REVIEW: Altra Lone Peak 3.0

This review is a long time in the making.  I’ve been waiting to do an EXTRA long run in the Altra Lone Peak 3.0, but as much time has passed since their release, I thought it was time to say my piece.

I approached my purchase of the Lone Peak 3.0’s with much skepticism, reason being, my unconditional love of the Lone Peak 2.5.  All these decimal points get to be confusing when it comes to shoes, but I appreciate Altra’s approach to refining their designs slowly rather than trying to reinvent a great shoe every year.  With a product demanding such specificity, it’s great to see a company play it safe and take their time with evolving designs.  That being said, I couldn’t imagine how they could improve upon a shoe as perfect as the 2.5 is for my caveman feet.

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The 2.5 was my first love, but after 436.8 miles (according to my Strava gear closet), it was time to find a new shoe.

Because I love my Hoka Clifton 3’s so much, I decided to try the Hoka ATR Challenger 3, which is essentially the Clifton 3 with lugs.  Great shoe, but my caveman feet need some more toe box space when I’m trying to maneuver through mud or tree routes (or sneaking off the trail through brush to take a piss).  Thanks to Hoka’s great return policy, I was able to send the Challenger 3’s back for a full refund.  I was convinced I needed Altra for the trails.  So, I took the plunge, cashed out some Amazon gift cards, and bought a pair of Lone Peak 3.0’s.

Back to my skepticism, before we proceed.  The Lone Peak 3.0 was not greeted with warm reviews on the Altra page upon it’s release.  The common complaint from customers was that the design was radically different and the “Embrace the Space” approach was gone.  This had me worried, because roominess is the primary reason I put most of my shoe funds towards Altra.  I “Embrace the Space” and if you read this blog with any frequency, you know I tend to gush about Altra in general.  When the arrived at my doorstep I anxiously ripped open the box and put them on.

I love them.  The 3.0, in the 147.4 miles I’ve put on them, is my new favorite running shoe.  It kicks ass!  It kicks so much ass!

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My sizing in the clandestine 2.5’s was a 12 US, so I upped these 3.0’s to a 12.5 because of fears about a tight fit.  The first impression was how they seemed even roomier than the 2.5.  The upper mesh material felt a lot more airy and these shoes felt much lighter.  This version of the Lone Peak is, in fact, over an ounce lighter than the 2.5, but I was surprised it was only about a 1 ounce difference.  This pair felt much more streamlined just walking around the hardwood floors in my house.

It didn’t take long for me to change into some running clothes, hop in the car, and drive over to Forest Park to hop on the Wildwood.  The first run could not have gone better.  I played it safe and did my usual 8-mile out and back, just because I wasn’t sure if my feet would be sliding around inside the Lone Peak 3.0’s.  I was seriously nervous about how roomy they felt, because it was borderline loose.  I recognize some runners might be wary of that sensation, but it’s exactly what I want in a pair of trail shoes.  The roominess was not at all too liberal, and my little piggies had all the room they needed as I coasted out and back on the Wildwood.  I use the word coast because that’s how smooth the run felt.

The stack height of the 3.0 is the same as the 2.5, 25mm.  So far the cushioning feels much more plush than the 2.5.  The EVA A-bound midsole, to the best of my knowledge, is the same material as the 2.5, but feels much more responsive while less impact.  I ran a few short distances on pavement, and this shoe certainly feels more cushioned than 2.5.  Maybe it’s in my head, but these feel almost as well cushioned as my Altra Olympus 2.0’s.  They certainly aren’t Hokas, but I was hoping to get something more streamlined for speed, while maintaining the “koosh”, hence why I purchased these over the ATR 3.  If you’re concerned about rocks and roots letting you know they are there, don’t be.  The cushioning is the perfect balance of responsive while saving your knees from a sore wake up call the next morning.

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Altra wasn’t fucking around when they redesigned the tread of the Lone Peak.  The lugs on the 3.0 are a combination of hexagonal, as well as the trademarked Trail Claw.  As far as outsole goes for trail running, I’ve always been very impressed with Altra’s subtle, but firm, lug design and placement.  These Lone Peak 3.0’s have accompanied me on some very muddy, as well as downhill, long runs.  I’ve fallen on my ass once, and that was only due to me fucking around with my watch when I should have been paying attention to the trail in front of me.  The tread gives me complete confidence when I have to dash through a giant puddle or run down a single track with the bedrock that might as well be pudding.  As I finish this paragraph I’m knocking on wood that I don’t eat shit on my next run, but I seriously doubt it with the burly outer on the Lone Peak 3.0 under my feet.

As gaga as I probably sound, these are not perfect shoes.  The tongue of the shoe is really hard to situate so it doesn’t compress your ankle.  This is a minor gripe, but on a couple runs I’ve had to stop to adjust it.  There’s nothing more that I hate than having to stop and dick around with my shoes when I’m mid stride.

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The other complaint:  these shoes are ugly.  All of the color choices and schemes suck, in my opinion.  I hate it when companies sketch the “intended use” on their product.  There’s some mountains on the outer, and while there was a similar logo on the 2.5, it was much more subtle.  This is a ridge of mountains, which to me, is the equivalent of my grandma’s cookie jar or other porcelain storage with the spice or condiment whimsically drawn on the side.  In my opinion, appearance is where Hoka has Altra beat by a long shot, at least in their flagship shoes.  I’m a simpleton when it comes to appearance of shoes, and less is always more.  I tried to purchase the most subtle color scheme, the black.  As you can see in the pictures above, the dominant black tone is nice, but the bright yellow jumps out.  I know that trail running is not a fashion parade, but I hope as Altra moves forward with their designs they tone them down a bit.

For $120, I think these are a great investment.  I use the term investment because I realize $120 isn’t cheap.  If you are on a tight budget and need to allocate funds conservatively, that is completely understandable, but shoes should always be something that are the bulk of your gear fund.  I think $120 is a fair price, but I’d encourage you to do your homework and read other reviews online, don’t just take my word for it.  The Ginger Runner did a great review of these here, and his channel is a great jumping off point for most of the running specific shoes on the market (especially trail/MUT).  It’s not difficult to find other reviews of Altra, as the brand has definitely increased it’s presence in the trail running scene.

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is a worthy follow-up to a great shoe.  I’ve heard rumblings there is a 3.5 in the pipeline and even saw a few pictures.  Looks like they are tweaking the upper, so if you are saving those pennies, you have a bit more time.  Otherwise, head on down to your local shop and get some Lone Peak 3.0 love.

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