Review: Living With the Altra Lone Peak 3.5


I didn’t, perhaps, get the opportunity to test these on the Challenge as much as I wanted. However, these have been used in a variety of real world conditions, on steep grass slopes, on mountain tracks — good and bad, and tarmac (rather too much). I worse these exclusively for a couple of weeks.

The longer use of these shoes confirmed what I described in the First Impressions: Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3.5 post.

I should say at the outset that these are probably the best trail shoes that I have used to date!

Comfort and Fit

A reminder; my feet are rather broad and with a high instep. One of my feet is significantly different in size to other. For me to find shoes to be comfortable they have to have a wide fitting and to still continue to grip the heels of both feet. The Altras succeed on both counts.

On first inspection these shoes appear not to be quite as wide as the Inov-8s that I have been using but I really don’t think this is the case. I’ve had no problems wearing these, even in very warm conditions. What makes for the difference in the feel is, I think, that these shoes are far more robust than the Inov-8’s. They appear to be less flexible but for my wide feet they are no problem at all. Altra recommend that you go up a full size from the UK equivalent, so for me that meant going from 9.5 to 10.5. This worked well. The Altra website has a size calculator which will give you guidance for other size measurements; on this experience I would expect this to be spot on.

General Performance

These shoes perform admirably. They grip grass well on steep slopes. They shed water as quickly as you would want The sole unit is firmer and tougher than that on Inov-8. The sole unit will wear down a little but so far these are holding up more effectively than they Inov-8’s. There is more cushioning in the sole unit, not over the top this but enough to be very effective on rocky paths. they are also far more comfortable when walking distances on a tarmac surface.

The robust nature of these shoes is not simply down to the sole unit. look closely at the photograph and you will see that the top of the shoe features mesh that has been reenforced with red stretching. The mesh itself sheds water very well and efficiently. The ditched mess seems to give more strength to that mesh top. Bashing through heather when your shoes are damp often leads to holes in the mesh but so far there has been sign of such a problem with these shoes.

The extra build of these shoes does mean they weight about 750 grams, a little more than the Inov-8’s, but they are still very light and I have not found this weight increase to be significant at all.

Zero Drop

I mentioned in the first impressions post that I was a little wary of the zero drop heel. Mainly this was because of an ongoing problem I have with a sore achilles. These shoes have not caused any problems and, indeed, the heel cup works as effectively — if not more effectively — than any trail shoes that I used to date. This might seem odd but with these she’s your feet — and heels — are more lightly to go exactly where you want them to go! they certainly encourage you to heel and toe properly.


There is almost nothing to dislike about these. True, they are expensive but these are a quality product. So far, I have found these to be the best trail shoe that I have used to date.

I’ll continue using this throughout the summer and right a long term review  then. But on my experience so far, these are simply excellent trail shoes.

Available in both men and women’s fittings


Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3.5

First Impressions: Altra Men’s Lone Peak 3.5

Lone Peak


I’m a bit slow to the party with these shoes. Fellow Challenger Shap McDonnell has been using them for a few years now and Chris Townsend peaks highly of them. I’ve been testing out alternatives to the old Inov-8 Terrocs for a few years now and the Lone Peak 3.5s are the latest in the quest to find a replacement.

My Feet Profile

Searching for shoes is a bit of a challenge for me. I have wide feet and I’ve found that many firings are simply too cramped, certainly when backpacking for days on end. I also have one foot which is larger than the other and has a high instep. It is a bit of a challenge to find two shoes that both hold the heel in effectively.

The Zero Drop

The Lone Peak’s are ‘zero drop,’ a system that Altra have been pioneering in running and trail shoes. The ‘drop’ is the relative distance from the heel to the level of the ball of the foot. When you stand without shoes the heel and the ball of the foot are at the same level. With most shoes the heel is raised and the ‘drop’ is the distance between heel and the front of the foot. Often the drop is quite small, my last shoes had a drop of 4 millimetres, but such small measures can result in a very different feel.

The idea of the Zero Drop system is that your feet are positioned as naturally as possible.

On Test

I used these straight out of the box for a three day backpack walk, carrying a full pack weight. I replaced the insole of the shoe with the replacement insole that I usually use (the Pro 11 system).

