First Impressions: Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3.5

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Lone Peak

 

I’m a bit slow to the party with these shoes. Fellow Challenger Shap McDonnell has been using them for a few years now and Chris Townsend peaks highly of them. I’ve been testing out alternatives to the old Inov-8 Terrocs for a few years now and the Lone Peak 3.5s are the latest in the quest to find a replacement.

My Feet Profile

Searching for shoes is a bit of a challenge for me. I have wide feet and I’ve found that many firings are simply too cramped, certainly when backpacking for days on end. I also have one foot which is larger than the other and has a high instep. It is a bit of a challenge to find two shoes that both hold the heel in effectively.

The Zero Drop

The Lone Peak’s are ‘zero drop,’ a system that Altra have been pioneering in running and trail shoes. The ‘drop’ is the relative distance from the heel to the level of the ball of the foot. When you stand without shoes the heel and the ball of the foot are at the same level. With most shoes the heel is raised and the ‘drop’ is the distance between heel and the front of the foot. Often the drop is quite small, my last shoes had a drop of 4 millimetres, but such small measures can result in a very different feel.

The idea of the Zero Drop system is that your feet are positioned as naturally as possible.

On Test

I used these straight out of the box for a three day backpack walk, carrying a full pack weight. I replaced the insole of the shoe with the replacement insole that I usually use (the Pro 11 system).

The Lone Peaks were very comfortable from the off and gave me no problems at all over a range of different terrain. The sole grip seems more than adequate for the task.

Fit

These are probably some of the most comfortable trail shoes I have used. The fit is broad and there was more than enough room for my toes to spread when walking. There also seemed to be a little more room across the mid width of the shoe as well. The heel system has some solidity to it and more than adequately cupped both of my heels.  I didn’t find any pressure points and the shoes were comfortable throughout the walk. For a light and small shoe the cushioning of the mid sole was quite impressive.

The Zero Drop

Although a number of people have spoken highly of thee shoes I have been a little reticent to try them because of the zero drop. I have read a number of accounts of these shoes stretching the heel and the achilles a little more than usual. I have a slight problem of soreness with one of my achilles. 

In practice, however, I fund no problems at all with these shoes. The walking position seemed comfortable and natural from the off and I detected no problems with the achilles — the biggest factor here seems to be how well the heel is held in the shoe.

So, there seemed to be no downside in using the zero drop system. I did form the impression that, on uneven ground or when scrambling, the system was better than many conventional systems. It seemed to me that my heel was always where I assumed it would be — I’m not sure this is that scientific and observation but it just goes to underline that there is no downside in using this system.

General Performance

The shoes are very well made and seem pretty tough. There is a very effective toe box too protect the front of the foot. The mesh surface of the shoe is re-enforced with stitching at key points of stress and wear which seems a nice touch. I shall take another look at this when making a full review.

Trail shoes like this need to shed water effectively and the Lone Peak is no slouch here and presented no problems. For those of you that used the Terroc system this shoe sheds water, perhaps, a teeny bit slower then the original Terrocs but better I think to the second generation of Terrocs. The water shedding performance of these shoes is excellent.

In General

These seem like a very sound investment. The fit is excellent for those who need a wider fitting. The construction seems of a very high quality. The laces are some of the best that I have used. The shoe seems pretty tough and yet still comes in at a shade under 300 grams.

 

In short I could find no downside to these shoes at all. I shall be using them for two weeks on the TGO Challenge — a backpack coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands. This is a walk that tests shoes to the full.  I shall write a final review when I have returned at the end of May.

 

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