July 2016 update: The Lone Peak 3.0 has been released. Read my review.
June 2016 update: After 556 miles of wear, I retired the Lone Peaks. Photos are at the bottom of this post.
Last August I was sent the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 shoes for long-term review. I seldom used them in the first four months: they seemed suboptimal for race training on Boulder’s steep and technical trails, and they were a non-starter for backpacking the burly Wind River High Route.
But recently I have used them much more extensively (tallying 345 miles to date), and I now consider them one of my go-to pairs. This largely reflects the wintertime shift in my training, with more miles on pavement and drier low-elevation trails (i.e. gravel multi-use trails and gentle singletrack), for which I’ve found the Lone Peak 2.5 to be most suitable.
- Recommended for running and hiking on smooth and open trails, mild and moderate grades, and mixed pavement/trail outings.
- Struggles when subjected to constant lateral forces, like on steep and rocky trails, and when off-trail. A poor pick for extremely sandy environments, and I’m skeptical of their durability if subjected to extensive abrasion.
- A very comfortable shoe, due to its wide toe box, breathable upper, generous cushioning, secure heel and midfoot fit, and neutral design.
- Satisfactory durability (at a minimum, but perhaps better) of the upper and outsole.
- Weight: 10.6 oz (men’s size 9), 9.2 oz (women’s size 7)
- All-mesh upper
- 25mm stack height, “Moderate” EVA cushioning
- Zero drop
- Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw™ outsole
- $120 MSRP
Please support this review purchasing directly from Altra, which supplied these shoes to me.
Altra has a reputation for roomy toe boxes, and the Lone Peak 2.5 only reinforces it. This feature improves comfort, but compromises lateral stability — my forefoot slides excessively side-to-side when on steep, rocky, and/or off-angle surfaces. The Lone Peak 2.5 more successfully secures the heel and midfoot, relative to earlier versions.
With my low-volume feet, I have nearly exhausted the lacing system. The Lone Peak seems more suitable for girthier feet, which may improve lateral control, too.
Like most shoes, especially those with EVA foam insoles and midsoles, be prepared to tighten the shoes several times on your first outings. They will compact and conform to your foot quickly.
I have found the size 11.5 to be perfect. I’m also 11.5 in Salomon, and a size 45.5 in La Sportiva.
When I first began to run and hike in the Lone Peak 2.5, I was in great shape and accustomed to shoes with 4 to 6 mm of “drop,” or the height differential between the heel and forefoot. Even so, my calves felt tweaked after my first run in them, an easy 5-miler. Be prepared with a tennis ball or foam roller — 10 minutes of massage after each run should keep the issue manageable.
Once muscularly adjusted, the zero drop is a winning design feature, at least for me. In the Lone Peak, I definitely feel that my running and walking stride is more natural, with a smoother foot-strike and push-off, and less hard heel-striking and forefoot-slapping, especially on downhills. Your reaction may be different based on your bio-mechanics.
The mesh upper has excellent air permeability. The perks: fast dry times, and excellent performance in hot and humid conditions. The downsides: cold feet in cold temperatures without a warm sock (for which a larger size shoe may be needed), and a sieve for fine desert sand like that found in the canyons of southern Utah.
Since the shoe lacks an exoskeleton, it relies entirely on the mesh upper to retain the foot. This reduces the likelihood of hot spots (e.g. on the pinkie toe where the toebox folds) but exacerbates the lack of lateral and fore/aft control, especially since the mesh seems to have some mechanical stretch. In this respect, the Lone Peak 2.5 reminds me of the La Sportiva Wildcat, which shares the same platform with the more stable Ultra Raptor.
After 345 miles of on-trail use, the uppers show almost no sign of wear. Altra’s claims about the improved durability of the Lone Peak 2.5 seem supported. However, if I was expecting to encounter extensive brush and/or talus, I’d be more confident with an upper like that on the Salewa Speed Ascent, which has abrasion-resistant panels and a more robust toe cap.
The Lone Peak 2.5 is the most cushioned shoe in my closet. I’ve found its 25 mm stack height (mostly consisting of EVA foam) to be sufficiently plush for hard surfaces, like packed trails and pavement, but not top-heavy.
Given the durability of the upper and outsole, I suspect that the midsole will be this shoe’s ultimate failure. The shoe will feel increasingly flat, until small pebbles can be felt underfoot and road-running is not as comfortable as it once was.
