Sunday, February 21, 2021

Altra Running Lone Peak 5 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dominick Layfield and Canice Harte

Altra Lone Peak 5 ($130)

Introduction

Whereas most of Altra’s trail shoes have transitioned to a “performance” last, that is not as roomy as old-school Altras, the Lone Peak is a hold-out, with a much more spacious fit.   Popular with Appalachian Trail through-hikers, the Lone Peak is also a shoe built for extra durability.


Pros:

[Dom/Canice] Cushioning and rock protection improved over previous generation

[Dom] A well-rounded, go-anywhere, do-anything shoe

[Dom] Expect durability to be excellent

[Canice] Relaxed toe box (classic Altra)


Cons:

[Dom] Still heavy, compared to other shoes with this level of protection

[Dom] Fit is so roomy that sizing down may be advisable.

[Canice] Loose fit, especially in the mid-foot and around the heel.


Tester Profiles

Dom 48, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  2019 was a quiet year, with his only notable finish at the multi-day Dragon’s Back race in the UK.


Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman as well as many other ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as in traditional road races and triathlons.



Stats

Approx. weight: men's 10.6 oz / 301g (US9)   

Samples: US M10 316 g (11.1 oz) per shoe

Stack Height: 25 mm (flat)

Available now including at RTR partners at the end of the article. $130  


First Impressions and Fit

Dom:  I had strong opinions about the LP4.5 (RTR Review).   I felt it was (1) too heavy, (2) too loose, and (3) underprotective.   Despite the substantial overhaul of the shoe, Altra have really only directly addressed the third item.  


The new Lone Peak 5 feels much better underfoot, with noticeably more protection from sharp rocks.


Apparently shaving weight was low down on Altra’s priorities with the update, which tips the scales at the exact same weight as before.  My second item (“too loose”) is a difficult needle to thread.  Most of Altra’s trail shoes are now snugger on the foot, but the LP5 remains a holdout.  Fit is basically unchanged, i.e. very roomy, and if anything feels even looser than before.  This strikes me as a shoe in which many runners will want to size down.


Canice: The most notable aspect of the Lone Peak 5 is the fit. It’s loose and sloppy and seems positioned for the through hiking market rather than for running. And the Lone Peak is one of the favorite if not the favorite Appalachian Trail thru hiker shoe in recent years . Altra should create a separate model for through hikers if that’s what they’re up to here.


If you have been running the Lone Peak 4 and like the fit, you’ll be right at home here. As of late Altra has really improved the midfoot fit of their shoes and the Lone Peak desperately needs to be updated. 


The cushioning of the shoe is notable and feels good underfoot. It has a nice feel and has plenty of spring to the midsole.


I am in a men’s size 10 and the length fits perfectly. Gone are the days of having to size up half a size with the Lone Peak for length, as I had to do with earlier versions such as LP 4.5 and good thing as sizing up would make them yet more voluminous and sloppy. 


Upper

Dom:  As described above, the fit of the LP5 is very roomy.  When wearing a LP4.5 on one foot and a LP5 on the other, the two feel very similar.  It is clear that Altra wanted to address the cushioning/protection weakness of the LP4.5 without alienating its devout followers.  As such, one might argue that they made the wise decision to keep the shape of the shoe the same.

The shiny side of the shoe is all-new, with some technical flourishes like laser-cut perforations on the lateral side of the shoe, and interesting texturing on either side of the heel.


Despite entirely new upper construction, on foot feel is very similar, and I was only aware of a couple of differences.  

Firstly the new shoe has a slightly taller heel collar than the previous version.  

Secondly, I noticed a little more stretch in the midfoot.  

This has the combined effect of making foot retention slightly lesser, but opens up a window to addressing the loose fit (either sloppy or roomy, depending on your perspective) by sizing down in the shoe.  With the extra heel room, I had at least a centimeter of space between my big toe and the front of the shoe, and found myself wishing that Altra had provided a 9.5 instead of a 10 to review.


Canice: Dom’s comments are all spot on. The upper feels like the previous model and the fit is as I described above. What surprises me is to see that Altra is still stitching the upper. Most footwear companies use welded overlays. I am sure the price would increase (and in fact we do see an increase here over the 4.5  from $120 to $130)  if they modernized the construction but they could drop weight here. Keep in mind this is not a huge deal, but these are the kind of things you look at when one is writing a review and the Lone Peak 5 looks a bit dated.


