I own Altra Lone Peak I wore out on hundreds of miles during PCT sections and are in desperate need of replacement. There's a lot to love about them, though after bumping my feet during the Sierra section, I am looking for more protection. I would also love more support for my ankle.
What would be a great option for lightweight, breathable, protective thru-hiking boots/shoes? Looking forward to hear your expert opinion.
@kiki Thanks for reaching out!
We've got several folks here in the community who are trail runners/distance hikers who can likely weigh in with some good advice. We'll tag them at the end of the post. We also recommend a virtual outfitting appointment where you can speak one on one with a footwear expert. Additionally, we have a few threads that might be work checking out:
Obviously, I don't have much authority on the subject of women's footwear, but I can say that my wife loves her Altra Lone Peaks for hiking. I have done a lot of trail running in the men's version of this shoe with good results. I also like the Altra Superior (for trail running) and have done well with past iterations of Newton Boco's.
If you like cushioning, the Superiors won't be as good as the Lone Peaks.
The Altra Lone Peak is a shoe that's used by many section and thru-hikers like yourself because of its design to feel like a running shoe. You're right, however--the lightweight construction of the uppers will not offer a ton of protection if you're bumping the top of the foot.
If you like the zero-drop experience, and like the feel of your Lone Peaks, consider the Altra Tushar. It's Altra's first boot that's designed to mimic the feel of a classic hiking boot rather than a trail runner. While there are some features meant to promote flexibility, the foam is a PU, rather than an EVA foam, meaning that the feel will be much more firm as compared to the Lone Peaks.
Hope this helps! And as @TomIrvine mentioned, it's best to try your boots on with your preferred socks to see how they will work for your feet. Enjoy the miles!
Personally, for thru-hiking I tend to toggle between two different shoes (and types), depending on the terrain, climate, pack weight, etc. that I expect to have.
For the most part, I actually thru-hike/backpack (even with a full-weight pack) with my trail running shoes - the La Sportiva Bushido II. These shoes are extremely lightweight. They also have amazing traction, durability, comfort, and support. I've used these shoes not only to navigate slipper, muddy terrain, but dry, technical, rocky or dried loose dirt terrain as well. These are a great all-around shoe, and on the plus side, if they get wet, they dry extremely quickly!
When I want more ankle support or am navigating extremely wet and humid environments, I turn to my mid-rise boots, the KEEN Terradora II waterproof mid hiking boots. These boots are also extremely lightweight for the type of shoe they are, and they have amazing ankle padding and support, arch support, and traction. And even better, they fit like a glove, so you don't have to worry about friction causing nasty blisters! Now, you may be thinking, "if they are waterproof, they must not be very breathable." I disagree! I have found these boots to work superbly even in hot environments!
Hope this helps,