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Trail Running Shoes • September 15, 2022

Altra Mont Blanc BOA Review: Let’s Do The Twist

altra mont blanc boa cover
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What You Need To Know


Weighs 10.3 oz. (292 g.) for a US M10.5 / 9.3 oz. (263 g.) for a US W8


Goodbye laces, hello BOA enclosure


Is this one of the best trail colorways of the year? Yeah, probably


All that matters is righting the Mont Blanc’s wrongs


Available now for $210


TAYLOR: Mountain maniacs worldwide drool at the idea of being in Chamonix, France, staring up at the massive block of ice and rock that is the star of the Alps. The mountain itself boasts an enormous variety of routes, all of which require some technical aspects. It’s a tall task (no pun intended) for anyone to reach the top. Another way to experience the area is a “little” race series called the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

This is the namesake of Altra’s most advanced trail shoe to date, a piece of footwear designed to go the distance over any terrain. The shoe boasts a lightweight construction throughout the upper, a well-rounded midsole of Ego Max, and a Vibram Litebase Outsole.

Long story short, the Mont Blanc has all the pieces to contend with the best trail shoes out there. Still, our review of the original (laced) version revealed that though the different elements of the shoe were top-notch, they didn’t come together in a cohesive package. For most, the unstructured heel and upper created a ton of insecurity. Others seem to have solved the issue with different laces and lace patterns, but out of the box it was a no-go for gnarly terrain.

From the moment we saw the Mont Blanc BOA at TRE last year, we knew that it would boast a higher performance just because of the “dialed” fit that we experienced on the Speedland SL:PDX and SL:HSV. So, even though we were disappointed with the original Mont Blanc, we still had high hopes for the BOA version as a tried and true racer. If so, this shoe would be a force to be reckoned with.

ALEX: This is the second trail racer from Altra this year. If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. The Altra Mont Blanc fell short in several key areas for me (and the rest of the team). Now, it’s time to see if the Mont Blanc BOA could address all of those concerns in a manner deserving of its new, higher price point. Will it be able to live up to the peak it was named for? Can Altra craft a stunning tour de force that makes grown men cry?

MATT: As both Alex and Taylor mentioned, I’ve been eyeing the Mont Blanc BOA since the first images leaked out of TRE late last year. Visually, it was an absolute stunner, and I couldn’t wait to get it on foot. In some ways, knowing what lay on the horizon helped to blunt my criticism of the laced version, but only in the hope that Altra already had a fix on the way.

I could have taken the time to find a hack that would fix the laced version’s fit, but the variety of other great trail options limited my motivation. Now, let’s see if Altra has righted its previous wrongs.

altra mont blanc boa top and bottom

The Good

TAYLOR: Add that dual BOA system, and a few notable changes occur. The first is that the BOA system requires a particular three-fingered wrap that pulls from the medial midfoot towards the lateral heel. These layers on the upper automatically create more structure for the Mont Blanc BOA. That alone makes a much more secure environment. Another added benefit is that the top to bottom disequilibrium experienced in the original is pretty much gone.

Honestly, all of the glaring weaknesses of the original were, at minimum, addressed (not wholly fixed) with the addition of the dual BOA Fit System. It doesn’t solve all of the issues we experienced, but it does make it a much more viable shoe for a wider range of trails. I comfortably ran on smooth to moderate trails without any catastrophes.

Hands down, my favorite part of the Altra Mont Blanc BOA is the midsole. I would go as far as saying this might be my favorite foam for the trails right now. Compared to other Altra offerings, this one purposefully feels sleeker underfoot. Its neutral base with a 30mm stack hits a very nice height where you can feel cushioned and nimble simultaneously.

What’s most impressive is how the Ego Max midsole is resilient, bouncy, and cushioned all at the same time. Most high-performance foams can achieve one or two of those, but Altra has found a winning recipe here. Compared to other racing shoes on the market, like the Hoka Tecton X and Saucony Endorphin Edge, I feel like this foam will maintain its out-of-the-box sensation for longer.

