Altra King MT Review

Up until the launch of the King MT, Altra’s range of off-road shoes had really been geared to harder packed, dryer trails. The King was designed to give the brand an offering for those runners who like to run on the softer or more broken ground. The shoes came out in the middle of the summer but we have delayed writing this review until the trails got muddy in order to give these a proper test!

Cushioning/Midsole/Outsole

The King MT is Zero Drop and uses Altra’s Foot Shape toe box like all of their shoes. As it is a shoe designed for softer, more muddy terrain there is less cushioning. This makes the shoe more flexible to adapt to the ground better, which gives better grip and a better feel for the terrain. There is a handy stone guard in the arch area to prevent your arch getting bruised by sharp rocks as you hurtle down the hillside.

The top layer of the Altra King MT midsole is made from new Altra Ego cushioning which gives it a more springy feel. The outsole is made from a Vibram sticky rubber (megagrip) which is designed to stick to wet rock. Customers test driving the shoes on the corridor at the back of our Newcastle shop can feel it sticking to the floor, which illustrates how effective it is.

Steve from Yorkshire Runner in Otley took the King Mt’s out to see how effective the grips are on the muddy paths and smooth slabs that cross Ilkley Moor. The shoes performed well on all surfaces.

Grip

The lugs are 6mm long, which are shorter than shoes like the Inov-8 X-Talon and Mudclaw (8mm and 10mm). The lugs are quite large which means they are durable enough to use on some firmer trails on mixed runs. This also makes them feel very comfortable in this type of terrain too. Shoes which have small studs on the bottom are effective at biting into soft ground but, don’t feel so good on firmer surfaces. They also don’t grip as well on rock slabs as they have a much reduced surface area. We concluded that the design of the King MT’s outsole comes into it’s own when your terrain is part muddy, part hard in that it is that much more versatile. This is similar to the Scott Supertrac RC which doesn’t have studs as long as other shoes of it’s type but, still does well in the mud and excels on other less broken slippy surfaces.

Fit

The fit of the King MT is as you would expect from Altra. The FootShape Toe Box means they’re roomy in the forefoot, so your toes can spread as you touch the floor to aid in stability, cushioning and propulsion. The King MT also has a protective velcro strap over the laces. This is designed to give a snugger fit over the mid foot of the shoe and prevent potential slipping when contouring (running on a camber/angle). I didn’t find this happened but other wearers who’s feet haven’t started to spread out on impact yet might. The best use of this strap for me was to secure and protect the laces. This stopped them from getting untied when running through heather or bracken.

Once you have got used to wearing footwear that allows your feet to function the way nature intended it is hard to go back to what has become more conventional footwear. Fell or cross country shoes have always been a snug fit, in theory ‘becoming part of your foot’ to feel everything. What happens though, is that your foot can’t move in the shoe so all your natural shock absorption, stability and propulsion is lost and you are reliant on the shoes. So the Altra King MT will fill a gap in the market for those customers who want their feet to function naturally in the shoes off-road.

All Altra shoes are specifically designed for the anatomical differences between sexes (you will see Fit4Her on women’s shoes).

The Altra King MT will suit those that want a trail shoe with a Zero Drop, minimal feel and/or a fell & cross country shoe with features like the wider toe box to start letting your feet function naturally.

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