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.
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:
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