LONG TERM TEST - THE ALTRA MONT BLANC
Posted on February 12 2022
I have been very lucky to have had access to the early samples of the all-new ALTRA Mont Blanc and now with around 320km in the shoe its a great time to summarize what I have learned about this shoe.
Full disclosure, of course we sell ALTRA so we may be judged to be biased but as we test all shoes, from all brands, we think its important to be realistic about the strength and weaknesses of each of the shoes.
I have loved running in the Olympus 4 and in certain situations, the Lone Peak, particularly from version 5 onwards. What ALTRA has missed has been a true trail racing shoe that could be used for shorter or longer distance trail racing. I believe the Mont Blanc is that shoe.
Inspired by the iconic Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB), as by the way, as has so many other great shoes, this is a true short or long distance trail racer.
The comfort and stability (and of course the Vibram grip) of the Olympus 4 have been what set it apart from other shoes. The trail feel and the nimbleness of the Lone Peak 5 is enjoyable. Picking the best of these and then adding some is what makes the MONT BLANC special.
Lets start with the midsole. ALTRA have now created a whole platform of EGO foams that they will increasingly apply to their shoes. EGO is the basic level foam that still provides a good level of energy return. This has been applied to the Lone Peak 5 and to good effect. EGO Max is the premium level foam and we have seen it applied to the Torin 5 and the Paradigm 6 road shoes producing a step change increase in energy return and comfort.
There will be a top tier EGO foam called EGO Pro which will be applied to the top road shoes but more of that later.
The Mont Blanc is the first trail shoe to have EGO MAX applied. 30mm of stack height under the heel and the forefoot. Balanced Cushioning being the signature of ALTRA means loads of rock protection and fabulous forefoot energy return. In the first 5 mins of running in the shoe I could feel this, really good.
Then of course there is the Vibram Litebase outsole. In Hong Kong, Vibram Megagrip has established itself as the "Gold Standard" of grip on the particular combination of steps, catchwaters, rocks and trail that makes Hong Kong so unique. Having this on the MONT BLANC is a fantastic addition.
ALTRA have also evolved their thinking on FOOTSHAPE. Its again a trademark of ALTRA to have the wide toebox combined in a FOOTSHAPE to allow everyone to experience the pleasure of being able to spread the toes when running. The ALTRA range now comes in three different fittings of FOOTSHAPE. The MONT BLANC is the Standard size, (The Olympus and the Lone Peak are the Original size). This still leaves plenty of room for the toes to spread but gives the shoe a much more racy style and feel.
Then there is the upper. Too many shoes we test have a lot of padding and cushioning around the heel and in the upper in general. In Hong Kong's hot and humid climate, with occasional torrential downpours, this means the shoe often comes back much heavier than when you started your run.
The upper on the MONT BLANC is made of a minimal material with support only where its needed AND, some of the best drainage I have ever seen on a shoe. There are literally mesh panels built into the shoe that allow water and moisture to simply run out. On the photo above you can see these panels are transparent.
So how has the experience been?.
Fortunately I have had the opportunity to run long and short, in heat and rain in these shoes.
For my feet, they are a perfect fit. I am anyway a convert to zero-drop and that in combination with everything mentioned above makes this a shoe I will pick every time for my trail run. I would be confident to be able to run long or short and on any technical terrain and feel totally secure.
If I was looking for points of criticism and believe me they are small, I have heard some people say they experienced a bit of heel lift (I did not) and I did notice after 320 km there was a fair amount of wear and tear particularly on the outsole. Maybe that is the compromise for it being a relatively light racing shoe. (and also picking it up every time I want to go for a run :-))
OVERALL CONCLUSION : Probably the best trail shoe I have every run in!
CHECK OUT THE COLLECTION HERE:
- 👟Brand-new Altra EGO™ MAX midsole foam that’s luxurious and light
- 👟Vibram® LiteBase outsole with micro and macro lugs for traction on any terrain
- 👟Ultra-lightweight, hyper-breathable upper designed with protection and material strategically placed only where it’s needed
- 👟Altra's signature FootShape™ comfort gives your feet more space to sit naturally and is designed to address biological differences in men's and women's feet.
- 👟Altra's Balanced Cushioning™ platform positions your heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground, encouraging better alignment, better form, and a low impact landing.
Places your heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground to encourage proper, low-impact form throughout your trail run.
FOOTSHAPE™ TOE BOX
Allows your toes to relax and spread out naturally for more comfort and stability in uphill climbs and downhill descents.