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Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 || For wide large-volume feet or easy trails

The Lone Peak 3.0, the most recent iteration of Altra's popular cushioned trail shoe.

The Lone Peak 3.0, the most recent iteration of Altra’s popular cushioned trail shoe.

Among segments of trail runners, ultra runners, and backpackers, the Lone Peak shoe from Altra Footwear has gained an almost cult-like following for its unique feature set: a voluminous toe box combined with generous midsole cushioning and zero drop from heel to toe. Does the most recent iteration — the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 — stay true to its roots while improving upon older designs?

Relevant history

I put 550+ miles on the Lone Peak 2.5, mostly running. You may want to read my full long-term review, because much of it applies to the 3.0 as well. The executive summary:

The Lone Peak 2.5 is designed for wide large-volume feet and is most suitable for non-technical trails with some crossover to roads and moderately technical terrain. For low-volume feet or technical trails, and especially for the combination of these two variables, my recommendation is to look elsewhere.

The Lone Peak 3.0 was released in July, and Altra sent me a pair in late-August for review, along with the Provision 2.5 that I reviewed earlier and in which I’m approaching the 200-mile mark. I wore them on multiple training runs in Boulder, and on a half-dozen day-hikes and overnight backpacking trips.

altra-lone-peak-30-inside

Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.0

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 improves upon past iterations, with a higher quality outsole, more robust toe cap, and the introduction of an upper exoskeleton. But fundamentally it is the same shoe. It should be a top contender for runners and hikers who:

  • Have wide and large-volume feet;
  • Travel mostly on non-technical trails, and perhaps on occasion pavement and/or moderate terrain; and,
  • Want a well cushioned shoe.

The Lone Peak 3.0 will be a challenge for runners and hikers who:

  • Have narrow and low-volume feet;
  • Regularly encounter technical surfaces;
  • Prefer ground-feel and low center-of-gravity at the expense of midsole cushioning.

Generally I fall into this latter camp. While I often grab the Lone Peak 3.0 for easy runs on mixed pavement and gravel multi-use trails — and will continue to do so after posting this review — I’ve been uncomfortable with the lack of control when hiking or running on steeper grades, golf ball-sized rocks (and larger), off-angle footing, and twisty trails. At least for me, they would be a poor choice for backpacking a high route or running to the summit of nearby Green Mountain.

I know that some runners and hikers will disagree with my assessment of the 3.0. For example, Paul Jesse believes that it’s the “best shoe [Altra has] done yet” and thought it was “superb” while pacing the final 42 miles of Hardrock, which is considered one of the most technical 100-milers in the US. This diversity of opinion is valid and important, and a testament to the personal nature of footwear.


Please support this review by purchasing the Lone Peak 3.0 directly from Altra, which supplied me these shoes.


Key product specs

  • Weight: 9.7 oz (M’s 9), 8.0 oz (W’s 8), 11.8 oz (M’s 11.5)
  • All-mesh upper with reinforcing nylon exoskeleton
  • Neutral motion
  • 25mm stack height, “Moderate” EVA cushioning
  • Zero drop
  • Stone guard between midsole and outsole
  • MaxTrac sticky rubber outsole with TrailClaw design
  • Gaiter attachment infrastructure
  • $120 MSRP

Sizing

Small changes were made to the footbed shape of the Lone Peak 3.0. When I first received them, I actually wondered if I would need a different size, because my toes would contact the front and top of the shoe. This issue quickly went away, and my experience is that the sizing has not changed from the 2.5.

I am size 11.5 in the Lone Peak 3.0. Ditto for the 2.5, and all the pairs of Salomons and Merrells that I have used; in La Sportiva I’m a 45.5.

Fit

The Lone Peak is known for having a wide and high-volume fit, with an especially roomy toebox. The 3.0 will reinforce this reputation.

Interestingly, through the midfoot its width is probably about average, as demonstrated by overlaying its insert with that of a Salomon Sense Pro, which is known for having a narrower last. The difference in width is more dramatic in the toebox. And the shoe volume, which is only partly a function of the footbed’s width, is significantly different.

The insert of a Lone Peak 3.0 (left top) versus a Salomon Sense Pro (right top), both size 11.5. Notice how the Lone Peak is much wider in the toe box, and slightly wider in the midfoot, whereas the Sense Pro is more tapered, narrower, and longer.

