Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM Review
Cons: Zero drop takes getting used to, traction lacking
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested this boot in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, hiking over rock and scree, through talus and snow, and even used them for trail runs.
Altra has certainly been making a name for themselves as one of the most popular models for long-distance thru-hiking, so certainly they must be doing something right in the comfort department. Our lead tester was not familiar with the fit and feel of Altra shoes prior to testing the Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM. We were immediately impressed at how soft and roomy they feel, right out of the box. The soft material requires no break-in period, so they are ready to hit the trail.
The fit is unique and may take a bit of time to get used to. Altra shoes and boots are known for their "zero drop" soles, meaning there is no change in height from the heel to the toe. This makes the foot sit flat (which some podiatrists recommend as being more foot healthy). We are getting used to this, but we did really enjoy the width of the Footshape toe box, which allows our feet to spread out and relax, resulting in fewer hotspot issues than we would have expected.
The Lone Peak 4 boots are essentially a beefed-up trail running shoe, so let's start there when assessing their stability. Obviously they will not stack up well against a rugged mountain boot made from full-grain leather, but on their own, are they stable? They have a 6-inch ankle cuff height, which drops to 4.5-inches in the back, and this allows them to flex well when making long strides. The laces can be cinched down for a secure fit, which acts as much as a reminder not to roll your ankle as anything else. This boot has virtually no torsional stability built into the midsole.
The real question around stability, for us, revolved around the space in the footbed. This wide fit gives a lot of room to wiggle around, which can be nice when on simple terrain, but when side-hilling and hopping through challenging off-trail conditions, we chose to move more cautiously due to the limited stability offered by our footwear.
Altra uses a proprietary rubber compound and tread design called Duratread on their Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM boots. We find it to be good on trails and other firm surfaces and had good experiences on wet and dry trail types. The boots are wide so there is a lot of surface area contact, but the wide fit also keeps them from edging effectively and we did not feel confident while boulder hopping in off-trail talus or when carrying heavy loads.
We also are not super impressed with their performance in slippery conditions. The tread is very shallow, so they do not gain good traction in scree or mud.
The Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid boots weigh 1.77 pounds per pair. That is crazy light for a hiking boot, no matter what. Some of our favorite hiking shoes, which are low-cut, often struggle to make that weight. Yet, these are not the lightest boots in this review.
Wearing these for hours at a time on the foot was almost unnoticeable, so even though they did not win in this metric, they were so close that we gave them a very high mark in regards to their overall weight.
The Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM is built to withstand rain, snow, and mud. We find that it offers good waterproofness in wet weather, and keeps snow and mud out (but that we are not as stoked for the snow and mud due to some traction limitations). The way Altra gets their waterproofing is pretty cool - instead of using the traditional waterproof/breathable membrane that is sewn into the inside of the boot, they use a fully waterproof upper fabric material made of eVent. This techy solution saves some weight and lets them breathe a bit better than other models we tested in warm weather.
Some users have issues with the waterproofing, though in our field testing we stood in a cold mountain stream for 5 minutes and as long as the 4-inch flood height wasn't breached, our socks stayed dry.
We did not have any major issues while testing the Lone Peak 4 boots, but we anticipate that it won't be long before we do. The upper material is just so light and many of the seams are glued or welded and not sewn, leaving many opportunities for delaminations, which lots of users report as a problem. This is one of the issues with going lightweight in materials, they will not usually be durable for more than a season or so of hard use.
For the weight and comfort, as well as the high-tech waterproof fabrics, these boots are a good value.
We appreciate the Altra Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM as a specialized hiking shoe that will feel at home on a long-distance hike such as the JMT, PCT, or Appalachian Trail. They do well on the trail and are really lightweight, making them great for this application, as well as for those just looking for a comfortable, wide boot that is also appropriate for light hiking trips.
— Ryan Huetter