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Trail Running Shoes • April 3, 2024

Altra Mont Blanc Carbon Review: A Step Closer to the Top

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What You Need To Know


9.3 oz. (264 g) for a US M9,

7.7 oz. (218 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

33 mm in heel, 33 mm in forefoot (0 mm drop)

Best For

Racin’ down the trails

Key Features

Ego Pro/Ego Max midsole, Vibram Megagrip outsole, Full-length Carbitex plate, Standard footshape

On The Run
Great cushioning underfoot Solid Vibram grip Heel is better but not fixed
Price / Availability

Available now for $260

Altra Mont Blanc Carbon side

Introduction to the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

MICHAEL: Howdy shoe nerds! Allow me to introduce to you the latest carbon-plated trail shoe to hit the market: the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon (or just ‘C’ for short). As Altra’s first foray into the plates for trails scene, there are a few pieces that make this shoe stand out as a unique offering in the race-day arena and are enough (in my opinion) to get excited about. This is the only zero-drop carbon-plated trail shoe (to my knowledge) on the market. It looks fantastic, and it features a monoflex Carbitex plate (not exactly a unique feature, but a cool one, no doubt).

If you’re still here, dear reader, my guess is that you may find yourself falling into one of two categories (or maybe both categories? Who’s to say). Either you’re a fan of the last Mont Blanc and reading to see if Altra remedied issues in the literal Achilles heel of the last model and see how the addition of the carbon plate shakes up things, or you’re a fan of carbon-plated trail shoes in general, and reading up to see if Altra has unlocked some magic here that other brands can’t seem to replicate so you can make the most informed buying decision possible.

There’s probably also a third category of readers that I imagine are here because this shoe is beautiful and they clicked on it, and that’s cool too. In any case, we invite you to keep on reading and take a deep dive with us into Altra’s latest offering for the trails. The Mont Blanc Carbon promises performance via a lightweight construction with its 30mm Ego Max midsole, Carbitex carbon plate, and Vibram Megagrip outsole. It has all the components and makings of a potential banger, so let’s get right to it.

SAM: I can’t help but get a little excited when a new carbon-plated trail shoe shows up for testing, but if I’m going to be totally honest, that excitement was as tempered as it’s ever been when I pulled the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon out of the box. Some of that is because, as more plates go into more shoes, I’ve started to doubt their purpose on the trails (especially here on the East Coast) outside of specific use cases. That’s a me thing and probably has a lot to do with the trails I usually find myself on. The rest of my reluctance is due to us, well, just not liking the original Mont Blanc.

The original Altra Mont Blanc is enshrined in trail shoe infamy, as far as I can tell. If you aren’t familiar, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to click through Taylor, Alex, and Matt’s review from 2022, but the summary is as follows: great midfoot lockdown, racer-like fit, incredible underfoot experience, and a heel as wobbly as one of those horrible dancing balloon people they toss up outside used car dealerships. Later that year, the Altra Mont Blanc Boa addressed some of the fit and upper-to-midsole discrepancies caused by that heel for a premium but didn’t wholly fix any of them. I’ve heard more than once from our reviewers who got those two shoes that a good heel would move the Mont Blanc way up their list of favorite trail shoes.

And here, two years later, we have the next in the Mont Blanc series: the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon. The naming convention suggests that they just stuck a carbon fiber plate right into that juicy Ego Max, but the Mont Blanc Carbon is almost entirely reworked. For sure, there’s that plate — a full-length monoflex plate made by Carbitex, no less — but the 30mm of Ego Max of the other versions is swapped for a 29 mm of Ego Max around a core of Ego Pro, Altra’s supercritical racing foam.

The Vibram Litebase outsole has slightly more coverage, mainly in the heel and midfoot, and is mixed with Vibram Megagrip for enhanced traction. The split-material upper is roughly the same, but the location of the seam between fabrics is different, and the lacing structure and underlays are all subtly different. Most importantly, those underlays wrap the heel, along with some strategic padding. As with the Mont Blanc Boa, all of this also comes at a premium price point. Here, it’s a hefty $260. Is it worth that? Well, yes, and no.

MELISSA: Altra is a brand that’s near and dear to my heart. If you find any photo of me running between 2015 and 2021, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see a pair of Altra Lone Peaks or Superiors on my feet. The Lone Peak could withstand all the wear and tear — I would run 500-700 miles in a pair before the upper finally blew out on me. Oh, the sweet memories of the adventures that last beyond the life of a shoe.