The Lone Peaks were very comfortable from the off and gave me no problems at all over a range of different terrain. The sole grip seems more than adequate for the task.


These are probably some of the most comfortable trail shoes I have used. The fit is broad and there was more than enough room for my toes to spread when walking. There also seemed to be a little more room across the mid width of the shoe as well. The heel system has some solidity to it and more than adequately cupped both of my heels.  I didn’t find any pressure points and the shoes were comfortable throughout the walk. For a light and small shoe the cushioning of the mid sole was quite impressive.

The Zero Drop

Although a number of people have spoken highly of thee shoes I have been a little reticent to try them because of the zero drop. I have read a number of accounts of these shoes stretching the heel and the achilles a little more than usual. I have a slight problem of soreness with one of my achilles. 

In practice, however, I fund no problems at all with these shoes. The walking position seemed comfortable and natural from the off and I detected no problems with the achilles — the biggest factor here seems to be how well the heel is held in the shoe.

So, there seemed to be no downside in using the zero drop system. I did form the impression that, on uneven ground or when scrambling, the system was better than many conventional systems. It seemed to me that my heel was always where I assumed it would be — I’m not sure this is that scientific and observation but it just goes to underline that there is no downside in using this system.

General Performance

The shoes are very well made and seem pretty tough. There is a very effective toe box too protect the front of the foot. The mesh surface of the shoe is re-enforced with stitching at key points of stress and wear which seems a nice touch. I shall take another look at this when making a full review.

Trail shoes like this need to shed water effectively and the Lone Peak is no slouch here and presented no problems. For those of you that used the Terroc system this shoe sheds water, perhaps, a teeny bit slower then the original Terrocs but better I think to the second generation of Terrocs. The water shedding performance of these shoes is excellent.

In General

These seem like a very sound investment. The fit is excellent for those who need a wider fitting. The construction seems of a very high quality. The laces are some of the best that I have used. The shoe seems pretty tough and yet still comes in at a shade under 300 grams.


In short I could find no downside to these shoes at all. I shall be using them for two weeks on the TGO Challenge — a backpack coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands. This is a walk that tests shoes to the full.  I shall write a final review when I have returned at the end of May.


Winning The Battle Against Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain

Chatting my friend Tony yesterday the subject of conversation turned to feet _ he’d been reading my recent TGO piece. He asked how my heel pain (Plantar Fasciitis) was at the moment. Well, the good news is that this is has not really been a problem for twelve months now. A lot of experimenting and following tips given by readers here seems to have made a big difference. Tony suggested writing about it.

So, here we go. These are some of the things that I’ve done which seem to help!

Edited 31 Jan 17

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Scottish Track Surfaces — Is it Just Me?

An exchange with @trickygreen (in the comments section) has raised an issue that I have thought about writing about. Actually, the issue is a feature of my TGO Challenge Journal (which is now almost finished).

@trickygreen raises he wearing of trail shoes on the West Highland Way. Now, I have not walked the West Highland Way but I have done sections of it. I really dislike walking on this surface mainly because (own the sections I know) they are strewn with rather too large stones which are unpleasant and some times uncomfortable to walk on.

On this TGO Challenge I set out to create a route that minimised tarmac walking. I walked along a number of tracks that I have walked in the past. On more than a couple of times i found myself looking forward to a stretch of a walk only to find the track surface to be quite unpleasant.

I suppose a lot of these tracks have been improved or ’maintained’ to be better able to take heavy weight vehicles.

Is this just my imagination or route planning?

While I’m on the subject of feet, I’ve had a number of emails about the achilles/Plantar Fasciitis issue. There will be a bit of a focus on this in my TGO Journal (which is nearly finished) but ….

… the change inches back to the Inov-8’s has made a big difference. The Plantar pain has completely disappeared and I’ve been walking pain free all summer. Looking back, it seems that the the built up sole unit of the Brooks Cascardias were a bit of a disaster for me. On the Challenge the only really difficult day I had was the long road walk from Braemar to Ballater, where the achilles began to complain rather loudly. I shan’t be doing this stretch again (at least not for a while).

The 295’s have done well although I noticed last week that the sole on my left foot has collapsed inwards. I’m still hill walking with these shoes but my impressions that I won’t get as much life out of them as I did with the Terrocs. Those with more sensibly arranged feet might not have this kind of problem, but it is something to consider!

