Altra Lone Peak 5 - Women's Review
Cons: Cushioning packs out, poor reputation for durability, zero drop takes training, no arch support
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lone Peak 5 is a foot-shaped technical trail shoe with a wide splaying toe box, loaded with cushioning underfoot. It utilizes a zero drop design, meaning there is no extra cushioning in the heel relative to the forefoot. This shoe is renowned in the trail running community for ultra distances. We've worn iterations of this model while traveling across the world on terrain ranging from rocky hikes in Colorado to trailless tundra in Iceland. The newest update sees a myriad of changes that we appreciate, including the option to choose a regular or wide fit.
What's New with the Altra Lone Peaks 5?
This update has seen several changes, and we're excited about most of them.
- New streamlined upper and TPU skeleton
- Updated drainage system
- Seemingly more durable collar
- New eyelet location for lacing
- New midsole material (Altra Ego has replaced Dual Layer EVA)
- More cushioning underfoot (25mm) without seeming taller
- Updated stone guard
- Wide and regular size options
- Smaller velcro strip on the back
- One loop pull instead of two on the heel
Loaded with a stone guard and 25mm of cushioning, the Lone Peak 5 is built to take on mile after mile of hard ground. We've tested it on country roads, soft singletrack, and rocky trails in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. The streamlined upper offers even more protection from sand and small particulates but doesn't have the hardest toe bumper.
We tried this shoe while running over rocky terrain and sandy trails. When testing, we noted if we could feel any rocks underfoot or if our feet could handle miles and miles of terrain without notice. In all these tests, this shoe did very well. In fact, the newest iteration of the Lone Peak sees an enhanced stone guard and thicker cushioning than ever before, making it more protective than it's been in the past while leaving the bulk behind. It scored on par with the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 and the Dynafit Feline SL.
A large amount of cushioning in addition to the stone guard is what offers the most protection. This shoe is built for ultra distances on rocky trails, and its performance reflects that. It's now a renowned favorite amongst thru-hikers for its level of cushioning. During our tests, the upper withstood running through sand, only getting into our shoe when kicked up over the collar, making it a good option for hanging out in the desert.
Furthermore, it features a new drainage system at the front of the toe, which allows it to drain decently after crossing creeks. However, when tromping through the Uncompahgre River with this newest iteration, we found this drainage system isn't as effective as the previous version because the drainage is concentrated at the top of the foot. That said, after running through rivers, you can expect it to dry out quickly with water escaping from the porous upper. Overall, this is a well-loved favorite amongst all trail goers due to its extra cushioning underfoot with a comfortable and roomy fit. It's an excellent option for any trail runner that plans to take on everything from technical and sharp tundra to smooth singletrack.
The MaxTrac outsole is composed of a soft rubber compound that adheres well to dry rock and does well over many trail conditions. It features multidirectional chevron lugs that grip well to steep and dry trails. It sheds mud (unless it's sticky clay) and does well in most conditions. The rubber compound isn't as sticky as a Vibram rubber, and the shoe scored a bit lower in this metric. However, we've still chosen it for several scrambling trail missions over fourth and fifth-class terrain.
We've tested versions of the Lone Peak over the last six years, and the traction pattern and rubber have changed and seen some make-overs, but the new outsole isn't much different from the previous model. We wore it while running over snowy county roads, dry desert trails, and muddy Spring weather. While it doesn't grip as well as Vibram soles, or shoes with longer lugs, it does well over most types of trails. It also works nicely as a cross-over option with a smooth ride on pavement and flatter surfaces.
We wore this shoe while hiking and walking daily, in addition to our daily trail run. We ran it mostly over snow-laden county roads and rocky trails in the San Juans of Colorado. It offers more sensitivity than we initially expected, with a low-to-the-ground feel, but balancing the amount of protection perfectly.
We noted that the additional cushioning made for a little more protection when running over sharp rocks and roots but surprisingly did not sacrifice sensitivity. We could feel rocks and roots underfoot to position our body appropriately when stepping on each, but the midsole would almost absorb the object, distributing the impact evenly. Thus, you can feel the trail while retaining excellent protection.
After wearing the Lone Peak for years, the newest iteration offers a similar level of stability as previous models. The upper features a new TPU overlay that fits better in the arch area, with well-placed upper lacing eyelets that allow you to optimize your fit. Additionally, because of the wide, foot-shaped toe spread achieved in the forefoot, you can easily stabilize your landing position on the forefoot. Even though the midsole is well-cushioned (with 25mm of Altra Ego), it's also dense, which still gives a low-to-the-ground feel.
