Altra Lone Peak 4.0, is it as grippy as they claim? We find out!
Posted on August 15 2018
Altra claims to have a competitor to Vibram megagrip and version 4.0 of the Lone Peak makes a big deal of this new proprietary outsole.... "MAXTRAC rubber on the outsole delivers just what it sounds like- max traction ! Take these babies up a peak and see for yourself"
Manufacturers often make claims about grip and have usually tested them on US or European trails. In HK we have trail conditions that are pretty unusual. Only sometimes do we have lots of mud (more of that later), we have catchwaters, we have steps and the hot, humid conditions grow a very slippy green moss that tests the best of shoes. Usually the trails are quite sandy, so even in the rain the loose stuff gets washed away quickly so sticky mud is a rarity.
My go-too reference is Salomon ContraGrip, which to me, is perfect for HK trails. Vibram MegaGrip is of course well known and also good but these two set the standard. Can Altra MAXTRAC compete ?
Yesterday was perfect testing weather after lots of rain and I chose our Saturday Morning route on the Hong Kong Trail as a test location because I know well how other shoes perform and it offers a range of different surfaces from slippy trail, greasy rocks, paved descents, steps and some catchwater running
My aim was primarily to test the MAXTRAC claim but I also got a chance to get to know the Lone Peak more broadly.
The Lone Peak is Altra's best selling trail shoe and the version 4.0 has a number of new features besides the MAXTRAC outsole. This is how Altra describes them:
I purposefully looked for all combinations of mud, water, green rocks, slippy corners and I have to say the grip is indeed very good. The big lugs offer excellent traction in the mud and don't break away on the greasy rocks. The rock plate worked well so I didn't feel any mid foot rock strikes. I liked the low stack height which gave good control but it did feel hard... more later.
Honestly, on the trails, running reasonably fast I don't really notice the zero drop as my footfall and stride length is continuously changing. I hadn't laced the shoes particularly tightly but my foot felt well held on the undulating trail which is important with so much space in the toe-box.
Where I started to be less impressed was when the the trail was hard and relatively dry and then on the catchwater and the paved descents. The ride does then become pretty hard. The Salomon Ultra 2 has about the same stack height at the heel and an even lower stack height in the forefoot but the ride is so much smoother. On the Lone Peak, there is very little energy return. Ultra claims to have "A-Bound" cushioning under the forefoot but it is no where near as effective as the PU pad in the Ultra 2.
On a 10% descent (Peel Rise), my foot was still well held by the integrated strap over the instep but even with tightening the laces, when I tried the 20% drop on Wanchai Gap path, my feet started to slip in the shoe and I had a bit of toe pain. Maybe a half size bigger would resolve this.
One final thing I noticed is that there is a large amount of soft padding around the heel and this absorbs a lot of water. I am going to start weighing shoes dry and wet but my guess is they increased a lot in weight above the advertised 300g by the end of the run.(compared below to the Ultra 2)
So my verdict is that this is clearly a pure trail shoe and on the natural trails feel assured and precise. The grip is impressive and I felt confident and I liked the ride.
The 25mm stack height feels less when on the road or on catchwaters and consequently the ride is a pretty hard and there is limited energy return when compared to say the PU unit in the Ultra 2. In HK we rarely get trails that are all pure trail so having this cross over capability is an advantage for me.
Nevertheless its a good shoe for what its designed for and for Altra enthusiasts will be a step up from the Lone Peak 3.5 and is around 700hkd cheaper than the Ultra 2, lets not forget that. I will use this shoe more, particularly in the sloppy conditions we have at the moment.