For those of you with a keen interest in the big three American long trails (the Pacific Crest, the Appalachian and the Continental Divide Trails) you will be aware of the never ending debate on equipment including hiking footwear. For a number of years the most regularly talked about hiking shoe was the Brooks Cascadia but over the past couple of years this shoe has lost some of the gloss associated with it and a range of other footwear has emerged.
One of the up and comers, at least in Australia, is the Altra Lone Peak 3.0. While this shoe has been around for a while it never quite managed to tick all the boxes going through a number of reincarnations before finally coming up with a formula that has grabbed the imagination of many long distance hikers. As someone planning to do some long trails over the next few years, I was willing to at least give this shoe a try to see what the fuss is about.
Over the next few months I will put these shoes through their paces and do a full review but having worn these now for just on two weeks, including on a 29 km walk, I thought I would provide my first impressions so here goes.
They’re light! At 736 grams for a pair of size 14 US they make my current go to shoe the Salomon XA 3D Pro look heavy
They have loads of cushioning which makes it feel like you are walking on air. Even after doing a 29 km walk on concrete and bitumen my feet were happy
The shoe shape matches as far as it is possible your foot shape so they tend to be square shaped and a bit broader at the front but snugger at the back allowing your toes room to move and expand
‘Zero Drop’. Traditional running shoes tend to be higher at the back than at the front, typically 12-15 mm. These shoes provide a level platform. It felt strange when I put these on because they noticeably changed my walking style. I felt much more upright. The manufacturer recommends wearing these shoes in, the shoes are fine but you need to be able to get used to the shoes from a biomechanical perspective so in reality you are wearing your body in. It took me about a week to get used to them
They have been built to take the Altra Trail Gaiters and the Dirty Girl Gaiters, as well as their own branded gaiters, having a small loop at the front and built in velcro at the back. If you’re going minimalist then this is the type of gaiter you are likely to be wearing
They have very good traction on dry unstable slopes and reasonable traction in muddy conditions
They breathe well so you feet don’t overheat
The sizing is all over the place. If you compare the size charts of Altra shoes compared to other manufacturers such as Merrell, Keen and Salomon its almost impossible to work out the sizing. The websites suggest buying one size larger than you normally would but I purchased a size 14 US (my normal size) rather than a size 15 US and as far as I can tell they are 1/2 size smaller and so far they fit me reasonably well
Breathability has a down side regardless of the manufacturer. I did a short hike in heavy rain and ended up with damp feet but I can say the same for any shoe that provides breathability
I hope these first impressions have been helpful. Over the next few months I will give these shoes a flogging and see how they stand up to long multi-day hikes in a variety of conditions.
Five months later........
It’s been five months and approximatley 500 km since I wrote about my first impressions of this shoe and over that time I have given them a good working out in a variety of conditions. So how has the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 stacked up after extended use? (Please note that I managed to get 1200km over out of these shoes before reluctantly giving them up)
The newer Lone Peak 3.5 is now available but this newer models will push you up a sizing
8.2 / 10
Value for Money 1.5
Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mens Shoe Final Review
What I like
These are the lightest pair of hiking shoes that I own and after long days hiking this makes a difference
I noticed the zero drop construction of these as soon as a I put them on and found it strange after using shoes for years that have had a 10 mm+ drop from the back to the front of the shoe. I have now grown accustomed to this now so when I swap back to my Salomon XA 3D Pro I don’t even think about this anymore. I find that the zero drop does make me stand up straighter rather than tending to lean forward
I like having a wide toe box. I tried a pair of Keen Targhee’s over the past couple of years and they are too wide for me. The Altra’s are in that Goldilocks zone for me and is ‘just right’ allowing my toes room to move without feeling like they are swimming inside the shoe
They cushioning has lasted well so far and unlike other shoes I have used I haven’t found that there has been any collapse of support. I particularly like this cushioning layer on concrete and bitumen
They traction is good on a variety of surfaces and while it doesn’t excel in any particular area
They breathe well so your feet don’t overheat. They also dry reasonably quickly in warm weather when they get wet
The toe guard provides good protection for the front of the foot
The ‘Gaiter Trap’ works well with the lycra style gaiters
What I don’t like
If you read first impressions text above I identified what I thought where going to be the possible issues with the Altra’s after a couple of weeks use. The possible issues that I identified in my first impressions haven’t changed but after falling in love with this shoes for the first month or so discovered an issue that is a limiting factor for me
While these shoes perform well on groomed trails and have great protection on the bottom go the foot I find that there is not enough protection on the sides of the shoes on rocky trails. In other words I wouldn’t use these shoes on dry rocky trails e.g. Larapinta Trail
Would I use these shoes for hiking?
These shoes are sold as trail runners but many hikers, including myself, use trail runners as their preferred hiking shoe. While these shoes are not going to replace my current favourite, the Salomon XA 3D Pro for the more hardcore hiking trails, on a groomed surface with minimal rocks I still like to use the Altra’s as my first choice as I find I have a bit more sensitivity to whats happening underfoot.