The insert of a Lone Peak 3.0 (left top) versus a Salomon Sense Pro (right top), both size 11.5. Notice how the Lone Peak is much wider in the toe box, and slightly wider in the midfoot, whereas the Sense Pro is more tapered, narrower, and longer.

Inside this roomy shoe, the foot naturally splays and is not compressed. This makes it a comfortable shoe to wear. However, it’s also the limiting factor, because it comes at the expense of lateral and fore/aft control.

This is especially the case for runners and hikers with narrower and lower-volume feet, like me. Personally, I enjoy using the 3.0 on generally flat, level, and straight trails. In excess of that, however, my pace is governed by the lack of precision handling, and my foot slips inside the shoe on steeper grades (up or down) or on off-angle surfaces.

Cushioning

The Lone Peak 3.0 kept the old 25-mm stack height. Because it has zero drop, both the toes and heel share this dimension.

Altra describes this amount of cushioning as “Moderate,” but that sounds conservative to me. Like the Provision 2.5, the Lone Peaks feel like pillows on my feet compared to my go-to shoes for hard runs and hikes, the Salomon Sense Pro and the Salewa Ultra Train, which have heel/toe heights of 23-17 and 23-15, respectively.

Now for the tradeoff of this wonderful cushioning: Your feet are 25 mm off the ground. This top-heaviness would be a challenge for any shoe, but in this case it’s exacerbated by Lone Peak’s roomy fit.

Upper

The primary fabric in the upper has changed from the 2.5, but is still a large-pored mesh that dries quickly and keeps the foot relatively cool in warm temperatures. I cannot attest to its long-term durability yet, but I’m hopeful based on my excellent experience with the 2.5 and on a report from Greg “Koolaid” Mero that he put 1,100 miles on one pair while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

The 3.0 upper features two improvements over past iterations: a more robust toe cap and a reinforcing exoskeleton . The toe cap should improve impact-resistance, which it does. The exoskeleton should improve control, although I can’t say that it did. Perhaps a reader with wider and larger-volume feet who better fills the Lone Peak can comment on the difference between the 2.5 and 3.0.

The upper of the 3.0 is made of a large-pored mesh. The exoskeleton should improve control, and the more robust toe cap improves impact resistance.

The upper of the 3.0 is made of a large-pored mesh. The exoskeleton should improve control, and the more robust toe cap improves impact resistance.

Outsole

Another improvement in the 3.0 is the outsole. It’s more aggressive and has more surface area than the 2.5, but more importantly it’s made of a higher quality rubber. I would consider the 3.0 more trail-worthy than the 2.5, but maybe less pavement-worthy because of this enhancement.

More aggressive outsole with a higher quality rubber, still in the TrailClaw-type pattern

More aggressive outsole with a higher quality rubber, still in the TrailClaw-type pattern

Gaiter trap

I have not used this feature, but I want to applaud Altra for adding two simple anchor points for a gaiter. They are meant for the Altra Trail Gaiter, but Dirty Girl Gaiters are also compatible. For running and hiking on bare ground, these instep strap-less gaiters are preferable to designs like the Salomon Low Gaiters, the under-strap of which reduces outsole/ground contact and which will prematurely fail due to abrasion.

These two anchor points will help secure a gaiter without the need for an instep strap, which prematurely fails when running or hiking on bare ground.

These two anchor points will help secure a gaiter without the need for an instep strap, which prematurely fails when running or hiking on bare ground.


Find the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Here


Own the 3.0? What has been your experience? I’m especially interested to hear from those with wider and large-volume feet.

Have a question about the 3.0? Leave a comment.


Disclosure. This website is supported mostly through affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

13 Responses to Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 || For wide large-volume feet or easy trails

  1. Bobby December 1, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. I normally stick to lower drop/more minimal or even just a hiking shoe like the Merrell Capra Sport, but I heard people RAVE about these shoes, and while I really love the ample cushion, I just couldn’t get past the sloppy feel inside the shoe. I found myself rolling an ankle multiple times on only moderate terrain, and I don’t typically have weak ankles. I love the heel hold and overall feel but living in the Ozarks, we don’t have many well groomed, smooth terrain, trails. Lots of rocks, roots, etc…
    I only took them on about 15 miles worth of trail before getting rid of them… the trail shoe hunt continues!

