Altra Lone Peak 4.5 – The Best Trail Running Shoes?

Altra-Lone-Peak-4.5
Deciding whether to buy the new Altra Lone Peak 4.5 or stick with the older version? We compare the two shoes to help you find the best trail running shoes!

The Lone Peak 4.5 is Altra’s current flagship trail running shoe. It has got quite a few new design changes, some of which are inspired by the massively successful racing flat Olympus.

The Lone Peak 4.0 has been in the line-up for a couple of years and was one of Altras most successful shoes and is still selling well (at the time of writing this article). There is a reason why it’s been one of Altra’s most successful shoes, and it’s because this shoe does one thing really well, tackling rocky/technical trails. The 4.0 pretty much dominated the market for 5-10 mile races that had technical or rocky terrain due to its zero drop platform with a wide toe box.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0.

If you love to run outdoors, the chances are that you are constantly looking for new best trail running shoes. The footwear industry doesn’t stop evolving, and it offers new shoe models every year. It is no different for Altra. The company that strives to create zero drop running shoes with wide toe-boxes has recently released the successor to their popular trail running shoe, Lone Peak 4 (LP4).

While many brands are afraid of making significant changes to their shoe models, Altra seems relaxed about it. This conclusion is easily made by looking at two Lone Peak models (LP4 and LP4.5).

Altra Lone Peak 4.5 vs. Altra Lone Peak 4: What’s New?

So, what’s new about the Lone Peak 4.5 (LP4.5)? Let’s see how much of an improvement this new model is.

Altra Lone Peak 4.5.

The Toe Spring

The toe-spring has been made more pronounced and steeper; it is now much less forgiving on the top of the shoe when you are running on rocky surfaces. This is a change that I was eager to try out because it makes the shoes feel more protective, and I hoped they would not deform by squeezing my toes together, thus avoiding excessive toe damage after long runs.

The Medial Ridge

The medial (inside) ridge has also been made more pronounced and starts much sooner than before. I believe it is there to protect your foot from rocks that might get in through the front mesh and provide a bit of extra cushioning as you land on the inside part of the foot (which tends to take more damage than usual as tough soles do not protect it). The latest edition also has an improved upper with an exoskeleton frame on the sides to strengthen this part of the shoe and help it keep its shape.

The Toe Box

The toe box has been enlarged slightly, but I didn’t find it affected how the shoes felt when running in them. If anything, they gave me a feeling of more freedom without compromising cushioning or protection in any way.

The Outsole

The outsole has been given a more aggressive tread that provides a much better grip on wet and muddy surfaces; this is great because the previous model was a bit slippery, especially on wet rocks.

The Lone Peak 4.5 is one of the shoes that uses Vibram’s MegaGrip compound, which gives it better traction on wet rocks and roots, but at the same time, you need to be wary of sharp objects as this type of outsole can be a bit unforgiving.

The Lone Peak 4.0 had an issue with premature wear on the outsole caused by the shoe’s stiffness, but Altra has fixed this problem in the latest model – there is much less deformation when you stand on one leg and push your weight onto it.

The Midsole Cushioning

The midsole on Lone Peak 4.5 is significantly softer than on the previous edition.

However, the midsole also offers less protection from impact shock than Olympus, so if you are a heavy runner who tends to strike the ground hard, then this shoe might not be your best choice. Lone Peak 4.5 is meant for runners with lighter weight and mild overpronation since it provides enough cushioning for long distances and allows you to feel the road.

Heel-Toe Drop & Stack Height

The heel-toe drop has been lowered, but if anything, it makes them feel more cushioned and easier to run in. They still feel like racing flats but with more cushioning under the foot. They are very well protected; in fact, I feel like they provide even better protection than Olympus (the heel area is thicker and has a better exoskeleton side frame).

The Tongue

The tongue of Lone Peak 4.5 is wider than on Lone Peak 4, and it has a thick layer of mesh that adds support and keeps debris out; it’s not as wide as on Olympus, but it feels thicker and stronger.

The Lacing System

The lacing system on the Lone Peak 4.5 is not as wide as on Olympus, but it works more efficiently because there are fewer eyelets to poke out and get caught on objects as you run over them. The laces also stay tied more securely thanks to some extra stitching, so this is yet another area where it feels like Altra has improved on the design.

There are no extra eyelets other than those that secure the tongue, and the outer layer of mesh is made up of four strips that run diagonally from midsole to outsole.

The Mesh Structure

The upper mesh on the Lone Peak 4.5 differs from before, although not as noticeable as other changes such as the new toe-spring and midsole foam.

