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Altra King MT 1.5 - Women's Review

A lightweight zero drop shoe with ample toe splay that'll take you anywhere you wish.
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Price:  $140 List | $69.83 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Aggressive and versatile outsole, breathable upper, protective, light cushioning, zero-drop, wide forefoot
Cons:  Durability issues, expensive
Manufacturer:   Altra
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 18
  • Foot protection - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 9
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Stability - 15% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Altra Trail King MT 1.5 is built to take on terrain anywhere your mind wanders. This model offers a unique blend of lightweight protection with an outsole that does well on both hard and soft surfaces. While it doesn't shed as mud well as the ultra aggressive Salomon Speedcross 5, its a little more versatile, performing with high marks over all surfaces. Unique in comparison to other Altra products, it has a more narrow fit through the arch and heel, making it a possible option for those with a narrow foot that don't like other Altra models. It almost won our Editors' Choice award, but the Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 has better traction and durability. This product is best for those seeking a zero-drop heel-to-profile with a minimal amount of cushioning. It'll perform all year round with the most versatile utility we've seen with any other shoe.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $69.83 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$149.95 at Amazon$120.00 at REI$129.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$120 List
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Pros Aggressive and versatile outsole, breathable upper, protective, light cushioning, zero-drop, wide forefootSuperb traction, amazing durability, wide-toe box, zero-drop design, great sensitivity, highly protective outsole and upperComfortable, versatile fit, great responsiveness, fantastic value, durableExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleGreat price, flexible, comfortable, responsive, one-pull lacing system
Cons Durability issues, expensiveLaces come undone easily, lacks a women’s specific fit, upper takes time to break-inDoesn't shed mud well, some midsole compaction over timeHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementNo aggressive outsole, lug durability is questionable
Bottom Line A lightweight zero drop shoe with ample toe splay that'll take you anywhere you wish.This Editors' Choice winner crushes every metric with its innovative and super durable design.A superior performer that offers exceptional value on all types of terrain.An aggressive trail shoe that is built for the steepest and most technical trails out there.A well fitted and comfortable shoe that is best for non-technical surfaces.
Rating Categories Altra King MT 1.5 - Women's Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Peregrine ISO Speedcross 5 Sense Ride 2
Foot Protection (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Traction (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
6
Stability (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Weight (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
9
Specs Altra King MT 1.5... Inov-8 TerraUltra... Peregrine ISO Speedcross 5 Sense Ride 2
Measured Weight 9.6 oz 8.75 oz 9.8 oz 10.7 oz 8.6 oz
Ideal Terrain All terrain All terrain All terrain Soft surfaces, technical terrain Non-technical trails, cross-over terrain
Width Options Regular Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 0 mm 0 mm 4 mm 10 mm 8 mm
Stack Height from toe to heel (mm) 19/19 9/9 18.5/22.5 10/20 27/19
Upper Ripstop nylon/mesh Kevlar Mesh IsoFit Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays 3D Mesh
Midsole Altra EGO EXTERFLOW PWRFOAM Injected EVA Vibe
Outsole Vibram MegaGrip Graphene Grip PWRTRAC Contragrip ContraGrip
Rock Plate? Yes Yes None Yes None, profeel film
Sizes Available 6 - 11 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12 7 - 10

Our Analysis and Test Results

This trail runner can take you from the trailhead to the tops of mountains to the beaches of the coast. It offers an unbeatable balance of protection and sensitivity with an aggressive outsole that'll perform on all types of trails. It stands out for its zero-drop profile, minimal cushioning and super-wide toe box. It's stable, protective, and aggressive — a medley of features that will take you anywhere you'd like to go.

Performance Comparison


The Altra Trail MT 1.5s stand out for their versatility. From the tops of mountains to the beaches along the coast.
The Altra Trail MT 1.5s stand out for their versatility. From the tops of mountains to the beaches along the coast.

Foot Protection


The Altra King Mt 1.5 is surprisingly protective for its lack of cushioning and lightweight design. The continuous woven mesh that overlays the entire shoe keeps out nasty particulates while the midsole protects from underfoot hazards.

The outsole features a 19mm stack height throughout that is loaded with Altra's "Altra Ego" cushioning. This midsole feels relatively soft and is quite responsive while running. Integrated into the midsole is a protective and flexible StoneGuard that prevents super sharp rocks from stabbing the bottom of your feet. The outsole in conjunction with the midsole also helps with its thicker Vibram material.

