I'll start by saying that I am a fan of Altra shoes. For the past year, the Altra Instinct has been my go to shoe for road running, and even some trail use. There are a few things that make Altra shoes work for me. First of all, these shoes have more forefoot width than any other shoes I've worn. If you have narrow feet you may not care about that, but for someone like me who struggles to find a shoe that is wide enough across the forefoot, these are great. The other big thing (and Altra's main marketing thrust) is the fact that they are zero drop, meaning that there is no difference in the height of the shoe between the back and front- you're standing completely level to the ground. Some people may not like it, but it really works for me. I find that my stride is much more efficient with a lower or zero drop shoe than a shoe with a traditional 12-14mm drop.
When I first tried the Lone Peak 1.5 on, my first thought was that it felt a lot like the Instinct- which is a good thing. This is a very comfortable shoe- not too much cush, not too firm, not too tight, not too loose- the kind of shoe that you more or less forget that you have on your foot. I already mentioned the room in the forefoot, but it's worth mentioning the heel as well. One potential problem with shoes that are wide enough in the forefoot is that they may carry that width through to the heel. These shoes fit nice and snug around the heel though- no concerns with slipping.
With Ontario being in the depths of winter, I haven't had these shoes out in the dirt and mud yet, but they have been getting lots of use on snowy trails and roads, and so far all is good. The traction is great. The tread is quite aggressive, and I feel very confident on the hard packed (read "super slippery") snow on our roads.
They also feel fairly nimble, which is something that is not common across all trail shoes. I have some trails shoes that feel very solid in rough terrain, but I just don't feel nimble and quick in them, and others that are light and fast, but I might not have the same confidence over really rough terrain. The Lone Peak 1.5 seems to fit in the middle- they're a substantial enough shoe that I feel confident when the ground gets really rough, but they feel light and flexible enough that I feel like I can go fast. For example, this morning's workout was a long marathon pace run (on snowy roads) and I didn't think twice about giving these shoes the nod.
I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform in the mud and dirt once spring rolls around. One thing I'm a bit concerned about is drainage- the weave on the upper is fairly tight. There are drain holes up toward the front of the shoe, so we'll see how those work when things get really wet. I'll be sure to write a follow up post once I've put a few hundred more km on these shoes through a variety of conditions.
In summary, if you are in the market for a new pair of trails shoes, the Altra Lone Peak 1.5 is well worth consideration, particularly if low or zero drop is something that works for you, and if you need a shoe with lots of room up front.