Saturday, January 2, 2016

Maxx Staxx Reduxx: Altra Lone Peak 2.5 and Altra Lone Peak NeoShell Review!

Hey!  Happy New Year!!  

Now, if you've been following for a bit, you know that I generally kick off the new year with a huge "Happy and Healthy 20XX" year end wrap up and killer give away.   So don't worry, I still have that in the works... just ironing out the details on ALL of the amazing gear I have to give to you!! So stay tuned for that in the next few days!

So.. what's with the ginormous tool box?  Well.. back in July I did a review of a collection of new shoes that almost met all of my requirements of a "minimalist" shoe...  check out the original Maxx Staxx review by clicking HERE.  While my preference is for as low a stack height shoe that I can run in, I know that different shoes are like different tools... and sometimes it pays to have a great toolbox for whatever ultra running may throw at you.  Well, in that review of the latest cushioned (or higher stack height) low or zero drop shoes, the Altra Superior 2.0's came out on top..  For a thicker shoe, I really liked their performance and overall design.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

Altra Lone Peak  NeoShell

Well, after that review, the folks at Altra reached out to see if I would like to dig a littler deeper into their line of trail shoes...  to which my answer was..."uh.. Yeah!!" 

So.. here you go... a twofer review of the Lone Peak 2.5 and the Lone Peak Neoshell!

First up are the Lone Peak 2.5's.   Now, not only had I heard a lot about Altra's in the past, but I have a few friends that ran in them, and I kept hearing about the Lone Peaks.  So I was excited to give the latest edition a go.  

Making the transition from the Superior 2.0 to the Lone Peak 2.5's meant picking up a few more ounces at 10.6 oz, and 4mm more stack.  The Lone Peaks come in at a generous 25mm stack height... still lower than some other maximalist shoes out there, but a good bit of cushion.  However, some decent flexibility remains... I wasn't straining to take the pic above. 

The same Gaiter Trap feature is included in the Lone Peaks, which is great, but I noticed that the tail rudder, that was more prominent on the Superiors, as shortened a bit as you can see above.  I kind of liked that stability feature on downhills, so I hope that perhaps it may grow back in the future?

Otherwise, all of the things I liked about the Superiors carries over to the Lone Peaks.  The toe box is terrific.. I love the room to splay my toes. Traction is really good, and the overall feel of the upper is pretty nice.  A little bit structured inside, but I was ok with it.  Ground feel is muted, as to be expected in a higher stack shoe, but I never felt off balance or unstable.  Again, more shoe than I need, or at least that I would start a race with, but I would be very happy to have these as a backup for ragged feet in the later stages of a long one.   

If you are looking for a cushioned zero-drop trail runner, these are tough to beat.  The Superiors are terrific as well, but if you prefer a more cushioned shoe, but aren't crazy about marshmallowy Hoka's.. these may be your shoe.   If you have any other questions about these in particular, just give me a shout!

Ok.. now on to something a bit more different.  Next up are the Lone Peak NeoShells.  What makes them different? Well.. for one thing.. they were rated the "Best Weatherproof Shoe" by Competitor in October 2015. 

The Lone Peak NeoShell is based on the Lone Peak 2.0, so they are a little different than the 2.5's. They come in about an ounce heavier at just under 12 oz, and as you can see they have a slightly stiffer sole.  Otherwise, similar stack height, toe box, and fit as the 2.5's.   

However, the biggest difference by far is the NeoShell upper.  This design and fabric created the first fully waterproof shoe that doesn't utilize an inner "booty" to keep your foot dry.  Very unique...  and hey.. it works!  I took these out and stood for 5 minutes in the creek on one of my favorite trail loops.  Initially I thought they may have leaked a little, as my feet felt cold, but I realized it was just the temp of the water, and not any leakage! Very cool...    Now, of course, if I stepped deeper, the water would crest the top of the shoe and seep in.  So, I did do that to allow some to come in on another run.  Good news is that the NeoShell's drained fairly well.. as well as many other shoes I have, so that was nice to see.  On a side note, I did get a chance to chat with Altra founder, Golden Harper, when I was at the Estes Trail Running Conference, and he mentioned the development of a gaiter specific to the NeoShell to help raise the bar on deep water trudging! 

So, living in Colorado, my next thought on the NeoShell's was snow running of course!  Since the snow arrived not long after the Lone Peak NeoShell's...  I thought.. screw these... and lets get out there!  

The 25mm stack provides plenty of room to drive in some sheet metal screws for traction on ice, so that's what I did.  And the NeoShells are now my runners when traction is going to be an issue.  On top of that, the tread pattern provides great snow traction, and the waterproof upper is a definite plus.  And, my feet have stayed pretty nice and warm so far.  The trade off of course is the muted ground feel and reduced flexibility, however all the other things I look for in a shoe are there, thanks to Altra's design. 

So.. there you go.  Hopefully I've been able to share some better insight into these models from Altra if you have been curious.  Great company, and great shoes.  But, before you think I've forsaken truly minimalist shoes.. have no fear.  I am still happiest in the lowest stack, least structured shoe I can run in, and it will be tough to tear me out of my favorites, BUT.. I also know that we are all an experiment of one, and what may not be my go to shoe, might just be yours...

As always, if you have any questions/comments/rude remarks... leave them below, or comment on my Facebook Page... I always love hearing from you all.  

AND.. stay tuned... next up will be my "Happy and Healthy 2016" kickoff, with awesome stuff to giveaway.. and lots of it!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails!



  1. Hey Jeff. Nowhere near me to try Altras, but there's a place an hour away. Before I head over there, is there much arch support? The side of the shoe looks quite shaped under the arch, or is that just exterior styling. Maybe it's flat inside?

    1. Yes.. there is an arch in the Lone Peaks... not as pronounced as it would appear from the outside, but it is certainly not flat. More of a front to back curve, but flatter side to side if that makes sense. The Superior 2.0's are flatter (and thinner) with a more minimalist feel... while these are 0 drop and a nice toe box, the soles are beefy, and a bit shaped in the interior...hope that helps


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