Topo Athletic is an up-and-coming sports brand that Sundried has reviewed a few times now. Their intelligently designed trainers are perfect for the more serious runner and their trail shoes have technical features that make them stand out from the crowd.
Features of the Terraventure Women's Trail Shoes
The drop of a trainer refers to the height difference between the heel and the forefoot. A conventional drop would be considered to sit at around 10-12 millimetres but more trainer brands are now adopting a more minimal design with a lower drop. Topo is one of these brands and their Terraventure trail shoe features a very low drop at only 3mm. Advocates for the low heel-to-toe drop claim it can reduce the risk of injury as it discourages a harsh heel-strike. A low drop also encourages a more natural running style and a low heel stops you from being pushed forward while running, which is an important aspect when running on uneven ground like a trail.
Minimalist shoes with a low drop can often offer less cushioning, but that is not the case with these Topo trainers. It is also important to have well-cushioned shoes when you're heading out on the rough and uneven surfaces of the trails. The Topo Terraventure shoes feature extra cushioning to provide a smooth ride.
Wide Toe Box
The ergonomic toe box is one of Topo's flagship features. It is more anatomically-friendly than classic trainers and allows your toes to spread out naturally and comfortably. If you have wide feet, it can be tough finding trainers that are comfortable, but these shoes with their wide toe box have got you covered. I often suffer from squashed toes, especially when running downhill outdoors, so this feature is very important to avoid that.
Rock Protection Plate
Having a rock protection plate in your trail shoes is a must if you want a pain-free run. Running over gravel and stones can be hazardous and having shoes with a specialised rock plate will prevent you from injuring your foot on rocks. Stepping on a jagged edge, especially on the ball of the foot, can cause a lot of pain and can lead to metatarsal issues. These Topo shoes feature the classic ESS rock plate which can be found on many trail shoes these days and should be a standard feature that you look for when choosing this type of trainer.
Suffering from sweaty feet can lead to more than just some discomfort. Running in damp shoes for too long can lead to skin problems and will end up distracting you from your run. Finding a pair of trainers made from breathable materials is a must, and these shoes feature just that. The lightweight design offers a '2nd skin fit and feel' according to Topo, although this isn't quite the feeling I got when I wore them. They're quite chunky and bulky, definitely not smooth and light like a speed trainer, but that's not what I'd expect from a trail shoe anyway.
Testing the Topo Terraventure trainers out on the trails
Trail running is very different from running on paved roads and you want a trainer that's going to be able to keep up. The 'aggressive' lug design on these trainers means that you have fantastic traction and the supportive rock plate prevents bruising and damage from stones and other debris which are inevitable on the trails.
I did find that they started to rub my little toes after a while and my feet were slipping around in the shoes because of the roomy design. When running up and down hills, especially on very rough terrain, I like my feet to feel like they're totally secure so that I'm not worried about twisting an ankle. These shoes could perhaps offer a little more ankle support to put my mind at ease.
Support and comfort
The foot support from these trainers is good and it doesn't seem to matter if you run with a forefoot or heel strike, they'll give you everything you need for a comfortable ride. If you have flat feet like me, it can be tough finding trainers which give adequate support, so I was a little dubious when trying them for the first time. I did get some ankle pain after the first few miles due to the limited arch support, and the low drop meant I ended up plodding a little towards the end. The roomy toe box does do the job well with regards to not squashing the toes so this is a big bonus.
The trainers are pretty much true to size. I did get a half size up from my usual size as I anticipated they might be a little snug and I'm glad I did.
The cushioning is great as is the roomy toe box. The rock plate definitely does the job of preventing painful bruises from jagged edges and stones.
The stability is good and the lugs on the bottom of the shoe certainly provide plenty of traction. I felt that my ankles were a little exposed, though, so there could have been more support and stability there.
I personally don't like the colour of this particular pair of shoes but that's certainly subjective. They also come in a choice of light blue or purple. The colour is a little garish so I would've preferred a more subtle colour, or even just plain black. The actual design of the trainers looks good, though, and for a pair of trail shoes, they definitely don't look too bad. I struggled to match them with any of my Sundried kit, though!