Between the cushioning and the rock plate, I don’t feel any need to tip-toe through gravel beds and around big rocks. However, such terrain tends to exert lateral forces on the foot, which is a problem for this shoe. Hence, I’d consider it best for smooth and gentle trails, not rocky ones.
Three-fourths of my outsole looks almost new. The remaining quarter, centered below my big and index toes, has been worn completely flat. Overall, I’d say that the outsole durability is at least satisfactory. If I had run or hiked more miles on more aggressive terrain, the wear probably would have been better distributed.
It was difficult to judge the outsole grip. It is not the limitation on control — that distinction belongs to the comfortable but slimy upper.
After years with Salmon’s QuickLaces, it’s difficult to return to conventional shoe laces. Mid-run adjustments are particularly frustrating, lasting minutes instead of seconds.
The laces are too long, even for someone with a high-volume foot and a new shoe without any midsole compression.
The 556-mile update
I recently retired the Long Peaks after 556 miles of use. Yes, that’s exact — I record all of my runs with a GPS watch.
The reason for retirement? The outsole had worn so thin, centered around my big toe, that I was concerned it was affecting my foot plant and push-off. Otherwise, the shoe was still in excellent shape. Some photos:
Find the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Here
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I’ll preface this by saying that I have pretty wonky feet, a combination of issues including something like Morton’s neuroma, an injury to the nerves passing between the metatarsal heads commonly caused by things like high heeled shoes (not my problem) that constrict the forefoot.
For years my go to hiking shoe was the Brooks Cascadia, but as my feet became more sensitive to pressure across the met-heads I had to find something wider (why do running shoes not come in a greater range of widths?)
Altras are about the only thing I can really tolerate theses days, and some fit better than others. I probably have about 6 different models for work, casual, and hiking/running. I find they are a bit inconsistent in sizing; I wear a 13-14 depending on the model.
My first and favorite fitting are the Lone Peak 2, which has the most volume in the forefoot. Unfortunately, the outsole was pretty sad, with insufficient tread depth and a propensity to fall apart. The 2.5 have a way more robust outsole. Unfortunately the forefoot volume is slightly less requiring some time with a shoe stretcher and hair dyer and skipping the first eyelet to get them comfy. Other than that, they work great for me. I have never had an issue with lack of lateral stability in the forefoot, perhaps because of the terrain I’m usually on (Olympics and N. Cascades.) I’m a huge fan of the built in gaiter lock, having used Dirty Girls for years and repeatedly having the Velcro patch come off, usually in cold water.
Overall I’m very thankful that Altra is putting out some innovative, high performance shoes with a crazy big forefoot.
I’ve used the 1.5’s and the 2.0’s and seen the durability in the upper increase drastically between those two. The real weak point is the outsole – mine tend to wear completely flat on the front 1/3 of the shoe and the plastic X’s rip off.
Still my favorite shoe for hiking.
My biggest gripe with the 2.5’s (and the 3.0’s to come) is that they’re not going with a vibram outsole like the olympus. What gives?!?! This would be the perfect trail shoe with a more durable outsole!
I can’t convince my brain that a roomy toe box doesn’t mean the shoe is too big… But every Altra I’ve tried feels like the thing is about to fly off my foot. Even if it’s not, the thought is distracting as hell.
Nike Wildhorse 3… I’m usually pretty anti-Nike but I have been so happy with these things.
give em a try.
**I don’t work for Nike**
I’ve found (in my case) that coupling the Altras with Injinji toe socks (which I wear to eliminate blisters between my two outer toes) minimizes the lateral displacement to a large degree. I’ve hiked with regular socks and run into the same shifting you mention. The ability to ambulate my toes independently increased my stability and stopped me sliding around inside the shoe. YMMV.
I wear the Lonepeak 2.0 and recently the 2.5. I am a neutral hiker with low foot volume. I always have to cut some of the laces off to get a perfect length. 2.0s wear above and below, BUT are soooo comfortable with no heel slip. The shoes let my feet do their natural thing and so, I believe, I do not suffer any feet trouble on trails of the PCT and AT. They seem light and cool, like beefed up moccasins somehow. Now I use the 2.5s. Still the same results with a bit more durability. Nice. The shoes are great, but seem to wear out some what quicker than others I have worn. I believe this is a small price to pay for happy feet. I too wish for the Vibram sole of the Olympus.
