When you think of Altra and trail shoes a few names jump into our head; Lone Peak, Olympus, TIMP, and Superior. The Mont Blanc introduces something new to the lineup and the move to a full BOA design is really a game changer. Now there are two versions of the Mont Blanc. The original laced version and now the new BOA design and we don’t want to necessarily confuse the two. While they share a tremendous amount of similarities across the board, BOA and really the entire upper enclosure system really transform the shoe quite a bit. There are good and bad to both, but we would definitely lean toward the BOA version if you are considering this shoe.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Probably our favorite trail shoe from Altra right now, BOA + Trail = Yes please.
- If you didn’t like the Mont Blanc without the BOA… well, this is better.
- Weight – 11.2oz or 318g for a US Men’s 9, 9.3oz or 264g for a US Women’s 7
- Cushion – 30mm of cushion and a 0mm heel/toe drop
- Pricing – $210.00 USD
- Colors – Available in 1 color for men and women
Construction and Materials
- Upper – The upper on here is ultra-lightweight and hyper-breathable but more importantly features a double BOA enclosure system.
- Midsole – Altra brings their EGO MAX midsole tech to the Mont Blanc.
- Outsole – The Vibram Litebase is well lugged with a multi-directional design that grips well on both up and downhills.
What we loved
This shoe is really easy to like and if you haven’t used a BOA design shoe before, something like the Speedland SL:PDX, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It’s actually crazy that more shoes haven’t moved to this system given not only how simple and fast getting the shoe on and off is, but also the ability to control tension to such a degree. Granted if you really need to get a hyper secure heel lock because you are slipping, then a laced shoe might be better, but the fit on this is pretty good so you shouldn’t require it.
Like all Altra shoes, the front half of the shoe is really one of the best experiences you’ll have because it’s just got so much room. Altra was really one of the first to embrace the foot shaped toe box and make it a core part of every shoe in their lineup and the Mont Blanc is no different. It gives you a ton of toe splay which means at distance a much more relaxed in shoe experience. Further on the upper, the wrap design does a better job of protecting the top of the foot from elements on the trail. If you are worried about the BOA popping loose during a run, it’s not something we ever experienced so once you dial it in, you really don’t lose the feel due to any sort of loosening.
As we look down to the midsole and outsole, we find one of the strongest areas of the shoe. As much as the BOA is cool, the Altra EGO Max midsole is actually a really nice run experience and eats up debris, roots, etc on the trail fairly easily. Altra refers to this as a trail racing shoe, but that just means it’s a little more aggressive in terms of their design. In terms of the rest of the lineup, we could easily hold this up against other shoes of this stack height and in fact, we prefer it, and its due to the midsole. The outsole doesn’t feature massive lugs, but the multidirectional Vibram Lightbase does grip well throughout the run and the mixed with exposed midsole foam does keep the shoe lighter while not taking away any level of traction.
What we didn’t
People will probably find an issue with three main things on here and most of them revolve around the fit. First, while we feel the BOA design is successful, the two BOA systems used here work in conjunction together so there are times when you’ll want additional tightness at the top of the shoe and a looser bottom, but because they work together, you do have to find a happy medium. Depending on your foot shape, this might be a little aggravating to find the right spot to dial it in. Again, not a huge deal for us, and preferred to the laces, but one area of contention and if that is an issue then of course you have the laced version of the Mont Blanc as an option.
The second is around Altra’s voluminous toebox and this is more of a warning for those that are new to Altra and not necessarily a negative that we have with the shoe. Every Altra shoe feels incredibly spacious and that feeling when you’ve come from a world of pointed toes, which is the majority of running shoes, can be a little odd at first. We would tell you to give it time because especially as the distance ticks on this will become a positive instead of a negative. Your feet WANT that room up front so as long you have a good heel and midfoot lock, you should be set.
The last one is the heel counter and the heel itself. It could use a touch more padding and a bit of a redesign to improve comfort. The laced version has the identical issue, and we will remind ourselves this is the first iteration so we can expect improvements down the road, but it is going to rub some people the wrong way. So just be conscious when you do a try-on to make sure it’s not bothering you.
As much as we would like to say, the Mont Blanc BOA is just another Altra and it’s just a BOA version of the laced shoe of the same name, we actually feel like it is a departure from things Altra has done before. It is slightly more aggressive, has an interesting design up top that functions really well. It’s a trend we actually love on trail shoes and while they need to work on the system to ensure better fit, maybe take a page from the Speedland design, overall the Mont Blanc BOA is one of the better shoes in the Altra trail lineup. If you are debating the two versions, then we would definitely direct you to the BOA first as we think that entire upper functions a bit better. There are still a few issues with the heel counter, but much of that will be a personal feel preference.
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Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.