Altra Lone Peak Neoshell

Altra Lone Peak Neoshell (Photo Credit: Altra)

The Lone Peak Neoshell is Altra’s winter specific shoe, and is based on the popular Lone Peak 2.0. While they may both be zero drop, have the same foot shaped toe box, look (mostly) identical, be built on the same last, and share the same name; the Neoshell is distinctly different thanks to a partnership with Polartec. The Neoshell upper is built from a proprietary material provided by Polartec that makes the Neoshell waterproof.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you make purchases after clicking on any links. These shoes were provided to me by Altra for the purposes of this review.  All opinions and written content are my own (unless otherwise noted).

While waterproof running shoes aren’t new, most other waterproof shoes use a waterproof membrane inside an otherwise normal upper. This means the upper still absorbs water, making the shoes heavier the wetter they get.  Where the Altra Lone Peak Neoshell is unique is that the waterproof membrane is on the exterior of the upper which prevents absorption and the associated weight increase.

The Lone Peak Neoshell is not meant to keep your feet dry when running through puddles, streams, or during torrential downpours – this is an impossible task for the simple fact that the shoe has a collar and there is no way to seal the opening. Where the Neoshell really shines is keeping your feet dry and warm when you are running in snow.

Specs

From altrarunning.com

  • Weight: 11.9 oz.
  • Cushioning: Moderate
  • Ideal Uses: Trail Running, Hiking, Fastpacking, Trail Racing
  • Designed To Improve: Wet & Hot Feet, Toe Splay, Traction, Stability, Comfort Running Form, Speed
  • Platform: FootShape™ Toe Box with Fully Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform
  • Stack Height: 25 mm
  • Midsole: Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • Outsole: Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw™
  • Insole: Mountain Footbed
  • Upper: Polartec® NeoShell®
  • Other Features: StoneGuard™ Rock Protection, Trail Rudder, Gaiter Trap™ Attachment

Weight

According to Altra, the Lone Peak Neoshell weighs 11.9 ounces.  My pair, size 10.5, weighed in at 12.1 ounces as seen in the picture below.  In comparison, a size 10.5 Lone Peak 2.5 weighs in at 11.2 ounces.  Based on my testing for this review, the extra ounce isn’t noticeable on your feet, and being waterproof is certainly worth the weight penalty.

Lone Peak Neoshell Weight

Lone Peak Neoshell on the scale

Fit

I found that the Lone Peak Neoshell seems to fit exactly like the Lone Peak 2.0 so if you already have those, you should be able to buy the Neoshell in the same size.  Altra does utilize the Shoefitr app on their website for the Lone Peak Neoshell, so I’d recommend double-checking with that app to get the appropriate size.  If you are unfamiliar with Shoefitr, it’s a neat application where you enter your current shoe (make, model, size) and it tells you which size of shoe you should purchase.

For fun, I compared the Lone Peak 2.0 to the Lone Peak Neoshell and according to Shoefitr, the men’s shoe runs true to size (so order the same size as your Lone Peak 2.0) but the women’s runs large (so order a half-size smaller than your Lone Peak 2.0).  You’ll find Shoefitr on the detail pages of each particular shoe on altrarunning.com, so give it a try!

First Run

Winter has arrived in Utah so I finally had a chance to test out the Lone Peak Neoshell on our local snow covered trails. Admittedly, there wasn’t enough snow on the trails during my first few runs to really test out the shoes so my first real test run in snow was this past weekend after about 40 miles on mostly dry trails.

I typically run in my Altra Lone Peak 2.0 or 2.5 shoes in snowy conditions combined with Smartwool Ultra Light Run PhD socks. I don’t usually have a problem with my feet getting cold (although they do get wet), but I was curious to see what difference there would be with the Neoshell.

The upper on the Neoshell does feel a bit stiffer than a standard Lone Peak 2.0, most likely due to the Polartec Neoshell upper, but fortunately it’s not noticeable on your foot or while running. The tread pattern on the Neoshell is identical and overall the shoe will feel very familiar to anyone currently running in a Lone Peak 2.0. In addition, the outsole is made of a softer durometer rubber that remains more pliable in cold weather compared to the standard Lone Peak 2.0. Lastly, the Neoshell only comes in a single more subdued grey color for the men (Altra calls it Walnut), and a dull yellow color for the women (Altra calls it Spring). These colors are different than any of the other Lone Peak 2.0 colorways so they will easily stand out in your closet when you are fumbling around for shoes on cold, dark winter mornings.

