What’s Makes the Altra Lone Peak 1.5 Stand Out?
Last Fall I ran a 50K in Moab, UT and there were three types of shoes that seemed to be on most of the competitors feet: Hoka One One Evo Stinson, Brooks Cascadia and Altra Lone Peak 1.5. All three of these are in my rotation so that may be part of why I noticed so many of them (like when you buy a silver car and then realize that everyone has one) but the Altras are pretty hard to miss because of the following:
- They look different: I think they look pretty cool. I like the bold colors, simple lines and clean design.
- Zero Drop: This gives them a low, close to the ground profile that is unique and functional.
- Wide Toe Box: Although their Zero Drop technology is key to their marketing, I think the wide toe box is emerging as an even more important differntiator for them.
The claimed wide toe box is really what drove me to cut my shoes in half. I had put quite a few miles on them and they do feel comfortable but I wanted to see if they really were that much different.
Altra Lone Peak 1.5 Versus Hoka One One Evo Stinson
Since I had already massacred the Left shoe of my beloved Evo Stinsons as noted here and here, I had no qualms about cutting the right shoe apart to compare it to the Lone Peak. Cutting the Lone Peak in half was painful as it’s definitely one of my favorite pair of running kicks but it was also fun. As I measured the shoes I began to see some interesting differences.
I measured the forefoot at 5mm increments to get a feel for how they compared. At first the differences looked very minor but upon closer inspection the contrasts were pretty interesting.
5 Things I learned – Secrets Revealed
- Altra has narrower heel: Where the Hoka measured 60mm across, the Altra was 50mm. This serves Altra’s vision of creating more of foot shaped footbed and I think further enhances the appearance of the wider toe box.
- Hoka actually begins wider: I was frankly, a little suprised when the first two measurements at the beginning of the forefoot showed that the Hoka was actually 3-8mm wider than the Lone Peak. Although I was initially surprised by this it made more sense as I continued on.
- Lone Peak 1.5 is wider where it counts: Some have complained about the narrow toe-box of the Hoka and conversely, many laud the wide toe box of the Altra. I have definitely experienced both and while each fit can be a matter of preference I have experienced less blisters in the Altra. The final two measurements of the Altra show that indeed the toe box narrows significantly less than the Hoka and stays wider – up to 5mm wider toward the tip of the shoe. I didn’t measure it but I think it I were to keep marking with the ruler all the way to tip, the wider trend would hold true. This is where the magic happens for me but you can see that we’re talking about pretty subtle differences that really add up to the Lone Peak 1.5 being a comfortable shoe for me.
- Lone Peak 1.5 has extra “usable space” in the toe box: In the above picture you can see some measurements on the Lone Peak that note 105-110mm. This is the outside to outside width of the shoe and although I didn’t mark the Hoka, the Lone Peak was slightly larger. The “bathtub” or concave nature of the Hoka’s footbed and the way the upper is sewn to the footbed causes the toe box upper to fit pretty closely to the foot. Many shoes seem to have an upper that tends to roll inward to keep in close proximity to the toes and forefoot. The Altra’s upper in terms of how it emerges from the footbed seems to be pretty vertical or almost rolling outward. This is simply an observation on my part and it’s hard to see in the photos but I believe this plays a role in the comfort of the shoes because it doesn’t feel as constrictive around the foot and it feels like more “usable space”.
- Lone Peak 1.5 construction helps with comfort: The Lone Peak’s upper has a layer of cloth (white in the photo) that is pretty seamless and seems to almost act as a sock around the foot. The Hoka has some stitching (the word “Hoka”)on the cloth of the forefoot upper that provides some rigidity to the shoe but may be felt on the inside. The material used on the inside of the Lone Peak 1.5 is very soft, almost like a microfiber. Mmm, buttery soft.
Tired of reading? Here’s a video of the whole thing!
Altra Zero Drop is a brand on the rise and it’s obvious that they are forging their own path in a crowded space. I’m looking forward to more from them in 2014!