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Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Review

A comfortable and ergonomic zero drop shoe that is ideal for hiking and also popular as a trail runner.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, roomy fit in toe box, drains water well, sensitive and responsive
Cons:  Heavy, not the grippiest rubber outsole, less protective than before
Manufacturer:   Altra
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 9, 2018
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 17
  • Foot protection - 30% 6
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Stability - 15% 8
  • Comfort - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 5
  • Sensitivity - 10% 7

The Skinny

The Lone Peak 4 is a nicely cushioned shoe that features Altra's zero-drop platform. It has a significant 25mm of EVA foam cushioning underfoot that gives it a springy and responsive ride but maintains a healthy amount of sensitivity and trail feel. With this small update, Altra has changed the fabric of the upper, such that it is supposedly more durable and also has added moisture wicking liner material to the inside, as well as an overlay re-patterning. As the most traditionally cushioned shoe in Altra's trail lineup, the Lone Peak is one of the most popular shoes available on the market today. Despite this, we found that in our comparative testing, it garnished merely average scores for almost every metric, landing it near the bottom of our overall scoring. While we think this is a quality shoe with some good attributes, it wasn't the best of our elite selection of trail running shoes.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Lone Peak 4 is Altra's moderately cushioned trail shoe, with the Altra Superior 3.5 and King MT having less cushioning, and the Timp and Olympus providing more underfoot protection. Compared to year's past, the Lone Peak 4 has less foam, some of which has been replaced by a StoneGuard rock shield. While the overall effect of this is more trail feel and less absorption of blows to the feet, there is a noticeable positive payoff when it comes to stability, responsiveness, and sensitivity. In this shoe, your foot feels closer to the ground and minimized is the bounciness of the foam in old versions, and also thankfully the feeling of "dead shoes" that came when the foam quickly compressed out.

A comparison of the Lone Peak 4 on the left (blue) with the Superior 3.5 on the right. As you can see  the design and shape of the forefoot is now very similar  while the upper of the Lone Peak still has far more structure and protection.
A comparison of the Lone Peak 4 on the left (blue) with the Superior 3.5 on the right. As you can see, the design and shape of the forefoot is now very similar, while the upper of the Lone Peak still has far more structure and protection.

Also updated is the amount of padding on the inside of the shoe, which has been drastically reduced. The fit of the forefoot is now wider and longer, and the upper material has been switched to a thinner ripstop nylon with less overlays and reinforcement. This shoe does not feel as sweaty and hot as the 3.5 and went from being very poor in our water bucket testing to performing near the top. It retains the four-point gaiter trap system for use with Altra's gaiters, which we recommend due to the low cut around the ankle. Lastly, the outsole design is updated to a more aggressive pattern, but the rubber remains the same. Overall, this shoe now fits very similar to the Superior 3.5, but is still thicker, stiffer, more protective, and heavier underfoot.

Showing the differences in the construction of the upper in the old Lone Peak 3.5 (black) versus the newer 4.0 (blue). There is much less overlay material  combined with a thinner mesh material and far less padding around the ankle and heel.
Showing the differences in the construction of the upper in the old Lone Peak 3.5 (black) versus the newer 4.0 (blue). There is much less overlay material, combined with a thinner mesh material and far less padding around the ankle and heel.

Performance Comparison


The Altra Lone Peak 4 is a very positive update to this very popular zero drop trail shoe. These shoes win our Top Pick for hiking  and can also handle a whole heap of miles out running as well.
The Altra Lone Peak 4 is a very positive update to this very popular zero drop trail shoe. These shoes win our Top Pick for hiking, and can also handle a whole heap of miles out running as well.

Foot Protection


The midsole of the Lone Peak 4 is a sandwich of EVA foam and their A-bound foam compound, with a StoneGuard in there somewhere as well. Runners that are familiar with the Altra Superior 3.5 will know all about the StoneGuard rock shield, as in that shoe it comes as an optional insert one can slide under the insole. That is not the case with the Lone Peak, as the StoneGuard is built into the shoe. The StoneGuard is a thin layer of rubbery plastic that takes the bite out of stepping on a sharp rock, but by no means absorbs or deflects the blow like a rock plate or steel shank. As such, the new design feels thinner, less cushioned, and less protective underfoot than older versions.