I am planning a long distance hike in New Zealand (1600kms) and wonder how you feel regarding the debate of trail running shoes versus hiking boots? I have always hiked in boots, yet use shoes for trail running. From your experience, which do you prefer and why?
Running shoes all the way. If you trail run, hiking in trail running shoes will feel very natural for you. Not sure what shoes you wear, but I’d recommend getting something more durable and robust than the average trail running shoe. La Sportiva Ultra Raptor, Adidas Terrex Swift R, Salewa Speed Ascent, etc.
Agree with @Hikerbox that by far the main issue for me is the poor outsole. It is downright treacherous on slick wet rock, which is very common for me most of the year in the PNW.
As a result, though the LP is by far the most comfortable shoe I have hiked in for normal trails, it is only usable about three months of the year (the dry ones) for me.
This could be –easily– solved if the Altra just took the Vibram sole on the Olympus and put it on the Lone Peak. That’s a really solid outsole, very grippy.
I have only about 300 miles on my last pair and the soles are already in sad shape. Really, it should last longer than that.
I agree overall with your assessment and my experience has been similar. On rocky surfaces, lateral support is weak, though partly this is one price you pay for the phenomenal breathability. Walking these dry is so easy due to that breathability. Still, if extra lateral support could be added without sacrificing that breathability, that would be good. Toe box room is amazing: I have never had blisters, rubbing, or chaffing of any kind while wearing these.
Finally, a minor annoyance is that LPs tend to attract dirt and particles into them (esp. dried Doug fir needles!) into the through the low ankle sides. I usually wear Dirtygirl gaiters with them, though I’d really rather not. A trail runner at a local shop gave me the tip to snip off the trailing “mud” flap on the back outside heel. That does help, in my experience, but gaiters help more.
Here in Japan where it rains hard all the time and most of your hiking and mountain running are on rocky trails, I, too, and quite a few of my Japanese friends, find the Lone Peaks treacherous on wet trails. I don’t know how anyone can hike hundreds of miles in wet weather with them. They are by far the most slippery trail running shoes I’ve ever owned.
I’ve been using Altra Lone Peak and Olympus for a couple years now for all my running. I went to them for the toe box and now I have a hard time finding anything else that feels as comfortable and doesn’t squeeze my foot. Any recommendations for a more hardy shoe that still offers a good amount of room?
How do you feel about trail runners with thicker midsoles, such as those from Altra and Hoke One One, for long-distance hiking on rougher trails? My gut feel is that they might feel tippy – I usually prefer shoes that keep my foot lower to the ground while still providing some cushion.
For rougher trails I am wary, too, and tend to favor more stiffness than cushion for foot protection — not as soft, but better feedback and control.
I agree. I just spent 4 days in the San Juans with my Hoka’s and they are way too tippy and cushy on loose talus and scree. I was just climbing 14ers and I rolled my ankles more than I ever have in Salomon trail runners. I will be checking out the Lone Peaks shortly as I need a wider toe box.
I was running behind a friend on Sunday when he popped his ankle in Hokas. Some models may be better than others, but I feel for rock-strewn trails they are simply too high and tippy.
If you’re looking for a wider toe box you’re heading in the right direction with the Lone Peak. However, the 2.5 aren’t super stable either, but more due to the lack of structural reinforcement in the upper, i.e. no stiff overlay. I have not seen them yet, but it looks like they tried to address this issue with the Lone Peak 3.0, which was just released.
Let me know what you think of the 3.0s. I’m contemplating buying them for PCT training and my thru hike next spring. Heard great things about the 2.5 🙂
I am hiking Grand Canyon R2R, Bryce Nat Park, and Zion Nat Park over 4 days in Sept. I see both the LP 2 (Neoshelll) and the LP 2.5 (not neoshell) are about the same price ($85 – $89 on RW). Any recommendation between the 2? Is the Neoshell a good idea? Is there another trail shoe you’d recommend over one of these?
Neoshell is a terrible idea unless you want your feet to be hot and sweaty in warm conditions, and damp for days if your shoes get wet from a creek crossing or wet brush (both unlikely in the GC if you are sticking to the main trails).
Thanks Andrew! I have fallen on either the LP 2.5 or the 3. Have you found those models to be true to size?
I wear 11.5 in Salomon, La Sportiva, Merrell, Salewa, and Altra.
