A more durable upper, more secure fit, and improved traction make the Lone Peak 3.0 a better shoe than the 2.5.
Typically, Altra has two types of updates. There is a “half” update signified by the “.5” version, in which the model update only has changes to the upper. Then there is the “full” update, the “.0” version, where the shoe gets a new upper and changes to the midsole and or outsole. Thus the new Lone Peak 3.0 is a full update and the changes are most noticeable in the upper and outsole.
With the Lone Peak 2.5, the were some complaints with upper durability and how well the shoe secured the foot in place. The Lone Peak 3.0 addresses these two issues head on. Overlays now wrap around the entire shoe, just above the midsole. This means the area in which the mesh blew out for some runners is now reinforced and protective from inward and outward forces. Additionally, there are overlays wrapping above the toes and around the midfoot. As a result, my foot felt much more secure in the 3.0. The trade-off with the additional overlays is an increase in shoe weight of 0.3 oz. The sizing between the two shoes remains consistent, but the overlays in the toebox may feel restrictive to some. For me it, made the fit better. (Note: there is also now a gaiter loop at the bottom of the laces to go along with the Gaiter Trap closure at the back of the heel.)
The other significant change to the Lone Peak 3.0 is the outsole. First off, the “Trail Rudder” is gone. This was the piece of oustole that extended back past the heel of the shoe. This feature was reminiscent of the old adidas Response Trail. The Trail Rudder was intended to help grab the ground in the event of slippage on a descent. For me this does not seem like a big loss, but some runners will be upset that it is gone.
The other change to the outsole is a completely new lug pattern. The lug shapes are different and many are beveled in different directions to better bite the ground. I felt the traction on loose terrain was improved and the ride was just as comfortable on hard packed dirt. I did not have the chance to run over rocky terrain, but the shoe has a stone guard and the stack height is high enough that I expect there is plenty of protection.
Kudos to Altra for fixing issues of the previous version and advancing the shoe. In addition to the standard Lone Peak 3.0, there is a NeoShell version, which adds water-resistance. Additionally, there is a mid-top Neoshell version, which adds extra protection and support around the ankle for when you run off trail, pursue an FKT, or do some thru-hiking.