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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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