If you’re on the fence about whether to switch to trail runners for hiking and backpacking, Altra’s Lone Peak 2.5 running shoes might make a believer out of you. Although they look like clown shoes with an oversized toe box, they are very comfortable for hiking on level terrain and rolling hills in warm and dry weather. However, if your rambles take you up mountainous routes with steep climbs that require more precise footwork over wet ledges, I’d recommend that you get a shoe that has a stickier and more rigid sole that provides beefier toe and side protection.
The Lone Peak 2.5 is a zero drop trail runner with an oversized toe box that lets your toes splay out inside when hiking providing a very natural feel like walking in bare feet. If you suffer from bunions, hammer toes, or toe blistering, the added toe box space should help diminish your pain and symptoms by providing a “barefoot” style fit.
Made with breathable mesh, the Lone Peaks help keep your feet drier thereby reducing blistering since perspiration can evaporate freely. A grid-like terry-cloth lining further helps to wick perspiration away from your feet and cushions the heel and top of your foot without rubbing.
A clever gaiter trap on the back of the shoe is optimized for securely holding short running gaiters in-place eliminating the need to glue velcro patches (which always fall off) to the back of the shoe.
The extra-wide sole helps distribute shock across a wider surface area, while a midsole plate helps to stiffen the sole and significantly reduce foot fatigue. You can really crank out 20 miles days with this shoe without developing sore arches. The extra wide sole is also very stable and provides a very flat feel that reduces ankle rolling.
While the Lone Peak 2.5’s are really excellent for dry weather use on flat or gently rolling terrain, I can’t recommend them for hiking in mountainous terrain requiring more technical footwork. The soft sole in not rigid enough for any kind of rock scrambling and the sides collapse painfully into the toe box when edging or crack climbing is required. The soft sole also slips on inclined bare rock unless you can plant your foot completely flat while bearing all of your body weight.
If you don’t hike on trails that require a lot of technical scrambling, I think you’ll find that Altra’s Lone Peak 2.5 trail runners are very comfortable hiking shoes, especially for long distance hiking where you need to do long miles every day. The same holds if you have foot problems like bunions, hammer toes, or you blister easily, because the Lone Peaks have so much interior space.
If Altra made a trail runner with a firmer sole that was more suitable for rock scrambling in higher gradient conditions, I’d certainly be willing to give it a try based on my experience with the Lone Peak 2.5’s. They’re really just a near miss for my needs, but still an excellent option if you’re looking to migrate from hiking boots to a trail runner that offers excellent breathability, stability, and comfort.
Disclosure: Altra Running provided Philip Werner with a sample pair of Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Running Shoes for this review. Philip Werner is not a sponsored Altra Running athlete.
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