At the Altra booth I found the Lone Peak 4.0, the next-generation of this popular trail running and thru-hiking shoe. It will be available in August 2018, and in four versions:
- Low Mesh ($120, 10.2 oz for M’s, 8.7 oz for W’s)
- Mid Mesh ($130, 12.3 oz for M’s, 10.3 oz for W’s)
- Low RSM ($150, 10.9 oz for M’s, 9.9 oz for W’s)
- Mid RSM ($160, 12.9 oz for M’s, 11.3 oz for W’s)
RSM stands for “rain, snow, and mud.” More commonly, these shoes are described as “waterproof,” which is a mischaracterization but is what it is. The RSM models will use eVent fabric, not Polartec Neoshell like the 3.0 waterproof version.
For almost an hour I spoke with the founder of Altra, Golden Harper, about the differences between the four 4.0 versions and also between earlier generations of the Lone Peak. Golden struck me as such a nice a guy that I might never say anything remotely negative about his company or products again.
The Lone Peak has been hugely successful for Altra. It’s the best-selling trail shoe in the run speciality market, the best-selling non-Salomon trail shoe in the outdoor non-speciality market, and now the most popular shoe on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, having surpassed the Brooks Cascadia.
Altra knows of changes that should be made to the Lone Peak, but it is careful in doing so. Some so-called improvements could cause a rebellion by the shoe’s fan base.
Overall, the changes made to the four-generation Lone Peak are probably less significant and fundamental than past generational updates. If you liked the Lone Peak 3.0 or Lone Peak 3.5, you will probably also like the Lone Peak 4.0, and odds are that you’ll probably like it more.
The biggest change to the Lone Peak 4.0 is the outsole. Altra considered using Vibram MegaGrip, but to save cost it ultimately chose a proprietary style, branded as Maxtrac. Even so, the raw expense of the outsole is still about twice that of the outsole on the 3.0 and 3.5.
The new rubber compound is grippier and more durable. The lugs are more aggressive and less prone to being sheared off by sharp rocks, and constitute a greater volume of rubber.
Less wholesale changes were made to the midsole. The last, 25-mm stack height, and foam firmness (or “durometer,” in shoe geek speak) are unchanged.
The tapering of the midsole thickness from the ball of the foot to the toes is now more aggressive. This results in more rocker and a quicker toe-off.
The TPU StoneGuard rock plate is no longer just a plain insert, but replicates the bone structure in the foot, i.e. long, independent metatarsals. The rock plate sits atop the midsole, under the foam insole. The new design should offer comparable underfoot protection, but with more flexibility.
Altra has struggled with the durability of the upper in the Lone Peak, especially the 2.5 and 3.0. With the 4.0, they sought out a mesh that appears almost identical to that used in the Salomon Speedcross, which is a proven material. I was told it has more stretch and is less boardy, however.
A V-shaped overlay surrounds both sides of the midfoot, which should improve lateral and fore/aft control. Harper believes the 4.0 will fit more securely than any previous generation of the Lone Peak.
The upper has been optimized for ventilation and water drainage. The moderately padded tongue is perforated. The toebox is made of single-layer mesh, not the customary double-layer. And the toe cap has two drain ports, to reduce the pooling of water inside the shoe after submersion.
The Lone Peak retains the GaiterTrap and lace loop, which work with Altra’s gaiters and some other varieties, notably Dirty Girl. Two additional anchor points were added, however, to achieve downward tension on each side of the gaiter without using in-step strap.
As previously mentioned, the 4.0 shares the same last (or foot shape) as the 3.0 and 3.5. The toebox is a little bit more open, but the midfoot and heel are slightly narrower. Generally speaking, if the 3.0 and 3.5 fit you well, the 4.0 will fit well, too.
The heel counter is back-less, which should make the 4.0 friendlier to odd-shaped feet and to those with chronic Achilles problems. Unlike with a normal heel counter, the very rear of the shoe is not stiffened with plastic.
Besides the cuff height, the low and mid versions have a few other differences. Altra expects the mid to be more popular among hikers and backpackers, so the changes are aimed at this application.
1. The outsole on the mid uses more carbon-based rubber, which will make it more durable but less grippy.
2. The mid heel is more reinforced, providing additional stability for heavier loads and perhaps more rugged terrain.
3. The midsole is “a little bit firmer,” according to Harper, enough to be noticeable. This should make the midsole more resilient, too, instead of feeling “thin” after just a few hundred miles.
With the RSM versions, several changes will help make them more weather-resistant. The drain ports in the toe cap were eliminated, for example, and the GaiterTrap was redesigned to create a better seal.
Have questions about the 4.0? Leave a comment.
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