  2. BillB December 2, 2016 at 5:01 am #

    I have not tried the 3.0’s but I am a recent convert tot he 2.5’s . My world is not THE world, but on a couple (12&15 mile) day hikes in Arizona over the holidays I found myself boulder hopping quite effortlessly with no concerns over control. I imagine the fit is more important in a lightweight shoe like this. Full disclosure, I save snug lacing for climbing shoes and generally leave my hiking/backpacking footwear pretty loose, only snugging them up for downhills. The Lone Peaks have so much room int he toe I can even let that slide.

  3. BrianJ December 3, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

    I have normal width feet at the toes, slightly narrow heels, and a very high arch (and hence a high instep). (I sold shoes for several years, so I am familiar with various shapes and sizes of feet.)

    I logged 500+ miles in the Altra 2.5s, mostly running in the steep Wasatch mountains. Terrain ranged from normal dirt singletrack to stream beds, snow fields, and scree/talus. The shoes performed well, but slipped a bit in wet conditions and lacked some lateral stability on the uneven scree.

    I replaced the 2.5s with the new 3.0s. I have logged about 100 miles in the new shoes, including a 50-miler in Moab. The new outsole tread grip is exceptional. I don’t slip in anything short of smooth ice or loose snow (and I stress that it has to be *smooth* ice or *loose* snow: when the snow was packed or the ice was crunchy, I haven’t slipped going up or down even on steep slopes). On Moab’s sandstone or Mt Timpanogos’ snow, I haven’t slipped. I was even running—yes, running, not merely hiking fast—down a very steep trail sprinkled with wet Fall leaves and had no problems. The upper is much sturdier, so I don’t have lateral stability issues anymore either. All of which makes me curious why you wouldn’t rate them highly for “technical surfaces.”

    About the Neoshells: I don’t have particularly sweaty feet, and I haven’t tried them in temperatures over 80 F yet, but I would thus far report no issues with them trapping water. I can report that they’ve kept my feet cool and dry while splashing through puddles though!

    • Andrew Skurka December 4, 2016 at 7:09 am #

      I cannot understate the relationship between foot type and shoe performance. If you ran in my feet, I assure you that your experience with the LP would be entirely different, with the shoes being much more limiting than they are for you.

      Shoes are a very personal choice, on par with backpacking food and ultra nutrition. It is totally different than a T-shirt, which has a much larger margin of error for fit.

      It is a difficult situation for a reviewer, because conclusions must have big disclaimers, as I tried to do. It helps also to be consistent, so that readers know how to interpret reviews for their personal use.

  4. BrianJ December 4, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    Maybe my comment wasn’t clear. I wasn’t questioning the reality of your narrow-foot struggles with the Altras. But you asked for feedback from readers who owned the new 3.0s. That’s me. You also asked “especially…to hear from those with wider and large-volume feet.” My feet are not wide, but my high arch increases my effective volume. That’s why I stated up front the general dimensions of my feet: to emphasize the particular point of view for my experience, without intending it to be a rebuttal of your specific experience.

    I thought your disclaimers regarding foot shape were more than adequate. Thus, when you present a potential “con” for the Altras, “Have narrow and low-volume feet,” I can understand it and didn’t challenge it.

    But your second “con,” “Regularly encounter technical surfaces,” had me confused. There are plenty of surfaces/terrain that shouldn’t be attempted in running shoes—e.g., the face of Half Dome—but I couldn’t understand what types of terrain you would expect from a trail runner that the Lone Peaks don’t deliver. Again, that they don’t deliver for someone whose feet fit the shoes.

    • Andrew Skurka December 5, 2016 at 8:32 am #

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound defensive about your comment, which I did not interpret as a rebuttal in any way. I appreciate you chiming in, especially since I can’t speak to how this shoe will perform for other foot types and since I know this shoe is adored by many others.

      Re “technical” surfaces, some might interpret that to mean ropes and climbing shoes, but in this context I’m referring to steep, rocky, loose, twisty trails. In Boulder we’re fortunate to have a spectrum of trails, from cruiser multi-use gravel paths on the plains to walk-inducing summit trails (e.g. Fern, Shadow, Saddle Rock, Flatirons descent routes) that rarely or never see a trail crew. Like the way that skiers and bikers have multiple skies and bikes for different conditions, most of the runners in town have different shoes for different trails.

