Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review

Altra’s Lone Peak 3.5 is the latest version of Altra’s most popular trail running shoe. The Lone Peak is so popular because it is so versatile. The cushioning is good enough for the shoe to be used on the road for a mile or two to get to your trail or even, at a push, for the odd road run if you have no alternative, feeling surprisingly comfortable for a trail shoe. The vibram outsole grips well on wet wood or rock and is well lugged for a trail shoe not designed to be used in deep mud. However, the Lone Peak 3.5 is most at home on the firmer tracks and trails. A lot of Lone Peak customers have made the comment that ‘these shoes feel like a comfortable pair of slippers’ and I tend to agree! Even when I have been running in them for 3 hours or so.

altra-lone-peak-3.5-review

All Altra shoes are Zero Drop (or flat between heel and forefoot) to promote a more mid foot landing. This allows for a better running posture and lets your feet function. If you aren’t used to flat shoes then it would be a good idea to gradually build up the time spent in these shoes. However, the high level of cushioning on the Lone Peak 3.5 makes it easier to adjust to than a more minimal zero drop shoe. All Altra shoes also have a Foot Shape toe box which is more rounded and broad to allow your feet to function. As your toes aren’t cramped in the shoes, you tend not to get any rubbing even when you have been in them for a long time.

The upper of the Lone Peak 3.5 is a bit softer than the previous version of the shoe and it pulls in around the foot a bit better too. This pulling in does make the forefoot feel broader but, I don’t think that it is any broader than the previous version. However, I can see how the previous Lone Peak 3.0 having a firmer band around the top of the midsole made that model feel narrower. On the Lone Peak 3.5 the band is still there but, it is considerably softer which makes the foot feel less hemmed in and able to move more freely.

All the versions of the Lone Peak’s have always had a good level of cushioning. However, how soft that cushioning has felt has differed. The Lone Peak 2.0 was quite firm and stiff. The Lone Peak 2.5 was a lot softer feeling and a more flexible shoe. The problem with this is when the cushioning flattens out a bit you start to feel the rocks through the shoe a bit more. Although the Lone Peak 2.5 was very nice from the box it didn’t quite do the job. So, the Lone peak 3.0 was firmed up. This gave the shoe a nice responsive feel but took away some of the flexibility.

I have done 200 or so miles in the Lone Peak 3.5  and they appear to have hit the perfect combination of comfort, flexibility and feel for the ground. Essentially it has the flexibility of the 2.5 and feels a bit softer than the 3.0. However, you are aware that there is a bit more underfoot than the 2.5. You have enough awareness of the ground but don’t feel the stones.

Personally I prefer a more minimal and firmer feeling shoe like the Altra Superior 3.0 but I have found myself running in the Lone Peak 3.5 more and more for comfortably paced, longer runs as the cushioning isn’t too ‘mushy’.

The Lone Peak 3.5 still has the Velcro tab at the back and the lace loop to attach Altra’s gaiters. These are a thin Lycra gaiter that is designed to keep debris out of the shoes. I also find them handy in the winter to keep my feet warm as they just fill that gap between my running tights and the shoes!

Charlie @ Northern Runner

Other shoes to consider:

Topo Terraventure

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Topo is the only other brand we are aware off that has a nice rounded foot shaped toe box. The Terraventure has a snugger fit around the heel than the Lone Peak 3.5 and the upper is a bit stiffer. The cushioning is slightly firmer but, still ample. The heel to forefoot drop is 3mm rather than zero.

Inov-8 Trail Talon 275

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Inov-8 shoes have a firmer more responsive cushioning then the Lone Peak 3.5. The heel to forefoot is 8mm. So, these would suit a heel striker . The grip is comparable. The Traikl talon 275 is made on Inov-8’s Standard last so it is a broad fitting. Although it isn’t as rounded as the Topo or Altra shoes.

Scott Kinabalu (Supertrac and 3.0 Models)

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Although the Scott shoes have an 11mm heel to forefoot drop the versatility of the eRide system in the midsole means that these shoes would suit a heel or mid foot striker a like. Scott shoes have a very smooth ride and will feel the most like a road shoe among this selection of trail shoes.

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