Fast forward to today, and Altra continues to pump out some solid trail shoes while playing around with different drops and technologies like carbon plates. And cue this new version of the Mont Blanc equipped with a carbon plate.  Along the outsole is a nice coat of Vibram Litebase Megagrip to provide the grip you need for all different types of terrain.

The Mont Blanc Carbon is a high-end performance shoe that promises a balanced combo of speed and comfort, so it’s set at a high price point: $260. Now, I’m a trail runner who loves mixing in road workouts to build fitness. For road workouts and races, not many things feel more rewarding than the snap of my favorite carbon-plated shoe. And, of course, there are the performance benefits. For these reasons, a $260 price tag doesn’t quite faze me as much. Now, does this translate to trail? Let’s find out.

What we like about the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

MICHAEL: Right away, the most enjoyable feature of the Mont Blanc Carbon is the feeling underfoot. In fact, it may be one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve ever experienced in a zero-drop shoe. The Ego Max foam itself is soft and forgiving with a hint of bounce. Combine that with some extra structure and propulsive jazz from the Carbitex plate, and we’ve got ourselves one fast-feeling shoe underfoot.

A quick word on the plate itself… Carbitex has made a name for itself in the realm of carbon-plated trail shoes as of late. Its proprietary technology allows its plates to flex freely towards the ground, offering adaptability and flexibility when running over rough terrain while actually resisting flex in the other direction during the toe-off phase of the runner’s stride. In the Mont Blanc Carbon, this technology results in a propulsive experience that is very subtle when compared to shoes like The North Face Flight Vectiv Pro 2 but is superb in providing adaptability and protection for rough terrain underfoot. Basically, the Mont Blanc Carbon is no high-stack super shoe with crazy amounts of bounce, but instead is a shoe that feels light, nimble, and adaptable with just a wee bit of resistance to flex on the toe-off. As a result, picking up the pace on open stretches was a joy in the Mont Blanc Carbon.

I love a Vibram outsole on a trail shoe, and I love it even more when the lug pattern and depth perfectly match what the shoe is intended for. Such is the case with the Mont Blanc Carbon. The pattern is rather speedy and low-profile (it is a race shoe, after all), but is still very versatile and capable on more technical terrain. If the race course turns muddy, the outsole won’t necessarily hold you back.

Lastly, we have to shout out the shoe’s visuals. When I pulled it out of the box, my wife was impressed, saying she’d never seen an Altra shoe look like that before, and I couldn’t agree more.

SAM: There’s a lot to say about the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon, both as a follow-up to the original Mont Blanc and as a carbon-plated trail shoe, but one thing Altra got definitively right here is that this is undoubtedly a trail racer. It feels sleek and nimble underfoot, and the Ego Pro/Carbitex Plate/Vibram Litebase platform is cushioned, responsive, and protective while providing just the slightest hint of trail feel. The whole package came in at 9.6 oz (272 g) for my US M10, which is pretty light, all things considered, and weirdly a whole ounce lighter than what was listed on the spec sheet.

You can count me as a fan of the upper, too. In addition to looking pretty sharp, It’s comfortable and feels pretty roomy in the toe box. The midfoot lockdown looks and feels like it was snatched straight out of the Altra Lone Peak 7 and 8 and works just as well here as it does in those shoes. There is both structure and cushion in the heel. Between the lockdown and the improved heel, it seems like most of the general cohesion issues from the first models have been addressed.

The midsole is still the star of the Mont Blanc Carbon, and Altra’s Ego Max/Ego Pro combo has a near-perfect durometer for the trails, especially after a 15-ish-mile break-in when it settles in. It’s responsive without being too firm and cushioned while still stiff enough to hold a technical edge.

Smack in the middle of that lovely midsole is the Carbitex plate, where this shoe gets its name. I’m torn on this, and while I’ll get into that more in the next section of this review, just know that at a base level, the plate keeps this shoe light, fast, and protective while simultaneously not getting in the way on technical terrain. I don’t know of many other plated shoes so far that have managed this, so good on Altra for finding a plate and midsole configuration that doesn’t feel like it’s going to kill you when trails get techy.