The upper is also a bit less protective than older versions, with a switch to thinner ripstop nylon and more thin TPU overlays. There are still a number of leather or synthetic leather overlays, but they mostly protect the sides of the foot and provide structure, leaving the critical wear areas on the sides of the forefoot and the crease point unprotected. The toe cap is a wide leather overlay that does not have any firm support, or bumper, integrated. Overall foot protection felt similar to the Saucony Peregrine 8, but was on the lower end of the spectrum.

Running over rocks like these is a solid test of a shoes underfoot protection  which we found to be slightly lacking in these shoes  despite the StoneGuard built in. During comparative tests  we found that the foam heavy Lone Peak 3.5 actually absorbed more blows to the foot.
Running over rocks like these is a solid test of a shoes underfoot protection, which we found to be slightly lacking in these shoes, despite the StoneGuard built in. During comparative tests, we found that the foam heavy Lone Peak 3.5 actually absorbed more blows to the foot.

Traction


The outsole of this shoe is made up of Altra's Maxtrac rubber compound arranged into well spaced, arrow-shaped lugs that are about 4mm deep, although in the arch of the foot they are a bit deeper.

Showing the outsole traction pattern of the Lone Peak 4 (right)  versus the older model 3.5 on the left. Gone are the hexagonal lugs  replaced by larger arrow shaped lugs  and the improvement in traction is noticeable.
Showing the outsole traction pattern of the Lone Peak 4 (right), versus the older model 3.5 on the left. Gone are the hexagonal lugs, replaced by larger arrow shaped lugs, and the improvement in traction is noticeable.

These lugs are situated in rows over the push off point in the forefoot for greater traction, a design feature that Altra calls their "Trail Claw." We find it to be a better design than the older version, which had small, hexagonal lugs.


The Maxtrac rubber is plenty grippy and sticky enough for most everyone. We think it grips dry rock well, but does not by any means remain sticky on wet rock, a common problem for trail running shoes. Compared to the competition, the traction on this shoe performs about average, in line with that found on the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4, but nowhere close to the amazing grip of the Salomon Speedcross 4.

We veered off trail one day to test the grip of the Lone Peak Maxtrac rubber in a field of talus. While these boulders were perfectly dry  we thought the shoes gripped them no problem.
We veered off trail one day to test the grip of the Lone Peak Maxtrac rubber in a field of talus. While these boulders were perfectly dry, we thought the shoes gripped them no problem.

Stability


The Lone Peak 4 is built on a zero drop platform, meaning there is no difference between the height of the heel versus the toes. We find this tends to lead to a more stable shoe, especially when landing and traveling downhill. Additionally, this shoe is fairly wide throughout, especially in the forefoot, once again making for a stable landing platform. While 25mm of stack height (the amount of material between your foot and the ground), is not exactly a small number compared to the competition, it feels lower to the ground than plenty of other shoes we tested and lower than the old Lone Peak 3.5.


One problem when it comes to stability is that the shoe does not lock the foot in place super well and instead remains slightly sloppy. We actually liked this about it, as it retains a comfortable fit that doesn't pressure our feet anywhere but causes it to drop slightly in the stability department. In our testing, it wasn't quite as stable as the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4, but was rather pretty similar to the higher off the ground, but more snugly fitting Salomon S/Lab Ultra.

A great advantage of zero drop shoes is that they afford a more stable landing platform  even on rocky terrain like we found as we circumnavigated this wilderness lake below Three Finger Jack in central Oregon's Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
A great advantage of zero drop shoes is that they afford a more stable landing platform, even on rocky terrain like we found as we circumnavigated this wilderness lake below Three Finger Jack in central Oregon's Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.

Comfort


One of the main reasons we chose to recognize this shoe with a Top Pick award is because of how comfortable it is. We have run in and tested at least eight different pairs of Altras over the last few years and it would not be a stretch to call this the most refined and comfortable fit of any of them. That said, fit and comfort are fairly subjective and depend on the shape of each individual's foot, so take this advice as a recommendation and not as a guarantee.


The shoe fits fairly wide in the forefoot, allowing for the feet to actually splay out as Altra advertises, but which wasn't allowed well in the overly narrow older models. While still relatively wide in the midfoot and heel, we thought it is snug enough to keep our foot comfortably in place without too much slippage, even when running downhill. The length has increased, so that the shoe now fits accurately to size (we have been recommending sizing up in Altras for years now). The mildly sloppy fit only adds to the comfort in our opinion, and makes it a better choice for hiking or running on non-technical trails at less than top speeds, but precludes it from being an ideal choice for speedy, technical mountain races.