Mesh structure provides additional abrasion protection and reinforces the shoe in some key areas, including the arch and toes. The inner mesh is still really soft and smooth, plus it has a section that has been sewn into the midsole around the arch; when you run in them, it feels like there is an additional layer of cushioning protecting your feet.

The only issue I had with the mesh is that it’s quite porous, and my feet got very sweaty when running in high heat and humidity, but hopefully, the newer version with a different mesh will deal with this problem.

Upper-Midsole Transition

When you run in Lone Peak 4.5, you don’t feel as though the shoe is pushing your foot forward as much as Olympus does due to a smaller toe box and a lower stack height.

The toe-spring is not as aggressive as on Olympus, but it is still there and helps you engage your forefoot when you run. This shoe is meant for runners who like to feel the ground under their feet, so I don’t see it changing anytime soon – in fact, they have made some changes that further assist with this.

The midsole feels a bit different from older models, and it is not as stiff (that’s why Altra describes them as nearly zero-drop), making this shoe easier to run in. It has become more flexible and cushioned, but at the same time, you feel like you are running on the ground rather than feeling like you are running in a completely flat shoe.

The Insole

The foot-shaped insole is carried over from other Altra shoes, it helps with fit and comfort, but I have a few concerns about its durability – this part of the shoe seems to wear out pretty quickly, so I don’t see it lasting very long (at least if you run in them every day).

The Heel Counter

The cushioning in the midsole does not extend to the heel, so it’s pretty firm – you can run long distances without feeling any pain after running, but this also means that if you land on your heels too often, then you will feel it. This is not a big issue for me, and I like this design because it helps engage your forefoot and mid-foot (you land more on the middle of your foot and push off rather than landing on your heel and pushing off with your toes is not efficient).

Flexibility

The outsole is very flexible, and I can easily roll the sole from heel to toe, but it’s not a completely flat shoe because of the firm cushioning in the midsole. It also has a little bit of arch support, but it’s less noticeable than with Olympus – this might be a good thing for some runners, but I personally prefer something with a bit more arch support.

Comfort

The upper part of Lone Peak 4.5 is made out of lightweight mesh that provides decent ventilation, and it breathes pretty well. I’ve worn these shoes during hot days (~30°C), and they kept my feet cool.

The wider toe box allows your toes to splay when you run, so it’s quite comfortable even if you have flat feet like me. Lone Peak 4.5 also feels soft under my feet, and the upper part does not rub or irritate my skin in any way. Still, I find that the heel counter is a bit too firm. It sometimes rubs my Achilles tendon when I’m making turns – this does not bother me too much since most of the time I don’t even notice it, but if you have sensitive skin, then you might want to consider how your feet are going to react to the heel counter.

One thing that was improved with Lone Peak 4.5 is the quality of the upper fabric – it is softer and more flexible than before. At the same time, it does not stretch as much as with Olympus, which means you need to order a shoe that fits perfectly from the start; otherwise, your feet might slip around later on (the inside of my left shoe feels bigger even though I ordered the same size as before).

Lone Peak 4 and Lone Peak 4.5 Differences – A Summary

These are the main differences between Lone Peak 4 (LP4) model and its successor – Lone Peak 4.5 (LP4.5):

  • LP4 is a sturdy shoe with a more aggressive design that will serve you best as a trail runner. LP4.5 is the same story, but some changes were made to make it lighter and more flexible.
  • Altra added an extra set of lugs on the outsole for better grip performance on wet/slippery ground.
  • Altra made the sole a bit wider near the toes. This improves toe splay and provides more protection for your feet over uneven terrain.
  • Toe spring (the upward bend of the tip) is more pronounced in LP4.5, which makes it even better for hiking over rough terrain.
  • Upper got a bit of an update with improved toe box volume and protection around the ankle joint.
  • There is a protective rubber band around the tip to protect it from all the obstacles on your way.

The most important improvements apply to wider toe box and grip. I was not a fan of the narrower toe box of LP4 because it made me feel like my foot was squeezed inside the shoe.

Also, the sole got quite slippery when wet, and I kept feeling insecure on some surfaces. The wider outsole fixed all those problems for me, the toe box feels comfortable again, and I don’t have to worry about wet surfaces anymore. It is an excellent update from Altra, which makes LP4.5 a better shoe than its predecessor!

It is time to update your outdoor running gear, and if you liked LP4, then I’m sure there is no reason to stay away from LP4.5 because it is a much better shoe.

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