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Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Trail Runners

The Altra 2.5 Lone Peak Trail Runner has a very large toe box that provides exceptional comfort.
The Altra 2.5 Lone Peak Trail Runner has a very large toe box that provides exceptional comfort.

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.

Oversized toe box allows toes to splay out. Mesh uppers help vent perspiration
Oversized toe box allows toes to splay out. Mesh uppers help vent perspiration

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.

Soft terry cloth grid lining wicks away perspiration and cushions foot
Soft terry cloth grid lining wicks away perspiration and cushions foot

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.

Unique gater trap secures short running gaiters. Front toe kick provides limited protection
Unique gater trap secures short running gaiters. Front toe kick provides limited protection

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.

Directional lugs positioned just behind the toes provide good forward traction.
Directional lugs positioned just behind the toes provide good forward traction.

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.

Altra's Lone Peak 2.5's do not provide good traction on inclined or wet rock and the soft sole collapses on scrambling moves that require edging
Altra’s Lone Peak 2.5’s do not provide good traction on inclined or wet rock and the soft sole collapses on scrambling moves that require edging or crack climbing.

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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  1. Hiking South on the AT ,Harper’s F in the spring. Will check them out. 10lb base weight .

  2. Great and accurate review – I LOVE these shoes for hiking and “lightweight” backpacking, meaning I use a 12lb base weight and am a big guy, but had no problem wearing these shoes but I speculate (based on reports from thru-hiking buddies) they will pack out fairly quickly.

    As mentioned they SUCK on wet rocks, the raised nubs in the center of the sole are designed to be rugged, but they absolutely do not grip on the rocks of New England. I’d consider them a perfect shoe for the PCT of much of the AT, but I’d switch to my Oboz when I hit the Whites.

  3. My favorite shoes! I agree though, you do have to really watch your footwork when the going gets rough. They work great on talus out west but I haven’t used them on wet slabs. My feet are so wide only Altra and keen fit so I don’t really have any options.

  4. I’m currently hiking in Lone Peak 2.0’s after one of my hiking friends completed the PCT this year in Lone Peaks (In only 110 days no less!). He got 1200 miles out of a pair and that a huge testament to me as I can’t get a pair to last more than 500 at best. When this pair dies I’ll get the 2.5 as many people have waxed poetic about how the 2.5’s fix everything that is wrong with the 2.0’s. Time will tell.

    I will say that it takes a couple of weeks to get used to the zero drop footing, it really stretches out the back of the calves on uphill.

    I don’t like the fact that the massive footbox keeps me from using aftermarket insoles, and I haven’t tried the Stoneguard inserts either. I’m in Arizona and a little more protection between me and the rough terrain would be welcome.

  5. Although I am a fan of the Lone Peak model, I tend to prefer the Superior model, which is very similar but with a thinner more flexible sole.

    The thinness and flex makes for better traction and more of sense of feeling the trail.
    I always tend to fall more often when I use shoes with stiffer soles.

    Of course you need to get your feet in shape if you aren’t used to the minimal sole.

  6. I tried these on at REI the other day and was kind of disappointed. The wide toe box was awesome and the ride was nice, but the overall construction was meh. I don’t know if it was a defective pair but it seemed like very little attention was paid to finishing the inside of the shoe. There was excess amounts of material and a lot of the seams were “flappy”. It felt like my socks were bunching up around my foot, but when I tried them barefoot it still felt the same to me. I really wanted to like them but I ended up getting something else instead.

    • I totally agree on the finishing, as if the manufacturer was relying on brand recognition in the hope that customers would overlook shoddy manufacturing. I also found very little cushoining in the footbed and what I considered misplaced arch support, but even when inserting my own orthotics, it did not seem to have a natural roll when walking and I think the sole was too flat when I tried them on. I have a high arch and these did not suit my situation.

      • I have not experienced any shoddy construction with nay of the Altras that I have owned, but do realize that it can happen with any manufacturer any more.

        They should be returned for replacement.

        Altra shoes are meant to be minimalist, no cushioning, no arch support, no heal lift,…

        They are meant for people who are willing to condition their feet so that those things aren’t needed.

        Arch support is meant for people with weak arches and aren’t unwilling to get their feet in shape.

        All of my foot problems went away when I switched to minimalist shoes and I had issues with weak arches, heal spurs and a few other common foot problems.

  7. I’ve been wearing Merrell Trail Gloves (bare foots) for the past 2 years and so quite familiar with zero drop and a wide toe box. Both my old pair have 0mm drop and 3 or 4mm of cushion. Lots of feedback through the very thin soles though. I attribute the virtual elimination of sciatica pain to the zero drop. Perhaps this is an effect of stretching out the hamstrings? I much prefer it for steep descents as well. No more ankle roll due to the low stack height.

    A couple of months ago I searched for a local place to try on Altra superiors. In particular I wanted to stick with zero drop and a wide toe box like my Merrell’s. I located only one place and they didn’t have Superiors. My wife and I both tried on several models that they did have, but I don’t recall which. We both found them too loose in the sides and heel box. They definitely had lots of cushion, like none I’ve ever experienced before, kinda like a marshmallow. They also tend to run short in length.

    We spent about a month trying on every kind of shoe we thought might be suitable, eventually settling on Merrell “All Out Charge”. This model has 6mm drop and 12mm cushion. I don’t ever want any more drop than 6mm. Much more comfy on sharp rocks than the bare foots! I also bought the latest version of the Trail Glove (3?) for daily wear.

    What I’ve experienced is once you’ve spent a lot of time in wide toe boxes, you can’t go back to conventional shoes because your toes will have become more naturally splayed out and your other shoes won’t fit. Even if you can get back in, be prepared for major discomfort AND blisters.

  8. I agree with your assessment. Mine are comfortable and do not cause blisters but slide on rocks or anything damp. Mine are yellow and I call them my hiking clown shoes.

  9. I like the New Balance Leadville 1210v2, and have bought 2 pair so far. After a good year’s use day hiking mostly rocky but usually dry, mountainous terrine here in Andalusia, Spain. The first pair Vibram sole is now somewhat worn down, although I still wear them every day in town. I like a tight heal tie down, and there’s only some wear on the inside heal ankle cushioning. I’m wearing the second pair for hiking the local trails with 10 to 12 lb backpack. I wear size 12 width 2e, and they fit me well with comfy, wide toe box. The problem is that my size in this model is no longer available, but your readers might like these shoes if available in their sizes. I don’t understand why New Balance and others continually change the models.

  10. Love the toe box, zero drop. Hooked couple hundred miles in the previous incarnation of them on rugged GET. But they are vulnerable to low growing prickly pear thorns. Ouch!

    Maybe these are better armored?

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