Altra Mont Blanc Review Analysis (2022)
Last update: December 2022
The Altra Mont Blanc is a zero-drop trail running shoe for long-distance running combining generous cushioning, responsiveness, and lightness.
The Altra Mont Blanc is the latest trail running shoe from the zero-drop American brand. Its ambition is to allow you to tackle your future ultramarathon race in the best conditions. But does it deliver on this promise?
In terms of grip, it’s a pass. Altra had the excellent idea to use a Vibram Megagrip Lite Base rubber outsole. The 3.5 mm lugs are not so deep but still compelling on various terrains (e.g., mud, snow).
The EGO MAX midsole foam is another big highlight of the Altra Mont Blanc. Its 30 mm stack height provides incredible comfort and protection without compromising the ground feel. The cushioning is generous and responsive, the last part being a notable improvement over other Altra shoes for trail running.
Unfortunately, the upper received more mixed reviews. Trail runners praise the excellent breathability and lightness of the engineered mesh (the shoe weighs only 272 g/9.6 oz in the men’s version). However, they are less appreciative of the stretch in the footbed and the heel cup, which is both too loose and too padded. This is detrimental to the foot lockdown during outings, especially on rugged terrain, as the fit remains challenging to find.
Please read our full review of the Altra Mont Blanc for more information.
- High-stack cushioning with responsive bounce
- A pleasant and flexible ride
- Remarkable comfort
- Excellent grip on various terrains
- Lightweight and breathable upper
- A big Achilles heel at the level of the heel: the collar is too wide, the heel slips at the back of the shoe
- A complicated adjustment to find
Altra Mont Blanc Complete Review Analysis
Altra has put a lot of pressure on itself by naming its latest trail running shoe “Mont Blanc.” You’re bound to raise some expectations when you’re named after one of the world’s most mythical ultramarathon running races! All the more so as the trail running fans of the brand are known to be demanding.
The intention is certainly to offer a shoe capable of responding to the specificities and constraints of long-distance runs, even the most difficult – with the 100 mi/180 km or so of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in mind.
Has the objective been reached? We’ll check it out in more detail below.
Grip and durability
The Vibram Megagrip Lite Base outsole is a solid value used by Hoka on its Tecton X and Zinal models. Altra was therefore well inspired to equip its new trail running shoe with it.
The construction of this outsole is optimal, with a concentration of rubber and 3.5 mm lugs under the metatarsals and heel. This is, on the one hand, to optimize weight and, on the other hand, to ensure good flexibility while running.
The result is impeccable grip and traction on all types of terrain (mud, snow, wet rocks, dry roads). A feeling unanimously shared by trail runners, even if some regretted that the mud of their region remained stuck to their lugs.
In summary, the outsole of the Altra Mont Blanc is a very good compromise between grip (which is excellent), durability, and weight.
The midsole of the Mont Blanc is undoubtedly the highlight of this trail running shoe, unanimously appreciated by runners. Altra has (finally!) relegated its old foams to the closet and opted for the EGO MAX technology. This is the brand’s new foam, which you could say is perfect if perfection existed in this world.
The Mont Blanc combines high-stack cushioning that is soft but not too soft with some firmness that provides the responsive bounce that was sorely lacking in other Altra models until now. All this while preserving leg fatigue!
The thickness of the midsole is decent, to say the least: 30 mm from heel to toe. The result is a zero-drop platform with unquestionable comfort and protection, which the trail runners who tested the shoe thoroughly enjoyed and praised!
However, some testers did have one caveat: according to them, a few millimeters less on the platform would allow for even more stability by being closer to the ground without compromising protection and comfort.
This EGO MAX foam is, in any case, a definite technological advance for Altra, allowing it to catch up in this area. A good point for the Mont Blanc!
Foot lockdown (upper)
This is where things get a bit messy, with some good and some not-so-good.
Altra took the minimalist approach for this part of the Mont Blanc. Weighing in at 272 g/9.6 oz for the men’s version (238 g/8.4 oz for the women’s model), this is a relatively lightweight shoe for the trail running category.
We find the platform in the typical foot shape of the brand, with a very wide toe box for the comfort of the toes. The upper is airy and ultra-breathable with engineered mesh stretch throughout the shoe. Some trail runners find this all-stretch option troublesome, leading to forefoot lockdown issues.
The small, round laces don’t help offset this excess stretch either. Even with them tightened to the max, it’s impossible to double knot to secure the upper.
Some trail runners also complain about the lack of toe protection. There’s no bumper or rock plate even though the Mont Blanc is supposed to eat rough terrain for breakfast. This may seem surprising considering the high price of the shoe.
Finally, the most critical point is in the back. The overly wide and unnecessarily padded heel collar is indeed unanimously opposed. The heel lock is poor with slips during the outings, harming comfort and safety.
In short, you may need to get an engineering degree to find the ideal fit with this trail running shoe!
Despite the criticism of the upper, most trail runners find the ride of the Altra Mont Blanc pleasant and lively. This is almost exclusively due to the midsole, whose impressive energy return it provides is a clear highlight.
As a result, the cushioning is soft without being spongy. Combined with the responsiveness of the bounce, it allows you to absorb the miles very comfortably without tiring your legs.
The ground feel is also good despite the high stack. However, some trail runners feel that the upper design does not allow this trail running shoe to express itself fully on steep or technical terrain because of the fit problem.
Nonetheless, it will delight Altra fans looking for a shoe for long distances on easy to moderate difficulty surfaces.
If the stated goal of the Altra Mont Blanc was to offer (finally!) a trail running shoe for ultramarathon running, the success is half-hearted.
Of course, it has many highlights that make it a very suitable model for long distances: an adequate grip on various grounds, a comfortable and responsive cushioning, and a light and breathable upper. However, these put together do not cause the expected synergy. At the same time, the ride does feel pretty good overall, which makes it hard to have an utterly clear-cut review on the matter.
Maybe Altra fans were putting too much hope into this Altra Mont Blanc? That only makes the anticipation of the 2nd iteration all the more vivid!
|Heel-to-toe drop||0 mm|
|Heel stack height||32 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||32 mm|
|Features||Gaiter attachment point|
|Weight (men)||272 g/9.6 oz|
|Weight (women)||238 g/8.4 oz|
|Softness (1-5)||4 – Soft|
|Bounce (1-5)||4 – Bouncy|
|Outsole||Vibram LiteBase rubber|
|Midsole||EgoMax, Natural Ride System (NRS)|
|Distance||Mid, long, marathon|
Reference: Altra Running
Comparisons – Altra Mont Blanc vs.:
Altra Olympus 4
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This zero-drop shoe runs true to size overall but it comes with quite some volume inside for the foot. Therefore, you may need to go for a half-size down if you have narrow feet.
The cushioning, grip, and protection are there but not the foot lockdown. It’s a good shoe for long runs but maybe not for an ultramarathon race (unless the course is not very technical).