I have not worn or even seen the 3.0, but I think they look more promising than the 2.5: more lateral stability, more abrasion resistance, and a more durable outsole.
I found the same as you with the Altra Lone Peak 2.5s. I was so bothered by the sloppy mid foot and heel that I had no choice but to return them. Regardless of lacing, I just couldn’t keep my heel from slipping. The lack of lateral support led my foot to slip from side to side even on modest terrain. I also was confused by the rudder. It simply kicked debris up and into the back of the shoe. Without gators, the rudder and wide-spaced mesh made the shoe frustrating on dirt, pumice, or sand trails. That being said, they sure felt comfortable and breathable, and I loved the wiggle room in the toe box. After giving up on the Lone Peaks earlier this year, I ordered the Lone Peak 3.0s last week. FINALLY!!! What an improvement. Altra honestly addressed all but one issue I had with the shoe. The new more precise fit is due to a firmer mesh upper. The shoe heel now hugs my heel. The outer sole is more grippy. The rudder is gone and the mesh is more durable and not as “open”, limiting excessive debris from entering. The only thing that makes this new model just slightly less than perfect for me on a trail such as the JMT is that the outer sole still feels a little soft. In spite of that, the 3.0s may be replacing my Saucony Peregrines. They’ll compliment my Salomon Speedcross 3, as the traction on the Altras can’t compare to the Salomons. The Salomons are better for wet, slick, and more technical terrain. I’ve only worn the 3.0s for a 6.5-mile and a 2-mile jaunt, but so far they are great. I need to add another 100 miles before I can say that I am in love. Never having worn zero drop shoes, I had no problems with my first 6.5 miles in them. They seemed to alleviate my Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, but only after a couple of longer mileage days will I know for sure. I’m trying to introduce them slowly so that my biomechanics aren’t shocked!
Hmm, interesting. I have the 3.0’s, review forthcoming, and I honestly do not feel that much has improved over the 2.5. Maybe some improved control, but they hardly have the handling I want for technical trails. If your conclusion remains the same even after additional use, it just goes the show that shoes a very personal decision.
I agree with you completely on the use of the 3.0s on technical trails, which is why they’ll compliment my Salomons. I am loving them on the gentle rolling hill trails (think Iowa!). I did my first 10-miler in them yesterday and they felt great. I still think they are a little too soft/squishy/clunky/slippy for more technical trails. I will defer to my Salomons for most of our off-trail and more technical Idaho trips. The comfort and fit of the 3.0s makes them my new favorite for the bulk of my easy miles. Definitely a personal fit and preference though. Many of the trail runners that I’d love to wear (like Salewa) just don’t fit my feet well. I want to wear the Salewa Speed Ascent so bad, but I can’t get a good fit. Every time I see that shoe I’m awe struck by the design and craftsmanship!
I actually read this review after hearing so many great things about Altra, and at the time the 3.0 was just released. I found them for a decent price and figured it couldn’t hurt since everybody raves about them. I just sold them… The “tippy” feeling on anything other than a nice rolling trail is crazy. I am located in the Ozarks and most of our trails are quite rocky so even on a short 5 mile loop I rolled an ankle multiple times, which is not common for me. I really think that such a tall stack height really is a disadvantage in a lot of situations. Can you recommend something with similar comfort that is lower in stack??
It’s not just a stack issue. It’s a combination of stack height, the shape of your foot, and the lateral control in the upper. For some people they are great. For people like you and me, they are a non-starter for even moderately technical trails.
I have no first-hand leads on other models you should look at that are similar. However:
Hoka is another brand with a reputation of cushy shoes and minimal drop. I see guys running pretty fast on technical trails with them, so at least one of their models has to be better.
The Brooks Cascadia is pretty lofty: 27 and 17 mm, versus 25 mm for the LP.
Also the Salomon Wings.
Let me know what you think of the 3.0s. I’m contemplating buying them for PCT training and my thru hike next spring. Heard great things about the 2.5 ?
They are similar to the 3.0. If you don’t have wide feet, they will not work. And even if you have wide feet, they are limited to lightly technical trails at best.
Interesting how these 2.5’s have broken down. Failure for mine, both left and right shoes, was at the ball of the foot. If you look at the tread, where the grey “toes” are is where both bunched up and eventually cracked internally. I do hope this is fixed in the 3’s. The shoes lasted about a year of moderate use on sandy trails – and in some water.