Altra Lone Peak 7 Review
Another year, another Lone Peak review. It’s tough to keep up with Altra, which revises the design of America’s favorite trail runner on a yearly basis. But the Lone Peak 7 is similar to last year’s Lone Peak 6 in most meaningful ways, and the few substantial changes range from neutral to overwhelmingly positive in my estimation. If you liked last year’s design, you’ll probably be happy with this one too.
This review will cover the basics of the Lone Peak 7 for Altra newcomers, as well as an overview of what’s new for long-time wearers.
Altra Lone Peak 7 At a Glance
Weight (Pair): 18.4 oz women’s | 22 oz men’s
Heel-Toe Drop: 0mm
Circumstances of Review
I tested the Lone Peak 7 throughout the spring, including several overnight hikes on the rocky Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail, running on pavement and dirt trails, and daily wear around town. I’ve also hiked in every version of the Lone Peak since the 3, giving me thousands of miles of experience with this shoe. This has given me a good sense of how long a pair will last and how it will behave over its lifetime.
Light and responsive, the Altra Lone Peak was designed for trail runners covering long distances on uneven terrain. It has also become immensely popular as a thru-hiking shoe over the last seven years or so. In our annual survey of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, it’s been the most popular footwear for four years running.
Many hikers love Altra’s minimalist, zerop-drop design, which is meant to imitate barefoot running to promote a more natural gait. Beyond that, the Lone Peak’s simple comfort and roomy toebox have helped boost its popularity. And like most trail runners, it saves energy because it doesn’t weigh too much, and the thin material breathes well and dries out quickly.
Lone Peak 7 Features
Zero drop: All Altra shoes, including the Lone Peak 7, are flat: the sole is the same height from heel to toe. This even surface is known as zero drop (Altra calls it Balanced Cushioning). In contrast, many shoes are several millimeters higher at the heel, causing the foot to tilt somewhat forward and down.
This takes time to get used to; you may experience sore calves the first few times you wear a zero drop shoe. In the long run, it’s purported to strengthen your muscles and be more comfortable because it mimics a natural, barefoot foot strike.
It’s worth noting that experts disagree about the claimed benefits of zero drop, but anecdotally, many runners and hikers swear by it.
Gaiter trap: Many hikers wear breathable, low-profile running gaiters around their ankles to keep trail debris from sneaking in the tops of their shoes. Altra stands out from the crowd because they engineer their shoes with gaiter compatibility in mind. The Lone Peak 7 features a double-sided velcro patch at the heel to hold gaiters secure. The front of the gaiter hooks onto the front laces.
Updated MaxTrac Outsole: The latest version of the outsole has an updated, multidirectional tread pattern with significantly more lugs to improve grip, especially in the instep.
Footshape: Altra’s signature fit features a wide toe box that tapers to a slimmer instep and heel, giving your toes room to splay naturally with each step. The Lone Peak 7 is also available in wide.
What’s changed between the Lone Peak 6 and the Lone Peak 7?
The biggest change this year is the updated tread pattern. The 7s have more lugs overall (especially in the instep), and the shape of the outer lugs has changed. Until now, the tread pattern had remained largely unchanged for several generations. The additional grip is a welcome improvement, though the Lone Peak 7 still isn’t as grippy as, say, a Salomon trail runner or anything with a Vibram outsole.
Also different this year is the seamless design of the upper (literally, there are virtually no seams). That means fewer potential failure points and, according to Altra, at least, a “lighter feel.” I haven’t noticed much functional difference between this year’s upper and last, but it looks nice.
The extra lacing holes and laser-cut drain holes that made a brief appearance in the 6 have disappeared again in the seven. Finally, a pair of sevens will run about an ounce heavier than a pair of 6s.
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Lone Peak 7 Pros
Wide toebox: Other shoes have tempted me throughout the years with promises of more support, better grip, or lower overall weight. But that wide toebox keeps me coming back to Altra every time. Don’t believe other brands that claim a wide toebox; the comfort of the Altra toebox is unparalleled, full stop.
Lightweight and quick-drying: The reduced weight and improved breathability of trail runners is the whole reason thru-hikers switch over from boots in the first place. On this front, Altra continues to deliver. While not the lightest trail runner on the market, the Lone Peak 7 is still far lighter than most boots. What’s even more important for me is that, unlike most shoes, my feet don’t overheat in these thanks to the thin mesh uppers. By the same token, they dry pretty quickly after getting wet.
Altra Ego Midsole: I’m a fan of Altra’s proprietary EGO foam midsole. I’ve tried more cushioned shoes, including the heavenly-soft EVA foam of the Altra Olympus, but I keep coming back to the moderate cushioning of the Lone Peak. Although it’s not as pillowy as a maximally cushioned midsole, I’ve come to trust the firmer, more responsive feel of the EGO foam. Coupled with the Lone Peak’s rock plate, it’s enough to shield my tender puppies from the worst of the trail’s rocks and roots without absorbing all the energy of my foot strike.
Lone Peak 7 Cons
Constant updates: I’m all for continuous improvement, but the Lone Peak’s yearly updates are getting to be a bit much. It feels like every time I discover a fit or feature in the Lone Peak that I like, it’s phased out the following year. Also, some changes feel arbitrary: last year the Lone Peak 6 got upgraded with laser-cut drain holes and extra lace holes, but they quietly disappeared with the unveiling of the 7, making one wonder what the point was to begin with.
And every spring when the latest revision comes out, I feel like I’m again rolling the dice on whether I’ll still like them. The footwear market being what it is, I doubt this will happen anytime soon, but I would love to be able to sit with one version of the Lone Peak for a few years between updates.
Not suitable for rugged terrain: I’ve recently gotten more into off-trail hiking and scrambling and am forced to admit that the Lone Peak is not made for that kind of thing. They’re not grippy enough, the wide toebox makes it hard to squeeze your foot into narrow spaces, and (worst of all, for me) the thin mesh uppers do nothing to protect the sides and tops of your feet from stabby rocks, ice, and branches. Heck, even wearing Lone Peaks with microspikes can eventually cause the sides of the shoe to blow out.
It’s a fine shoe for trails in decent shape—which, in fairness, is what it was designed for—but it’s not the best choice for gnarly terrain.
I’m a bit worn out by the constant annual updates to this shoe, but I have to admit that the upgraded outsole is an improvement over previous versions. It’s gotten to be quite an expensive shoe at $150 per pair, but sadly, that’s pretty much in line with other trail runners, so I won’t hold it against Altra.
For all but the most rugged off-trail effort, the Altra Lone Peak 7 will continue to be my shoe of choice.
- MSRP: $150
- Drop: 5mm
- MSRP: $170
- Drop: 0mm
- MSRP: $145
- Drop: 4mm
The Altra Lone Peak 7 was donated for purpose of review.
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