ALTRA Lone Peak 5 - First Impressions

Posted on December 06 2020

ALTRA Lone Peak 5 - First Impressions


For ALTRA, the Lone Peak has always been THE iconic shoe for the brand.

It was one of the first to be developed when the company was started and has now been through 9 iterations to get to the Lone Peak 5. The company will now stop with the half point name changes but what it used to mean was that a whole number meant a substantial upgrade. 

I ran in the Lone Peak 4 back in 2018 and I remember a few aspects about that model. 

It is relatively low stack height shoe (25 mm) and therefore was a good "trail feel" shoe. Good forefoot rock protection and cushioning but the cushioning was a little lacking in the heel when confronted with the hard catchwater concrete of steps of Hong Kong. 

It was also me first wide toe-box shoe and as I don't have particularly wide feet I wanted to be sure my foot was well locked in across my instep to ensure my feet didn't move around inside the shoe. They did a reasonable job of that but the looseness of the toe-box took a little getting used too. 

Zero-drop too was a new concept and being rocked back on my heels again took a little time to adapt too.

Now a couple of years on I am an ardent zero-drop fan and attribute my relatively low incidence of injury (touch wood) to making the transition.

So it was with pleasure that I have been able to spend the last two weekend testing out the new Lone Peak 5. I have had a couple of the GR Saturday Run outings which is a mixed 10.5km trail and catchwater run and a couple of longer 15k runs again combining trail and road. As I am training for a 5km race the focus has been on pace so I have been keen to see how the LP5 provided a compliment to that training. 

There have been a few major changes.

1. MIDSOLE. ALTRA is going through a major transition of its midsole platform and the LP5 has benefited from a switch from what they called Dual Layer EVA / A-Bound™ to the EGO midsole material found on the Escalante Racer. Mainly a slightly denser material which has absolutely solved the problem of the slightly thin feel on the heel previously. The forefoot was previously ok but now its really sound with great rock protection. While I could feel the ground my run was not punctuated by intrusive pain from a sharper than expected stone. A real PLUS for the midsole. 

2. THE UPPER. What I really noticed was the substantial change in the upper design. As mentioned previously I like a good locked in feel for my foot across the instep. What ALTRA has done is constructed the upper around the instep and on both sides of the vamp in a really quite stiff material. This is stiffer I think than any other shoe I have ever run in. The overlays are quite rigid indeed. This has probably contributed to the weight increase from 298g to 318g but I think it is totally worth it. I absolutely love the way it really locks your foot into the shoe. This must be experienced to get the feel for how it is. A really great step forward. They have also added a number of laser cut drain holes at the front of the shoe and I look forward to seeing these been tested thoroughly either in hot steamy conditions or heavy downpours. Good news again for Hong Kong.

3. OVERALL DESIGN. Since ALTRA was bought by VF there has been an enormous effort put into the styling and look of the shoe range. See the Olympus 4 compared to the 3.5. You can see from the photo above and below the look is much cleaner and for people concerned about the look and feel of wide toe-box shoes (and we have plenty who come in the shop) this will look like a much more stylish shoe which for many is important.

Some things have not changed so much, for instance.......

4. OUTSOLE. The Lone Peak has always had a more aggressive cleat pattern compared to others in the range and that has been kept and only slightly modified. To be fair, the runs I have done so far have been in pretty dry conditions but I would expect this tread pattern would work well in sloppy conditions as the previous models have done. The compound remains MAXTRAC, which is ALTRA's proprietary material. My experience is that it is not quite at the Vibram Megagrip standards of traction, with this tread pattern it does seem to work pretty well. I will have a better view after a few bad weather outings. 

From the first 50km I have put into them I have to say I really love this shoe. My feet feel secure and the cushioning is absolutely perfect for the kind of running I have been doing. They feel nimble and I managed to run (for me at least) reasonable quick in them and they felt sure footed. Foot placement was done with confidence.
A small point to highlight is they do have a small heel extension which seems to be fashionable outside of HK and you might want to be careful on step descents if taken at speed. If you are concerned, cut it off. 
Like I said the locked in feel is spectacular and downhill, on twisty trails, my feet were held tightly but with the typical ALTRA advantage of toes being free to spread. A straight big toe absolutely helps toe-off and no friction between those pinkies. 
I am a total zero-drop convert and I think it is a major contribution to me being able to run every day, at around a 4200 km per year kind of level and not suffer constant injury at my ripe old age. 
So for me this is the second major upgrade to emerge from the ALTRA stable after the OLYMPUS 4. It will have a regular place in my shoe rotation. 


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