by Morgan Sauer
The Lone Peak. A significant name for a shoe by far. But when compared to its trail shoe counterparts, like the Superior and Olympus from Altra’s line up, it doesn’t quite ring the same bell of traditional victory. It evokes a different kind of thought. Because what is a “lone peak”?
Well, it’s a physical location for starters. The Lone Peak takes its name from a peak in the Wasatch Range where the original shoe was initially tested on the Wasatch Front 100 Mile in 2010 by one of Altra’s Co-Founders Brian Beckstead.
The Lone Peak was one of the first shoes Altra ever created. It was developed through trials, tribulations, set backs, and let downs. Funny how such things parallel the very people who wear, train, and race in them now.
When I think of a “lone peak” and what meaning that might hold a “pillar of achievement” comes to mind. Never bending. Never breaking. Standing tall. It’s about pushing through to the very end, to the very top, to reach the peak. Alone and mighty, looking back to all that you conquered. Fighting, striving to succeed in whatever way that means to you as we run to the top of our own “lone peaks.”
But enough of the philosophical stuff, onto the mud and grit of which there is a lot. #trailrunning
The Lone Peak is a literal step up from the Superior when it comes to cushion, upper durability, toe space, and versatility. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the Superior and what it has to offer but the Lone Peak will be able to carry you that extra mile when you need it.
The Lone Peak, like the Superior, features Altra’s Balanced Cushioning™, with equal parts cushioning throughout the whole shoe encouraging better alignment and better form while running. The cushion is soft but not excessive. In the words of Goldilocks the cushion is “just right.” That sweet middle ground where dreams are possible and fears vanish.
The Lone Peak features the original footshape and is the roomiest of the three footshapes from Altra. The original footshape allows extra width throughout the shoe including the forefoot and heel. Due to this, my heel didn’t fit as snuggly into the shoe as it did with Superior, but not so much that it was bothersome. The upper of the Lone Peak is a bit more rigid with some waterproofing qualities, but definitely still flexible. Part of me missed the stretchiness of the toe box upper in the Superior, but the Lone Peak is meant to be more built up than the Superior and that includes the upper.
Good news! I didn’t have a breath of achilles pain while training in the Lone Peak which I’ll chalk up to the additional cushion in this model. This shoe is great for long distance training, hiking, and even being on your feet all day. Every time I put this shoe on all my feet feel is happiness. It is roomy, comfortable, and breathable. Sort of a rarity when it comes to the trail shoe department. Some trail shoes can be stiff and heavy. Neither of those words come to mind when describing the Lone Peak. Definitely an all ‘rounder shoe that can tackle anything from basic miles to race day.
My set of Lone Peaks got put through the ringer this round. Just about every terrain imaginable. We had grass, we had gravel, easy trail, technical trail, pavement, mud, sand, water, all of it.
What helped with that was the course of the Leif Ericson Trail Race put on by the Sioux Falls Area Run Club. Being a flatter course, I was unsure what to expect from myself. I’ve always done better with hills, it forces me to stay alert and keep challenging myself. Meanwhile with flat courses I tend to get lost in it all. That extra challenge of elevation isn’t there to keep me on my toes and keep me focused.
But turns out there was nothing to worry about, mother nature swooped in to save the day by dumping a few buckets of rain on Sioux Falls the night before.
And with rain on any trail race course, that brings mud. Remember me complaining about a course without hills not being “challenging” enough? Yeah. Me too. Mud will make any race interesting. And it certainly did here as well. The single tracks and grass were fine when it came to how wet they were, but the gravel road and trails in Camp Leif Ericson were certainly another story. It gave me just the challenge I was looking for, making the race that much more fun. By the end of it all, I wasn’t even bothering to avoid the mud puddles, too exhausted to waste the extra few steps to go around. Not to mention I was already muddy, what was a little more.
That brings me to another point I wanted to make. It takes a bit for the Lone Peak to get soaked through and even once they do they dry off quickly. An important quality when out on the trails.
The shoes held up exceptionally well. Grass, mud, sharp turns, didn’t matter. The Lone Peak kept me sturdy and confident with plenty of traction. The trail claw lugs on the bottom of the shoe are strategically placed beneath the metatarsals for enhanced grip. In addition there is full rubber coverage keeping the sole of the shoe durable throughout its lifespan.
Overall the route for the race was fantastic. It was creative with little overlap for the whole four miles. If you’re looking for an intro race to trail racing mark your calendars with this baby for next year.
One can understand the lasting impression the Lone Peak has had on the trail community; it’s had a lasting impression on me. It’s a shoe hikers and runners alike can get excited to lace up each time they step out their door. They know that whatever terrain they need to conquer that day, these shoes will get them through it.
You don’t need wide feet to enjoy what Altra shoes have to offer. You just need feet, and not even two of them. I’m looking at you pirates. So, will this shoe work for you? Well ya gotta put it on first. But if you want to trust my opinion, then yes, this shoe will be a comfortable fit for just about anyone.
So you’ve reached the end. Still not sure if the Lone Peak or the Superior are right for you? Well, then stick around for next time when I dig into Altra’s max-cushion trail shoe, the Olympus.
On to the next mountain.