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Altra Mont Blanc Carbon Review
By Matthew Klein

While the road super shoe market has become saturated, the trail super shoe market is just beginning to take off. Several companies have made attempts at combining superfoams, plates and maximal geometries for offroad and unstable surfaces. While the first few have been interesting, there is a clear need for continued development. Ahead of many footwear companies, Altra has taken the popular Mont Blanc and turned it into a super shoe, adding a Carbitex plate and full-length EGO PRO. The result is the only zero drop, anatomic super trail shoe on the market.

Altra Mont Blanc Carbon
Price: $259.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.6 oz, 272 g (men's size 10)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 29 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Shoe Purpose: Long Distance/Ultramarathon Trail Racing Shoe

Pros: Anatomic Toe Box
Cons: Slightly Long Fit, Expensive, Not Max Stack Height, Loose Heel/Fit 


The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon is the super trail shoe evolution of the Mont Blanc. Featuring a full-length EGOPRO midsole with a Carbitex plate, the Mont Blanc Carbon is a anatomic, zero drop racing shoe for long distance trail races. A slightly long fit is present to accommodate swelling, although the loose heel from the Mont Blanc continues to be present. The midsole lends itself to longer efforts but the moderate bounce allows some versatility into faster efforts. A Vibram Litebase outsole provides traction on a variety of surfaces, making this an excellent long-distance racing shoe for varied terrain efforts. 

: Saucony Endorphin Edge, Nike Ultrafly
PAST MODEL: Altra Mont Blanc

(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon fits me almost a quarter-to-half size long in my normal men's size 10. For those using this for longer distance racing, I would stay true to size. For those who want to use this shoe for shorter distances, a half size down may be worth considering. The fit slightly wide throughout with a normal anatomic toe box for Altra. The forefoot has plenty of wiggle room with a flexible toe guard. The midfoot fits slightly wide with a well-gusseted thin tongue. The heel fits slightly wide with a small flexible posterior heel counter and mild heel collar cushioning.

Due to the slightly wider fit, I had to lace lock the shoe to get a secure fit. Even then I still had heel slippage that only went away after I tightened down the laces and when foot swelling occurred with longer runs. Those wearing this shoe should consider thicker socks. The inner liner has some overlays that can be scratchy, so combined with the large fit, sockless running is not a great option. The fit is best with foot swelling over longer miles. It is not until 8-12 miles into a run does it fit more true to size. Those doing ultra-marathon distances will do well here given the natural swelling that occurs, but again those going for shorter distances may want to adjust their sizing.

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: No
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing:
Is the Forefoot Flexible: Moderately
How Flexible is the Shoe: Mildly
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Small
Recommended for Haglunds: Maybe
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Average


Matt: The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon is a plated, superfoam ultra marathon racer. The 29mm stack height in the forefoot is consistent with the majority of super trail shoes on the market. The Altra EGO PRO feels slightly firm the first few miles but has broken in over 30 miles to provide a moderate bounce. The Carbitex plate is mild to moderately stiff during easier efforts and only comes alive during faster efforts. The zero drop is noticeable, especially with the longer fit but does not feel like it bottoms out even with heel striking. The slightly longer fit in the forefoot makes it feel a little stiffer until your foot swells and it transitions easier.

The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon has a few different personalities. It is not too stiff or bouncy to work for easier and longer efforts. The EGO PRO and Carbitex combo works best for longer efforts where it feels like it saves your legs and helps you keep going. I have used this shoe for a longer 14 mile hilly trail/road run, a fartlek, a tempo run and easy runs. It excels best during longer efforts where consistency is key. However, picking up the pace is also fun once the shoe fits more true to size. It is not the lightest trail shoe, but the grip holds well and the midsole/plate combo becomes more bouncy/snappy at faster paces. This is especially noticeable during downhill and flat efforts, whereas climbing seems to lose a bit of the magic. It is not a bad shoe for climbing, it just doesn't excel the way it does on downhill and flat. Downhills especially bring the EGO PRO bounce alive and it is fun to bomb long declines.

The traction is average for a trail shoe but gives versatility over road, soft trail, normal dirt, gravel and more. It is not the best option for highly aggressive terrain but does well over mild to moderate varied surfaces. The durability is fairly average. The exposed EGO PRO foam has worn quickly but the Vibram Litebase has held up well despite road use. I expect an average number of miles out of a trail/varied surface racing shoe for those reasons.


