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Altra King MT 2 - Women's Review

A lightweight trail runner than boasts phenomenal traction with a wide toe box and specific fit.
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Price:  $140 List | $138.54 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Versatile on-the-go fit, sticky and aggressive outsole, versatile use, sensitive and stable
Cons:  Potential durability issues, high price, zero drop design may not be for everybody
Manufacturer:   Altra
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Foot protection - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 8
  • Traction - 15% 9
  • Stability - 15% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Altra King MT 2 is one for those that appreciate superb traction and a zero-drop minimalist design. This year, it receives a complete update that we just love. The forefoot is nice and wide, allowing you to splay your toes, while the midsole is infused with 19mm of cushioning from heel to toe with a built-in rock guard. The Velcro strap provides an on-the-go fit that allows you to cinch it down when descending big switchbacks and to loosen it up when your run turns into a hike. It's a perfect option for snowy runs, technical terrain, and dirt roads. If you want a shoe that'll perform on any surface, including the sloppiest, this is it! It's an excellent option for the spartan racer, weekend runner, or ultramarathoner.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Versatile on-the-go fit, sticky and aggressive outsole, versatile use, sensitive and stableWonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex designExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleComfortable, versatile fit, great responsiveness, fantastic value, durableInexpensive, super lightweight, light cushioning, comfortable, zero-drop, wide toe box yet narrow profile
Cons Potential durability issues, high price, zero drop design may not be for everybodyLaces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybodyHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementDoesn't shed mud well, some midsole compaction over timePotential durability issues, less aggressive outsole not meant for muddy surfaces
Bottom Line A lightweight trail runner than boasts phenomenal traction with a wide toe box and specific fit.A unisex trail runner that offers amazing all-around performance on all surfaces.An aggressive trail shoe that is built for the steepest and most technical trails out there.A superior performer that offers exceptional value on all types of terrain.A zero-drop shoe boasting lightweight cushioning and a super wide toe box.
Rating Categories Altra King MT 2 - Women's Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0 - Women's
Foot Protection (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
5
Stability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
10
Specs Altra King MT 2 -... Inov-8 TerraUltra... Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0...
Measured Weight 9.2 oz 8.45 oz 10.7 oz 9.8 oz 7.9 oz
Ideal Terrain All terrain All terrain Soft surfaces, technical terrain All terrain All terrain
Width Options Regular Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 0 mm 0 mm 10 mm 4 mm 0 mm
Stack Height from toe to heel (mm) 19/19 9/9 10/20 18.5/22.5 21/21
Upper Mesh Kevlar Mesh Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays IsoFit Engineered knit
Midsole Altra EGO EXTERFLOW Injected EVA PWRFOAM Altra Quantic
Outsole Vibram Megagrip Litebase Graphene Grip Contragrip PWRTRAC MaxTrac/TrailClaw
Rock Plate? Yes Yes Yes None Yes
Sizes Available 6 - 11 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12 6 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

Update Alert
This year, the Altra King MT has been completely updated, and it's even better than before! The upper has been redesigned with a reinforced harness that locks the arch into place, and a thicker overlay exists around the toe box to improves durability (so far from what we've seen). The fit in the toe box feels wider than before, which we appreciate as this was a major caveat with the previous iteration. We also love the updated outsole that has smaller, sharper, and more aggressive chevron lugs that bite down on sloppier surfaces better than ever. The result? Better fitting, more durable, and better performance.

The King MT 2 is a zero-drop trail running with an aggressive outsole and a minimal amount of underfoot cushioning. It stands out for its ability to carry you for short to long distances (think ultramarathons) with comfort. A wonderful mountain runner, it'll take you effortlessly over technical terrain if you prefer a more sensitive ride.

Performance Comparison


A look at the King MT 2 that offers great underfoot protection  stability  and sensitivity. This shoe is a favorite for long days on uneven terrain.
A look at the King MT 2 that offers great underfoot protection, stability, and sensitivity. This shoe is a favorite for long days on uneven terrain.

Foot Protection


It offers foot protection in the form of a thicker outsole, rock plate, with 19mm of underfoot cushioning. The Altra Ego cushioning is high density with a responsive spring. When running on trails littered with sharp rocks, we could feel the rocks but did not experience any pain.

A look at the protective upper and toe cap that isn't waterproof  but does good wicking away moisture.
A look at the protective upper and toe cap that isn't waterproof, but does good wicking away moisture.

While a thicker midsole, this is essentially a thicker barrier between you and underfoot trail hazards. Overall, we would call this a protective trail shoe, but it's not the best. Given its thinner design, there are far more protective options out there that use a thicker midsole and a burlier rock plate. The toe bumper in the front is also quite flexible, which doesn't protect the best from rock stubs.

This toe cap also acts as drainage when crossing creeks. The upper doesn't let anything through while offering great protection.
This toe cap also acts as drainage when crossing creeks. The upper doesn't let anything through while offering great protection.

The lack of cushioning is made up for by a rockplate built into the midsole.
The lack of cushioning is made up for by a rockplate built into the midsole.

