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Altra Lone Peak 3 - Women's Review

Altra Lone Peak 3.5
Top Pick Award
Price:   $120 List | $72.08 at Amazon
Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  Wide toe box, great stability, zero drop technology, low profile, cushioned protection, new durable outsole
Cons:  No arch support, not for heel strikers
Bottom line:  The best choice for those who like to spread their toes (and their trail wings).
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Altra
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday

Our Verdict

Cruising at high and low altitudes, and bombing down a single track or expansive, deserted dirt roads, the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 came along on some of our favorite adventures. Our lead author and tester fell most for this excellent model, which won a Top Pick Award. The toe box is wide, cushioning is ideal, and the zero drop design combine to make a great shoe, especially for trail runners with wide feet. Although this shoe wasn't as responsive or light as our Editors' Choice Award winner, the La Sportiva Bushido, the Lone Peak was so darn comfortable that we found ourselves wearing it everywhere. Its low profile keeps you close to the ground, providing fantastic stability which is great news for ankle rollers!

Product Update — July 2017
The Lone Peak 3.5 (pictured above) is here! Keep reading for a detailed summary of updates, which includes changes to the fit and materials. We also updated the purchase links on this page to direct you to the newest version.

In the past, the Altra Lone Peak design has seen some negative feedback for the durability of the shoe. The outer featured a chevron lug design that seemed to wear down after roughly 100 mountain miles (depending on the terrain), which we experienced with all previous Lone Peak models. However, we are hopeful to say that we think the design has turned a new leaf. The outsole seems to be far more durable with better traction and an uber-durable foot cap, and we were happy to run full speed down slippery surfaces.

We have also learned that this shoe is much more cushioned (which some of our testers did not like) and takes more time to break in than previous models. The fit feels a wee bit smaller at first, but once the cushioning packs out, the sole molds to the foot. That said, don't go running any 100-mile races with this shoe out of the box - you may earn a few blisters.

Searching for some extra protection?
Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid - Women's
An interesting addition to the Altra lineup is the new Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid - Women's, a mid-rise, water resistant, hiking boot-esque Lone Peak variation. With the same base as the Lone Peak we love, the NeoShell Mid has a "taller, waterproof upper" and "enhanced toe cap protection," all for the increased price of $160. While we haven't tried these out ourselves, we think they may be a great fit for thru-hikers and fast-packers alike.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Trail Running Shoes for 2017

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Lone Peak 3.5 vs. the 3.0


This favorite trail shoe has a new version available for summer 2017, and we can't wait to check it out. It retails for the same $120 as the 3.0 and is available in four new colorways: pink (seen below), blue, black, and black/pink. Altra is promoting the new "fit, look, and feel" of the 3.5, highlighting its new protective features, which we've described in detail below. Check out the new look here in this side-by-side comparison, featuring the new 3.5 on the left and the previous version on the right.
Altra Lone Peak 3.5
Altra Lone Peak 3
  • Gaiter trap — According to the manufacturer's website, the new "4-point GaiterTrap" was added to keep rocks and dirt out. We thought the 3.0 had excellent protection from debris already, so we're looking forward to seeing how this has changed.
  • Mesh upper — Altra is advertising a new mesh up that is designed to be more durable than in previous versions. Our tester is a long-term Altra user and found the 3.0 to be significantly more durable than the earlier versions, so we're hoping that the 3.5 continues in this direction.
  • Stitching — While the 3.0 features a TPU overlay, this has been switched out for stitching in the 3.5. Altra hopes this will make the shoe more comfortable, breathable, and lightweight, though we can't yet speak for these claims ourselves.
  • Drainage — Listening to feedback from buyers, Altra has added drainage holes to the 3.5 to prevent soggy feet. Our tester found that the 3.0 retained quite a bit of water and was slow to dry, and we hope that this is a major selling point of the 3.5.

Because we haven't gotten our hands (er, feet) on the new version just yet, the rest of this review continues to reflect the Lone Peak 3.0.

Hands-On Review of the Lone Peak 3.0


The Lone Peak 3.0 won our Top Pick for Wide Feet because it features the widest toe box tested. If you're in the market for a versatile shoe with a wide toe box designed for running long or short distances over a gauntlet of surfaces, this might be the right choice for you!

Performance Comparison



Our Top Pick for Wide Feet is low profile with a wide toe box and a comfortable midsole for long days on the trail.
Our Top Pick for Wide Feet is low profile with a wide toe box and a comfortable midsole for long days on the trail.

Any zero drop shoe, like the Lone Peak 3.0, requires a transition shoe or a period for your calves to get used to the extra strain of not having any additional support in the form of cushioning. If you plan on trying the zero drop shoes, plan to try them carefully and follow the 'training instructions' on the box.

Foot Protection


While running through the Peruvian mountains, we exposed this shoe to every surface possible. Sand, fine dirt, gravel, loose rock, streams, and more.


The exterior mesh is breathable, allowing very few particulates into the shoe while the moderate cushioning and rock plate did a great job at keeping our feet from blistering after six consecutive days of 12+ mile runs. We also liked the hard toe cap that protects toes from nasty stubs. With all these features, our feet were well protected. That said, if you're looking for a little less in the way of protection, check out the Salming Elements.

