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Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Review

A popular zero drop trail running and hiking shoe that is not very comfortable
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Price:  $120 List | $111.04 at Amazon
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Pros:  Zero drop, protective underfoot, stable
Cons:  Heavy, tight in the midfoot, badly rubbing heel
Manufacturer:   Altra
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 6, 2020
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#18 of 19
  • Foot protection - 30% 7
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Stability - 15% 9
  • Comfort - 15% 5
  • Weight - 10% 2
  • Sensitivity - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 are possibly the world's most popular zero drop trail running shoe, but have been plagued with inconsistencies for years. The latest update is no different. A notable change has been made to the midsole foam that makes it feel far stiffer, but also more resilient, durable, and protective. The previous versions had very soft and cushy foam that was a dream for walking or hanging out in, but quickly compressed and afforded little underfoot protection when running. We think the new foam will serve runners far better, but this step forward is offset by a couple of disappointing steps back — specifically an overly tight fit in the midfoot and a poor heel design that rubs and blisters. The net effect is a shoe that is hard to wear, love, or recommend.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Lone Peak 4.5 sits in the middle of Altra's trail running shoe lineup, in between the light and thin Superior 4 and the beefier Timp 2. For years it has been a very comfortable, super cushy shoe that is well loved, especially by hikers and thru-hikers. Despite the love, it has also long suffered from short life spans due to early compression of its overly soft midsole foam, and a sloppy fitting upper that we weren't in love with for trail running. With the 4.5, Altra set out to fix these issues, tweaking the midsole foam compound to be more "resilient," while also tightening up the fit considerably, especially in the midfoot. It has a StoneGuard Rockplate sandwiched into the midsole, sticky and grippy traction, and accommodations for Altra's trail gaiters.

Differences from the Lone Peak 4
While the 4.5 remains cosmetically the same as the 4.0, the fact is this shoe feels drastically different from the moment you put it on. The new foam is far stiffer and less squishy and forgiving underfoot. The fit is also changed quite a bit, with a high instep, and a low volume design over the top of the foot and the laces. Lastly, the heel pull tab is harder to get a finger through, and there are only a front ring and rear Velcro patch for gaiters, rather than the four-points for attachment like in previous versions. The new version also weighs 1.3 ounces per pair (size 11) more than the old version.

Performance Comparison


The Lone Peak 4.5 are a very burly zero drop shoe that can handle the roughest of terrain with ease. They have a new foam compound that is stiffer  more resilient  and more protective underfoot  but also weighs more. The fit of this shoe has changed  and we had a hard time enjoying them as we though they were pretty uncomfortable.
The Lone Peak 4.5 are a very burly zero drop shoe that can handle the roughest of terrain with ease. They have a new foam compound that is stiffer, more resilient, and more protective underfoot, but also weighs more. The fit of this shoe has changed, and we had a hard time enjoying them as we though they were pretty uncomfortable.

Foot Protection


This is a burly trail running shoe, and offers solid protection, both for the tops of the feet and the bottoms. The midsole is made up of a sandwich of Altra's StoneGuard Rockplate and their new foam compound, and feels dense. While it isn't overly thick, it is certainly protective, as well as somewhat inflexible, and does a good job taking the blows from sharp rocks so that your feet don't have to. The midsole now lacks the trademark soft springiness that the last many versions of this shoe had become known for, but also protects the bottom of the feet much better, a boon for those who like to run in rocky terrain.

Despite the firmer midsole foam compound and an integrated StoneGuard rock shield  these shoes are still somewhat sensitive underfoot. They are stiff  but bend and mold when you step on the pointy edge of a rock. The provide a good balance between underfoot protection and sensitivity.
Despite the firmer midsole foam compound and an integrated StoneGuard rock shield, these shoes are still somewhat sensitive underfoot. They are stiff, but bend and mold when you step on the pointy edge of a rock. The provide a good balance between underfoot protection and sensitivity.

The upper is also quite protective, made of burly ripstop mesh with a liberal amount of sewn fabric overlays and 3D printing for increased durability. There is a toe bumper that stretches across the entire front of the shoe to protect all toes, although it isn't very thick or rigid. All in all, foot protection is one of this shoe's strongest attributes.

Traction


The traction on this shoe remains the same as previous versions. It is what Altra refers to as their "Trail Claw," featuring a mix of arrow or chevron-shaped lugs and hexagonal lugs, positioned underneath the push off points of the feet. The rubber compound is relatively sticky and grips rock well, making it a good choice for scrambling. However, the lugs are not overly aggressive or especially deep, and so it doesn't do as good a job gripping slippery surfaces like mud, snow, or steep grass as many of the other competitors do. Like most shoes, these lugs wear down over time. In general, this shoe performs well on dirt trails and rocks, but is not the grippiest on the gnarliest of technical mountain terrain.

Showing the traction on the bottom of the Lone Peak 4.5. These lugs are relatively large and deep  and do a good job of gripping on soft surfaces. We also find them to be fairly sticky on rock  although like most aggressive lugs such as these they will wear down over time.
Showing the traction on the bottom of the Lone Peak 4.5. These lugs are relatively large and deep, and do a good job of gripping on soft surfaces. We also find them to be fairly sticky on rock, although like most aggressive lugs such as these they will wear down over time.

