Trail running shoes come in many different varieties, but for the average Colorado trail, Altra's Lone Peak 4.5 model seems to get the job done.
Over the weekend, I purchased my 3rd pair of this evolving shoe style (in four years) and there's a reason I keep going back to the newest model. Here are a few things to note about this shoe:
1. The Lone Peak is zero-drop
According to The Wired Runner, zero drop means that the ball of the foot is aligned evenly with the heel of the foot, mimicking the alignment of being barefoot. This design is said to prevent pain in the back, knees, and feet, as well as prevent muscle strain in the lower leg. Based on my personal experience, this seems to be especially helpful on trails with a lot of vertical gain and descent.
Editor's Note: Transitioning to zero-drop shoes can be a process for those not used to this design. Read more about that here.
2. The Lone Peak can take a beating
While I'm on my third pair of Altra Lone Peaks, I tend to put my shoes through the ringer. I'll wear them on 10 to 15 mile trail runs through rugged and hilly terrain on a regular basis and I'll take them on many of my fourteener summits. The key wear and tear I've eventually experienced has been seen in the tread disintegrating and in the toe coming loose – something that can be quickly fixed with a little super glue. I'd imagine these issues would be seen with most shoes at around the same mileage.
3. The Lone Peaks are versatile
New models of this shoe come with a midsole layer than includes StoneGuard. This makes them great for more rugged trails. Whether I'm running on gravel or on a high-elevation route where jagged rocks are present, I've been happy with their consistent performance. One thing to note about this shoe is that the area covering the top of the foot is relatively thin, offering little protection. While this isn't an issue on typical trails, rougher rock scrambling in these shoes may not be advised.
4. The Lone Peaks have a wide toe box
One thing that's apparent with Altra shoes is their wider toe box. This allows for the toes to expand while braking downhill, helping to prevent injury and foot fatigue. While I was making the decision to purchase my most recent pair, I tried on a few other options from other brands and couldn't get over how cramped and rigid they felt. With the Lone Peaks, this wasn't an issue.
5. The Lone Peaks are grippy
Multi-directional lugs on the bottom of the shoe help ensure grip on a number of surfaces. During times that I've felt a slight slip due to a misstep, the shoe has caught me from falling. While these shoes don't have Vibram soles – something I swear by for hiking boots – I haven't run into any issues with grip.
Editor's Note: Everyone's feet are a little bit different, meaning different shoes are good for different people. Visit a local retail shop to get fitted properly and find the shoe that's the right fit for you. Lone Peaks can be found at most spots that carry trail running shoes or on the Altra website.