ALTRA MONT BLANC BOA - 200km+ Test
Posted on August 18 2022
I have been fortunate to be able to run the last 4 weeks in the latest version of the ALTRA Mont Blanc, The Mont Blanc BOA.
First up, full confession, I am a massive fan of the conventional Mont Blanc which was launched earlier in the year so I started out with high expectations.
I have been running in the S23 sample, which is a different colorway to the launch model for this season. Both are exactly the same however so my impressions should be accurate to the launch model.
My test coincided with my trip to the UK, my first escape from Hong Kong in 3 years and given the airport chaos in Europe (and the UK) I decided only carry on luggage would be possible. Hence the Mont Blanc BOA was the only running shoe I would take and would therefore have to cope with whatever type of run I would throw at it.
So it proved, despite this shoe being designed as an all out ultra trail racer, it had to cope with everything from road runs, Parkrun, lovely forest trails and of course, the dreaded quarantine. I have covered over 200 kms during that time so became well acquainted with the shoe.
The Mont Blanc BOA has the obvious difference to the conventional Mont Blanc of the addition of the BOA fit system. BOA collaborates with a number of footwear manufacturers and the aim is to provide a way to get a much more "dialed in" (pun intended) fit. Two BOA dials are added to each shoe which when turned, tighten attached laces. This is described in the literature as "BOA® Fit System with Dual Dial L6 delivers micro-adjustable precision fit for improved power and responsiveness. Engineered for confidence – built to perform when every moment matters. Also the TX4 wire which is flexible, lightweight, and strong, the TX4 textile lace provides a soft feel with the lasting strength of Dyneema®" . These dials pull in no less that 4 straps tighter on each foot. Two across the forefoot and two across the midfoot. Each click represents about 1mm tightening of the shoe.
To release, the dial is pulled away from the shoe and the tightness released with a click.
But first, the similarities to the conventional Mont Blanc.
1. Same ALTRA "standard" Footshape, which is the medium width in the ALTRA range.
2. 33mm of Balanced Cushioning made from ALTRAs EGO MAX midfoot material.
3. Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole. We all know this works extremely well in Hong Kong conditions.
What I liked very much about the Mont Blanc, and what is maintained here, is the responsiveness of the cushioning under the forefoot. It really is a joy to run on, on any surface but especially on catchwaters , or in the case of some of my UK runs, roads.
To get the shoe on, is not that difficult but given the lightness of the upper and the various straps, a little fiddling is necessary. Wasn't a problem. Then click the dials shut and tighten away. I found it needed a bit of trial and error to balance the pressure across the forefoot and across the midfoot. Its very easy to over tighten the dials. Its easily remedied by clicking them open again and clicking back shut.
My preference was more pressure on the midfoot, less on the forefoot. Too much I found o the forefoot cause the edge of the BOA dial to dig into the top of my forefoot so I kept that firm but not over tight.
Some people have reported a heel lock issue on the conventional Mont Blanc, which I never had and I am curious if this BOA system solves that problem for them . For me once again I got good heel lock.
What I really liked about the BOA system was the ability to mid run quickly tighten up the shoes. I found after running for a while, and particularly when tackling something a bit more technical, having the ability to nip up the shoes was great.
The ParkRun I did in the UK was 2.5km up and then a pretty raid 2.5km down on loose gravel. The Mont Blanc BOA was superb and I overtook many people on the descent..... suckers!!!!
On wet trails, the Vibram Megagrip Litebase, does what it does well. Never once had I any form of slippage. Some lovely forest paths had me gliding along effortlessly. I am a big convert to "zero drop" so I find the natural running style makes me feel very comfortable.
On technical downhills with large rocks I felt there was adequate protection. Remember this is a racing shoe so the upper is meant to be lightweight. If you want more protection go for a hiking boot. :-)
I didn't run in super heavy rain but what I have experienced in the normal Mont Blanc is that the upper material on the shoe drains extremely well. As the BOA is the same I would expect this to perform the same.
The BOA system adds another 37 grams or so to the weight of the shoe (Men's), which is not a huge amount in exchange for the better fit.
So I covered a wide diversity of runs during my UK trip, not long, my longest so far has been about 15km but overall wonderful shoes. I even managed the dreaded quarantine ... thankfully shorter now!
Totally love the shoe, it will be a favorite of mine going forward.
Check out the collection HERE
You can also read our original long term review of the Mont Blanc HERE