Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid ReviewSeptember 29, 2016
- Versatile runner/hiker
- Incredibly supportive upper
- Roomy toe box
- Effective waterproofing
- Overpadded ankle collar
- Very thick tongue
- Traps heat
- Difficult to adjust to zero-drop
The Neoshell Mid is a burly trail runner that doubles as a light hiking boot. Our wear-testers praised the shoe’s versatility, light weight, and performance on the trail, but some had concerns with the amount of padding around the heel collar and tongue.
The new Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid shares an outsole, midsole, and upper design with the terrific new Lone Peak 3.0 and waterproof Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Low. The Neoshell Mid is the burliest of the bunch, with an effective Polartec waterproof barrier and an ankle-wrapping mid-height shaft for better support. These are combined with Altra’s standard features, including a zero-drop sole and wide, foot-shaped toe box. The Neoshell Mid version of the Lone Peak 3.0 is lightweight and runs well on singletrack, but it is also Altra’s first venture into a model that doubles as a lightweight hiker for day trips and backpacking expeditions. As a lightweight, runnable hiker, the Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid fills a niche that many other running companies miss. The most similar model is Hoka One One’s Tor Ultra, which weighs in at nearly a half-pound more. Our wear-testers appreciated the versatility and effectiveness on a variety of trails, but some reported that the ankle collars and top half of the tongue have so much padding that it was difficult to get a secure fit.
Like the baseline Lone Peak 3.0, the Neoshell Mid is comfortable straight out of the box. The roomy, foot-shaped toe box is wide enough to accommodate natural toe splay, while the heel and midfoot keep the foot locked down. The mid-height ankle collar and tongue have a substantial amount of padding. Our wear-testers found it comfortable for casual wear, but on the trail, it was difficult to wrench down the laces enough for a secure fit.
For a runnable mid-top hiker, the Neoshell Mid’s light weight and zero-drop sole give it a speed advantage over lightweight hiking boots from companies like Vasque, Keen and Merrell. On the spectrum from minimalist trail runner to burly hiking boot, it still falls squarely on the trail runner side. Although some weight and speed are sacrificed for greater ankle support, the Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid still feels like a quick shoe. With a bit less padding in the ankle and tongue, the mid-top would be supportive without substantially sacrificing quickness.
Security of Fit
Our wear-testers appreciated that the Neoshell Mid’s uppers locked down the midfoot to keep the wide toe box from feeling sloppy or loose. Opinions on the mid-top were mixed, with one wear-tester noting that, “the collars feel pillowy and overstuffed, and I couldn’t get a good, secure fit.” Unlike a Gore-Tex membrane, the Polartec Neoshell waterproofing wraps around the outside of the shoe like a water-repellant jacket. As a result, the Neoshell Mid fits a bit smaller than the baseline Lone Peak 3.0. Runners who intend to use it primarily as a hiking boot with heavyweight socks should consider going up a half-size.
A mid-top trail runner simply isn’t going to feel as nimble as a lower-profile model like the Saucony Peregrine, Montrail Caldorado, or Nike Terra Kiger, but the Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid’s light weight and responsive midsole bring it about as close as a running boot could get. Our wear-testers had no trouble scrambling up loose rock, hiking on slick stone, or powering through rolling singletrack. The zero-drop construction and slightly rockered midsole encourage efficient midfoot striking, although runners who are used to traditional trail shoes or hiking boots will need some time to adjust.
The combination EVA/Abound midsole material is plush without feeling like a sponge or gym mat. Even though the Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid won’t be anyone’s choice for a speedy off-road 5K, the energy return is quick and the shoes feel lively on the trail. Even when weighted down with a pack, the Neoshell Mid feels responsive and dynamic. One wear-tester reported that he nearly preferred the model as a hiking boot over a trail running shoe because the contrast with traditional boots was so stark.
The Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid excels in this category. The beefy TrailClaw outsole is mated to a flexible rockplate and 20mm midsole, which protects against intrusions without sacrificing trail feel. The mesh uppers repel dust while the Polartec Neoshell layer sheds water. Although some wear-testers found the ankle collar more plush than necessary, all agreed that it was supportive and protective.
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.