Of course, we know that Vibram also has a solid recipe in the Megagrip Litebase outsole. Shallower lugs and lots of exposed foam allow the shoe to maintain a light profile. The grip isn’t compromised as the rubber is concentrated in high traction areas of the foot. It’s a no-brainer addition to a shoe like this that’s prepped and ready for race day.

All of this goodness comes in at a light weight of 10.3 oz for a US M10.5. Even though it is far from the lightest we’ve experienced, it feels like a featherweight on foot.

ALEX: First, the dual-dial BOA Fit System (think Speedland) allows you to micro-adjust your way to a precision fit. I love the ease and efficiency of the BOA system and am eager for more brands to adopt this lacing system. I hate getting my lacing right, only to have to start over again every time I put the shoe back on. The dual adjustment allows for an exceptional personalized fit. An important part of the BOA system is the PerformFit Wrap which lends itself to a comfortable and secure fit across the top of the shoe.

With a 30mm stack height, the Mont Blanc Boa is high-cushioned and protective for long days over technical terrain yet maintains just enough ground feel. The Altra Ego Max midsole is bouncy and responsive and feels highly durable.

My foot feels right at home in Altra’s Standard foot shape. It’s the goldilocks fit for me, and I was glad to see it deployed here.

The Vibram Megragrip Litebase is showing up all over across brands this year. The outsole material and lug pattern are identical to the Mont Blanc. It provides lightweight, reliable traction. I took this out on rooty, rocky trails and felt confident moving quickly over the highly varied terrain.

My main complaint about Mont Blanc was the lack of heel support and structure. The Mont Blanc BOA heel didn’t change much in this area, although the shoe works better as a system and the heel support feels adequate. I don’t feel the instability or slipping I experienced in the original version.

MATT: I agree with everything written above from Alex and Taylor. While not a silver bullet, the addition of the BOA closure system and the accompanying PerformFit wrap have addressed the heel lock and overall instability issues with the original shoe. It’s tough to stress just how important this is, but it goes a long way when you read our previous review. There was so much we wanted to love about the first Mont Blanc, and I’m glad Altra didn’t have to sacrifice that to add the BOA system.

While the overall heel design isn’t much different than the laced version, I immediately felt a difference in the fit once I cranked down on the dials. The other immediate improvement was the overall synergy of the shoe. The lack of heel lock and high stack height caused a general lack of coordination with the laced version, but I felt far more confident this time. I tackled a variety of rooty single tracks without issue and felt good descending with speed, something I did not have the guts to do in the previous version.

The bottom half of the Mont Blanc did not require any changes, and I am pleased to see that Altra didn’t mess with a good thing. To echo Taylor, this Ego Max foam may be my favorite midsole material for trails. It really does seem to be the perfect combination of cushion, bounce, and stability. I’ve been wearing the laced Mont Blanc casually all summer because the midsole feels so damn good underfoot.

The Vibram Megagrip outsole and lugs are also unchanged. There isn’t anything bad you can say about this combination. It’s one of the best all-around compounds out there for a variety of terrain and elements.

Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Men Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Women altra mont blanc boa heel and boa

The Bad

TAYLOR: We all have those moments in life when our best isn’t enough. The dual BOA is Altra’s best chance at ultimately saving this shoe, but it isn’t enough to account for that heel. I could compare to the Speedland shoes for obvious reasons, but I can’t because the secure fit isn’t comparable.

The BOA and wrap system bolsters and tightens up the upper materials, which creates a tighter fit in the back half of the shoe. There came a point where I wanted to do a few more clicks on the dial for a better heel lock, but the laces were already starting to dig into the top of my foot. If you can bear that, you might get a much more secure fit, but no matter how loose or tight I would make it, I still had some hesitancy with running fast on technical terrain.

Is it much better than the laced version? For me, yes. I was able to run on smooth to moderate trails without too much concern. I couldn’t say the same about the first release of the Mont Blanc.