The new toe cap and upper does a great job at protecting feet on trail. We also loved the built in rock plate.
The new toe cap and upper does a great job at protecting feet on trail. We also loved the built in rock plate.

In the past, the Lone Peak shoe has hosted a rubber flipper at the back that used to flip rocks and sand into the back of the shoe while running. In the past, we cut this off. This year, they have taken it away! Thanks, Altra!

Traction


The Lone Peak 3.0 features a "trail claw" with a harder, more durable rubber than the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 model (this shoe's predecessor). This claw is superior - grabbing any surface. In the past, we had some confidence issues when these lugs wore down just a little bit on slippery surfaces. However, the new MaxTrac outsole has proven to be burly and better. It grabs wet rocks better than any other Altra shoe tested.


We found its traction to be similar to the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 2 - Women's, but not nearly as good as our Editors' Choice - the La Sportiva Bushido or our Top Pick for Sloppy Surfaces - the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's. In the past, we saw lugs wearing down after roughly 100 miles of use. However, we haven't seen any durability issues after 80 miles of use thus far! A HUGE improvement over previous models.

The new trail claw is burly! We love the new lug design that has proved to be more durable than past models.
The new trail claw is burly! We love the new lug design that has proved to be more durable than past models.

Stability


The appeal of a zero drop shoe with a wide toe box is stability. Past models of this shoe used to be one of the most stable shoes tested. However, due to the 5 mm of cushioning and the higher stack height of 26 mm, this shoe felt far more tippy than usual. This shoe still earns a nine out of ten because of the wide toe box which allows the toes to splay; this provides great balance and thus better stability than most shoes tested.


Comfort & Fit


Many runners with a narrow toe box felt like this shoe was a little too loose. Getting used to spreading your toes may feel weird at first, but you may come around. Make sure the ball of your heel fits well and try it before you buy it!


What a relief it is to wear shoes with zero drop, a spacious toe box, AND moderate cushioning! This is the reason we gave this shoe our "Top Pick for Wide Feet"! The heel fit is snug and opens up towards the front, which allowed our toes to wiggle free through long and short runs. Some of our testers reported that the fit isn't as snug as other shoes tested; some liked this while other didn't. One suggestion for Altra would be to place the lace eyelets further apart so the shoes could be pulled on a little tighter - especially for those with narrow feet.

The lacing pattern could be improved by moving the eyelets moved further apart. The upper is comfortable and plush for a nice ride on the trail.
The lacing pattern could be improved by moving the eyelets moved further apart. The upper is comfortable and plush for a nice ride on the trail.

In addition, it's important to identify that this is a zero drop shoe. If you've never used them before, it's important to engage in proper training. Not doing so can result in sore muscles and possible injury. Also, women who wear it should adhere to the minimalist philosophy, striking only with the forefoot or midfoot. If you're a heel striker and in the market for a comfortable shoe, check out the Brooks Cascadia 12 - Women's instead. Learn more about zero drop running here.

The gaitor trap is a help addition for keep trail gaitors on while running!
The gaitor trap is a help addition for keep trail gaitors on while running!

Weight


We tested a lot of lightweight options, including the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4 - Women's at 8.55 ounces, the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 - Women's at 8.8 ounces, and the Salming Elements at 8.65 ounces.


The Lone Peak 3 weighs in at 10.0 oz. When wet, it retains about 4.1 oz of water and takes some time to dry while running. That said, try to avoid super wet situations while wearing this shoe.

This shoe weighs between 9.95 and 10.0 oz. A decent weight for long and short distances.
This shoe weighs between 9.95 and 10.0 oz. A decent weight for long and short distances.

Sensitivity


Similar to the Saucony Peregrine 6 and the New Balance Leadville v3 - Women's the Lone Peak offers decent sensitivity. With the added cushioning of this model, it is not as sensitive as the La Sportiva Bushido, but you can feel the trail without being so intimate that it hurts your feet.


Best Applications


Given the great versatility and low-profile design of this shoe, we would recommend it for all sorts of distance running. We also recommend it for folks looking to transition to barefoot and/or minimalist running, but not for those who are heel strikers. Unlike traditional shoes, this shoe does not feature a whole lot of cushion in the heel and could cause joint problems for heel strikers. If you are a heel striker, consider a more traditional shoe like the Brooks Cascadia or the ASICS Kahana- 8. However, if you are a mid or forefoot striker, take them out on your next jaunt around town or your next ultra race. If you have a narrow foot and you're not into spreading your toes, you may want to opt for a more narrow shoe. Take it trail running, hiking, or wear it around town.

Value


We think the price point is right on the money at $120.00. The only thing to consider is how long this shoe will last. The main author is a long time owner of the Altra Lone Peak models; with older versions, she noticed breakdowns and blowouts after just 100 - 150 miles. She found herself buying 2-3 pairs a year with the mileage she accumulated. The Lone Peak 3.0 outsole seems to be FAR more durable; after three months of running in this shoe we hardly see any wear and tear at all. With this in mind, we're holding out hope that these are more durable than previous models with a far better value.

Conclusion


Overall, this is an awesome trail shoe that allows your toes to splay out and keep you balanced, mile after mile.

The perfect shoe for high mountain adventures!
The perfect shoe for high mountain adventures!

Amber King
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