Altra Lone Peak 3.0 review

So, just to be perfectly clear about something—being an ambassador for a company doesn’t mean I’m going to blow a bunch of smoke your way, or give a thumbs up to a product that I don’t fully endorse. The relationships I have with gear companies are dictated quite simply by my desire to employ what works most effectively. I’ll never sing the praises of an item that I wouldn’t actually use, just because I got it for free or at a discount. I am not a salesman, and the only reason I write these reviews is to assist other thru hikers in the universal task of weeding through the ever-thickening gear jungle. I WISH I had access to reviews like this back in 2003 when I first began my love affair with long distance backpacking. I had to rely on REI sales people!…which is how I ended up sporting leather GoreTex boots on my first thru hike. Ouch.

I am often shamefully lax in reviewing footwear in a timely manner, thanks to the rather astonishing rate at which companies like Altra innovate and refine their products. By the time I’ve spent the summer thrashing a current model, a new and improved edition has hit the shelves. While there are fewer people clamoring to read a review for last year’s shoe, I sure ain’t gonna write up my opinion until I put it through the wringer to see how it truly performs. That said, lately I’ve been exploring more ultra running adventures than backpacking ones, and am now equipped to review on footwear in the fall/winter seasons. Which is handy for those of you preparing for an upcoming backpacking adventure, since it’s a good idea to have the footwear for your hike selected long before you actually set foot on trail.


Last year’s review of the Altra Lone Peak 2.0 gives an idea of why I love the design characteristics of this brand. A foot shaped toebox (shoes designed to be foot shaped…crazy, right?!) and a zero drop platform set Altra apart from everyone else. Most people have an “Ah-ha!” moment wearing them for the first time. Everything else on the market feels like a narrow little rock climbing shoe after you get comfortable in Altra, and wearing something that isn’t zero drop seriously feels like walking in high heels.

The main gripe I’ve had with previous editions of the Altra Lone Peak has been durability. The mesh along the outside edge had a tendency to wear out, creating tiny holes, and the tread would be seriously compromised after 300-400 miles. Not a deal breaker, but there was room for improvement.

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is the newest model to hit the shelves, and bears significant upgrades. The tread pattern is much more aggressive than last years model. Which, by the way, never struck me as insufficient—but now that I’ve been tearing up and down the trails at a runner’s pace, I’ve noticed the difference. The durability of the sole is much higher. My current pair clocks in at over 300 miles of trail running, and they still look and feel great. The tread is still solid! How they did this while making the shoe a half ounce LIGHTER is beyond me, but I’m stoked to be cutting weight anywhere I can, especially in my footwear. There is some overall wear after 300 miles, but it looks to be mainly cosmetic (slight fraying of fabric and slightly rounded lugs). From a thru hiker’s perspective, these shoes are just getting broken in.


My favorite improvement by far is the toebox overlay. A synthetic leather material wraps around the front, rendering a once-weak point super beefy. I can’t imagine my pinkie toes ever wearing through these shoes. This overlay material does make the toebox feel a bit more constricted, but that’s only because previous models were constructed of mere mesh, which stretched out and felt roomier. If I had to nit-pick the 3.0, this is the only area I wish was different. Even though the manufacturers last is the same as the 2.5 model, the 3.0 could have been made slightly wider to give my toes more room to splay. I’ve been wearing Altras since 2012, so my feet are probably more used to splaying than most.


Note: the lacing pattern I use alleviates this issue, and I encourage others to experiment with how they run their laces. Skipping the holes up towards the toes allows the shoe to really stretch out. Subvert the dominant lacing paradigm!

Anyway, after a week, I didn’t even notice the difference, and am very happy to have more durability up front.

Those of you who wear gaiters will be stoked to see that Altra still incorporates built-in velcro on the heel, and now even has a little metal ring up near the forefoot to clip your gaiter hook! Pretty neat. Sizing is similar to the 2.5, which I found to run “true to size”, although I tend to wear a half size larger than necessary out of habit. In fact, I tie my laces a little loose so I can slip my shoes on and off without untying them. I like to be able to dump out rocks and dirt quickly, and being able to pull them off like a slipper suits me fine. Maybe I should start wearing gaiters…

Only a few months of thru hiking will truly test a shoe, but I’m exceptionally pleased with this model, and have been wearing it for all my training runs. It’ll be my choice of footwear for my next hike, for sure.

6 Replies to “Altra Lone Peak 3.0 review”

  1. Thanks for the review. Have you had any problem with the insoles moving around and not staying where they are supposed to be? I put about 30 miles on a new pair and the insoles moved slightly after each hike (5 miles). Then I went on a 3 day backpack in Grand Canyon. Near the end of the second day we had to cross Tapeats Creek twice so the shoes got wet. Third day was close to 10 miles climbing about 4800′ out of the canyon. Sometimes the trail was very steep and my insoles shifted drastically and I had to re-situate the insoles three times during the day.

  2. Hmmm…I haven’t had that problem with mine, but I also haven’t done any water crossings. I’ve been running/hiking some steep trails lately, but they’re staying put for me. Wish I had a suggestion on how to keep them from sliding around, but I’m stumped!

  3. Just an update on my issue with the moving insoles. The problem occurs when I take the insoles out and clean all the dirt/sand from the bottom of a wet insole and shoe. This happened again after getting sand in my insoles on another river crossing, and taking the insoles out and cleaning out all the sand and putting them back in. To cure the problem, I now run the bottom of the insoles in sand/dirt and then put them back in the shoe. The grit between the insole and shoe seems to hold them in place.

  4. I love the lone peaks. I got about 1200 miles on my first pair before I had to replace them. I don’t see myself wearing anything else.

  5. Just ordered a pair off Amazon, I was due for a new pair of shoes soon anyways. I got the 3.5 in black, I didn’t like any of the garish colors on the 3.0, I’m pretty low key in how I dress.

    I met you on my AT thru in 2010, talked to you a few times. You are an inspiration. I know that sounds cheesy as hell, but I started doing ultralight backpacking on my thru, and over the years I’ve gotten down to my current 7lb base. It’s just as much cutting things out as it is getting lighter for me, I hate having a bunch of gear. I don’t like packing it up, and unpacking it every day.

    I have the financial ability to hike and travel year round now, and once I finish my BS in Chemistry next spring, I’m going to hit the AT for a couple months. I’ve considered the van living thing as well, I own so little now that I can move out in 30 minutes, so owning an apartment is becoming less and less appealing. I’m near campus, so it will be convenient during school, for now.

    I did attempt the PCT this year, first day out I rammed a stick into my eye full speed and had to nighthike out, I did it with a Photon micro light, which worked fine, even with one good eye. So that pretty much replaced my headlamp. I spent a week in the VA hospital in San Diego, then flew home. I couldn’t risk getting my eye infected while it was still healing, so I decided to finish school. I have 15% permanent vision loss in that eye, usually not noticeable.

    Wasn’t mad about it, it sucked, but things like that are the things we accept might happen when we do long distance hiking. Didn’t change my desire to hike any.

  6. A 7-pound base weight is excellent. Hit me up when you get that van put together. Ultralight backpacking makes vanlife much easier to accept as a normal way to live.

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