We tested this shoe over snowy slush, mixed with rocks and mud, as well as on trails that varied in steepness around Ouray, Colorado, and Arizona, where steep switchbacks, hills, and rocky singletrack is the norm. When you plant your foot on the ground, we appreciate that the impact is distributed well throughout the forefoot. This shoe also has a midsole that offers a slanted sidewall, with the traction pad being a little wider than the midsole itself. When you step down, the shoe squishes outwards, offering more stability on the trail.
The wider platform offers a more stable base than other shoes with a steeper sidewall. Additionally, the Lone Peak 5 is more flexible than others. Your feet move around more, meaning you can make room for adjustments and, thus, stabilize your position on the trail. Since it has a taller stack height than most, it doesn't get the best points for stability, but this is one of the more stable trail shoes that we've tested for the amount of cushioning it has. It scored similarly to the La Sportiva Bushido 2 in this metric.
Comfort and Fit
Just as it is important with running shorts and tops, the fit of a shoe is paramount to comfort. If you are a fan of spreading your toes with ample amounts of cushioning underfoot, we can't help but boast about the comfort and fit of this contender, and it scored above average in this metric. It offers a 0mm drop, meaning that there is no additional cushioning in the heel compared to the forefoot. This design is said to promote a more "balanced and healthier" landing for the body. That said, it does take practice, especially if you are a heel striker, to switch to striking the ground with your forefoot instead. This shoe is best for those that like a little cushion underfoot and are, or intend to become, a mid or forefoot striker.
With 25mm of cushioning underfoot, this shoe is intended to protect and provide enough comfort to run everything from short to ultra distances. Not only is this a favorite trail runner for our testers, but it's also our favorite for extended backpacking trips and thru-hikes. The cushioning underfoot is responsive and breaks in after just a few miles.
The shape looks just like a foot. The toe box is nice and wide, tapering towards the heel. While we have always loved the fit of this shoe, it doesn't lock your foot in as tightly as you'd want for downhill sections on the go. We've noticed that the heel moves around, and our foot slides to the front of the shoe on the downhills, especially on steep terrain or when we get tired and forget to pay attention to running form.
The newest version also has a newly placed eyelet that allows you to adjust the laces better than ever, but we still couldn't get our heels locked in. For longer downhill sections, we would actually stop and tighten the laces before tackling 2,000 feet of descent. Still, the comfort of this trail runner is well above much of the competition, even if some adjustments are necessary to further lock in the foot for downhills. With all the shoe options in our tester's closet, this is the one that gets reached for the most frequently simply because of the wider toe box and magical comfort that's built for long days on the trail.
The Lone Peak is a decently lightweight shoe, weighing in at just 9.8 oz for a size nine. The materials do a great job of wicking away water and drying quickly. While it's not the lightest option in the bunch, it offers one of the best protection to weight ratios, making it a favorite for longer distances.
Should You Buy the Altra Lone Peak 5?
The Altra Lone Peak 5 is a classic trail runner boasting a foot-shaped, zero drop design with a wide forefoot. It offers 25mm of underfoot cushioning designed to take on long technical trails. The new update for version 5 sees a fresh redesign of the stone guard, upper, and midsole that, in our opinion, makes this one of the best models yet. It also comes in a new "wide" size. For any distance, including the ultras, this is one of the most comfortable shoes you can buy, built to take on technical and long trails.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
We love this shoe, and it's a classic in the ultra running and hiking community for its foot-shaped design and superior comfort. This new version is said to be more durable than previous iterations. We've tested it for about 60 miles at the time of writing this review, and since then, the upper materials and collar still look new, with the cushioning packing out just a bit. The performance of this trail runner is excellent when it's in prime shape, but it has a reputation for not lasting very long. If you're looking for a cushioned shoe with a zero-drop and foot-shaped design, this is a wonderful choice; just expect that it probably won't last as long as other contenders. The Inov-8 Terraultra G270 is another zero drop shoe that is more durable in our experience but is a bit more expensive and has a narrower fit in the toe box. If the wide and roomy toe box is what appeals to you, then we think you may like the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3, which is one of the most comfortable options we tested. The wider fit allows room for splayed toes, but it doesn't have the slippage problem found on the Lone Peak during the descents.
— Amber King
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