I’m giving so much criticism on this point because Altra claims that this shoe is ready for “even the most technical terrain.” It’s also been pitched as a racer, but you don’t want to be second-guessing on race day. With what else is on the market, there’s no way I’m taking this one on a highly technical run and feeling good about it.

The upper is rather slim and fitted (especially from Altra) for what it’s worth. It’s built on the same last as the Altra Rivera. I think a single BOA dial would have accomplished the same amount of security because it’s rather snug through the midfoot and even the toe box. The lower dial causes discomfort in the forefoot, at least in my case. For one, the lower wrap was stitched directly over top of the joint of my big toe, causing some discomfort.

Also, if you’re a long-time wearer of Altra, the forefoot is nicely shaped but slimmer than the typical. Even though it fits my foot well, it won’t be a popular pick-up for those true Altra-maniacs.

ALEX: I would have loved to see a more robust toe bumper. The sprinkled-on approach doesn’t do much for me. When I’m on steep, loose terrain, I want more protection than this one has to offer.

Finally, and still under some debate as I add more miles, I’m not entirely sold on the durability of the upper material. For now, I’m going to live in the moment and enjoy its breathability.

MATT: Overall, anyone who’s run in the laced Mont Blanc and loves it (minus the heel lock and stability issues) will be super happy to pick up the Mont Blanc BOA. There are way more redeeming qualities than issues with this shoe.

I think the BOA should be a technical cherry on top of an already functional shoe and not a necessary feature for the shoe to work. So I mean that whatever underlying issues exist with the heel closure and support, Altra should go back to the base model and address those. That would give consumers a choice between the BOA-equipped and traditionally laced Mont Blanc without concerns about the shoe’s structural integrity.

Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Men Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Women vibram litebase outsole

Altra Mont Blanc BOA Conclusion

TAYLOR: Duct tape and BOA systems seem to be how many are fixing problems these days, at least if the Mont Blanc is anything to go off of.

Under smooth to moderate circumstances, this shoe can get down. I’m in love with the underfoot jazz that’s going on. Altra has found a new type of balance with the Ego Max foam and Vibram Litebase combination.

At the end of the day, the Rocky Mountains aren’t home for the Mont Blanc. The recipe still falls apart in the upper. The heel is still a party pooper. The BOA system helps the scenario significantly, but the insecurities linger when trails take a turn toward the technical side — which is what this shoe is slated for.

I sincerely hope this one comes around with a second iteration soon because there really is a lot to love in the Altra Mont Blanc BOA. In the meantime, I’ll still be taking these out for some fun, albeit less-technical miles.

ALEX: Altra leveled up with the Mont Blanc BOA. The updates from the Mont Blanc released earlier this year come together in a beautiful package.

I cannot say enough good things about the BOA Fit System and the comfort and security that results from the PerformFit Wrap upper. This feature alone resolved almost all of the issues I had with the fit and feel of the previous version. It’s the warm, secure hug for your foot that you’ll find yourself longing for when you take it off.

MATT: Hats off to Altra for the Mont Blanc BOA. It is one of the best-looking shoes on the market, and it can also back those looks up as a super comfortable and high-performing trail shoe that goes the distance.

As Taylor commented, I hope that Altra sees the potential in both versions of the Mont Blanc and continues to improve the models, as there is so much already to love.

You can pick up the Altra Mont Blanc BOA for $210 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Men Shop Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Women altra mont blanc boa top and side


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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

More from Taylor
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 27:03

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  • 4:34

Alex Elizabeth
Lead Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram

Alex is a trail and ultra runner from the upper midwest who loves Minnesota’s long winters and logging miles on the rooty, rocky, steep trails of Lake Superior’s North Shore. She was the first female to set a supported FKT on the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and enjoys multi-day events and races, especially if they involve snow and -20 degree temps. 

All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Speedgoat Evo, Hoka Tecton X, Altra Timp.

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Fav. Distance


  • 94:35

    200 Mile
  • 29:45 

    100 Mile
  • 15:10

  • 13:42

    50 Mile
Matt Kucharski
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.

More from Matt
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 15:45

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