A look at this lightweight and protective trail runner that features many elements that'll keep your feet safe on the trail.
A look at this lightweight and protective trail runner that features many elements that'll keep your feet safe on the trail.

The overlay mesh has a continuous design, running from the heel to the toe. When running in the desert, no sediment was able to enter this continuous overlay through the mesh. In wet weather, it is not waterproof. The overlay, however, is not very absorbent and does an excellent job wicking away water and shedding mud that's not too sticky. If you find yourself in a rainstorm, know that your feet will get wet. In dry snow, it stayed relatively dry on well-packed trails, which is pretty impressive.

A look at the tightly knit overlay that keeps out particulates and other pesky debris. The thick piece of material at the toe acts as a toe cap keeping feet protected from unsuspecting stubs.
A look at the tightly knit overlay that keeps out particulates and other pesky debris. The thick piece of material at the toe acts as a toe cap keeping feet protected from unsuspecting stubs.

A strap of protective material covers the toe cap to help with stubbed toes. The toe cap is moderately protective and won't protect from big accidental rock kicks on the trail. It's excellent for the random stub that most trail runners deal with regularly. This shoe offers excellent foot protection for its lightweight design. It has utility on the most technical trails because of it.

Sensitivity


Looking to get intimate with the trails around you? Wearing the King MT is a great way to start. Far from a barefoot shoe, it has a stone guard and 19mm of protection that will protect from a hazard that could stop your progress; it's just enough protection for longer runs and offers great sensitivity so you can get to know the trail you're on.

The midsole and outsole are thin enough to feel the natural contours of the trail underfoot, allowing you to correct positioning as needed. You'll feel rocks and other litter, but this shoe's protective elements will keep your feet healthy and safe. It'll keep you on your toes, dancing around natural hazards.

On the right we see the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 5 and the low profile Altra King MT. The Challenger is our Top Pick for Comfort because of its stacks of responsive cushioning that offers a smooth transition from toe-off to touchdown. The Altra King MT is much lower with greater sensitivity.
On the right we see the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 5 and the low profile Altra King MT. The Challenger is our Top Pick for Comfort because of its stacks of responsive cushioning that offers a smooth transition from toe-off to touchdown. The Altra King MT is much lower with greater sensitivity.

Traction


Altra integrated one of its most aggressive outsoles to add tremendous versatility in its design. It's this outsole that gives it so many applications. From the mountains to the deserts, it excels. Composed of Vibram Rubber, the outsole is relatively sticky, grabbing dry rocks without effort. The deep lugs are bi-directional which means that they dig into the trail to prevent slippage while going up and down.

A look at the burly outsole that does well through most sloppy terrain including Spring conditions in Colorado.
A look at the burly outsole that does well through most sloppy terrain including Spring conditions in Colorado.

While running on a snowy day in the Spring in Colorado, we were tackling a well-packed down trail and didn't notice a ton of slippage either laterally or back or forward. While charging downhill, we felt confident, amping up the speed while turning corners.

A look at the aggressive outsole.
A look at the aggressive outsole.

What's more, is that the outsole also works as a cross-over shoe. While we wouldn't recommend it for super long runs on the pavement, it provides a smooth transition, especially on dirt and country roads. The lugs aren't so long that they hinder performance on these less technical surfaces.


On loose dirt, it does great but isn't the best on super sloppy stuff like mud. Unfortunately, the lugs aren't long enough to get great traction on this variety of surface, and if it's silty or clay, it just sticks. Unlike the Salomon Speedcross 5 that has super widely spaced lugs, the lugs are close together, holding mud on the outsole.

The Altra Trail King MT 1.5 really is a jack of all trades with a plethora of applications. The outsole is fantastic for everything from the easiest to the hardest trails out there.

Stability


Simply put, stability is magical and amazing. Even with a 19mm stack height, it has design elements that make you feel like you have no shoes on at all. Balance is the key to stability, and this shoe allows you to balance in all directions while nimbly picking your way through obstacles.

A low stack height in combination with a zero heel-to-toe drop makes you feel light and free. The huge toe box adds to this stability, allowing you to spread out your toes for optimal lateral balance when the trail becomes off-camber. Of all the Altra shoes it offers the most precise fit. It's quite flexible and moves where ever you move with ease.