Sensitivity


We wore this shoe while running a-many trails in the late Fall; these trails were typically snow-covered, sun pocketed, with undulations and rocks everywhere. On these runs, we could feel every rock and undulation underfoot. While they offer just the right amount of protection, these bad girls are ultra-sensitive, as well. Not as sensitive as a barefoot shoe, but pretty close.

You can feel every part of the trail with this super-thin shoe.
You can feel every part of the trail with this super-thin shoe.

Traction


We love this outsole. Built with Vibram rubber, it holds onto dry rocks like no other. The lugs are deep and chevroned shape, resembling the outsole of our Top Pick for Traction, but not as long. On snowy runs, we got to really test the traction and slip to full capacity. What we've noticed, especially on icier roads with a little snow overtop, is it grabs without the shoe slipping back. It also does well in mud, shedding it readily without accumulating a "mud pie" on the outsole.

A look at the traction of this great performer.
A look at the traction of this great performer.

On dry terrain loaded with sand, dirt, or other types of surfaces, it does well. It stomps through deeper sand with ease, while floating over easier terrain. The lugs aren't long enough or soft enough to really abrade on the pavement, so it can handle the odd road run on a trail adventure.

Breaking trail is a little slippery  but we're impressed by the traction of the King MT.
Breaking trail is a little slippery, but we're impressed by the traction of the King MT.

Stability


With a low stack height and wide forefoot, we feel stable while running in it. Its upper is not rigid but flexible but has a stability harness that maintains the shape of it when twisting around rocks on technical terrain. Its light weight allows you to lift your legs easily so as not to accidentally trip or stub your toe. The collar wraps around the ankle nicely, while the Velcro strap locks the foot in whenever you need it. Stable? Yup!

Even on icy terrain littered with rocks  its low profile offers great stability on the trail.
Even on icy terrain littered with rocks, its low profile offers great stability on the trail.

Comfort and Fit


This is a trail shoe you can wear on a fast training run or during your next ultramarathon. The underfoot cushioning is responsive and high density with a bit of cushion. Its zero-drop design makes it a better choice for mid and forefoot strikers as there's not enough cushion in the heel to protect heel strikers. The fit is quite specific. The heel cup is small, which wraps around the Achilles nicely, with a cushion on the Achilles.

The gaiter trap offers compatibility with a gaiter to keep stuff from entering at the collar of the shoe.
The gaiter trap offers compatibility with a gaiter to keep stuff from entering at the collar of the shoe.

The upper on the collar is thin while the tongue is long enough to pull out and adjust as you please. With a flexible upper, especially around the widest part of the foot, there's a little give for those who need a wider fit. With some breaking in, it will adhere to your foot perfectly. We also love the Velcro strap that brings the upper together laterally to offer an even more specific fit on the trail. The lace eyelets are placed wide enough apart that you can really cinch it down if you have an especially narrow foot; or, you can loosen it up if your foot is wide.

While the velcro strap is cool  we didn't use it very much. However  some people might appreciate a versatile  on the go fit.
While the velcro strap is cool, we didn't use it very much. However, some people might appreciate a versatile, on the go fit.

Weight


This is a lightweight shoe (9.2 ounces, size nine) that hardly feels there when you run. On the trail, we feel light and ready to tackle the steep slopes without a problem. While it does a good at wicking away moisture, it, unfortunately, takes a little more time to dry when wet, saturating easily and feeling heavier. Thank goodness for its drainage holes in the front of the shoe that makes water escape easy.

A lightweight shoe that offers a quick  easy ride on the trail.
A lightweight shoe that offers a quick, easy ride on the trail.

Value


Those that will find the most value in this shoe are those who seek a lightweight, wide-footed option with an aggressive outsole that can go almost anywhere. Altra users know of the reputation associated with the construction of this shoe. They can break down after about 200-300 miles, depending on how heavy you are, and how you use them. In our experience, the King MT's haven't lasted that long; we're lucky if they make it to 200 miles.

The blow out zone (for us) has been around the edges of the upper; however, in this update, there is more reinforcement in this zone. We've only put about 60 miles on these with positive results, so we hope they will last longer than in the past. That said, given the high investment price, we'd say the value is there if this is exactly what you've wanted in a trail shoe. Many Altra users know and accept the high price, and low mileage, simply because of the on-trail performance when they work well, is exceptional and unparalleled. Stay tuned for updates on durability as the years go on.

Here we trek uphill through varying terrain. Today  we climb 4 000 feet over rocky trails and snow-laden ridges. The King MT does a great job keeping us protected throughout.
Here we trek uphill through varying terrain. Today, we climb 4,000 feet over rocky trails and snow-laden ridges. The King MT does a great job keeping us protected throughout.

Conclusion


The Altra King MT 2 is built for those who appreciate a sensitive shoe with mega-traction and a zero-drop design. It's perfect for all types of terrain, from pavement to mud traps to your next spartan race. Just be wary of its predecessors' poor durability; a trait that Altra is known for, unfortunately, in the trail running community.

The King MT 2 offers a wide fit in a zero-drop design that we love for technical terrain. It's an all-terrain shoe.
The King MT 2 offers a wide fit in a zero-drop design that we love for technical terrain. It's an all-terrain shoe.


Amber King