Hiking footwear first look: Altra Lone Peak 1.5
|Altra Lone Peak 1.5
When I decided to hike the PCT in 2014, I knew I didn’t want to use the shoes that gave me blisters in 2013. I liked using trail runners though, so I dug into the research, read some reviews, and tried on more shoes. My goal was to find a shoe with a wide toe box that could stand up to the rigors of thru-hiking without being an additional burden.
Enter the Altra Lone Peak 1.5s.
I picked up a pair at the end of December, and have been using them for walking, hiking, biking, and running. Based on two months of testing, my initial assessment is that I like them, and feel optimistic that I have found my PCT shoe.
The first mention of these shoes I came across was in the gear list of the hiker who set the new PCT unsupported record: Heather Anderson. She hiked the entire ~2650 mile trail in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes. What an incredible feat!
Heather is an ultra-marathoner, as well as experienced thru-hiker, and had used these shoes for mountain races before wearing them on the PCT. I thought, if she can wear those for 44 miles a day, they would likely be able to hold up for whatever paltry-in-comparison mileage I’ll be cranking out. I have since found other hikers’ positive reviews of using these shoes on long hikes, as well as a few negative reviews of the shoes breaking down quickly, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for faster-than-expected wear & tear.
The Lone Peaks are a zero-drop (no difference in height between the toe and the heel), non-waterproof, moderately cushioned shoe designed for trail running. They’re a bit heftier than the 18.3 oz PureGrit 2s, but so far I haven’t noticed the weight difference. I do notice the additional cushioning; I neither love it nor hate it so far.
The shoes felt good on their first shakedown hike: a 20 mile roundtrip overnight to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur in January. The traction was fine, the cushioning felt nice, and most importantly, I didn’t get any blisters. I also took them out on a 11.5 mile hike on paved and dirt trails at Lake Chabot last weekend; that time I did get a hot spot on the side of my right heel.
Most of my testing for these shoes has been weekly running: I’ve clocked about 35 miles on them so far, mostly on pavement, some on dirt. I got a hot spot in the same spot on my right heel once during a run; I’m not sure what’s causing these, and am hoping the skin in that area will toughen up over time. No toe blisters have reared their ugly heads.
My feet and legs seem to have adapted by this point to zero-drop from the 4 mm drop of my last shoes. My calves get a bit sore after runs, but no more than normal when increasing mileage, and I haven’t experienced any tendon pain.
I’ve just started trying out a new lacing method that is less tight around the forefoot, which is supposed to be good for wide feet. I’ve tested it so far with a 5 mile run. The hot spot on the right side of my heel didn’t surface at all, but there was some rubbing on the left heel. This lacing feels promising, so I’ll keep playing around with it.
One fun feature of these shoes is the velcro on the back, which allows me to attach gaiters without any modifications. I tested this out on my Lake Chabot hike last weekend, and the gaiters felt secure. In fact, I didn’t feel them or think about them at all while walking, which is a big plus to me.
Overall, I am happy with these shoes. I’ve put around 65 miles total on them, and they don’t show any signs of breaking down yet.
Though a part of me wants to find an even lighter shoe (lighter, Lighter, LIGHTER), the rest of me, the part that remembers just how hard it is to find wide enough shoes, says “YAY, DONE.”
[Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, or a shoe professional. Please do your own research on footwear, and take everything I say with however many grains of salt float your boat. This is a this-worked-for-me story, not here’s-what-you-should-do advice. I bought all shoes with my own money, and the links are for your reference, not affiliate links.]