Topo Athletic Runventure Review
The new Topo Athletic Runventure trail shoes are your new companion to let you tread lightly on the roughest trail. Featuring a very low, firm heel and flexible body, these trainers will keep you comfortable while you put your body to the test.
The Runventure trainers have the Topo signature wide toe box, allowing for the toes to move naturally and freely. This is particularly useful for the additional balance required in trail running as well as the agility to avoid sticks, stones, and other debris.
The Runventure has a 19mm platform which is partnered with a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) midsole plate for extra protection. TPU is more dent-resistant than metal as well as being lightweight, shock absorbent, impact-resistant and flexible even in colder climates, making these trainers absolutely perfect for everything that the trail throws at you. The heel-to-toe drop is 4.7mm which is one of the lowest you will find.
The Runventure trainers have a completely unexpected classic look, unlike my first pair of Topo trainers the Speed Trainer, these trainers have a mainstream design and come in two colour variations, black/turquoise or wine/grey.
The trainer slips on easily thanks to the large loop on the heel and is a snug fit, hugging the foot nicely through the heel whilst allowing a loose fit to the large toe box. Where the Runventure boasts a neutral ride there is no arch support which some runners may be more adapted to, however, the laces are easy to fasten tighter over the arch of the foot to add a little more support. The TPU through the centre of the sole means the trainer lacks flexibility from the heel to the arch, however, the ball of the foot and toes offer more flexibility and are capable of moving freely. The lugs (indentations in the bottom of the trainer for added traction and grip) are fairly small with just a 2mm drop which is unusual for a trail shoe, seeing as you would want more grip than ever during this sport. My foot feels very sturdy in the shoe, sturdy but not cushioned. There is minimal padding as Topo stick to their barefoot roots, the aim being to give the runner just enough protection whilst not detracting from their minimalist feel. Time to get them dirty.
Being a trail shoe, the Runventure is designed for technical terrains like mud, rocks, grass, woodland, and even mountains. During my adventure in the shoes, the first thing I realised was that when Topo say their 19mm platform doesn’t ‘sacrifice feel’, they really weren't kidding. When wearing these trainers, your feet are not very far off the ground, so you can really feel every bump and rock on your path, although the TPU protects your foot from any real discomfort this may cause. When it comes to getting down and dirty, the strong mesh upper protected my foot from getting a soaking through puddles and was fairly dirt resistant. Having said earlier that the lugs on these trainers are relatively small for a trail shoe, they still did their job and stood up to the test.
Are these shoes for you?
If you're into trail runs, yes. It will take a bit of getting used to the lack of cushioning, but that fits with Topo’s principle to get you running more naturally. Due to their barefoot style, it may take a while for your body to adjust and you may feel some pain/aching in your shins and calves after running in these trainers. It’s not quite the cushion you would expect from a trail shoe, but it's more than Topo’s other barefoot style trainers. It would be the perfect transitional trainer to take a barefoot runner into trail running or a trail runner into a barefoot stride.
The best thing about Topo is that their brand is evolving. This isn't their first trail runner and it certainly won't be their last. I look forward to seeing what improvements the Spring collection will bring.