The strap that goes over the shoe enhances stability by locking your foot in when on. The plastic harness helps to keep the shoe's shape in a dynamic flow.
The strap that goes over the shoe enhances stability by locking your foot in when on. The plastic harness helps to keep the shoe's shape in a dynamic flow.

The overlay provides a skeletal structure to the shoe that keeps the upper form-fitted and in place. This clear overlay tap meets with the lacing system that pulls the entire shoe together, maintaining its structure while you move.

Comfort & Fit


Comfort comes in the form of a well-fitted heel cup and a nice, wide toe box that allows toes to spread out completely. It's lightweight and minimal, but high performance cushioning makes long days on the trail easy.

The cushioning underfoot feels soft, but is not as springy or soft as the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 5, our Top Pick for Comfort. The heel cup is nice and deep, setting your Achilles comfortably against a softer material for enhanced comfort. The tongue is ergonomic, attaching at the base of the lacing system. It holds into place while tackling trails and is soft against the skin.


The lacing system is pretty standard, offering enough play to either loosen or tighten for those with wide or narrow feet. Like all Altra Trail shoes, it has two gaiter adaptability points that work with a variety of gaiter options. Using these in wet or super sandy environments can help improve protection and ultimately enhance comfort.


Fit

Like all Altra Shoes, it features a zero-drop profile with 19mm of cushioning from heel to forefoot. In comparison to other Altra shoes, this is one of the narrowest options we've experienced with the shoe feeling like it's a bit smaller right out of the box. Given the lack of cushion in the heel, this shoe is best for mid to forefoot strikers. Heel strikers beware.

While it's narrow in comparison to the "wide class" shoe, it's a great option for those with a narrow arch looking for a wider forefoot. The velcro strap also allows you to lock down your foot to ensure you don't get "toe bump" on the downhill.

Most people are used to a heel-to-toe drop that is anywhere between 4 mm to 12 mm. Switching to a zero drop shoe can put a lot of strain on your calves and Achilles tendon, causing injury if you're not careful. Make sure to ease into zero-drop shoes if you've never worn them before. Take them for a short 1-2 mile to see how your body responds. Then add mileage until it starts to feel easy. These are best for those that do not heel strike.

Weight


The Altra King MT 1.5 weighs in at 9.6 oz for one size nine shoe. In the world of shoes, it's lightweight and feels nice and streamlined on foot. While it's not as like as its cousin, the Altra Peregrine, it provides amenable functionality for racing and lightweight performance.

The weight of one shoe on the scale.
The weight of one shoe on the scale.

Best Applications


You can use the Altra King 1.5 for anything! It's finely tuned protective elements keep you safe on technical terrain while burly outsole will have you sticking to ridges and smooth singletrack. It is best for the forefoot or midfoot striker, and we don't recommend it if you are heel-striker. It's great for those who appreciate zero-drop profiles. Steeps, flats, roads, technical trails, obstacle courses--this shoe suits it all. Its lightweight yet aggressive construction will have you flying up and down any trail.

Running around the world...take the Altra Trail MT anywhere you wish. Here we try them out on the glorious remote trails located on Kauai's (an island in Hawaii) jungly-like west shore.
Running around the world...take the Altra Trail MT anywhere you wish. Here we try them out on the glorious remote trails located on Kauai's (an island in Hawaii) jungly-like west shore.

Value


$140 is a lot of money to invest in a trail shoe. If you do, it should last. Sadly, this model does not have a great track record. After speaking with many ultrarunner friends (and seeing posts online), the King MT 1.5 tends to blow out pretty consistently after just a couple hundred miles. Its area of weakness where the overlay meets the hard textile that functions as a toe cap. Not only do blow-outs occur, but this shoe has also been known to pack out after just a few runs. Now, our friends still buy them, despite the blow-outs, because of their deep love for its niche performance; according to them, it is worth it. We, on the other hand, think the price is steep, but it's up to decide if these features offered are truly worth the investment.

Conclusion


The Altra King MT 1.5 is the trail runner we've been searching for! Almost winning our Editors' Choice award, this aggressive yet lightweight runner can go anywhere you an image. It's built to take on steep trails with its aggressive outsole and impervious upper. Fit is best for those seeking a neutral fit with no additional cushioning in the heel. Like all Altra products, it has a zero-drop profile and offers a wide toe box for added stability on the trail. We also love the more specific fit that we haven't seen with any Altra product thus far.


Amber King