After a few break-in runs on mostly dry and icy trails close to my home, I headed up to Park City for my weekly group run. It was a frigid 5 degrees Fahrenheit when I arrived, and I was glad to have on my Neoshells. In addition to keeping my feet dry from melting snow, they also act like an insulated shoe and keep my feet warmer than the normal Lone Peak thanks to the Neoshell material. The planned run was about 6 miles long and straight up in to the foothills of Park City on some freshly fallen snow, so this was a great chance to see how well the waterproofing worked.

Having run in the Lone Peak 2.0 and 2.5 for the last year, the shoe felt great, gripped the snow just as well as it grips the dirt, and kept my feet completely dry as we broke through the freshly snow covered trails. Unlike my non-Neoshell Lone Peaks which seem to accumulate snow which then melts through the upper and soaks my socks and feet, the snow seemed to slip right off the shoe. Any snow that did accumulate never penetrated the shoe, and my foot stayed dry the entire run.

Durability

I’ve run about 100 miles in the Lone Peak Neoshell now since we’ve had an unusually snowy and cold winter, and they still look brand new.  The outsole is still 100% intact as you can see in the picture below (which was an issue with the Lone Peak 2.0) and the upper looks like it did when I first got the shoes.  The Polartec Neoshell material appeared more durable than the typical upper material when I first received the shoes, and so far in my experience, this has proven to be the case.  I have no doubt that this shoe will easily last quite a few winters before they need to be replaced.  The only indication of any wear is some cracking in the paint along the midsole of the shoe, but this is purely cosmetic and doesn’t affect the performance of the shoe at all.

Lone Peak Neoshell sole after 100 miles

Lone Peak Neoshell sole after 100 miles

Snowshoeing

I’m not sure if Altra envisioned this particular use case or not, but I’ve found the Lone Peak Neoshell works great for snowshoeing when combined with some lightweight gaiters.  I’ve had the chance to use them a few times this winter with my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes, and I like them much better than using my Lowa Renegade GTX hiking boots.  The Lone Peak Neoshell shoes are lighter than my hiking boots, waterproof, and keep my feet warmer while snowshoeing – plus they are easier to run in which is something I’ve been doing more of this winter.

Summary

I’m a huge fan of the Altra Lone Peak (see my review of the Altra Lone Peak 2.5), and this shoe doesn’t disappoint. I do think this is a niche shoe and is best used exclusively for winter running in snow, really cold conditions, or if your feet typically get cold in the Spring and Fall, but is still a great trail shoe thanks to its pedigree. So far, I’ve used the shoes down to about 0 degrees Farenheit and up to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. They did feel noticeably warmer on the 35 degree days, but not uncomfortably warm and I didn’t get any blisters, so I have no complaints.  That being said, I don’t think I’d want to use them in any warmer conditions.

If you are looking for a waterproof shoe in a location that doesn’t get snow, I don’t know that this is the shoe for you since the collar is fairly low and water can easily get in over the collar, and that really isn’t what the shoe was designed for so I can’t fault Altra for that.

Bottom Line: If you run in snow and your feet usually get wet from snow melt, or if you live somewhere exceptionally cold, I highly recommend adding the Lone Peak Neoshell to your collection. If you live somewhere wet and rainy or you run through a lot of streams and water crossings, these shoes may still help by keeping your feet warm, but they aren’t going to keep them dry.

Pros

  • The upper is impervious to water and snow as advertised
  • Keeps feet comfortably warm in sub-freezing temperatures (i’ve tested down to 0 degrees F this winter)
  • Fits and feels exactly like the Lone Peak 2.0
  • Works great for snowshoeing
  • Foot shaped toe box
  • Zero Drop

Cons

  • Waterproofing material is less breathable than the typical mesh upper, and is noticeably warmer on your feet above 32 degrees F
  • Built on the Lone Peak 2.0 instead of the 2.5, but this is because the shoe was conceived when the 2.0 was the current model, so that’s understandable

Suggestions for Altra

  • It would be awesome to see some integrated ice studs (or removable ones) like the Salomon Snowcross since this really is an ideal winter running shoe.
  • Longer laces like the Lone Peak 2.5 so I can double-knot them. Re-tying shoes with gloves on in 5 degree weather is a huge pain.
  • Bring over the Vibram outsole from the Olympus 2.0!

Do you run in the Lone Peak Neoshell?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Altra Lone Peak Neoshell
Author Rating
41star1star1star1stargray