With just under 180 miles of adventures under their tread, I think now is a great time to review my Altra Lone Peak 2.5s. Let me start with a little background on my more recent trail running shoe models. Prior to these Altras, I had three pairs of the Hoka One One Stinson Trail (first model). Pair one was awesome. I had no issues and really loved the max cushioning. I put over 500 miles on them and they are still in good shape. I blew out pair 2 in under 200 miles of running and pair three in under 50 miles. I tried newer models of the Hoka and found them to be far too narrow. I decided, upon the recommendation of a few friends to try out the Altra Olympus 1.5 or Lone Peak 2.5. I tried on both and decided to give the more middle-of -the-road-cushioning model a go. I also wasn't all that impressed with the tread on the Olympus 1.5. (I have heard that improvements are coming and there should be a model coming out in late 2015 with a more aggressive tread.)
Sizing - I typically wear a size 8.5 (women's) in a street shoe, and usually wear a 9 in a running shoe. I ended up bumping up to a 9.5 in this first pair of Lone Peaks. On a side note, I do have a pretty wide foot.
Cushion - Although I wouldn't mind a bit more cushioning below my feet on longer adventures, as well as more mixed (and especially with small rocks) terrain, there are many benefits to being a little closer to the ground, what they call medium stack height, I believe. When my third and final pair of Hoka's failed, they seemed to be over compressed toward inside of my foot, which on a long run seemed to really tweak my knee. This was one of the primary reason for selection something with more of that medium stack height.
All in all, I have been pretty happy with this level of cushion. For anything longer than a 50K, I would probably consider changing shoes along the way, to provide a little more cushioning. After my recent 50K trail race, my feet were somewhat sore, but not terribly so (although definitely more so than after long runs with my good old max cush shoes.)
If possible, I would love to see improvement on the "stone guard" in the sole, as I still tend to feel (and even get bruised) on smaller rocks, especially under my big toe. Basically, I like this stack height but want a little more protection.
Tread - This took a little getting used to as my Hoka's were solid when it came to tread. I rarely, if ever, slipped in them. The Lone Peak 2.5 tread is said to be pretty aggressive, however, I slip quite a bit more in these shoes, whether it's dry but very steep terrain, or snowy and icy. Once you are able to get to know the shoe, I think you can work with it, but it does force you to be much more aware of your footing/landing and be ready to move with a slide/slip. (This is probably a good thing, especially when training for more technical descents.) I guess my Hokas allowed me to be a bit more carefree (or perhaps sloppy) on my downhill runs.
Upper - Thus far I am impressed with the upper of the shoe. There is a spot near the inside of my large toe where I must have caught a rock causing a small tear. I was worried that this would turn, promptly, into a large whole however it has not grown whatsoever. These shoes seem to breath really well in the warmer months. That being said, when a strong wind blows during a Winter run, you will likely also feel it. It helps to have some nice wool running socks on these cold days. (I know they also have a waterproof version of this model although I have heard that they run narrower. If that is the case, they aren't for me. I'd love to give them a try though.)
I like to use the heel lock lacing method on these. I have no issue with my foot sliding forward on descents, and thus far, no more black toe nails. I also have found that, possibly as a result of the nice wide toe box, my so-called "permanent" big toe calluses are actually fading away. I have read reviews about the insole moving when folks run in them, but I have never had this issue. The insoles have always stayed perfectly in place, even after river crossings where the shoe has filled with water. On that note, I will add that these drain quite well following river crossings, unlike my old Hokas.
Someone please explain to me the lip at the back of the shoe. I don't think it serves any purpose other than to occasionally trip me when I hit a slick spot, either via snowy or muddy conditions. Sure, it kind of looks cool, but if that is the only redeeming value I think it's probably something to do away with.
I have used the "gaiter trap" with my Dirty Girl Gaiters and it worked great.
Stay tuned for a follow up to this review, covering how they performed over the longer haul! Thus far, I am pretty pleased with them.
I purchased my Lone Peak 2.5s at a local sporting goods store and am not being provided anything in return for this review. That being said, if you have gear you would like tested, I am happy to run it through the ringer and give an unbiased review and feedback. You can't pay me off in coffee or beer, but I am happy to take that off your hands as well.