This spring, Altra released the Lone Peak 6, the latest update to a long line of beloved minimalist trail runners. Since Lone Peaks are the only shoes able to accommodate my freakishly gigantic toes, I jumped on the opportunity to try them out.
Although they were designed for trail runners, Lone Peaks have long been popular in the long-distance hiking community as a lightweight alternative to hiking boots. How does the latest model stack up to past versions and present-day competition? Let’s lace up and find out.
Altra Lone Peak 6 At a Glance
Weight (Pair): 17.4 oz women’s | 21.2 oz men’s
Heel Toe Drop: 0mm
Circumstance of Review
I hiked, walked, and jogged about 200 miles in the Lone Peak 6 on Pennsylvania trails in March and early April on mixed tread. I also have about 4,000 cumulative miles in previous models of the Lone Peak (3, 4, 4.5, and 5).
About Minimalist Footwear
Altra specializes in minimalist, zero drop footwear designed to mimic the foot’s natural shape. Their shoes vary in the amount of cushioning they provide. The Lone Peak, for instance, is moderately cushioned. However, all models are zero drop (meaning the heel and toe are the same height, rather than the heel being slightly elevated like in traditional shoes) and feature a wide toe box that allows your toes to splay out naturally.
The whole idea is to balance the support, grip, and protection of wearing shoes with the purported benefits of hiking or running barefoot, which, after all, is what our bodies evolved to do.
There is no scientific consensus on whether barefoot/minimalist footwear is actually better for your feet or your gait. Many podiatrists still swear by the merits of more traditional, structured footwear. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what feels right for you—and you’ll only figure that out by trying them out.
In any case, zero drop shoes (particularly Altras) have proven wildly popular among thru-hikers. According to our surveys, Lone Peaks have utterly dominated the market for thru-hiking footwear on the AT for years, and the imprint of Altras’ distinctive foot-shaped tread is a common sight on most trails.
Key Features of the Altra Lone Peak 6
Footshape design: All Altras feature an ergonomic design designed to accommodate the natural shape and movement of the human foot, accounting for anatomical differences between men’s and women’s feet. Their signature Footshape fit allows plenty of room for the toes to splay out naturally with each footfall without being too roomy everywhere else.
Zero Drops: In “traditional” footwear, the heel is raised slightly higher off the ground than the toe so that the feet are angled downward. Heel-to-toe drop can range from a few millimeters to more than a centimeter. In contrast, the Lone Peaks give you an even 25mm of elevation above the ground surface at the heel and the toe, so your foot strikes the ground as it would if you were barefoot.
Stoneguard: A hard plate underneath the midsole protects your foot from the worst impacts of poky rocks underfoot. Altra says their updated Stoneguard “offers more protection from rocks underfoot while using less material.” This rock plate feels about the same as previous models of the Lone Peak. It won’t keep you from feeling the rocks and roots altogether (and you may not want it to, because if you can feel what’s underfoot, you can respond to it better), but it takes the edge off.
Gaiter Traps: A covered velcro flap at the heels serves as an attachment point for a pair of running gaiters, should you wish to wear some to keep dirt and pebbles out of your shoes. Previous versions of the Lone Peak also featured a little bar thing at the front of the laces where you could hook the front of the gaiter, but this feature is no more, so you’ll have to hook onto the frontmost part of the laces instead .
Updated Lacing System: I spent a good three minutes squinting at my laces trying to figure out what exactly was “updated” about them, but I eventually figured it out. There are a couple of extra holes around the center of the shoe that you could opt to use for a more dialed-in fit if you want. There are also more points of contact at the front of the laces, which I think helps evenly distribute pressure at the front of the foot and keeps the lacing from pinching too much at the start of the toe box.
Altra Lone Peak 6 Pros
Wide Toe Box
No other brand does “wide toe box” quite like Altra. Trust me. I’ve looked. I have narrow heels but freakishly long toes (like bird feet!) and I can’t stand feeling my toes smooshed together. The Lone Peak is THE only shoe in the United States of America that seems to fit my feet properly. (Of course, even if you have normal-shaped feet, you can still benefit from Altras’ unique fit.)