The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon is a neutral shoe with some stable elements. There are sidewalls present on the medial and lateral heel/midfoot that do provide some gentle guidance. A rim of slightly firmer (relative) EGO Max surrounds a core of EGO PRO, adding a softer central foam that adds some centeredness to the sole. The forefoot is wider and anatomic, making for an inherently more stable foundation up front. There is a surprising amount of flexibility side-to-side to allow the shoe to adjust to changing terrain. However, those wanting torsional stiffness will not find as much as expected. Overall, the elements are light. Those with mild guidance needs should be fine with this shoe. 

Thoughts as a DPT: The Challenges of Super Trail Shoes
By Matthew Klein

While there is a basic formula for super shoes on the road, the formula for super trail shoes is far less clear. The softer surfaces, varied terrain, extensive elevation changes and adaptability make the design a bit more challenging that running in a straight line on road. While road super shoes have gotten extremely light, the added durability and traction needed with trail shoes, particularly over ultra distances, adds inherent weight that is difficult to get rid of when talking about protection over longer miles. Super trail shoes typically have thick, lugged outsoles for durability and traction, which add more weight. The stiffness of the plates in road super shoes generally create stiffness focused sagittal plane motion (front to back). In contrast, trail shoes can have sagittal plane stiffness, but need to have frontal plane stability and flexibility to deal with varied foot positions, terrains and slopes. Trails typically feature softer terrain, which can make an extremely soft super foam feel too unstable.

Therefore, many of the foam mixtures can get away with being a tad bit firmer than their road counterparts to offset the softness and compliance of the underfoot surface. Finally, the fit of the uppers require additional reinforcement and toughness due to the varied directions the foot may travel combined with rough terrain that otherwise may cause damage to the upper and comprise its ability to hold the foot down. It is for these reasons that you cannot directly compare road and trail super shoes as their designs must be different to accommodate the significant differences between training and racing on these surfaces. 


The Altra Mont Blanc has been a fun shoe to get miles on, but this first iteration still has some work needed. My first suggestion is to optimize the fit. While the little bit of extra length is appreciated on extremely long efforts, I would make this shoe more true to size and let runners choose to go a half size up if they want this shoe for ultra distances. I would also suggest improving the security of the heel as I have experienced a ton of heel slippage even with lace locking the shoe. Some additional heel collar padding may fix this without the need for a stiff counter.

The EGO PRO midsole is nice once it breaks in but I have found myself wanting more of it. I would love to see the geometry more rockered given this is an ultra distance shoe while increasing the stack height to get more of the bounce. Especially for $260, I am expecting a taller stack height and more rockered geometry (without adjusting the neutral position of the toes) for true efficiency over distance trail races. Right now, the slightly long fix and lack of appropriate geometry for longer distance training make me hesitate to pick this shoe over other super trail shoes on the market, but Altra does not have that far to go to get that spot. 


The Altra Mont Blanc Carbon is a super trail shoe for those who want a moderately stiff plate, a moderate stack height, a zero drop, moderately bouncy midsole and a slightly long fit for ultra distance trail racing. The Mont Blanc Carbon is unique as one of the only anatomic and zero drop super trail shoes on the market. It is also unique in that the midsole is not highly rockered and still features a midsole, that while bouncy, doesn't completely feel like a PEBA midsole. Those who train primarily in zero drop, anatomic shoes will feel quite natural transition into this shoe as a race day option. Others may be a bit challenged to see the benefit of this over other shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Edge, Nike Ultrafly or the North Face Vectiv Pro 2. The price is a little steep for a first debut and Altra still has some work to do before that $260 price point is fully justified. Regardless, this shoe is a welcome addition to the trail as a true anatomic super trail racer was missing until now.


Fit: (Anatomic toe box with slightly wider fit. Almost half size long with heel slippage requires lace lock)
Performance: B+/A-
(Moderately bouncy and responsive midsole best for long consistent efforts but can pick up the pace to faster efforts). 
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Mild sidewalls and outer rim of EGO MAX make for a more centered ride but still neutral overall)
Value: C+/B- (Average wear, heel slippage, moderately responsive midsole and slightly long fit make $260 a bit steep except for those who want a zero drop, anatomic trail super shoe. )
Personal: B/B+ (I appreciate this shoe more with longer miles as the midsole responds better but prefer others due to the Mont Blanc's flatter geometry)
Overall Design: B/B+


Altra Mont Blanc Carbon
Price: $259.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Altra for sending us pairs.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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