Altra Mont Blanc BOAs review: an innovative lacing system that could be a game-changer

With a wide-fit and a zero drop the Altra Mont Blanc BOA is an ultra running shoe with unique double-BOA dial lacing system

Altra Mont Blanc BOA
(Image: © Claire Maxted)

Advnture Verdict

A light, quick-lacing trail shoe with unique double BOA dial lacing system that allows easy, quick adjustment mid-run without re-lacing. Suitable on softer ground for those who need a wide-fit. Remember to transition slowly to zero drop if new to it.

Pros

  • +

    Wide-fit toe box

  • +

    Grippy

  • +

    Light and Comfy

  • +

    Cushioned

  • +

    Quick, easy BOA dial laces

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Zero drop doesn’t suit all runners

  • -

    Not designed for deep mud and sharp rocks

  • -

    Only available in red and white (white?!)

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Altra Mont Blanc BOA: first impressions

All Altra trail running shoes are wide-fit and zero drop, but with the Altra Mont Blanc BOAs the US company have worked with BOA lacing systems (opens in new tab) to create a truly unique trail shoe that uses two dials to lock the shoe firmly into place. One is around the forefoot and the other just under the ankle. They’re really easy to turn and lock, and you can adjust the tightness over the midfoot part way through your run without re-lacing as you would need to in a traditionally laced shoe.

Specifications

• List price: $210 (US) / £185 (UK)
• Weight (per pair UK 6.5): 504g / 17.8oz
• Drop: 0mm
• Colors: Red & White
• Compatibility: Mixed-terrain, roads, trails, ultra distance, all-weather

The outsole is the lightweight Vibram Litebase which is one of the best available on both wet and dry terrain; the grip is not overly aggressive, with lugs 3mm deep, but they’re fairly widely-spaced so mud falls out easily.

The top-end EgoMax padding is enough to feel comfortable on gritty, hard tracks and roads but not on sharp rocks – you can very much feel the trail underfoot. The wide-fit style of the shoe will suit those looking for their toes to splay in a natural way, and the zero drop does take some getting used to (transition slowly to avoid strain and injury to the calf muscles and Achilles Tendon). Zero drop does not suit every runner (see also What is ‘drop’ in running shoes).

Altra Mont Blanc BOA: on the trails

Altra Mont Blanc BOA

The Altra Mont Blanc’s double-BOA lacing system is one of those things you never knew you needed until you try them (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

To be honest, before trying the Mont Blanc BOAs, I thought BOA lacing dials looked cool but were an unnecessary expense unless you found the shoe’s fit really comfy. However, because Altra have used two BOA dials, I found you can get a much more precise fit, and even alter the tension around the mid-foot quickly and easily mid-run. This seems to be the perfect reason for runners (particularly ultra runners) to use BOA lacing. 

As the miles added up around my Lincolnshire stomping ground and my feet started to warm up and swell even in winter, I was able to pop up the front BOA dial to release some of the pressure over the mid-foot. In a traditional shoe you’d have to stop for longer to completely re-lace them, which is no mean feat with numb fingers or running gloves on. So this to me seems like a fantastic feature. 

The other feature I like about all Altra shoes is the wide-fit around the toe box. I wish more shoes (all shoes, not just running shoes) observed the real shape of the human foot. The main drawback to these shoes is the incredibly high price. And also the zero drop, which doesn’t suit every runner. 

Claire Maxted

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.