Topo Athletic is a relatively new company, founded in 2012 by Tony Post, former CEO of Vibram. They make several models of athletic shoes ranging from cross training and lifting shoes to running shoes. Their mission is to create a footwear brand “for athletes and by athletes with a mission to develop gear that amplifies your body’s amazing natural abilities.
I recently got my hands on one of their trail shoes, the Runventure, and put it through the paces on all types of terrain and conditions. The following is my overview and first impressions of this shoe and brand!
Dual layer, tear-resistant mesh
// fully gusseted tongue
// 4.5 mm rubber outsole, 5 mm footbed
// Molded TPU midsole plate for rock protection
// 9.5 mm (heel) // 7.5 mm (ball) midsole
// Total stack height 19 mm x 17 mm (2 mm drop)
// Weight: 8.9 oz. (size 9
Fit & Feel
The initial step in feel of these shoes was excellent. They feature a foot shaped toe box similar to Altra that gives your toes plenty of room to splay without being sloppy while the midfoot was very secure and even on the most technical and uneven trails there was so slipping.
The heel was a little low and allowed some movement but that was easily fixable by using a loop through the last eyelet. The upper was comfortable and breathable but substantial enough to handle uneven terrain without ripping like some lighter shoes are prone to do. A short, fully gusseted tongue makes the fit around the ankle secure and comfortable, and does a good job of keeping debris out of the shoe.
Ride & Performance
This shoe hits the sweet spot for me in this category. A full contact sole allows for great ground contact, while a soft EVA midsole gives just enough cushion and protection to make the ride smooth without taking away ground feel or becoming unstable on technical trails.
With a 19mm stack-height and a 2mm drop this was one of the most stable shoes I have ever worn on steep technical terrain. A rock plate provides more than enough protection on rocky ground and while I feel that removing it or lightening it a bit could improve the feel slightly while dropping the overall weight of the shoe, I didn’t have any actual problems with it as the shoe remained flexible enough and at 8.9 ounces is still plenty light.
This left a little to be desired for me. The multi directional lug pattern and depth was great for a trail running shoe while still being comfortable on packed gravel and pavement, although to perform well in mud it would have to be a little bit deeper or more aggressively shaped.
When it comes to technical rocky terrain I actually prefer less aggressive lugs so for the majority of my training and racing this would meet my needs. The outsole performed perfectly on dry rocks and dirt without a hint of slipping and I even took it through an obstacle course where the rubber gripped wooden walls and handled rope climbs without slips or any sign of wear & tear. However in wet conditions on rocks and leaves the shoe found no traction whatsoever.
Admittedly these are the toughest conditions to find traction in and no shoe is perfect but for me this shoe definitely failed in this area. This is by no means a reason not to buy the shoe it just rules it out for me for specific conditions and trails.
This is the same issue I had with The North Face Ultra Guide’s, a shoe that I have won several ultras in and is one of my all-time favorite shoes. This issue that was fixed with a Vibram compound in the new Ultra Mountain and I hope to see a stickier rubber in upcoming versions of this shoe as this would make it the most versatile shoe in my arsenal.
Weighing in at 8.9 ounces with a 19mm stack height and a 2mm drop this is one of the most versatile running shoes I have ever had on my feet.
It can handle mileage, quad pounding downhills, and the serious pounding that comes from jumping around on rocks, while still being light enough for shorter races, and low and nimble enough to be stable on some seriously technical terrain.
This is one of the only shoes that can cover all these areas for me, making it a go to when traveling or when I step out the door without a plan as this shoe can handle almost anything. The one area I found it lacking in was on wet rocks as the rubber was not quite sticky enough but this would do nothing to deter me from buying this shoe again.
Cost: 5/5 $110.00 (most shoes are about $120.00)