It seems like in the Mont Blanc Carbon it’s done by using the monoflex of the Carbitex plate to key the activation to pushing straight through your toes with an elongated stride. The resulting propulsion is forward, which made me feel like I had to occasionally rush my footfalls when opening up on flat trails. This isn’t a bouncy, exciting plate, but it is fast. It’s lean and nimble, which may seem boring, but it also allows for the Mont Blanc Carbon to service on the aforementioned technical trails and downhills. When you’re moving a little slower, the plate functions as little more than a snazzy rock plate.

The mixed Vibram outsole is really grippy. I was surprised by the traction, even on loose and wet surfaces, but that’s to be expected with Vibram.

MELISSA: When I first unboxed the Mont Blanc Carbon, I thought to myself, this is a good-looking shoe. It’s flashy and looks fast.

Lacing up the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon reminds me of my Lone Peak days. I have a wider forefoot, which is why I relied on Altra for so many of my early years of trail running. It was a brand that never failed me when it came to fit and lockdown. So it’s no surprise that the Mont Blanc Carbon also fits me really nicely and continues being roomy and comfortable on longer runs. It also fits true to size.

On the trail, I love the lightweight feel. My longest run in the Mont Blanc Carbon was 17 miles, which gave me enough reference to be able to trust this shoe for longer distances, possibly even 50 miles plus, because of how comfortable it felt. The foam feels soft yet responsive. I also appreciate the slight flexibility of the midsole, which makes maneuvering over more technical and rocky sections of trails a breeze. The upper drains and ventilates extremely well. I was also able to test the Mont Blanc’s grip over a variety of different surfaces, including stream crossings, and thanks to Vibram, it exceeds my standards.

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What we don’t like about the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

MICHAEL: While I was generally a fan of the dual-material upper after taking a few runs to dial in the fit, I did find one area to be particularly problematic — the heel. Essentially, the cup comes up too short on the heel, and the shoe kind of feels like it’s giving your foot an awkward side hug the whole run. There’s still some structure and strategic padding that helps prevent slippage, which technically makes this attempt an improvement over the structureless heel that plagued previous Mont Blanc iterations, but the shoe still betrays the feeling of being fully locked in.

Additionally, I found the fit around the toe box to be surprisingly small and relatively low-volume compared to other Altra shoes. The Mont Blanc Carbon is built on Altra’s Standard footshape, and while I enjoyed the slimmer fit around the toe box, it just felt like the shoe ran a quarter size small. Also, one last minor gripe about the upper. Altra, if you’re going to make your laces 8 yards long, please provide a lace garage or one of those little elastic bands that are so nice to use. It’s a simple addition and much more aesthetically pleasing than tucking laces underneath other laces.

In the “good” section of the review, I went on about how much I enjoyed the ride of the shoe. It’s fast, it’s light, it’s nimble, and really enjoyable on uptempo runs, but I have to clarify one thing: this is no ultra-propulsive rocket ship. The Carbitex plate, while technologically awesome, only differs very slightly in feel compared to a generic nylon rock plate, and the zero-drop platform doesn’t feature any sort of rocker that is nowadays so commonplace among modern race-day super shoes from both the road and trail arenas. If you’re looking for a premium, nimble, versatile, zero-drop trail racer with a relatively accommodating fit, the Mont Blanc Carbon is a great option. If you’re looking for a high-stack, springy, roll-through-your-stride super shoe, you may need to look elsewhere.

SAM: Unlike Michael, I’m a fan of the fit through the toebox and midfoot. My pair fit true to size but maybe a little short compared to how I fit into the Lone Peak, which has always run slightly large on me. The heel, however, is still not right, as Michael mentioned above. There’s none of the unstructured floppiness that plagued the last version, but I never felt totally locked in. It sits awkwardly low and has a roominess the laces can’t fully take in. Fortunately, this didn’t cause me any real issues in my test miles, but unfortunately I was worried about it causing issues constantly.

Maybe this is because of what I alluded to above with the plate. Between the plate activation sitting so far out on the toe of the shoe, the lack of rocker, and the zero drop platform, I felt like I could only get the most out of the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon with extra concentrated effort. Pulling all the way from the heel through the midfoot and pushing straight off my toes, I could really feel the Carbitex plate spurring me forward, but that motion didn’t match my stride or how I typically run in a zero-drop shoe. I can choose not to put in that effort, and the shoe is still good, especially on more uneven terrain, but in my test miles, I wanted to see the full potential of this shoe. Without that extra effort, that fancy Carbitex plate is mostly just what it is at slow paces — a glorified rock plate. With it, the shoe feels a little taxing for me after long miles.

