Replace Packing It Out: ULD Hiking Shoe

ULD Hiking Shoe



Ultimate Long Distance Hiking Shoe

I'll just go ahead and be frank; I may have an addiction to footwear. From running sandals to work boots, shoes are definitely the piece of equipment I utilize the most and seemingly have the most variety of. It seems each shoe has a specific job, but more often than not I find myself using one shoe for everything. Does anyone else find themselves doing this!? During long distance hiking efforts, o

The Lone Peak is the one shoe we see most often on the Pacific Crest Trail. We literally starting chanting "Follow Altra" at one point because you could always predict which way the trail went by the Altra marks in the dirt. Paul and I have worn the Lone Peak 2.5, 3.0, and 3.0 mid tops and can't say enough about them!



I wanna focus this discussion on these three things: fit, durability and function. The combination of these three qualities can either make or break a shoe, and in regard to the Lone Peak, these qualities made the shoe.  So let's dig into what makes this the ultimate long-distance hiking shoe. Note, I may mention individual qualities about each shoe that stand out, but for the sake of time I'll just group the three models together because they do have so many similarities.

Fit

This category is arguably the most important. After hundreds and hundreds of miles hiking, our feet often grow, usually from swelling. Feet will often gain a half size to a whole size while attempting a long distance hike. This growth usually occurs both in their length and width. This is where Altra did it right.  They created the Lone Peak using their patented Footshape design. So the shoe actually mimics the shape of the foot. Wait, your telling me there is a shoe that is actually designed to match the shape of a foot? Yes, it does exist! The Footshape design also gives the toes room to breathe and to splay out as they naturally should. While the upper design of the shoe is on par with the industry standard, the Footshape design gives a fit that is unbeatable and is one of the stand-out qualities that separates this shoe from others in its class. 


A couple things to note in regard to fit between the models we've worn is that the Lone Peak 3.0 offers a sportier fit than the previous 2.5 model. What I mean by sportier fit is that the shoe holds the foot in place more. This update in design really shines when running or hiking on cambered trails. The foot just stays put instead of moving around a bit, which can happen in the 2.5's. 

The Lone Peak 3.0 Mid is a mid-top hiker which offers a slightly different experience. Paul and I both found that going a half size up in the 3.0 gave us a similar fit to what we had with the 2.5. Though the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid is technically a hiking boot, it's built on the same platform as the trail runner version of the Lone Peak 3.0. What you end up getting as a result is a really light-weight hiking boot that offers the added support found in other hefty hiking boots.


We've used the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid throughout the Sierras and I can honestly say I wouldn't want any other piece of footwear on my foot. I know, that is a bold statement, but if the shoe fits, wear it. Enough said here; let's move on.

Durability

The Lone Peak's 2.5 and 3.0 have shown good durability throughout training and during this year's thru-hike. Paul and I trained in a pair of 2.5's and each had around three hundred miles logged before starting the Pacific Crest Trail. We ended up getting close to seven hundred miles out of that shoe before switching to the Lone Peak 3.0. We honestly could have squeezed a few hundred more out of them by adding a new pair of insoles and by repairing some of the ripping upper mesh that's found on most shoes with over four hundred miles.

With the Lone Peak 3.0, we were able to get roughly 500 miles on the shoes before switching to the 3.0 Mid for the Sierra section of the trail. The sole after 500 miles seemed to be holding up well. Again, I think we could have squeezed a couple hundred more miles out of them if we really needed to. We did send that pair home to live out the rest of their days pounding local single track, once we finish cleaning the PCT. 


We are currently using the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid and are getting a very similar lifespan as the other pairs we've tried. This is a good sign and shows consistency in the build quality of these shoes.

Overall, the Altra Lone Peak lineup does a great job in the durability department and it is performing to a standard that keeps both the day and long distance hikers happy.

Function

This my favorite aspect of the Lone Peak series. They function so well in so many ways. But why!? See now that's the hard part. I'm limited here and can't cover all the reasons I like this shoe, but I'll be damned if I don't try. I will break these aspects into primary and secondary categories to help maintain some level of coherence.

The big ticket functions I love with the Lone Peaks include their cushion and the Zero Drop platform. Secondary functions I've found myself enjoying are the traction and accessory options. Let's hit the primaries first.

Having hiked the Appalachian Trail exclusively in Luna Sandals last year, It's apparent that minimalist style footwear appeals to me. The Lone Peaks are by no means minimalist but they maintain qualities of said footwear. Altra utilizes a Zero Drop platform which gives an equal stack height in the forefoot and heel. This helps promote a natural gait and I believe it helps to engage the entire leg throughout the phases of walking. This natural platform pairs well with the moderate  bed of cushioning found in the Lone Peaks.

The cushioning in the Lone Peaks is like the porridge that is just right. It's not so cushioned that you don't feel the ground beneath you, but on the contrary, the cushioning isn't so thin that you find yourself massaging bruised feet. We have been able to put in consecutive marathon days without issue. Goldilocks would be proud. 


The traction and accessory options that come with the Lone Peaks are top notch. A healthy dose of lugs give users an impressive amount of traction. I've been equally impressed with the grip on rocks both dry and wet. The Lone Peak adapts to the environment with either a mesh upper or waterproof Neo Shell Polartec fabric, which can be found on the 3.0 Mid model. You can literally cover all of your bases with this shoe. 



In closing, the Altra Lone Peak series has quickly become a favorite for the Packing It Out crew on this year's Pacific Crest Trail cleanup. The combination of a great fit, solid durability and as much function as inspector gadget makes this shoe the ultimate long distance hiking shoe. Of course this is all just our opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt, as with anything.  I hope this provides some insight into the style of footwear we use during these long distance efforts. Check out and learn more about Altra's footwear here -- Altra

Stay healthy and remain strong,

Seth
  
Note: Altra does provide support to the Packing It Out team but honestly their support has little influence on our bias. We take footwear seriously and if we didn't like the products used, we wouldn't take the time to write about them.

5 comments:

  1. Ya'll are certainly putting those shoes and all of your equipment to the test! Lots of miles and lots of weight. Stay tough!

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  2. strong and grippe shoes are so important for hiking.
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  4. Hiking shoes are important for me. They provide protection for my feet and make sure I am walking correctly. While price may be a constraint, it's important that we only purchase from tried and reputable brands. Some have products that are suited for any kinds of weather. I am particular about brands that are reliable and that offers superior traction in any kinds of terrain. If you are going to buy one, read the reviews in this awesome site: http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/shoes-and-boots/best-hiking-shoes-for-women.html

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