshape shoe box allows your toes naturally to spread out for a solid base. A thumb’s width should be allowed between the tip of your toe and the end of the shoe (5/8 inches). Lone Peaks should fit loosely around your feet. They should feel almost like a slipper.
“If your toes don’t feel too large…
They’re too small!”
Many hikers find the “natural” fit to be unnaturally large, especially those with narrow feet. Altra believes this is because 98% have narrower or tapered toe boxes than the human foot. According to Altra, “too large” or “too broad” are not the best fit. It will help your feet and toes stay healthier.
Personally, I love Altra’s Toe Boxes. They’re not great for technical terrain or steep hikes. On moderately steep descents, my toes reached the tops of the Lone Peaks. This can lead to injuries. My (wide) feet glided in those large toe boxes in rock gardens and root garden that I frequently hike in Pennsylvania, aka “Rocksylvania”.
This trail shoe is a bit more responsive than the others. These shoes have moderate cushioning, but you will still feel the most of what Altra Lone Peaks offers. Although they may seem large in the toe box and feel snug on your feet, they are not very high volume.
The Lone Peak, a new 2021 model, is now available in large sizes.
Lone Peak: comfort
Comfort is subjective and depends on your body type and what type of hiking you do. Many hikers will appreciate the Lone Peak’s large toe box, moderate cushioning and minimal support. The Lone Peak can feel like a slipper, with some trail traction if it’s right for you. Some people may find the large toe box uncomfortable, or sloppy, on more difficult or steeper hikes.
The zero drop design can also help to restore your body’s natural biomechanics, strengthening your lower body and feet. It can also lead to Achilles tendon injuries and stress fractures. I have had many customers who tried to convince others not to buy Altras. They had lower injuries than they had with other brands. After my second calf strain after fifty miles, I stopped hiking in my Lone Peaks. This was after zero calf strains in over 10,000 miles with other brands.
The Lone Peak can be described as a comfortable hiker. My current belief is that hikers who are stronger and more athletic will like Lone Peaks more than average hikers, especially if they have strong calves. This is based on the comparison of my customers and coworkers who love Lone Peaks but hate them.
Lone Peak: weather proofing
Hikers fall under 2 categories for keeping their feet dry.
For a quick drying system, most trail runners pair nonwaterproof Lone Peaks socks with Merino mix hiking socks . You might want to choose a shoe that dries quickly if your feet get wet from trail running shoes, whether it be sweat or rain. Altra created Lone Peaks that drain water. They also allow water in easily. The mesh’s ventilation allows for some airflow to cool sweaty feet. If Lone Peaks are flooded by sweat or cross creeks, the mesh will quickly dry.
If you want a waterproof trail shoe, the Lone Peak All Weather features a waterproof-breathable membrane from eVent-a quality membrane that’s more breathable than the average waterproof trail shoe.
Early reviews have been positive about the All Weather Lone Peaks. The shoe’s waterproofing extends only a few inches above the ground. Because waterproof shoes are not ventilated, they tend to be warmer than non-waterproof ones.