Shown here are the drainage holes cut into the overlay reinforcements  as well as into the toe cap of the Lone Peak 4. Combined with a change in materials in the upper  these shoes were one of the least absorptive and quickest draining in our water bucket test.
Shown here are the drainage holes cut into the overlay reinforcements, as well as into the toe cap of the Lone Peak 4. Combined with a change in materials in the upper, these shoes were one of the least absorptive and quickest draining in our water bucket test.

For this edition, Altra changed the location and performance of their drainage vents, which are slightly reinforced perforated panels in the upper just above where it joins the midsole. In the toe there are two holes cut out of the toe cap to allow for drainage as well. Whether due to these minor looking features, or a change in material choices, in our water bucket test we noticed that the shoe went from being one of the most absorptive to one of the least in this newer edition. Those who run in very wet climates, like to plod through rivers without stopping, or have comically sweaty feet will rejoice. This shoe is similarly comfortable to the Inov-8 Roclite 290 as well as the Superior 3.5.

Weight


Our size men's 11 US shoes tipped the scales at 23.9 ounces per pair straight out of the box. This was just over an ounce heavier than a pair of the 3.5s and ranks them among the heavier trail shoes in this review.


Presumably, the weight increase is due mostly to the inclusion of a larger StoneGuard replacing lightweight A-bound foam, because the entire construction of the upper looks to have shed weight, not gained it. In practice, these shoes don't feel super heavy or clunky while out for a run, so the weight isn't something we would be overly worried about. The super cush Hoka Speedgoat 2 weigh about the same amount, but the lightest shoe by far is the Hoka Evo Jawz.

These shoes are some of the heaviest in this review  and got heavier with the last update. In practice  they don't feel overly heavy while running or hiking in them.
These shoes are some of the heaviest in this review, and got heavier with the last update. In practice, they don't feel overly heavy while running or hiking in them.

Sensitivity


Like the Saucony Peregrine 8, the Lone Peak 4 is one of those shoes that effectively balances underfoot protection with sensitivity, attributes that are typically at odds with each other. The Lone Peak is more sensitive than it is protective, providing great feeling and connection with the trail, while also offering some level of protection.


Runners who like a large amount of foam to protect them from the roots and rocks they encounter may be disappointed with the redesign of this shoe. Likewise, those who enjoy receiving a springy boost may also find something lacking. On the other hand, the performance of this shoe now feels far more genuine, authentic, and un-mediated compared with the formerly bouncy (until they weren't) Lone Peaks.

Best Applications


We enjoy this shoe best as a hiking shoe, which is why we awarded it our Top Pick for that purpose. Its heightened sensitivity and loose, comfortable fit, not to mention zero drop platform, are all attributes that lend themselves well to comfortable walking. As a trail runner, we think it performs best on smoother, less technical trails, or as a comfortable shoe for collecting low-speed training miles.

We think the best use for these shoes is hiking  and we enjoyed them for such on the PCT in late fall  trying to see Three Finger Jack in the misty background while circumnavigating it on a 20 mile loop.
We think the best use for these shoes is hiking, and we enjoyed them for such on the PCT in late fall, trying to see Three Finger Jack in the misty background while circumnavigating it on a 20 mile loop.

Value


This shoe retails for $120, roughly average for a trail running shoe these days. For the right purpose, we think this shoe offers pretty good value. While our shoes held up fine during our testing period, online customer reviews point to issues with durability that may shorten the life of the shoes, and thereby impact the perceived value.

Whether running or walking  trail running shoes can happily deliver you to such amazing places as lonesome wilderness lakes  and if you ran  then you may just wish you'd carried a tent so you could stay awhile.
Whether running or walking, trail running shoes can happily deliver you to such amazing places as lonesome wilderness lakes, and if you ran, then you may just wish you'd carried a tent so you could stay awhile.

Conclusion


The Altra Lone Peak 4 includes lots of fairly drastic updates to a shoe that seemed to have lost its way. After extensive testing, we feel that these updates for the most part positively impacted the performance and comfort of the shoe, and it has gone from one that we didn't want to wear, despite the fact that we love zero drops to one that we now enjoy wearing a lot. We feel that longtime Altra wearers will, for the most part, be quite pleased with the Lone Peak 4, while first-timers will find a very comfortable zero drop shoe that is easy to love.


Andy Wellman