My coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018 starts with Altra, which has developed a cult-like following among hikers and runners for its zero drop shoes, wide lasts, and gender-specific fits.
Altra revealed three new shoes at the show: the Tusher, Grafton, and Wahweap. They will be available in July 2019. Availability is uncertain at this time.
Teaser: Altra Lone Peak 4.5 or 5.0
Before previewing Altra’s new models, I would like to tease the next-generation Lone Peak.
Historically, the Lone Peak has been updated every six months, but going forward it will be on an 18-month cycle. If you love or hate the Lone Peak 4.0 (my preview), you’ll be stuck with it until Spring 2020, when we’ll finally see a Lone Peak 4.5 or 5.0.
Preview: Altra Tusher Hiking Boot
The Altra Lone Peak is said to be the single most popular shoe on long-distance trails like the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide Trails. Clearly, there’s demand for zero drop and wide lasts among hikers.
But does this demand run deeper than backpackers who are willing to hike in running shoes, and to backpackers who prefer to wear traditional hiking or backpacking boots? With the Tusher, Altra will find out.
This hiking boot will retail for $200 (or maybe $180), have a 27-mm stack height, and weigh 19.8 oz (or a bit less, for men’s size 9). It will only be available in a “waterproof” version.
The Tusher retains the features that put Altra on the map:
- Zero drop between heel and forefoot,
- A wide (“Foot Shape”) last, and
- Gender-specific builds.
But otherwise the Tusher has the looks and features of a conventional hiking boot:
- Upper exterior made of 1000-denier ballistic nylon and rubberized overlays;
- Seam-sealed waterproof/breathable eVent bootie;
- Compression-resistant polyurethane midsole (not EVA); and,
- Aggressive carbon rubber outsole.
The Tusher is built on Altra’s HFS last, which is higher-volume than the Standard last used in the Lone Peak. However, the Tusher’s eVent bootie and stiff upper materials should negate some of this extra volume, keeping the fit reasonably secure.
The Tusher is compatible with traditional and Dirty Girl-style gaiters. The outsole has an artificial instep, and the upper is equipped with Altra’s popular GaiterTrap.
Production will begin in a few months, but the Tusher remains a work in progress. Altra hopes to increase its midsole flexibility (which is atypically stiff for an Altra shoe) and to scale down its overbuilt toe cap. Wear-testing also needs to be completed, though to me the timeline seems too tight to address any fundamental issues that are discovered.
Preview: Altra Grafton
The Grafton looks like an approach shoe, with its Vibram circle outsole, rugged toe cap, long lacing system, and minimally padded suede upper. But Altra described it only as an “all-purpose outdoor shoe with approach qualities and characteristics.” Its relatively wide last (specifically, the XC last, which is one of Altra’s narrowest) will not provide the lateral stability and edging performance of a true approach shoe.
Preview: Altra Wahweap
Among the three new models, the Wahweap is the most well suited for everyday casual wear. It has a simple lined upper made of 75 percent hemp and 25 percent nylon, a big rubber toecap and heel, and a low-profile outsole that is laterally scored to increase flexibility.