Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Review

I was a bit hesitant to write a review of the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 given that the 3.5 has been recently released. However, I’ve read that updates to the venerable Lone Peak appear to be pretty minor (thankfully!), and there are a lot of LP 3s still out there at reduced price. I figured I’d add my 2 cents.

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Men’s size 13 Lone Peak 3.0
After the Salomon Speedcross Pros I’d been using for winter running gave me a wicked case of hammer toe, I decided to give Altra a shot. My first pair was the Torin 2.0. These road shoes are remarkably comfortable, but wear on the heel cup made then unusable after 200 miles. I’d been ambivalent about trying zero drop shoes: a terrible case of achilles tendonitis limited my running for most of 2013. I’m happy to say that after about 600 miles over the last 3 months almost exclusively in Altras, my achilles tendonitis is completely gone. In fact, when I run in higher drop shoes (e.g. Speedcross or Brooks Cascadias), I actually find my achilles feeling irritated. My sense is that with a higher drop shoe my foot pronates more, putting strain on the achilles. On the other hand, I feel more stable in a zero drop shoe and the wider toe box creates a solid platform. So yes, I believe the hype.

My typical runs involve a 2-3 mile road stretch before I hit dirt. Then it’s a mix of gravel roads and singletrack. The LP 3s preform ably across surfaces. I wouldn’t run a road marathon in them if I could help it, but my regular road to trail jaunts are exceedingly pleasant. Here’s a breakdown the salient aspects of the LP 3.

Fit

I’ve read complaints about the LP 3 being narrow and constrictive compared to past versions. While I can’t make that comparison directly, I can say these fit me nearly perfectly. They run true to my typical size 13. Altra has really nailed the balance between upper support and room for toe splay. I’m also a bit of a heel cup connoisseur and this is among the best I’ve experienced (rest in peace New Balance MT101).

Performance

My longest run to date in the LP 3 was a 50k with 4000′ of ascent and 5000′ of descent over rocky singletrack. I’ve also taken them on up-tempo long runs on gravel roads up to 22 miles, short jogs around the neighborhood, and everything in between. The abound midsole is at its absolute best on smooth trails: fast, resilient, and just cushy enough. I’ve worn one pair of Hokas, the Huaka, and Hoka level of cushioning mangles my stride enough to cause hip problems. No such concern in the LP 3!

On more technical singletrack, I’d characterize the LP 3 as good but not great. My feet aren’t particularly low volume, but I’ve never been able to accomplish a real lockdown fit. This is notable and frustrating on steep downhills or rocky terrain. In addition, they don’t have a very agile feel for technical running, which is an extra impediment given my big feet and general clumsiness. I’ve felt much safer in the beloved and sadly discontinued New Balance MT110. Pause for weeping and pouring out of beverages. Seriously New Balance, please bring them back.

Generally, I think comparing weight between shoes is pretty overrated, as things like fit, ride, flexibility and drop contribute as much to feel as raw weight. The LP 3 is listed at 10.4 oz for a men’s size 9, but they feel lighter than comparable options (e.g. Speedcross, Cascadia). They’re similar in feel to the New Balance Vazee Summit version 1 despite being listed as almost 2 ounces heavier.

In terms of grip, the LP 3 outsole is more than adequate. I’ve run in muddy conditions and over wet rocks, and it does better than most trail shoes. No complaints, the LP 3 serves my varied needs well.

I live in a decidedly dry place, so I haven’t had much opportunity to test the LP 3 in wet conditions. During one 8 mile run in a downpour, the LP 3’s performance was unaffected. They did take 2-3 days to dry out owing to a thick, not so breathable upper. An acquaintance who ran the sloppy 2017 Black Canyon 100k mentioned that his shrunk considerably afterwards.

As the temperature warms up, I am noticing that the LP 3 is pretty warm shoe. They’re not horrifying sweat sponges like the Salomon Sense Mantra 3, but I can imagine getting a bit schvitzy on a long, hot run.

Durability

After 350 miles of mixed running including the aforementioned 50k, my first pair was holding up great. The uppers were pristine and there was a manageable amount of wear on the outside. Unfortunately, in a fit of frustrated hypoglycemic fury after the race, I tossed them in the trash (totally out of character since I’ve saved up like 10 pairs of shoes for recycling). I’d been running through poison ivy, so my impaired ultra brain figured I should just cut my losses rather than clean them. Oh well! That being said, I probably could have gotten a solid 50-100 more miles out of them.

Random notes 

These are wildly popular shoes. At my race I noticed at least 6 or 7 dudes wearing them and 3-4 women as well. I don’t know what’s going on, but Altra is on the ups, including at prominent races like the Western States 100 (check out the official race survey). Honestly I think they’re just making a great product and marketing effectively too. So, if you want to be the only person on the trail wearing a particular shoe, you’d do well to look elsewhere.

They’ve updated the gaiters for the LP 3.5, but I can say that the gaiters for the LP 3 are really effectively, reasonably breathable, and worth $20 for dusty, sandy, or rocky trails.

It kind of makes me chuckle when people complain about shoelaces being too long and having to tuck them. I mean, scissors? But just be aware that the laces on the LP 3 are hella long. Be ready to cut them down to size and burn the ends.

Conclusion

The Altra Lone Peak 3 is one of my favorite trail shoes in years. While they didn’t make me forget my long-mourned Patagonia Everlongs, the LP has convinced me that trail shoe monogamy is possible again. They’re at their best on reasonably smooth trails and gravel roads. The LP 3 are perhaps not ideal for super technical or rocky terrain. That being stated, I’d be hard-pressed to wear anything else for any trail race because of their comfort and performance. They held up fantastically for a 50k and I’m sure they’d be great for longer ultras too. I just opened the box on my new pair, and they definitely make me want to get out there and explore.

In terms of differences between the men’s and women’s models, Kate just picked up a pair of the women’s LP3’s. I’ll update the post with her thoughts after a few miles.

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Women’s Lone Peak 3.0 with waving toddler.
Note

In case it’s not obvious, I bought my shoes myself and have been offered no remuneration of any kind for this review. I think that’s always important to know with gear reviews.

 

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