Midsole

Dom:  Despite the questionable “improvements” to the upper, I’m happy to state that the midsole changes are two steps forward.  The new EGO foam midsole feels more supportive, without substantially changing the character of the shoe.   The ineffective implementation of a rockplate in LP4.5 is now thankfully fixed.  I’m rarely a fan of rockplates, and prefer them -- when they are present -- to be unobtrusive.  


In the LP5, the thin, flexible rockplate's stiffness is right on the money, providing protection from sharp spikes, but not noticeably stiffening the shoe, or muting ground feel too much.  Kudos to Altra.  The midfoot is also torsionally slightly softer, making for a more ‘natural’ foot strike.


Canice: The downside of writing after one of your fellow reviewers is you can find yourself agreeing with their comments and potentially sounding repetitive. Dom has said it well and I agree with his assessment. The midsole of the Lone Peak 5 feels great and I found I had the right balance of protection and a lively fun run. I didn’t notice the rock plate and felt confident extending to the next rock or protrusion on the ground. Plenty of cushion here.


Outsole

Dom:  At first glance the outsole appears unchanged, but when you look closely you see that the tread pattern has been fully revised.  The new lugs are slightly narrower and more widely spaced.   Outsole cutouts are now linear strips compared to previous hexagonal dots.   However, traction is not discernibly different, at least not that I could tell over a brief testing period.  The outsole in the previous LP4.5 was excellent, providing a well-seasoned balance of grip and durability.   Sliding around on wet rock, I couldn’t tell the difference between old and new.  Altra’s MaxTrac rubber does not quite have the class-leading wet grip of, e.g. Vibram MegaGrip (used, for example, in Altra’s excellent King MT2), but it remains a solid performer.


Canice: I have had a mixed experience with the Lone Peak 5 outsole. Keep in mind I am in Park City, UT and all our trails are covered in snow right now. So I had to travel to find dirt trails to run on and these trails were mostly wet and slippery. When I did find dry to semi dry trails the Lone Peak 5 outsole provided plenty of traction. I found myself wanting more in the sloppy stuff but I was comfortable running at full speed through it. Overall the outsole performs well. 


It would be nice to see Altra free themselves of the “Trail Claw” pattern Golden created so long ago. I wonder what the product managers and designers would do if they had the freedom to design what they wanted with no marketing/branding restrictions?


Ride


Dom:   Altra managed to change the LP significantly, while clearly maintaining continuity between versions.  The new shoe is recognizably still a Lone Peak, but is just that little bit more forgiving underfoot.

Canice:  I really enjoyed the ride of the Lone Peak. I found plenty of cushion when I needed it and it was fun to run. The Lone Peak 5 feels good underfoot.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Dom:   As I stated in the introduction, I felt the previous version, the LP 4.5 had three clear deficiencies.  Two of the three are somewhat objective: the shoe was heavy (compared to the competition), and was underprotected.  The third deficiency, the loose/sloppy fit, is more subjective, and perhaps Altra were wise not to alienate their faithful by keeping version 5 very similar.  In this update, underfoot protection is definitely, usefully improved.  But weight and fit remain basically unchanged.  And in fact, the higher heel collar and slight stretch make the LP5 feel even larger.  I wonder if Altra had chosen to send out review shoes a half-size down, whether I would feel happy that Altra had fixed two of three deficiencies.  (Because, ya know Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad)


Don’t get me wrong.  I liked this shoe.  Like previous iterations of the Lone Peak, this is a workhorse of a trail shoe that promises comfort, durability, and across-the-board competence.  (Not to mention plenty of room for your feet to swell!)  Altra have improved on the previous version, but this wasn’t the slam-dunk I was hoping for.  

Dom’s Score:  7/10.  

Slightly improved from the previous generation, but for most runners, there are better choices out there.


Canice: I ran my first Wasatch 100 in the Lone Peak 1.5 and we’ve come a long way since then. The shoe has evolved nicely and I find myself reaching for the Lone Peak when heading out on the trails. I do think it’s time to modernize the shoe. Altra needs to improve the fit and reduce the weight to get the Lone Peak back on top. The Lone Peak has always been stylistically challenged and nothing has changed here. I really like the Lone Peak platform and would like to see it regain its leadership position in the trail running community. For now this is a classic Lone Peak with a slightly improved midsole.

