Altra King MT 2 Review
In Altra’s trail running offering the King MT is the shoe with the most responsive, lower cushioning and the longest grips. It is designed for softer, more broken ground and yet it is still versatile enough for a bit of firmer trail terrain, with the studs still riding nicely. Like all Altra shoes, the King MT 2.0 is Zero Drop and has a broad rounded toe box, Altra coined FootShape. These are shoes designed to give your feet the room to function and being Zero Drop encourages a more natural midfoot running posture.
The King MT 2 has been updated to give better grip, drainage, durability and cushion/underfoot protection. The upper is made of a tailored mesh designed to be tough yet still flexible and comfortable. The last used is Altra’s slimmer more racer like last that is used in the Altra Escalante Racer. This gives the shoe a neater fit around the midfoot and there is less volume in the forefoot in comparison to other Altra trail models like the Lone Peak 4 or the Timp 1.5. Although the fit is still broad. The reason for this more tailored fit is to prevent the foot from moving around inside the shoe when traversing a hillside or dancing over tree roots. There is still the shape and room in the shoe for your feet to function but, with a neater, snugger fit. This fit will also reduce the chance of leaving your shoes behind in a bog.
To further enhance the fit the King MT 2.0 has a Velcro strap over the midfoot. This is designed to hold the foot in the shoe even when descending on steep ground for long periods. This strap is also handy to tuck your laces under so they don’t come undone while running through the heather or other long under growth.
The heel cup is soft and designed to pull in around your heel. As there is no plastic heel cup this is ideal for those will heel spurs of bursas as the shoe can take the exact shape of your heel. Rather than your heel having to yield to the shoe which can lead to excessive wear of the heel and blisters. The internal part of the heel cup is made of a rougher material. This is designed to grip to your socks to give a really firm heel fit, even when running up steep hills for a long time.
The tongue is gusseted to stop debris from getting in and the King MT 2.0 is compatible with Altra’s 4 Point Gaiters, which can further reduce the chance of debris getting in. The tongue is only lightly padded but padded enough that I didn’t feel the laces through the tongue.
To increase the drainage of the shoe there are holes in the midfoot of the midsole and outsole to let out any water. Plus the upper is fast drying and doesn’t absorb much water when crossing streams etc…
The new Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole is 40% thinner and 25% lighter. This makes the shoe a lot more flexible. The stone guard in the midfoot of the shoes is also a lot more flexible, which gives a much smoother and more natural ride than the previous models.
I have tested the Altra King MT 2.0 on everything from the delights that Blencathra in the Lakes District has to offer. On top of the muddy farmers’ fields around home. The flexibility in the King MT 2.0 has improved the shoe a lot. I find them as easy to run in as I do the Altra Superior. The cushioning in the King MT 2 is much firmer and responsive. On soft ground you don’t notice this but for the odd mile of two of tarmac you do.
Personally, I prefer a firm feeling shoe like these. If you prefer to be ‘running on pillows’ then you will find the King MT a little too firm on the harder tracks and trails. Get in touch at email@example.com any time to discuss other options.
For those used to the more traditional minimal fell shoes these will feel more cushioned and broader. The grip I found to be good on all surfaces. No slipping on wet rock! The flatter, less pointy studding made them ride well on firmer more compact trails and tarmac. To me that’s what makes them more versatile than the more traditional fell/cross country shoes that have long pointy studs. The low surface area of these type of studs can make them slippy on wet roads and harder tracks. On the softer muddy terrain, the tread bites into the ground effectively, making me feel secure. I think that the Zero Drop makes you lighter on your feet and less inclined to dig your heels into the ground, so the 6mm studding of the King MT works as well as the 8-10mm studding of other shoes for me.
A great choice if your routes and races in the last few months of 2019 are bound to be muddy and loose!
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle