The Altra Lone Peaks are among the most popular trail running shoes available. They’re common with Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and are known for their zero-drop sole and wide toe-box. I wore down two pairs of them to the sole before deciding to move on. Read why below.
- Zero-drop sole.
- Wide toe-box.
- Available at most major retailers. Easy to return and try on sizes.
- Good traction on a variety of trail surfaces.
- Moderately affordable.
- Water drains easily, and the shoe dries out easily.
- Plenty of half-sizes available, even for big feet.
- Lack of durability, especially in the sole.
- Inconsistent sizing among iterations of the shoe. Lone Peak 4, Lone Peak 5, Lone Peak 6, etc.
- Shoe-lace location and length of lacing area make it difficult to tighten for a precise fit, they skew towards a looser fit.
Note that the majority of my use of the Lone Peaks has been in the rugged and rocky trails of New England and New York State. Leather boots are a more common sight than shoes there. Your findings on durability may be different than mine based on the conditions of your local trails.
Amongst trail runners, the Lone Peaks are very common here in the Northeast. I decided to give them a shot, and I bought a pair from an REI. My feet run wide, and despite that, the size 12 Lone Peak fit my foot like a glove. From the fit alone, I was sure I’d be using them for a while.
A few days of hiking and running broke them in, and the fit noticeably loosened. But, the fit remained within an acceptable level. I did notice that with the shoe construction and the position of the laces, tightening it would primarily cinch the ankle, and it was hard to get a tighter fit along the rest of the foot.
I used these in the trails of the Adirondacks, Catskills, Harrimans, Green Mountains, and White Mountains; and along local, less-rugged neighborhood trails. With the trails in the former areas, the technicality and sheer elevation gain — often more than 1,000 feet per mile — mean you aren’t doing too much running. A good chunk of the shoes’ miles were towards “fast hiking.”
Durability began to show as a problem. Within the first few weeks of owning them, the front “toe-bumper” separated on each shoe. A quick search online showed this was common with the brand. When using them on the trail, the traction was fine and the rubber was sticky. But after every 20 miles or so, I could look underneath and see noticeable wear in the lug thickness. Over time I would lose traction as well. It took 300 to 400 miles before the lugs were nearly gone, with traction on a downward spiral after 150 miles of use. By that time, the upper was well worn with a few holes. The mid-sole packed down after 150 to 200 miles as well.
As for consistent running, most of my running with them has been on smoother dirt and gravel trails. I didn’t find any problems with the shoe there, but again, that doesn’t push the limits of any shoe.
Though they didn’t last too long, I decided to buy another pair. The price was moderate, and I was happy with the fit. I don’t find many shoes or boots which fit me well. I went to the REI, saw there was a new iteration of them, and thought “Sweet, maybe it’ll be more durable.” I then bought a pair in the same size.
I put them on, and it was tight, especially around the ankle and the middle of the foot. The fit was different than what I remembered from the first brand-new pair. Despite that, I assumed they would need a break-in period. I used them for a week of hiking and running.
Though they broke in, it was still somewhat tight. I took to Google and found out that the sizing was different with this iteration, and that Altra made it smaller. Since I made the purchase at REI. I returned them and bought a pair a half-size bigger, 12.5. This one fit much better out of the box, and after breaking them in, it was what I expected from the shoe.
They’ve since launched new iterations since this review, and the sizing is still inconsistent among them. The latest one even split the brand into wide and regular sizes.
Ths new shoe saw most of its miles on the trails of the Adirondacks. They’re said to be the most rugged trails in the lower 48, and I agree. They’re about as rugged as the climbing “trails” in the North Cascades, to provide a frame of reference.
After 200 miles, the sole lugs were almost gone. The toe-bumper had separated long ago. I managed to persist for 50 more miles until 250 miles. After that, I couldn’t even trust the traction on easier trails. The upper was in bad shape too, with holes and rips and what-not. While I threw them away, I decided to test the sole. I was able to rip it off of the upper, just by hand.
For scrambling, I couldn’t tighten it as tight as I prefer. The laces cinch around the ankle more than they do around the center of the foot and around the toes. A bit annoying.
On the plus side, the thin fabric and drain holes in the bottom of the shoe make them great for wet conditions. The Adirondacks are more wet than dry, even in summer. Deep pits of mud are frequent, as is water and moisture in every way, shape or form. The shoes never held on to water, and they dried out quickly.
But not wanting to blow $140 for every 250 miles of travel, I did more research and settled on something else.
The Altra Lone Peaks seem like they would be fine for trails that are often run on, like most of the frequented trails in the West. On rugged terrain they showed their weakness, where you’re forced to do more hiking than running.
For thru-hiking, I still think they would be suitable for any major trail in the country. Which, indeed, they’re popular for. The thru-hiking trails are better maintained, and are literal “hiker highways.” On a thru-hike they wouldn’t see as much abuse as put through here. Though the Appalachian Trail is very rugged, on a ruggedness per mile basis, the localized trails in New England and New York are more so. Don’t forget that a good chunk of the A.T. is in the South, which is easier on shoes than Pennsylvania and onwards.
Even on less-rugged trails, if you’re looking to get every mile per dollar, why not get a better option? There are plenty of trail runners out there which offer more durability for around the same cost. Many of those are lighter-weight as well.