Dodgy Feet: Falling Arches, Over Pronation and Plantar Fasciitis

I’ve had a few emails recently about these feet conditions as a result of some of the pieces I’ve written about my own feet, and search for solutions. I’m not an expert at this, but this is what I now know! It might be useful!

Apparently, as we get older, 70% of us develop some kind of painful foot condition, often related to ‘Over Pronation’ which is the flattening of the feet or inward rolling of the feet when landing. You can see the often sometimes dramatically with wear and tear on you shoe soles. Pronation is important to the absorption of shock. Over pronation can cause stress, muscle fatigue and  whole host of other things.

Ophthalmic inserts and one solution to a lot of these foot conditions. You can have your feel measured by specialists who can supply you with bespoke inserts; I know a couple of people who simply couldn’t walk without these. Bespoke inserts can be expensive as they have to be replaced regularly. There are a number of commercially available inserts which aim to do something of a job and this is what I have been using.

For me Plantar Fasciitis has been very painful and almost debilitating over the last 12 months, partially the reason why there hasn’t been so much walking content here. After the TGO 15 Challenge I was in such a bad way that I basically rested the foot of the rest of the year!

This is a problem I get in my right foot, more precisely with the Achilles tendon on the heel. This can get sore, very sore. The inflamed heel is often very painful to the touch. Using inserts have made a difference.

I recently came across an exercise which gently stretches the Achilles and eases Plantar Fasciitis. As I hadn’t come across it before I thought I’d share it.

The idea is to find a step and to cling onto the step with your toes, leaving the rest of the foot dangling over the edge — hold on to some kind of rail or door handle. Straighten you legs, i.e., from your heel downwards. Hold the position and you will feel burn in your calf muscles. Hold the position as you would with many exercises. I can feel the strain in my Achilles. When you straighten up and walk properly again pain is often significantly relieved.

It is pretty easy to do this on the hills. Some mornings, when breaking camp, it takes me time for the heel to warm up but on other days the main is more pronounced. It is fairly easy to find a large stone, the side of a stream or other steep slope to do this exercise to — use walking poles out front for stability. If you are using a stream then obviously, take care not to fall in. No, I’m not saying anything!

I have been using inserts for a couple of years now, both in ordinary shoes and in training/trail shoes. I’ve been using Dr Feet insoles which are readily available from Amazon and the like. Like Superfeet you need to break them in slowly but they are a different kind of product to Superfeet — we are not talking about the same thing.

Recently I’ve started trying another brand, Pro 11 Wellbeing, as they sell a ‘Dual Shock’ system for running and walking. I’ve noticed that high impact surfaces such as tarmac and small chipping laden tracks are bad. So, I shall report back on these and have a look at whether they  are more effective. My pair cost less than £7.

It is claimed that the right insoles can help you with a lot of other walking related issues, bottom of the foot and heel pain, aching ankles and knees and so on. I’m not sure I can really comment on this. At the end of a long day in the hills — carrying a weight on my back — I just ache. I suspect this is an age thing 🙂

Review: Inov-8 Roclite 295














A pair of 295’s after 2 weeks on the TGO Challenge

I first discovered Inov-8 shoes through a piece that Cameron McNeish wrote in TGO Magazine. These shoes seemed to counter all of our received wisdom when it came to hiking shoes. I phoned Chris Townsend. What did he think? Chris gave them a raving review and I never looked back.

I used Inov-8 Terrocs through two iterations after which these shoes were sadly discontinued. By this time — as tends to be the case with shoes — the Inov-8 range had grown to a bewildering size. Now that the Terrocs had gone what should I do?

I had tried the Roclite range when they are introduced. There was much to like about them but the fit was far, far, too narrow for me. I have never been quite sure about the Mudclaws on all terrain and so after the demise of the Terroc I tried a while range of other shoes with very mixed results. I had a good look at the new Inov-8 range in Covent Garden and wasn’t impressed with the build quality. However, a new shoe had been introduced to the range, the Roclite 295 and critically these were available in a wider fit — the Standard Fit. Bob Cartwright used a pair of these on the 2015 Challenge and complained that they fell apart. To be fair to Inov-8 they replaced the pair and Bob had the impression that there had been a bad production batch — something that is not unknown to all gear manufacturers.

