I was first exposed the Altra’s on a backpacking trip in the Sisters Wilderness, the summer of 2014. We chewed up 65 miles in 4 days. One of our crew, Scott Rowley, had nothing but good things to say about his Lonepeaks as I hobbled along with blisters of legendary size.
The good folks at Next Adventure generously provided me with a pair of the Altra Lonepeak trail shoes the week before I planned to run the 50K Loowit Trail around Mt. St. Helens. I was in need of new trail shoes and eager to test run the Altra’s Zero Drop sole and FootShape toe box.
My first advice… transition time is key! I took these out for a 3 mi, SLOW, jog around the neighborhood and it became clear that this was a different approach to running shoes. My other road shoes had an 11 mm drop from heal to toe. This flat approach was unfamiliar to my calves, achilles and hips. I woke up sore.
So when we ran the Loowit that weekend, the Altra’s stayed at home. I think it was the right call, especially given how brutal the lava beds were on my other shoes. I literally threw them away afterward due the abuse they experienced on the trail.
If you read the Altra literature, they say the same thing… Transition time is crucial. So I followed their recombination and eased into the zero drop running style over several weeks. I had been running with a mid to forefoot strike for sometime, so this was easier than it might be for a heavy heal striker, I imagine.
At this point, I am a big fan. I currently rotate between the Lonepeaks, Olympic 1.5’s (more cushioned version the Lonepeak) and Hoka Stinson Trail. The mid/forefoot strike style feels less jarring to my joints. That means less back pain and quicker recovery. I’ve had trouble with chronic high achilles/calve pain in the past, but seem to have overcome that in recent months. I hope! I am not sure if zero drop gets credit for all of that, but I’m thankful nonetheless.
Here is an interesting study from Harvard on heal v. mid/forefoot striking. Interesting food for thought.
Another interesting resource to check out is the 2015 survey conducted at the historic Western States 100. Lots of Altra users.
I default to these shoes on a daily basis, now. Turns out they're popular with PCT through hikers, too. They recently launched the refined Lonepeak 2.5. There appears to be nice upgrades in material with roughly the same proven design.
Thanks again to Next Adventure and Altra for providing me with the Lonepeak and Olympic 1.5. I can easily recommend them to trail runners and hikers alike.