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SHOE REVIEW: Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon will appeal to trail runners hoping to boost their speed on rugged terrain

Altra Mt Blanc carbon Photo by: Matt Stetson

Altra has a new offering for trail speedsters looking to up their game: the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon. The shoe features a full-length Carbitex carbon plate designed to flex naturally with your foot, while providing added stiffness to boost speed and stability.

On first wear, I was delighted to slide into the Standard Altra toebox, and pleasantly impressed by how the shoes combine the propulsive boost of a carbon plate with the traditional flexibility and comfort necessary in a trail shoe.

Shoe specs

Weight: Women 249 g, Men 309 g
Cushioning: High
Drop: 0 mm
Stack Height: 29 mm
Lug Depth: 4 mm

Altra Mt Blanc-3
Photo: Matt Stetson

The upper

The Mont Blanc Carbon features a lightweight, breathable upper that still feels tough and durable enough to withstand some serious trail mileage. The shoe’s Standard Footshape Fit (slightly less roomy than the Original Footshape Fit) still allows for the swelling that may happen after a long day on the trails. The midfoot feels stable, and with no plastic inside, the heel cup is designed to form to the shape of your feet. The shoes dried quickly after a run through some puddles, and I felt the lack of rigidity in the moldable heel cup allowed for my foot to move more naturally.

The shoes feature a Velcro gaiter attachment on the outside of the heel cup, with a loop at the bottom of the laces to attach a gaiter when running in dust or debris, and there is an extra lace hole to help runners looking for some added stability around the ankle. I found the standard lacing was enough to keep my foot feeling secure and comfortable on a run that included a few rocky scrambles.

Altra Mt Blanc-8
Photo: Matt Stetson

The midsole

The shoe’s midsole is made of ultra-resilient Altra EGO PRO between the foot and the carbon plate; this material feels light and responsive, but still offers plenty of cushioning. My feet felt protected while still able to interact with the ground underneath me, with a nice balance of cushioning and flexibility. Under the plate, the cushioning is Altra EGO™ MAX, which is a softer foam.

Altra Mt Blanc-6
Photo: Matt Stetson

The carbon-fibre plate

Altra has done a great job, together with Carbitex, in creating a carbon-fibre plate that allows for the wide range of foot movements necessary for trail runners. The shoe has a full-length Carbitex Monoflex carbon-fibre plate that aims to add speed and efficiency on the trails, and I enjoyed some added oomph during my test drives. While wearing a traditional, stiff carbon-plated shoe might create a higher risk of rolling an ankle, the Mont Blanc Carbon moved in every direction with ease.

Unlike other carbon-fibre shoes, the Mont Blanc Carbon is almost shockingly flexible, so much so that it felt like there was no plate at all. The shoe’s flexibility left my feet feeling surprisingly fresh after a few hours on the trail, and while I do think the plate helped my legs roll along, it was disconcerting not to feel the stiffness I’m used to in other carbon-plated shoes. I didn’t feel as though the less-rigid plate caused quite the same rebound effect I’ve noticed in other shoes—but maybe that’s the price one pays for flexibility on the trails.

Altra Mt Blanc-2
Photo: Matt Stetson

The outsole

The outsole is the same as is used on the regular Mont Blanc; it’s made from Vibram’s MegaGrip Lite Base. The 4 mm lugs and grippy bottoms are designed to keep runners secure on both wet and dry surfaces. I tested these through slippery snow and muddy and rocky trails, and felt reasonably safe and stable the entire time.

The verdict

This super shoe made for the trails is fun, flexible and speedy. Runners familiar with Altra’s zero-drop shoes will enjoy being able to take them right out of the box and onto the trails without any adjustment period. The carbon plate makes the shoes a perfect race-day choice, but the Mont Blanc Carbons are also comfortable enough to wear on a long training day.

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