The Altra King MT 1.5 is the second edition of the King MT line. When the original King MT first came out many people in the OCR community were excited that an Altra shoe finally had aggressive lugs to complement their signature Foot Shape toe box. Reports of the King MT having some wear issues in the form of upper blow outs kept me from trying the first edition, but when I heard that the 1.5 was boasting a reinforced upper and improved drainage I knew it was time to give the King MT line a shot.
Altra King MT 1.5 Features
Drop: Zero Drop. 19mm/19mm
Weight: 8.5 oz. / 241 g
Insole Footbed: 6mm
Vibram Megagrip Outsole- Like it’s predecessor the King MT 1.5 has 6mm aggressive lugs that are made with Vibram’s rubber compound. If you are looking for grip in mud and on obstacle surfaces it’s hard to go wrong with this aggressive lug pattern coupled with the Vibram rubber.
Footlock Strap- This velcro strap allows you to quickly loosen or tighten the midfoot of your shoe as you encounter downhills or unpredictable terrain.
Foot Shape Toe Box- If you don’t already know, Altra makes shoes with a more natural foot shape. This provides a wider fit than most shoes and is a popular choice at longer distance Obstacle Races.
StoneGuard- This rockplate sits in the center of the shoe and protects the foot from rocks while running.
Protective Rip Stop Nylon- The upper material has been updated to a stronger rip stop nylon. The original version of the shoe saw many reviews complain that the upper material had blow outs on very low mileage. This material increases the durability, does not hold water and is lighter than the old material.
Drainage Vents- This shoe was designed for better drainage after water submersions. At the front and the sides of the shoe where the protective layers are sewn on Altra added vents that allow water to leave the shoe very quickly. These were not present on the previous model.
Altra King MT 1.5 Usage
I tested these shoes thoroughly on hilly trail runs, a Mudman Training beach session and at Maryland Savage Race on a very muddy course. The Altra King MT 1.5 handled each of these testing sessions well and allowed me to really get a feel for the versatility of the shoe as well as the Pros and Cons.
OCR Specific Usage Sessions:
Mudman Training on the Beach
The King MT 1.5 was great on the trail runs that I used them on so when the opportunity to test them at an OCR specific beach workout arose I was excited to give them a shot. There really isn’t a good shoe suited for running or working out in the sand so while the King MT 1.5 grip was certainly overkill for this workout I was curious how much sand would get in my shoe. The workout consisted of a sandy uphill bucket carry (up and down), a bear crawl (up and down), a run up and down the hill, and strength based workouts (snatches, atlas shoulder throws, squats, etc). These exercises were then done for 3 rounds. While I certainly had sand in my shoe I can honestly say I thought there would be more. Had I worn gaiters there would have been much less as most of the sand made it’s way in by my ankles. The only downside I find with wide toe box shoes is that the sand likes the extra space by the toes and can accumulate there. The clean up from this was simple: rinse, drain, air dry with a fan. They looked as good as new.
I was excited that I would get to test these shoes for Obstacle Racing Media at, well, an Obstacle Race! If you don’t test the shoe out in unpredictable situations you may miss some small quirks with the shoe. While Savage Race Maryland is not considered a “hilly” course there are a few climbs that will test the grip of your shoes when it is muddy, and it was muddy this year. The King MT 1.5 really shined on these muddy inclines. As people were crawling and grasping with their hands at anything they could grab I was methodically making my way up the muddy hills without any issue at all. The 6mm lugs dug right in and after the first hill I knew I wouldn’t have any grip issues the rest of the day in the mud.
Thanks to the Vibram rubber compound on the outgsole of the King MT 1.5 my traction was very secure on the man made obstacles such as the A-Frame (muddy wood), Colossus and Twin Peaks. While some folks struggled to get their feet set there weren’t any instances were I struggled with my footing. I’m not suggesting these shoes couldn’t slip on a muddy and wet wall or a wet tree stump in the forest, but the Vibram compound is above average in these situations.
The drainage of the shoe was amazing. There are multiple full water submersions at Savage Race and at no point did I even think of my feet after leaving the water and beginning to run. The water drained out quickly and left me taking very few “squishy” sounding running strides.
The only real negative that I encountered with the shoes’ performance was that when the shoe was wet the insole slid to the forefoot on each downhill that I “bombed” down. After the first time that the insole slid I pulled the velcro strap tighter hoping that it would stop, but it did not. This is a common issue that I have had in the past with the Altra Lone Peak and it continues with the King MT 1.5. It is a minor annoyance, but it certainly would be nice for that to get taken care of in the future.
At the end of the race I took off my shoes as I was curious how much of the mud had stuck to the bottom. There was a bit at the heel of the shoe but nothing that caked on so much that it covered the lugs. The forefoot had almost nothing on it which is a huge positive as I am a forefoot striker and rely heavily on the grip at the front of the shoe. Seeing the lugs relatively clean made sense as I never felt any issues with grip and never had to clean any mud off of my shoes during the race.
Altra King MT 1.5 Durability
I ran hard through trails, hills, rocks, roots, sand and man made obstacles with the intention of putting this shoes durability to the test. I heard about the previous model having durability issues with the upper material and I was curious to see if it had actually been corrected. To my delight it was. With the exception of a few stray stitches that were broken this shoe is showing very little signs of wear on the upper and the outsole. If you were burned by the previous model and had a blowout but liked the shoe otherwise I would recommend giving the 1.5 a try.
Altra King MT 1.5 Pros and Cons
- Incredible grip in messy conditions
- Great traction on solid surfaces (Thanks Vibram!)
- Above average drainage
- Upper material does not hold water
- Improved durability
- Wide toe box
- Sharp looking design
- When bombing downhills with wet shoes the insoles shift forward. This is a recurring issue for me in Altra shoes.
- The Heel does not lock in well which exacerbates the sliding forward insole issue. This is another common complaint of mine with Altra shoes. Some folks suggest alternate lacing patterns to help limit this.
- Relatively Heavy(ish) if you are an Elite Racer gunning for that top spot.
Altra King MT 1.5 Conclusion
I had high hopes for the Altra King MT 1.5 shoe when I opened the box and it did not disappoint. The aggressive lugs, ability to drain and wide toe box make this a perfect shoe for events like World’s Toughest Mudder, Toughest Mudder, Spartan Beast, Spartan Ultra and the F.I.T. Challenge Ultra where you need performance and long term comfort. Altra heard the feedback on durability and drainage on the original model and delivered a shoe that addressed those concerns. I look forward to strapping these on (literally) and taking on more muddy courses in the future.