Stability


With its zero drop platform and low to the ground, stiff midsole compound, this is one of the most stable shoes in this review. While the stack height is listed at 25mm, it feels closer to the ground than some with much less stack. The shoe does a good job of holding the foot securely in place, with little slippage, especially as it grips in the mid-foot. If stability on uneven terrain is a concern for you, this shoe is one of the top choices.

The best thing about zero drop shoes such as these is their incredibly stable platform. We love how confidently we can land and push off wearing these shoes  whether running on flats or up hills.
The best thing about zero drop shoes such as these is their incredibly stable platform. We love how confidently we can land and push off wearing these shoes, whether running on flats or up hills.

Comfort


Previous versions of this shoe were exceedingly comfortable, but this one simply isn't, and we aren't alone in this assessment, as you can tell by reading online purchaser reviews. The fit is narrow in the midfoot, manifesting as either pressure along the top and sides of the foot where the laces cross over, or as pressure in the arch and instep. We initially were very aware of the feel in the instep that was totally unlike any other Altra's we have worn, but this sensation wore off a bit as the shoe broke in with miles. However, the low volume fit through the entire middle of the foot is very apparent, and we feel pressure constantly on the top of the foot over the tongue. The forefoot of the shoe retains its standard wide fit, allowing the toes and metatarsals to splay out. However, the shoe also runs a little short, and if you never want your toes to touch the front, you may want to purchase a half size up.

Pointing to the front of our toes  showing that they but right up against the front of the shoe  so you may want to size up half a size if you don't want to hit the front of the shoe.
Pointing to the front of our toes, showing that they but right up against the front of the shoe, so you may want to size up half a size if you don't want to hit the front of the shoe.

You can see how our foot in this photo is pushing outward in the metatarsal/ball of the foot region. The upper is much lower volume than previous versions  and fits tightly where we are pointing  both under the laces and in the arch.
You can see how our foot in this photo is pushing outward in the metatarsal/ball of the foot region. The upper is much lower volume than previous versions, and fits tightly where we are pointing, both under the laces and in the arch.

Our biggest gripe in terms of comfort is the heel, and the internet is also littered with complaints about this. From the first step when we put on our new pair, to the last step almost 50 miles of running later, the top of the heel cup has rubbed against our Achilles tendons. We have tried almost every different pair of socks we own to try to eliminate the problem, and indeed, some work better than others, but the fact is this little piece of rigid sewn fabric annoys to no end, and we aren't alone in our complaints. When considering the many comfortable trail running shoes you can buy today, this factor alone is reason enough to skip this shoe and just choose something that won't rub you raw.

Pointing to the exact spot that rubs us as we run. The elevated heel cushion easily digs into the achilles with each step taken  and there is something stiff and uncomfortable on the inside  and doesn't feel at all like the soft cushioning that it looks like. This happens on both shoes.
Pointing to the exact spot that rubs us as we run. The elevated heel cushion easily digs into the achilles with each step taken, and there is something stiff and uncomfortable on the inside, and doesn't feel at all like the soft cushioning that it looks like. This happens on both shoes.

Weight


Our pair of men's size 11 shoes tipped the scales at 25.2 ounces, making them the heaviest shoes in this review, and also marking an increase of 0.6 ounces per shoe from the last version.


Clearly, the addition of denser, more solid midsole foam also affects the weight. Anecdotally, the shoes also feel heavy on the feet, and do not rival the light and nimble options that are out there.

With the newest changes to these shoes has also come a corresponding increase in weight  and these are now the heaviest shoes in our review. They also feel rather heavy when running in them.
With the newest changes to these shoes has also come a corresponding increase in weight, and these are now the heaviest shoes in our review. They also feel rather heavy when running in them.

Sensitivity


Despite the high level of underfoot protection, this remains a relatively sensitive shoe, in the sense that you still feel a bit of what you are running over. It effectively balances protection and sensitivity by blunting the force of landing on uneven terrain, while allowing for some trail feel at the same time.

Value


The newest version of this shoe remains the same price as the previous versions, which is refreshing, considering that many trail shoes continue to get more expensive year after year. That said, we don't think this shoe presents very impressive value considering it performed lower than almost all of the competition.

While these shoes seem to be improving by adding in a stiffer and more resilient form of foam  the trade-off is that they are heavier and much less comfortable. We don't think the current version provides a very solid value all things considered.
While these shoes seem to be improving by adding in a stiffer and more resilient form of foam, the trade-off is that they are heavier and much less comfortable. We don't think the current version provides a very solid value all things considered.

Conclusion


The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 effectively fixes some of the long time issues with this shoe by tweaking the foam compound in the midsole, but also created new problems by adding significant weight and narrowing the fit. These changes might have been a wash if it wasn't for the horrible fit of the heel, which rubs and annoys and ultimately leads us to recommend looking for a different shoe to buy.

Running along the Deschutes River in winter  enjoying the zero drop freedom that comes from wearing the new Lone Peak 4.5's  that feel much more solid and less squishy than previous versions.
Running along the Deschutes River in winter, enjoying the zero drop freedom that comes from wearing the new Lone Peak 4.5's, that feel much more solid and less squishy than previous versions.

Andy Wellman