Just when I was beginning to despair about finding a decent replacement for the Terrocs Colin Ibbotson told me that he had bought a pair of 295s and that they seemed perfect, so much so that he ordered another 2 pairs (such are the demands of a long distance hiker). I bought a pair.

For a while I thought I would be set on another brand of shoe but they didn’t make it through a three day backpack in the spring. Despite only using this 295s for one short day walk I decided to take them with me on the Challenge. So, how did they fair?

I ordered a half size bigger than my shoe size and there certainly was a lot of space in them. This was certainly not the initial Roclite fit (which is now described as Precision  fit). I wondered whether they were too big. The first days of the Challenge were unusually hot and my feet certainly appreciated the extra space.

The bottom line was that the 295s performed superbly and I’m now back with Inov-8.

The 295s have a mesh upper which is reminiscent of the Terroc, however, this is a far more robust material. The shoe drains water try quickly and although not a scientific observation my feeling is that these are as good as the first generation Terrocs and maybe a bit better than the second generation Terroc.

The sole unit of the 295s is more robust than that on the Terroc and gives more cushioning. These shoes are unmistakably Inov-8 shoes but they are probably the most comfortable that I have used yet on a multi day trek.

Two weeks crossing Scottish heather moors and peat bogs tends to take its toll on trail shoes. Before setting off I adopted the same technique as I used to do with the Terrocs, I seam sealed the stitching on the shoe. In the photo at the top of the page you can see where I had sealed across the top of the shoe, an area with the Terrocs that was prone to developing a hole.

We may have been helped this year with drier than usual conditions but at the end of the two weeks the shoes were pretty well intact. There was no hint of the shoes beginning to fall apart. At the end of the event I compared notes with Colin Ibbotson who hadn’t seam sealed. He seemed just as impressed with the robust nature of the shoes.

The sole unit of the Terroc was of a softer composition than that on the 295s. The Terroc unit always showed significant wear at the end of a two week trek. This wear was more than compensated for by the grip of the Terroc on a range of surfaces.

The 295s proved to be comfortable on grass, on steep slopes, on rocky tracks and on tarmac. At the end of two week the west on the sole is minimal as you can see below.














All in all I was very happy, indeed impressed, with the 295s. All in all I thought their performance was better than the original Terroc. This is the best trail shoe I have backpacked in yet.

The range of the Inov-8 is still bewildering in its size and complexity. There seem to be a number of other shoes in the range that might be suited to all terrain walking but Inov-8 claim that the 295 is their best all-terrain shoe; I certainly had no complaints.

The wider ‘Standard’ fit has made a big difference. I’m not quite sure though that is the same as the Terroc. Comparing notes with Chris Townsend at the end of the Challenge he told me that he’d tried the 295s last year and found them to be still too narrow. Like me, Chris has wide feet. I do wonder whether he had been trying out a Precision fit but on one foot I did sometimes think there wasn’t as much room as in the Terroc. But on balance these shoes were very, very comfortable.

So on grounds of good grip on all terrain, on comfort and on durability I have no hesitation in recommending these shoes.

Amongst the Challenge lightweight gear aficionados there were some new choices of shoes and brands this year. I’m going to see if I can get some of them to write a review for me to post here.

It is nice to know I’ve got Inov-8 back.

Footwear: The Search Goes On

So, the feet have been a bit of a problem over the last seven or eight months. Way back at the end of 2014 I started the search for some alternatives to the Inov-8 Terrocs.  I settled on Brooks Cascardia 10s.  They seemed to be quite comfortable. For the Challenge I bought a new pair of Cascardia 10s. I assumed these were just the new version of the Cascara other than a different boot.

Then everything seems fall apart.

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More on Brooks Cascardia Sizing

Updated 11 December 2014 — Ed.

The Cascardia Trail shoes arrived late this afternoon. So how’s the fit?

To recap I used the Brooks US site to check the comparison between size and fit of the Inov-8 Terocs and the Cascardias. The site seemed to suggest the sizing and fit was compatible. I then ordered these from Amazon who quote sizes in UK measurements.