Better Fit than Lone Peak 5
The previous version of the Lone Peak seemed to go way up in volume so that my standard 8.5 suddenly felt too roomy. The fit of the 6 is much more in line with versions 3 – 4.5. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up to you, I suppose, but I suspect the majority of longtime Altra fans will be relieved to discover that the 6 feels more like the shoe we’ve all come to know and love over the years.
Lightweight and Quick-Drying
Why do so many thru-hikers prefer trail runners to boots? They don’t weigh nearly as much, saving you valuable energy with every step. For instance, compare the women’s Lone Peaks, at 17.4 ounces, to the women’s Merrell Moab at 32.
Meanwhile, the thinner, more breathable mesh upper keeps your feet cool and dries far more quickly if you hike in the rain or ford a stream. The Lone Peak 6 encourages quick-drying with improved, laser-cut drain holes around the toes and instep to help water escape more easily.
Durable for a Trail Runner
I haven’t put enough miles on my 6s to tell you exactly how durable the latest model is—if I can remember (never a given), I’ll update this review when I’ve worn them out—but I’ve worn lots of Lone Peaks through the years. Hence, I have a rough idea of their durability, which is typically between 600 and 700 miles. Not bad for a trail runner, especially considering that modern hiking boots tend to last between 700 and 900 miles, so not dramatically more (especially if you’re willing to extend the life of your sneaks with duct tape).
I will say that on previous Lone Peaks I’ve had the toe cap start to peel off within the first 200 miles (it’s usually the first thing to go), whereas on the 6 the toe cap is still intact and is showing no signs of wear so far, which is an encouraging sign.
On the flip side, I’ve also noticed with the 6s that the material around my inner ankles started wearing away pretty early on both shoes. I have gait issues and tend to knock my ankles together when I walk, which is presumably what’s caused the damage, but I’ve never noticed similar wear on any previous Lone Peak. As usual (in my experience), the TrailClaw lugs (the ones that look like toes) are the first part of the outsole to show signs of wear.
Altra Lone Peak 6 Cons
Minimalist footwear isn’t for everyone.
The purported benefits of minimalist and zero drop footwear for your gait are widely touted, but the whole concept is somewhat controversial, and many podiatrists don’t love the trend. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying be aware that some experts don’t think zero drop is the best or safest way to go. Personally, these shoes feel great for me so despite my qualms about long-term effects, I’m sticking with what works.
One thing to note: if you’re new to zero drop footwear, you’ll very likely have sore calves the first few times you hike in a pair. This is normal, and you’ll adjust over time. If you start experiencing chronic pain, you should consider changing it up and trying out a few other types of shoes. (This advice stands regardless of what kind of shoe you started in—everyone’s feet are different, after all).
Not the Grippiest
Altra’s outsoles will be adequately sticky for most hikers. The fact that they’re not overly grippy is even a boon for trail runners since it improves their agility and responsiveness at speed. Still, slipping isn’t out of the question on steep trails with lots of rocks and roots. As a result, I’m not as confident as I might be with a beefier Vibram outsole.
Redesigned Gaiter System
Altra has always been one step ahead of the competition in designing footwear that accommodates gaiters to keep trail debris out of your shoes while hiking or running. Historically, the Lone Peaks have featured velcro at the back as an attachment point and a light metal bar that the front part of the gaiters can hook onto near the front of the shoe.
The 6s still have the velcro gaiter trap at the back, which is great, but no more metal bar at the front—now you have to hook your gaiters onto the frontmost laces to keep them in place. Gaiters still work well enough with the redesigned system, but I always liked the Lone Peaks for not requiring you to bring your laces into the equation.
As a wise sales associate once told me, “with shoes, it’s not about ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ It’s about finding the right shoe for your foot because everyone is different.” True words have never been spoken. In my opinion, the Altra Lone Peak 6 might just be the best version of this popular trail runner yet. Sleek, comfy, and more streamlined than ever before, the 6 reminds me a lot of the 4 and 4.5 but without the heel rub.
Shop the Women’s Altra Lone Peak 6
Shop the Men’s Altra Lone Peak 6
Topo Ultraventure Men’s | women’s
Heel Toe Drop: 5mm
Weight (Pair): 20.8 oz men’s | 16.6 oz
Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat Men’s | women’s
Weight (Pair): 20.6 oz men’s | 17 oz women’s
Heel Toe Drop: 4mm
The Altra Lone Peak 6 was donated for purpose of review.