Mud, Snow, Puddles, Slop... Ultimate Wet-Weather Shoe

Mud, Snow, Puddles, Slop… Ultimate Wet-Weather Shoe

Filed under: Endurance  Footwear  Running  Running 

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I’m 20 miles into a 100-mile ultra race, and the trail is pure slop. Snow at the start turned to mud and muck. My feet? Bone dry.

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 Neoshell
The Lone Peak’s coupled with Outdoor Research gaiters

The to-be-released (August 2015) Altra Lone Peak 2.0 Neoshell ($150) may be the best wet, sloppy weather winter shoe yet. Here’s why:

Waterproof On The Outside

Polartec Neoshell is a waterproof/breathable material. I know, I know, waterproof breathable has its detractors, especially in footwear. The material will trap sweat and water, and your feet will get wet anyway.

Well, not according to my test, or at least the first 30 miles of it. In the ultra last week (see my full race report here) I ran for 30 miles and then checked my feet… and they were dry. Impressed.

Altra Lone Peak Neoshell
Loan Peak 2.0 Neoshells after 30 tough miles

Neoshell is different than most waterproof/breathable material used in shoe construction. Instead of a waterproof bootie inside the shoe, Neoshell material is the outside shell of the shoe.

Test conditions were downright nasty
Test conditions were downright nasty

This makes a lot of difference. Instead of a normal shoe with a waterproof layer embedded below upper material, Neoshell starts blocking moisture from the outside surface of the shoe. It works like a hardshell jacket for your feet.

Sloppy enough?
Sloppy enough?

That means the inside of the shoe stays dry a lot longer. Neoshell wicks like a champ, too, with better air permeability than traditional waterproof fabrics.

After running for about 30 miles I noticed a bit of moisture on my light wool socks while checking my feet at an aid station. Considering the trail (see photo above) this is amazing.

Granted, my pace was slow — I was running 10 – 12 minute miles. And the temp was low, around 45 degrees F. So sweat was not as much an issue as usual.

Get Serious, Add Gaiters

Altra Lone Peak Neoshell (4)
Velcro “GaiterTrap” makes attachment easy

In my test I also wore Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters ($50) on my feet. The combination created a truly waterproof environment and kept snow and water from infiltrating my shoes from the top down.

Running gaiters attach easily as the Lone Peak 2.0 has a velcro “GaiterTrap” on the heel.

Gaiters also kept water away from the tongue, which is NOT Neoshell and NOT waterproof. In many circumstances, this would make little difference. But if you are going to run through deep puddles, mud, snow, etc., gaiters take it to the next level.

(Editor’s Note: McCoy tested a pre-production model without a waterproof tongue. We have since been told by the manufacturer that the tongue and gussets of the production models will be waterproof.)

Hot Weather = No Good

That’s not to say these shoes are good for everything. I used them once on a sunny, 70-degree day. My feet were HOT! These are cool to cold weather shoes, and best for sloppy, snowy or rainy conditions.

A Proven Runner

Altra Lone Peak Neoshell (3)

The Neoshell model is based on the popular Altra Lone Peak 2.0. With a stack height of 26mm and zero drop from heel to toe, the Lone Peak 2.0 is popular among the ultra marathon crowd.

I love the wide forefoot of this model, plus the exceptional traction that did its job even on muddy, frozen and snowy terrain.

The Lone Peak is a mid-weight trail runner, tipping the scale at 11.5 ounces. Once out of the quagmire that was the first 30 miles of a 100-mile race, I switched to a lighter shoe.

For Hiking

waterproof altra shoe
Testing in a deep puddle

Trail running shoes make great hikers, and I’d be comfortable strapping these on for a long day — so long as the weather is cool. The wide, stable platform should be easy on the feet even under the load of a pack.

I’ve worn these for several days around campfires and even at a muddy music festival and enjoyed all day comfort (and dryness).

Durability

Altra Lone Peak Neoshell (2)

Thus far, I’ve put about 100 miles on this pair of shoes. They are in solid shape. $150 is a bit to invest in a pair of running shoes, and I hope to get a lot more miles out of these shoes.

I will update with more durability details as I run in the shoes more this spring and summer.

Verdict

The Altra Lone Peak 2.0 Neoshell is an amazing option for cold, wet running or hiking. In my tests, the shoes kept my feet dry in conditions that would have saturated any other shoe I’ve used.

If they fit your feet, and you can afford the $150 entry for a specialized set of kicks, I highly recommend the Lone Peak.

Sean McCoy
By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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