My other issues with the Mont Blanc Carbon are more fiddly. The laces are pretty long, and there’s absolutely nowhere to put them. Some kind of lace storage would be amazing. The shoe also gave off a horribly strong glue smell, like uncured rubber cement, and it’s only gotten worse the longer I’ve had it. If I’m not running in it, it stays in the shoebox lest it stink out the entire room. And finally, this might be the first time I’ve ever questioned the durability of a Vibram outsole. I have no more than eight miles on the road in my test miles, but I’m already seeing plenty of wear on the lugs.

MELISSA: As far as appearance, the color is a flashy choice and a bit hard to match. I found myself constantly wondering, is it pink? Or is it orange? Or is it red? Oh, it’s coral. On the other hand, I think about other performance road shoes that are out there and how you often see an entire lineup of flashy-colored shoes at the elite start of any road event. Yet, no one seems to mind the mismatched shoes and race kits.

I also noticed some looseness around the heel, enough so that I even had small rocks and dirt work their way in. However, I was able to fix this with a heel-lock lacing technique. For once, I’m grateful that the laces are a bit on the long side.

Now for this carbon plate business… I didn’t feel the spring or ‘snap’ on my runs unless I really picked it up. I guess this is no surprise since carbon-plated road shoes operate in the same manner. There’s a certain threshold for force and/or pace before you really begin to reap any performance benefit. I believe that might be the case for the Mont Blanc Carbon as well.

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Final thoughts on the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

MICHAEL: After ignoring the heel and getting the fit dialed in, I really enjoyed my runs in the Mont Blanc Carbon. The Ego Max midsole foam and Carbitex plate felt quick and zippy when I wanted to turn up the pace, and the outsole kept things secure when pointed down technical descents.

Remember those categories I mentioned in the intro? Well, if you’re someone who enjoyed the previous Mont Blanc and doesn’t mind dropping some serious dough for the latest version, this is worth a try. The heel — while not technically fixed — is still an improvement, and the Carbitex plate, though very subtle, does provide a hint of zing to the ride of the shoe in addition to its protective duties as a rock plate. If you’re in that second category of readers looking for the best of the best in propulsive race day footwear, you may need to look elsewhere. But all things considered, the Mont Blanc Carbon was fun, light, and, like Sam said below, I’m excited to give version two a try.

SAM: Maybe I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth, but the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon is probably both the best utilization of a carbon plate in a trail shoe I’ve stuck my feet into and one of the strongest arguments against putting plates into trail shoes. As a package, this shoe cleaned up a lot of issues with its previous iterations and performs well as a speedy, cushioned race day option. It’s as adept at easy, fast stretches as it is at technical sections. But it’s a whopping $260 and the Carbitex plate seems to mostly function as a rock plate. Plus, the heel hasn’t been totally worked out yet. I think this is a solid race day option from Altra, but I’m kind of keen on seeing these updates without the carbon plate.

MELISSA: Overall, I really enjoyed running in the Mont Blanc Carbon. It feels much like a lighter, faster Lone Peak. If it were me, I’d approach it with the same mentality that I have with my road carbon-plate shoes that I use for only races and workouts. I could see myself saving this shoe for race day, a trail workout, or a shorter trail race where I knew I’d be able to work in some faster sections and fast downhill running. That way, I could really maximize the performance benefits of this shoe and justify its high price point.

You can pick up the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon for $260 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

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Fav. Distance

13.1 (Trail)

  • 4:48

  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

Sam Edgin
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram
  • Strava

Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone Peak

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Fav. Distance


  • 6:15

  • 1:40:39

    Half Marathon
  • 21:30

woman running
Melissa Guillen
West Coast Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram

East Coast raised and West Coast trained, Melissa truly enjoys running, especially ultra distances. She currently lives on the Southern California coast and can be found exploring Santa Barbara front country on the weekends.

All-time favorite shoes: HOKA Clifton, Nike Vaporfly NEXT %, Altra Lone Peak

More from Melissa
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance

100 Miles

  • 20:28

    100 Mile
  • 8:51

    50 Mile
  • 4:58

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