I ordered my usual size 9 but thought about going to the bigger half size (these are available). I have two feet that are different sizes. One is probably a little bigger than the standard size and the other feels a little lighter. While I have wide feet I have narrow heels and up-sizing often leads me with shoes that are not tight enough at the rear. 

The Cascardias are very compatible with the Terrocs. The fit on my feet is right enough. These being trail shoes they will stretch a bit and so allowance has to be made for that. I often find one small toe struggles with new shoes;this was never a problem with the original Terrocs although more of an issue with the second generation. these gave me some problems using thick Smartwool socks at first but were fine when I switched to Teko lights. There should be no problem with X-Socks with the Cascardias. Overall, I would say that they were marginally more comfortable out of the box that the second generation Terrocs.

I understand the point about the soles now; they are nowhere near as aggressive as those on the Terrocs but they look as if they will do the job.

I hope to take them out onto the hills on Saturday. I shall report back.


I took Andy Walker’s comments below seriously and have spent more time with these shoes (before going onto the hill) and thinking about whether I needed to exchange these for a half size up.

My shoes are pretty similar to me now worn in Terrocs. I have one foot bigger than the other. One foot fits well and the other maybe could do with a tad more size. My problem is that as the sizes get bigger I loose grip around the heel and on multi day trips this is where I would get blisters,

There is no stress on toes with this fit. I have tried them with both X Socks and Teko merino socks and they feel OK. My main problem is with big toe space in my right shoe and thought I might want a bit more clearance there is no pressure or tightness here. In terms of feet expanding through heat there seems to be enough room for that (as feet don’t get longer).

On balance I will stick with the UK size. It is a balance though and should you order these I think you have to prepared to experiment and move up half a size. I need a new pair of trainers and so will stick with these whatever.

I think I am going to be OK with the size, but I will report back!

TGO Gear: What To Do With the Feet Now Terrocs Have Vanished?

My only real bit of gear dilemma to deal with at the moment is what to put on my feet! After the best part of 10 years Inov-8 have killed-off my favourite trail shoe, the Terroc 330.

A couple of years ago the Terroc was ‘improved’. A new design was a little more robust, had a bit more cushioning in the sole and was pretty comfortable. What I liked about both Terroc models were that they were reasonably wide fitting, as I have awkward feet. Inov8’s Roclite range were just too narrow for me. I bought a few pairs of the latest 330s when I realised they were to be discontinued but I’m now down to the last pair.

One of the great things about the internet is that you can instantly take advantage of the experiences of others and this morning I’ve received a lot of recommendation. Inov8’s range (since being bought out by a North American outfit) has become more and more bewildering. Back in the day the company recognised that hill walkers were going for their shoes and they included this category on their website.  These days their site is nowhere near as helpful.

So, you’ll see how pleased I was to find an alternative that boasts just about one of the most helpful websites I’ve found so far.

Keith Foskett (and a few others) recommended a new trail shoe, well at least new to me. This is the Cascadia 9 shoe from Brooks. These shoes are now available in the UK but — if you are at all interested — I urge you to gave a look at the Brooks website and not just that of resellers.

The Cascardia 9 looks promising from the start but the web page is incredibly helpful. A little bubble with ‘What’s my Size?’ takes you to a really helpful interactive display. Using this display you can input the brand and model of a shoe that you have traditionally liked. I inputed Inov8 and then Terroc 330 and got a read out that told me what the corresponding size was for the Cascadia 9. The interactive tells me that this is a good fit in terms of size, comfort and — most importantly — width. I was able to order with confidence.

These look promising and I have ordered a pair. I shall report back!

Well done Brooks in helping customers make informed decisions. You’d almost think they have Inov8 owners in mind when they devised this. But, surely not?

Hiking with Fallen Arches/Flat Feet

Young readers beware. Regardless of how fit you are the older you get the more things tend to simply stop working properly! Occasionally I’ve written here about health related issues and I’m glad I had. My piece on back pain ended up in me being recommended the most useful book on the subject I’ve come across. I was able to share the book with others and I know from feedback it has helped others as well.

So, to feet. I’ve always had problems with fallen arches especially with my left foot. This has simply meant that walking on this foot can be quite painful. The problem has got worse and on the recent TGO coast-to-coast walk it became so painful that I decided it was time for action. I was surprised to find a solution that was simple and reasonably cheap!

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