The Altra Lone Peak Neoshell (Gen 2.0) is a zero-drop, wide toe-box shoe designed to keep feet dry by preventing environmental moisture from permeating the shoe and by allowing breathability, thereby mitigating cold, wet feet. The obvious application in the context of our audience is for ultralight backpacking during the fringe seasons of fall and spring.
Features and Specifications
- Weight: 11.9 oz (337 g)
- Key Features:
- Toebox: wide;
- Cushioning: moderate;
- Midsole: dual layer EVA;
- Outsole: sticky rubber with aggressive tread lugs;
- Insole: minimally supportive (no meaningful arch);
- Fabric: Polartec NeoShell (waterproof-breathable);
- Rock plate: yes;
- Gaiter attachment: yes.
My initial experience with the Altra Lone Peak 2.0 Neoshell shoes was taking a winter day hike in New World Gulch near Bozeman, MT, with the family and the dog. The daytime high was in the low twenties and snow flurries were persistent throughout the day. We strapped on our trail spikes and gaiters and proceeded about two miles to a viewpoint overlooking the south buttress of the Bridger Range. There were no stream crossings, and most of the hike was over a relatively good boot pack. The bootpack became lower in quality as we progressed to our turnaround point and temperatures cooled into the teens. Snowfall intensified on the return hike to the vehicles. My feet remained isolated from outside moisture, without sacrificing breathability. I had warm, dry feet. Granted, this isn’t a robust test of the shoe’s worthiness for extended backpacking, but in the context of this type of review (a SpotLite review, which provides a cursory overview of a product based on limited field use), it didn’t reveal any dramatic inconsistencies with manufacturer claims.
Update: Since I wrote the initial draft of this review, I’ve had the chance to hike several dozen miles in the Altra Lone Peak NeoShells, including several miles of overnight backpacking in winter (snowy) conditions, and my experience to date remains consistent with my initial performance notes.
- The Altra Lone Peak 2.0 NeoShell shoes in combination with merino wool socks and gaiters have kept my feet warm and dry, even in subfreezing conditions while hiking over snow.
- Because these are a low-top running shoe, optimum moisture sealing requires that these shoes be paired with a well-sealing gaiter (and a high gaiter at that, for snowy conditions) to prevent moisture from penetrating the shoe through its collar.
- The shoes mate well with most snowshoe bindings that we’ve tried. Trail spikes (e.g., Kahtoola MicroSpikes) do not seat well on the front of the shoe due to the wide toebox. For most conditions, this isn’t a problem. For steep side-hilling, microspikes tend to slide off the toe of the shoe.
- The shoe fabric is waterproof and seems to breathe as well (or as bad?!) as any Gore-Tex fabric shoe.
- The shoe sole provides good grip in loose snow, dense mud, and mixed conditions, extending its applicability to fringe seasons.
- Heavily cushioned platform provides extra insulation during winter and allows for comfortable trekking while wearing a heavy pack.
- Even when not using the Altra gaiters, one can use most gaiters with the product, as long as the gaiter seals well around the shoe’s relatively low ankle cut – test your gaiter fit.
- The shoe is light – at less than 12 oz, it’s lighter than most waterproof-breathable trail shoes.
- The laces that come with the shoe become loose in the cold and stretch significantly when wet. Replace them!
- Without gaiters, waterproofing is less than adequate as a result of a poor seal between the tongue and the rest of the shoe. A gusseted tongue would be a valuable change.
I’ve been wearing Altra Lone Peak shoes for several years (since Gen 1) for all of my training, hiking and backpacking (including in the winter). So, I have to admit a little bias towards the NeoShell model, particularly as it gives me warmer, dryer feet during the eight months of the year I spend outside in Montana’s fringe and winter seasons!
If you spend lots of time outdoors snowshoeing or spiking in the winter, you will find that the Altra Lone Peak NeoShells, in combination with a pair of gaiters, keep feet warmer and dryer than non-waterproof models.
A low ankle collar and poor tongue seal render them prone to leakage at shallow stream crossings, or in deeper snow, especially without a very tight-sealing gaiter.