Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gear Closet: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Hiking Shoes

A couple of weeks back I took a look at the new Altra Superior 2.0 trail running shoes, and found them to be an excellent choice for runners. At the time I mentioned that I was testing another pair of shoes from the company as well, and was eager to put them through their paces. Last week while visiting Quebec I had the opportunity to do just that, and ended up coming away just as impressed.

This time out I was testing the new Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid, a hybrid shoe of sorts that blends the best elements of a trail runner with a lightweight hiker. It features Altra's proprietary Foot Shape technology that allows for more room in the toe box for a more natural fit, and its Abound materials that allow energy to return to the foot when walking. They also have a zero-drop sole that allows both the forefoot and heel to strike the ground at the same time, which encourages better form throughout the length of your run or hike.

This being the "mid" version of the original Lone Peak shoe it comes with more ankle support built-in. This not only comes in handy when hiking demanding trails, it also gives the shoe a look that more resembles a hiking boot as well. Since I was using them more in that capacity rather than as trail runners, I appreciated the extra support, even on routes that weren't especially demanding.

When compared to other hiking shoes, the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid is extremely lightweight, tipping the scale at just 10 ounces (283 grams). That made them extremely easy to pack for my Canadian adventure, and helped to reduce fatigue when wearing them for extended periods of time, both on the trail and walking around town. In fact, I'd say that these shoes are more on par weight-wise with the trail running shoes I wear from other companies, rather than most hiking shoes. In other words, if you're in the market for a new pair of hikers and are looking to shave off some ounces, this just might be the shoe you've been looking for.


In terms of comfort, the Lone Peak feels more this a sneaker than a hiking shoe as well. They are very comfortable on your feet while still managing to provide a high level of support in all the areas you need it – most notably the arch, ankle, and footbed. I will say that my feet did get a bit warm at times thanks to the Polartech fabrics used in their construction, but not so much that they were actually uncomfortable. My feet tend to run warm most of the time anyway, so this wasn't completely surprising considering they were being worn on a summer hike.

The other important factor for a trail running or hiking shoe is traction on a variety of surfaces, and the Lone Peak doesn't disappoint here either. It uses Altra's new MaxTrac outsole and TrailClaw lugs to keep you sure footed even on rocks, mud, water, and fine dirt. I suspect they'd be fine on snow – and to a lesser extent ice – as well, although I haven't had the opportunity to test them in that environment just yet.

If there is one complaint I have about these shoes it is a minor one. They can be a bit tough to get on at first, as they have a narrow opening that can be difficult to slide your foot into without taking the laces out of the first few eyelets. The more I wore them however, the easier they were to get on my feet, in part because they started to loosen up some, and because I also learned the best way to get them into place. Still, I was put off by this at the beginning, so it is important to point out. Your first foray with these shoes may have similar results, so don't write them off based on that first impression.

That said, these are one of the more comfortable pairs of shoes that I've had the opportunity to try out in a long time. I really love the wide toe box that gives my feet plenty of room, and I appreciated the amount of cushioning and support that they provide too. On top of that, they are super versatile, transitioning from trail to town without missing a beat. I even wore them on a 35 mile bike ride and came away feeling great too. That makes them a nice set of footwear to have in your closet and a great choice for travelers too.

Priced at $160, these are the perfect shoes for fast packers, lightweight backpackers, trail runners looking for some extra ankle support, or hikers who just want a lightweight, yet durable option. Buy them now at CampSaver.

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