One of the first things you might notice on the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes is the beefy stack height of 25mm. Since it’s a zero drop shoe, this cushioning is even throughout.
In some cases, the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 has more cushioning than some shoes by Hoka (Hoka One One Clifton 4 has a 23mm forefoot stack height), and competes well against a very similar trail running shoe by Hoka (Hoka One One Constant 2 has a 30 mm/26 mm stack height split).
Now what’s the weight for all this cushioning in the Lone Peaks? It’s lower than expected at 9.0 oz. This low weight might be a byproduct of sizing the shoe too small, but the shoe would still feel light even a size up.
Weight is an interesting measure of a trail running shoe, since unlike regular trainers, trail running shoes are for running up and down mountains+hills.
It’s always nice to have a light shoe for running on a level surface, but it’s even nicer to have a light shoe when you have to carry it up.
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 General Info
Altra came out with the Lone Peak line of shoes to create a versatile trail running shoe that stands out (like a “Lone Peak” if you will…).
The shoe can run on the road, can run on the treadmill, and could run on the track without really falling at any of them, but you can tell it’s at home on the trail.
What makes Altra shoes stand out from other shoes on the market is the large toebox design. This larger toebox (that Altra calls FOOTSHAPE Toebox) is a design philosophy that most running shoes are too narrow and prevent your toes from properly opening up in a natural way.
So,if you want an Altra shoe with trail running capabilities, the Lone Peak 3.5 is your best choice.
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Sole Unit
There are usually two types of trail running shoes. Those with maximum cushioning, and those with a minimal, barefoot feel.
Clearly, this shoe is pointed at the cushioned seeking folks, but they should also know it’s not just one or the other. This shoe also has a zero-drop platform and the huge toebox that caters to a barefoot feel.
I’m totally going to get a few complaints by saying this, but this shoe leans more to the barefoot side than the extra cushioned standard running shoe side when you consider the zero drop and wide toebox design.
The sole material is made out of both standard EVA foam and proprietary A-Bound foam. The A-Bound foam sits directly below the foot and compresses 2-3x less than traditional foam.
This is an important feature in a shoe with so much foam. You don’t want it to have the same sunken in feeling that a 5 year old cheap foam mattress gets.
I only got to test these shoes to 50 miles, so I can only say that it feels like this A-Bound foam does hold up in the short term, and will probably be fine in the long term.
The combination of both the EVA and A-Bound foam in the 25mm stack gives you a very forgiving platform for trail runs. I found I could still feel most of texture of the ground without giving up much cushioning.
Below the thick midsole foam section is a moderately aggressive tread pattern of knobby hexagons and triangles, also called MaxTrac, TrailClaw by Altra.
It felt perfect for my slightly wayward style of trail running that depends on a solid ground grip.
A more aggressive tread pattern would be necessary for heavy mud or loose sand, so this tread felt well suited on dirt trails, slightly rocky paths, and moderately tree root filled patches.
There are ZERO exposed sections of foam, so no worries about twigs or rocks stabbing through weak foam zones.
There’s also a Sandwiched StoneGuard slightly up in the height of the midsole to let small rocks absorb into the shoe but to keep bigger rocks from flexing in too deeply.
Overall, I think Altra did a great job on the outsole. Just be careful if you’re coming to thicker Altra shoes after running in thinner road shoes, because you will need to adjust to the extra height.
I made the mistake of running down a trail too quickly and making a hard turn on an ankle, which would have been fine in some racing flats.
Except I was in the Altra shoes which grip harder than most shoes, and roll a little further than most shoes before the side of your foot makes contact with the ground.
Yup, I rolled my ankle because I wasn’t ready to run with these shoes and should have been more careful. This is not a complaint, just a heads up to other people who might run a little foolish like me.
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Upper Info
This wasn’t the upper that I was hoping to see on a $120 pair of shoes. I was expecting fancier patches of mesh or knitted materials, thin+glued on overlays, and maybe more reinforcements on the laces.
These were no longer concerns after I got through a few training runs. You’re not getting the glamours fabrics and styles of modern trainers for a reason.
This shoe is for comfort and functionality with a little style. Take a look at the upper mesh a little closer. You’ll see that Altra put in extra threads around high stress areas.
Smart. The thicker overlays also keep the shoe much stronger than the thin overlays you see on shoes like the Saucony Kinvaras. You can’t get away with some of the boundary pushing tech in modern trainers because it won’t hold up on the trail.
Because this shoe is set up to protect your feet more than the average shoe, it holds onto moisture a little more. It does drain water well, but maybe consider a different pair of shoes if you’re known to sweat a lot.
I found the mesh to be appropriate for the trails it’s designed to run on. What I don’t feel so great about is the tough toebox liner.
This is a shoe you should seriously consider sizing up because it runs a little small, and there’s a pretty solid boundary that your toes will bump into at the end of the toebox.
One unique feature to this shoe you probably can’t find on any regular trainer is a 4-point gaiter system. There’s a velcro clasp at the back, a metal loop at the front, and openings in the overlay on the sides to hold a gaiter.
One of the last things you want on a long trail run is to get a little stone/twig in your sock. I didn’t have any gaiters to test with this shoe, but it looks like it’ll work just fine.
Finishing out the upper is the heel. It’s not too rigid, too heavy, or too loose, but might be a little too forgiving. The foam against the back of your heel is covered by a soft fabric that starts to sag over time.
Some people who are already in the 100+ mile range with these shoes say the sag is a little annoying. I did see some sag developing over the 50 miles of testing I did, and think this will just turn into a minor inconvenience at worst as the shoes age.
The Icebug Acceleritas that I normally bring to trail runs have a VERY aggressive heel that often gives me a blister after 10 or so miles.
Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Conclusions
Altra made this conclusion easy. The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 was super successful, and they just made a few smart upgrades to come out with the 3.5 without changing the MSRP.
As long as you make sure to try a larger size, treat these shoes like trail running shoes, you’ll have a very enjoyable experience.
These were my go-to shoes when I was training for an Icelandic trail race and they prepared me well. Although not perfect, I think anyone looking for trail running shoes should consider the Lone Peak 3.5 shoes.
We purchased a pair of Altra Lone Peak 3.5 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.