First a couple of housekeeping issues before the review.
Definition of Zero Drop: The amount of drop found in the sole of the shoe from heel to toe. Most mainstream shoes are in the 10 to 12 mm range. All of the Altra shoes have a zero drop from heel to toe, meaning the sole is even along the length of the sole. Another important distinction; zero drop does not mean minimal. Hoka's don't have a very big drop and have a ton of protection.
|Montrail Masochist heel|
|Montrail Masochist toe|
|Altra Lone Peak heel|
|Altra Lone Peak toe|
Why Zero Drop? That's a very good question. There is no science behind the fact that zero drop could be better (or worse) for your running form, yet. I trust there will be plenty of studies done over the next year to discover the advantages or disadvantages. Many shoe companies are already cutting the drop in order to keep up with market demand. My own personal opinion; it simply makes it easier to strike on my mid to forefoot area. For me, that translates into happy knees and joints. The landing is softer and much of the shock is taken up by my muscles and supporting tendons. I discovered this by accident shortly before my knee surgery nearly two years ago. At that time I had made the switch to Inov-8 shoes looking for something with some grip to use at the HURT 100. Little did I realize the Inov-8 310's and 295's had less drop than my normal shoes (8mm), but I did notice I could strike mid to forefoot much easier.
Right out of the box the Lone Peaks come with an instruction manual, explaining zero drop and why it is important to make a slow transition into using them daily. I ignored the advice and just started running with them every day thinking my legs and feet were already prepped. I was wrong and ended up with a small strain on the outside of my foot, opposite of the arch. Ever since then I have been working them in a few times per week with great success.
The Lone Peaks run a bit large, so you may consider dropping a 1/2 size. Most of my shoes are 8.5's, like the Inov-8's, Montrails and Brooks and I went with an 8.5 in the Lone Peaks but I think I will try an 8 for my next pair.
Priced at the $100 mark and weighing in at 10.2 oz/295 grams they are competitive with other shoes in this range
The Upper: Comfortable is the word. The toebox has more room than I have ever experienced in a shoe. My big toe frequently gets a callous and irritated ingrown toenail but with these shoes I have seen both disappear. I did catch my forefoot on a few rocks when I first started wearing them because of the extra width but I adapted quickly and haven't found it to be a problem since. The extra room plus the toe protection meant that when I did kick a rock I couldn't feel it.
While the forefoot is loose the midfoot upper is super supportive and keeps the foot from moving around inside the shoe. My arch is quite normal and I felt like I had ample support, however the outside arch could probably use just a little more.
The heelcup feels loose but supportive. I thought for sure my heel would lift, based on how it felt when I put them on but it does not. This also means I have not experienced any heel rub whatsoever.
The mesh upper is very breathable and the protection on the sides are all mountain profiles. While I haven't truly waterlogged them yet I believe they will drain just fine.
|Big toe box|
|Heel with throwback trail rudder|
|Inside of the Lone Peak, note the cool mountain profile|
|Outside of the Lone Peak, note the cool mountain profile|
The Midsole: The Lone Peaks ride 11mm off the ground and have a rockplate that runs the entire length of the shoe. The protection is on par with the Brooks Cascadia's and Montrail Masochist's. I like it because I can still feel the trail but my feet don't take a beating like they did in the Inov-8 295's and 310's. The cushioning is adequate for mid to forefoot striking but not enough to handle heel striking all the time. The midsole is also pretty stiff and I notice it more on the pavement than I do on the trail.
The other striking feature of the midsole is the wide platform. Initially I thought they would feel sloppy but really they are extremely stable and a larger surface area potentially equals better grip...
The Outsole: Aggressive gripping power with style. First, the lugs are similar in design to the Cascadia 5's but the size and arrangement seems more effective to me. I've tested them on hard packed trails, dry loose dirt, mud, and snow with great success. The rubber compound grips almost as well as my favorite sticky shoes and sheds mud quite easily. So far I've put about 100 miles on them and they seem to be holding up well. I'll post an update in the future about their durability.
|Lone Peak on the left, Cascadia 5 on the right|
The trail rudder seemed a little odd to me at first but that's because I spent the 90's era cycling and not running. Many of the original trail shoes from that era had a rudder and I suppose Altra decided to give them a graceful nod for their innovative style. The rudder is supposed to help grip on the super steep descents and while I can't tell if it's the sole reason I'm not slipping, I haven't ended up on backside yet. I'm also anxious to try them out for some glissading action if we ever get some snow this winter.
The last little feature I would like to point out is something to distract your friends running behind you. I've received many comments on the yellow foot imprint that is quite visible from behind. I'm still not sure if there is a functional purpose as the rubber feels like the same compound but I'll find out put it in the update.
Conclusion: Possibly my favorite trail shoe so far. I say "so far" because I really need to do some longer 3 or 4 hour runs to get a real idea if they will keep my feet happy. I also want to test their durability, but like I said earlier, after 100 miles there are no signs of wear. Priced at the $100 mark, I suspect they will hold up quite well through at least 300 miles, we shall see.
I would highly advise making a transition into the shoes slowly. Work them in a couple times a week at first. Zero Drop means the the heel drops more and the achilles is doing more work than it's used to. Take it slow.
Anyone else out there running in the Lone Peaks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.