Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Review
Altra started in 2009, which is not very long when you consider the longevity of its best-known competitors. But at that time, the company has updated its running shoe line time and again, providing a better user experience with each gen. In 2016, Altra introduced hiking and distance running gear. One of their innovations is a windbreaker that will fit over any hydration pack. The jacket keeps you warm and dry, able to hydrate without the pack getting in the way of anything.
Altra focused that same spirit of inventiveness on the Lone Peak 4 trail running shoe. It is also suitable for hiking. The shoe conforms to the shape of a human foot. If you look at the very bottom, you will see the heel pad and toe bone mock-up. But the Lone Peak 4 is not a barefoot, minimalist, or five-finger shoe. It is a full-featured trail runner, with cushioning, that weighs about 10 ounces and allows your feet to breathe with mesh uppers. The shoe gets generally good reviews, and we found it at a discount on several sites. That is surprising since currently there is no Lone Peak 5 to supplant the 4 with new upgrades.
Comes in sizes up to men's 16, not common for an athletic shoe
Static/webbed tongue doesn't move independently of the upper, so you get a tighter fit and tongue stays still
Outsole lugs are canted or angled to give you more traction on trails
Shoe drains water quickly and efficiently
Toe box is big and spacious, so you can wiggle your toes without feeling locked in
Zero drop heel/toe helps you with foot placement and keeps you connected to the ground
Lace saddle is designed to keep your toes from sliding and being squeezed when you run down a trail
Toe cap and overall design doesn't look stylish, because the focus is on comfort and support
There are lighter trail shoes with similar features (weight is 24 ounces per pair)
Some reviewers thought the outsole offered less traction than competitor models
The toe cap has a rough, sandpaper texture. It adds to the clunky look of the shoe but also protects you from trail hazards. If you get a foot stuck under a tree root, the toe cap makes it easy to escape.
Altra uses a lot of brand-specific buzzwords to describe a shoe's features, more than any other make we can think of. It makes it hard to understand the shoe just from looking at the product page. But we did some research, so we can explain some of the terms and what they mean for your possible purchase decision.
The Trailclaw outsole is like a grappling hook for your feet. Instead of having consistently sized and spaced lugs all over, the rubber sole offers slanted lugs in the midfoot area. That helps you plant your feet when climbing or going up a technical trail. But looking at the front of the shoe, you see larger lugs with more of an ability to dig in. Those are for descending trails. By switching the composition, size, and placement of outsole traction, Altra made a shoe that will be of aid to you during every step of a hike or run. It means you can't run a road or track with the Altra Lone Peak 4, but that probably isn't what you are looking for anyway.
The Stoneguard is a hard but lightweight plate you can place in your shoe, with the insole between your foot and the guard. The Stoneguard gives you added protection against rocks, roots, and other obstacles that can injure you or interfere with your trail experience.
Finally, Gaitertrap is a play on words. Gaiters are fabric sleeves that attach to the top of a shoe and go over your bottom ankles like a tight sock. The purpose of the Gaitertrap is to keep sand, rocks, and other debris out of the shoe. Many runners swear by them, but others say the fabric traps in heat. But few argue that gaiters do not work, and we found a few negative comments about the Altra Gaitertraps. They are durable and effective, and if there is a bit of extra heat, it is probably preferable to the rubbing and blistering that sand or pebbles can cause.
By the way, if you don't know what the midsole is, it is the area just below the very bottom of the shoe fabric and above the outsole. On running shoes, it will usually have a wedge shape and may be painted a different color to distinguish it from the rest of the sole. On Altra Lone Peak 4 shoes, the long midsole will match the main body color (not the trim color, which may be different).
Above the midsole, and above the Stoneguard, the uppers are mesh fabric. The Altra website calls them "Quick-Dry Air Mesh." It's a bit frustrating to see Altra use that and similar terms throughout its product descriptions. There is no substantial difference between the mesh on the Lone Peak 4 and any other mesh on any other shoe. It allows air to circulate, keeping your foot sweat from soaking in to cause odor or misshape the lining. And while the Lone Peak 4 isn't waterproof or weatherproof, the mesh will dry quickly so you can wear the shoes again the day after a trail run or hike. The shoe is suited to heavy use and frequent wear.
The construction and lack of ankle support make the Lone Peak 4 a more lightweight choice than regular hiking boots. Hiking boots may also lack a breathable upper since many are made of leather or leather derivatives. Also, hiking boots we have seen have a consistent lug pattern on the outsoles. That means they will grip and keep you upright on dry grassy or rocky trails. But the Altra Lone Peak 4 beats hiking boots when it comes to climbing down a short waterfall or using slippery rocks to cross a creek. Shoes like the Lone Peak 4 will keep you on the trail longer, with less fatigue and a decreased chance of slipping or falling.
Who It Is For
Though it is a darling of Appalachian Trail and other long hike aspirants, the Altra Lone Peak 4 is for any hiker or trail runner. It can handle short distances with changing altitudes. You can take your regular hikes in them, or wear them for a trail 5K event. The creators at Altra wanted to make a shoe that protects and complements the human foot first and meets a specific purpose second. Everything about the shoe suits it to a variety of trail and mountain pursuits.
The Final Word
Other features include the ability to drain water quickly. We don't recommend wading through a stream in the Lone Peak 4. It does not claim to be waterproof. But if you encounter a small waterfall, with slippery rock footholds, you will be able to cross it. The shoes have excellent traction that does not quit, even when dealing with surfaces covered in slick algae.
Though it is not an all-around fitness shoe, and we suggest not wearing it off the trail ever (to extend the working life), if you do any serious trail running or hiking, the Altra Lone Peak 4 is for you.