I typically wait about 50 miles or so to get a review of some shoes in. However, since I subscribe or have subscribed to every shoe in Altra’s foot arsenal, I am confident with this review after 16 miles of trail fun. The trails include everything from single track technical to wide open sandy river paths. So, here goes:
I. love. these. shoes. They are a complete departure from the Lone Peak, which was Altra’s first dip into the trail shoe arena. The Lone Peak got some criticism about being too stiff and not draining water too well. I think Altra responded wonderfully to those criticisms with this shoe and developed a lighter, more flexible, more versatile trail shoe.
The upper of the shoe is light and very breathable. When running I can feel the air moving through the shoe. I like this because it tells me the shoe will take in and drop water pretty effectively and the slight windy sensation between my toes makes me feel fast. The upper also is not restricting at all. If you are familiar with the Lone Peak the side walls of the shoe were reinforced with some very tough material (shaped like a mountain range). There’s none of that going on here with I think lets the foot dance around in the shoe a lot easier. Obviously the down side of that is you’ll feel more on the sides of your feel if you hit a rock wrong, but some people just call that “Ground Feel” and go on their merry way. One other small issue I noticed with the upper was the way it grips (or doesn’t grip) my heel. All of the other Altras I’ve worn have really been a great fit around my heel/ankle. This is remedied with a little lacing magic and playing around with the tightness of the strings.
So, the tread on these shoes is a little weird to look at. Its not all meaty and beefy like the LP’s it is just an opposing shingle pattern. I didn’t think this would be too great for technical parts of the trail but I wasn’t slipping around or spinning my wheels. I will keep an eye on the tread to see how quickly it wears down, but I’ll be good in these for awhile I am sure. One funny thing that I love on the shoe is the “rudder” in back. So many people complained about it on the Lone Peaks. So much that some people cut it off the shoe. I don’t notice it being there on uphill or flats but I can feel it there on steep downhills where I am trying to keep my speed in check. I also think its Altra’s way of telling those who didn’t like it, “Too bad. We know how to make shoes and its staying.”
The one thing I still do need to test out is the removable rock plate in the shoe. For me I like it in there, I think it gives enough protection from rocks but still keeps with the overall flexibility of the shoe. One thing I will try without the rock plate is taking the shoes out for a road run. I think the tread will lend itself well to roads if you need something in a pinch, or need your first pair of Trail shoes.
As always, if you want to pick up a pair, please contact me and I will get you squared away.