Canice: 8.1 / 10

Ride:9(30%) Fit:6 (30%) Value: 9.5(10%) Style:7.5 (5%) Traction: 9(15%) Rock Protect:9.5(10%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Altra Lone Peak 4.5, 4, 3,5 (RTR Lone Peak 4.5 Review

LEFT: Lone Peak 5   RIGHT: Lone Peak 4.5


Dom: This has been extensively discussed above, but -- to summarize -- the LP5 feels very much like the LP 4 and 4.5, but with better forefoot protection.   The shoes are otherwise very similar: if you enjoyed the spaciousness of the LP4.5 fit, you’ll be happy with LP5.  If you felt LP4.5 was too loose, you’ll feel equally -- if not more so -- unhappy with the LP5.  It is worth noting however, that LP5 does seem to have got slightly longer overall, so sizing down the shoe to get a snugger fit is a reasonable option.   Older versions (LP3, 3.5) were different in character, with a more performance-oriented last.  Compared to these, the recent shoes are heavier and much more spacious.


Altra Superior 4.5 (RTR Review

Dom / Canice:  The Superior 4.5 (very similar to 4.0) is a lighter, softer, less structured shoe than the LP5.  It is notable for a striking slipper-like fit, and excellent ground feel.   The LP5 is heavier, more durable,  and more protective.


Altra Timp 2 (RTR Review

Dom / Canice:   With 29 mm of stack underfoot, the Timp2 offers a much plusher ride than the LP5 (25 mm).  It is also, startlingly, much lighter, by 40 g per shoe.   Which makes one wonder how Altra manages to keep the Lone Peak so heavy.  Other notable differences: the Timp2 has a slimmer, more performance-oriented last.   If you like the spaciousness of the Lone Peak, you should probably size up in Timp.  Or if you want a less sloppy fit in the LP5, I’d suggest that you try sizing down.   The biggest weakness of the Timp2 may be the durability of the upper: my first pair abraded right through the fabric, just above the sole join, and I am not the only person complaining of this.  In my second pair, I created an ad-hoc rand to protect the upper by smearing shoe-goo adhesive onto the fabric at the critical wear points.  So far, so good, but Altra really needs to hasten the Timp 3 to remedy this.


Inov-8 Terraulltra G 270 (RTR Review

Dom:  Both shoes are zero-drop.  Stack height on TU G270 is 21 mm vs 25 in LP5. From my perspective there’s really no competition here.  The TU G270 is a better, lighter shoe.  Its only weakness is that it runs a little narrow in the forefoot.   If you have hobbit feet and can’t squeeze into the TU G270, then maybe the Lone Peak is right for you.   And if you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, then maybe the LP is a better choice for hikers/trotters.


Topo Ultraventure 2 (RTR Review

Dom: I guess the closest equivalent from Topo is the UltraVenture2, which also has 25 mm stack under the forefoot (but with 30 mm heel, and a more conventional ride).   Like the Lone Peak, the Topo also has a roomy fit (though not quite as spacious), but is a full 50 g per shoe lighter.  Again, the extra heft of the LP has me scratching my head as to where all that weight goes.   


Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the author for this review from Altra . The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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7 comments:

Unknown said...

Possible to add a comparison with Topo TerraVenture 2?

Dom Layfield said...

@Unknown: Thanks for the suggestion. Now that I come to think of it, both shoes offer similar stack height (25/22 mm in Topo vs 25 mm flat in Altra), both are low-drop or flat, both are on the heavy with almost identical weight (US M10 322g in TV2, 316g in LP5).

The TV2 has a slightly lower, firmer ride, but there's not much in it. The fit of the TV2 is much nicer, fitting my foot very well. Although as I remarked above, the LP5 mostly felt oversized, so I think that a size 9.5 in the LP5 would feel similar to the TV2.

Given the sample shoes I have, I prefer the TV2. If I had a smaller size in the LP5, I suspect that I'd give the nod to the LP5.

Anonymous said...

I got my pair yesterday and I concur that they run half a size bigger/longer than all other Altras.

Anonymous said...

The “Timp 2.5” was mentioned in the review. There is no 2.5. They are going straight to the 3 and it’s already available for per order on RW.

Quentin said...

Hi RTR,
I was big fan of the LP 3.5. Not so much of the LP4.5 (I find the cushion to be to hard, not bouncy at all). So I wonder...
for a 120km of Pyrénées Mountains, France (quite technical), what do you think of the LP5 compared to the Xodus ?
Thank you !

Sam Winebaum said...

Bonjour Quentin,
Unfortunately neither Dom nor Canice tested the Xodus and I didn't the Lone Peak 5 but I can say the Xodus 10 has no upper security issues, massive amounts of friendly cushion, handles technical very well and we found road as well about as well as any max cushion road shoe. Our Xodus 10 review is here: https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2020/01/saucony-xodus-10-any-trail-any-surface.html
Sam, Editor

Quentin said...

Thank you Sam ! Sounds pretty good indeed !