The price of these trainers is £115. This is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum and puts the shoes on the same level as trail shoes from big brands like Asics and Hoka One One. Considering Topo is still relatively unknown in the UK and is quite a new brand, this seems a little steep, especially considering you can buy Karrimor trail shoes at a price of around £35 and those boast being water-proof. However, these are good quality trainers and feature everything you would expect as standard from a pair of trail shoes so I definitely don't think it's unreasonable.
I'm pleasantly surprised by these trainers as I often struggle to find ones that are comfortable enough to run in for an extended period of time. Topo is a brand that knows what it's doing and this shines through in these trainers. I'm looking forward to taking these shoes on more adventures and seeing where they take me next!
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.
Who Are Topo?
Topo is an athletics brand that was founded in 2013 by Tony Post (hence Topo). Tony competed in cross country running at university in Oklahoma and spent many years developing and making shoes for a brand in the US. After years of trialling and testing shoes, he decided to start his own athletics brand, and thus Topo Athletics was born.
Design and Comfort
Aesthetically, these look very similar to my Vivo Barefoot trainers and they are equally lightweight, but there is a substantial difference in support. Although the Topo's padding is minimal, it felt far more cushioned than my other barefoot shoes. Topo’s designer Tony Post helped launch the Vibram Fivefinger Shoes, so it’s no surprise that elements of the five-fingered shoe are reflected in these trainers.
The original design of these trainers actually separated the larger toe to encourage the wearer to make more agile use of all of their foot. However, after runners tested the style, they decided they preferred a more familiar closed front.
The First Run
The lack of heel-to-toe drop is designed to encourage a better running posture and it did feel like I was running with better technique while wearing the Topo Speed Trainers. My first impression of these trainers was good, although they don’t call them 'Speed Trainers' for nothing; sprinting is definitely going to be where these trainers earn their stripes.
The Sprint Test
The Topo Women's Speed Trainers are so lightweight you feel like you're not wearing any trainers at all, apart from the cushioning. The foam padding around the ball of the foot and wide toe box is perfect for driving off as fast as possible and left me supported and yet totally in control of every stride. This made sprinting very fun and easy!
I was really impressed with these trainers; you can tell that they are designed with purpose and they perform with ease. The style is well suited for both indoor and outdoor activity and encourage a barefoot running style which can be beneficial for some runners.
The first thing I noticed when I put on the Topo Speed Trainers is a hugging feeling I hadn’t felt since putting on some Birkenstock sandals for the first time many years ago. If you have not tried on them, most people have the same reaction. And that is the feeling of comfort from the high arch. It is almost a massaging feeling of your arch. I am sure if you wear arched footwear most of the time the sensation will wear off, but if you are used to more minimal barefoot trainers with a flat sole enjoy the experience.
When I went on some training with VivoBarefoot they were very much anti arch. Unnatural, stops the job of your muscles supporting your foot and therefore leads to loss of natural support. I have been wearing flat Vivos for several years so maybe the feeling was extra pronounced when putting on the Topo with their high arch. The high arch and feedback from Vivo is definitely controversial. Many running coaches will take one look at my (and many peoples) foot strike in slow motion and prescribe some high arch, supported trainers. I think it comes down to personal preference. Listen to and take on all the advise and test it out.
These trainers are extremely light. And extremely comfortable. To run in, if you are used to a cushioned shoe they may be too lightweight, but they offer more padding than a typical barefoot trainer. They are speed trainers, so not necessarily designed for endurance running and long events, but for my 5ks they have been great.
The forefoot of these trainers is wide and there is plenty of room for your toes to move. The high arch supports your foot position so your feet will be fairly rooted to the floor.
The high arch really helps with your forefoot position. The trainers have minimal cushioning so it is extra important for correct contact when you strike the ground. As they are speed trainers you may be landing harder than a typical slow run.
Their unique design offers support for each of your metatarsals (bones in the front of the foot).
The Topo trainers are lightweight in design and things are kept simple. Support is given at the front and sides of the foot with a very lightweight upper.
As these trainers are built for speed and comfort they are perfect for interval work. Even if you want to switch to a more cushioned trainer for longer runs.
The Topo Speed Trainers are light and perfect for sprinting, but also for ground work and outdoor training the are a good choice.
A simple but effective feature I like with Topo is the extra large loops - so handy for slipping on and off.
Somehow Topo manage to look stylish even with the pops of bright orange.