When hiking long distances, your feet are your most important tool. It is essential to take good care of them, and one part of that is choosing the right shoe for the job. I wore Altra Lone Peaks on my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) last summer. I loved them, and would highly recommend them to anyone hiking a long distance trail (or if you happen to have wide feet).
Circumstance of review:
I went through two pairs of these shoes over 900 miles of hiking last summer. I wore them in the southern California desert, some of the high Sierra mountain range, and through the entire state of Oregon (mostly forested mountains). I wore them in heat, cold, across sand, dirt, rocks, and snow.
According to Halfway Anywhere’s PCT Class of 2017 Gear Survey/, the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 was the most common shoe worn on trail last year for both men and women (Altra tied for brand popularity with Saloman). Altra Lone Peaks were also listed as one of the favourite pieces of gear in the 2016 survey. They’ve been considered the reigning supreme shoe for thru-hikers for years, but I’ll get into more detail on that in the Pros/Cons sections below. In short, the toe box width, weight, and features like the gaiter attachment make them ideal for a long distance hike.
Intended use Trail Running
Heel-to-Toe Drop Zero
Weight (Pair) 1 pound
The 3.0 model has been discontinued, though you can still find it at some suppliers (currently in the REI garage for $89). It has been replaced with the 3.5, specs below.
Intended Use Trail Running
Heel-to-Toe Drop Zero
Weight (Pair) 1 lb. 1.4 oz.
Now, you may have realized that mesh trail runners could not possibly be waterproof. Well, they aren’t. That is a deliberate choice that I, and many other thru-hikers have made. Waterproof shoes will protect you from puddles and small creeks, but when you’re crossing rivers like in the High Sierra of the PCT, no amount of waterproofing will keep your feet dry. And once waterproof shoes or boots get wet inside, where does that water go? Nowhere. It stays inside your shoes, soaking your socks and feet. That is fertile conditions for blisters, foot fungus, and aching feet.
On the flip side, trail runners will get wet, but the mesh panels mean that they allow airflow and your feet will dry very quickly. This is very important when hiking in hot conditions because waterproof shoes will also retain the moisture of sweat, making you more likely to get blisters.
- Shoe width
- Built-in gaiter attachment
- Easy to repair
- Reasonable pricing
I have very wide feet. On top of that, when you hike extremely long distances, your feet expand…a lot. I am normally a size 6.5. My first pair of Altras on the PCT was a size 7, my second 7.5. The first image in this wiki-how article about barefoot hiking really illustrates how your feet spread out when not confined by shoes. When you hike 10 to 15 to 20+ miles a day, that happens regardless of whether you are wearing shoes. Altra shoes are known for their wide toe box, which gives your feet the room they need to properly splay. Unless you have very narrow feet, I would call Altras a no-brainer for long-distance hiking.
- Didn’t last as long as I would like
- Not waterproof
- Poor ankle support
- Zero drop
Many people swear by the zero drop, but it gave me pain in my Achilles tendons, so I wore insoles in them. Also, they don’t have the same ankle support as hiking boots, but I find that the more you hike, the stronger your ankles get. Normally, my ankles roll easily, but within a few weeks on trail I wasn’t having any more problems with that.
The only thing I would change about these shoes is their durability. In all fairness, they’re trail runners, not intended for long distance backpacking. It’s reasonable that they only last about 500 miles. However, I would happily pay a little more for a shoe that would last me longer.
I loved my Altras. When I got home, they became my day to day shoes. They are just starting to fall apart now (and I hiked 400+ miles on this pair last summer), and I am sad to see them go. I think that they are absolutely worth the price, and I would not hesitate to buy them again. You can purchase them at many retailers including REI and Amazon. If you are interested in Altra Lone Peaks, but really feel like you need more ankle support, they also offer a high top version.
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.