  5. JT December 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    I’ve owned the Lone Peak 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0, mainly for hiking/backpacking. I have very wide and high volume feet that are very sensitive to any pressure either laterally or vertically to the metatarsals. For me, foot comfort trumps a “control” fit and with the improved grip of the outsole, I feel very confident with my footing in these shoes. For me, the fit of the 2.5 vs. 3.0 has been pretty similar, both a bit smaller that the 2.0. I don’t notice the exoskeleton renforcement on the 3.0 in the fit. With difficult to fit feet, I’ve always wondered at the lack of width choices in trail runners. How can Brooks or Salomon not profit from having at least two widths to choose from? Looking at the success of Altra, I find it interesting that no one else seems to be pushing in that direction.

    P.S. Gaiter traps = brilliant!
    P.P.S. Try the Altra Olympus on cruiser trail sometime and show your feet how much you love them!

  6. Haiku December 4, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    Ugh…even worse than 2.5s then. I switched from the 1.0s to the 2.5s on my thru last summer, got massive blisters from my foot sloshing around side to side until it callused up again.

    I loved the altras otherwise…any info if the superiors are better? Not a ton of zero drop options for people with low volume, narrow (I’m between AA and AAA width) feet. Did I mention my size is around 42-43 (US women’s 11 or 12)? yeah.

    • Haiku December 5, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

      Forgot to mention that was with 2-3 prs of socks with the 2.5 lone peaks. I would be super happy sticking to the lone peak 1.0s if the tread didn’t wear out after like 250 miles. Really do feel like clouds on feet, I never had any pain at least.

  7. Colin December 14, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    Used the 3.0’s on several day hikes of 15 miles then 4 1/2 days on the Wonderland Trail (93mi, 22k feet of climbing). I have mid volume feet, size 12, with a wide fore foot and normal heel.

    I agree with your assessment that they are for non-technical trails though I think that’s more for durability than for stability. I found them less stable than many trail runners but not by so much it’s a huge issue until really technical terrain. I used them for some class 3 scrambling that I’ve done in other shoes and that was way beyond their limits and borderline dangerous. On technical off trails sections in loose lava rock they weren’t so bad as to be a major concern though the rock guard is a bit inadequate and the toe protection is kind of a joke. Basically, I think these shoes are at home on Sierra Highways and other non-technical trails and less so on the more rugged trails and off trail sections I typically hike.

    For me, the biggest issue is durability as after 125 miles they are falling apart and loosing cushion when most of my trail runners wear through the sole before having stitching and other issues with the uppers. Sure, they might work well for the PCT but you are going to need 7-8 pairs at $125 a piece which makes no sense to me.

    Love the concept of these shoes but they just don’t do it for me. I do hope what they are doing continues to influence the overall market and we get more shoes with wide forefoot designs!

  8. Jim February 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    I have been running in Altra Superiors for a few years. They have been my favorite shoe. The fit is better than anything I’ve ever worn. Unfortunately the Superiors have not held up for me in the wet muddy conditions I run in.

    FYI: I am 6 feet, weigh about 180 lbs, and run 30-40 miles per week. I have a high arch, and high volume foot. Wide at the forefront, narrow at the heel.

    So, I bought the Lone Peak 3.0 banking on its more durable fabric, and the solid rand. As far as durability goes, it has not disappointed. They are tanks.

    Unfortunately, they are remarkably uncomfortable for me, pressing at the bottom of the meta-tarsals, and causing blisters on the outside big toes. I’ve done 150+ miles, thinking they might just need a break in period. Nope.

    Going to back the Superiors, and hoping the Superior 3.0 will address the durability issues so many of us have I countered.

  9. Vinny April 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    Question regarding your statement on your foot’s ability to slide around when on steep or unbalanced terrain. I recently hiked in these shoes and by the end of a 10-mile hike has developed an excruciating patellar pain (never had it before), and definitely felt myself sliding around in them. I like the zero-drop build but am worried that the sliding in the shoes could damage my knees further. I’m attempting the PCT in 3 months – any suggestions for a long-distance shoe instead of the Altras? Previously been hiking in Sportiva Mutants, which I love but don’t like the 9-10mm drop.

    • Andrew Skurka April 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

      I’m not sure that patellar pain and foot sliding are related, but even so you don’t want to be “sliding around” inside your shoes for 2650 miles.

      I listed a handful of shoes that I think will work well on the PCT in another post on footwear for early-season backpacking.

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