Topo Athletic Runventure Review – Good Trail Shoe or Not?

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Tough runs don’t last; tough runners do.

Let me start by saying that I am not sponsored in any way by Topo Athletic or any other manufacturer of the gear and shoes I review. I will only review the gear and shoes I own / have owned and have tested.

So lets get started with my latest shoe which is the Topo Athletic Runventure All Terrain Trail Shoe.

What made me interested in these shoes?

Well, I’m a huge fan of Altra running shoes, I currently own 3 pairs and have owned more previously. I still love my Altra Lone Peak’s, they have given me hundreds of happy miles.

A few months ago I decided on a pair of Altra Superiors, size 9 the same as all my other shoes. This is where I hit my first issue! They were too tight – ok to run in over a very short distance (up to 6 miles) but then my toes would really start to hurt. The beauty of Altra’s is you can buy in half sizes so I moved up to a 9.5 UK. Plenty of room no real issues – or so I thought.

Fast forward 3 months and about 150 miles and this is the state of the Superiors:

A huge rip down the side and lots of wear and tear in other areas too. Obviously I wasn’t too happy so that’s when I started looking at other brands just for a change.

 

So I had heard the gossip going around from a lot of trail runners in the US saying that there was a fairly new shoe on the market that a lot of the runners were starting to use and move away from the Altra’s (not that I ever would as they are still great shoes). The manufacturer was TOPO Athletic and they were making waves in the trail running community.

So why appeal to me – Simple!! The TOPO Athletic Runventure has a wide toe box the same as the Altra and the heal to toe drop is 2mm on this shoe for a more natural running feel.

Now I haven’t got a wide foot really, however, the beauty of the wide toe box is that it allows your toes to splay out when you are running as opposed to being all squashed up in a standard shoe. This type of shoe has also done one major thing for me – I don’t get blisters anymore – hooray!!!!!

Product Description

The Runventure features a strong abrasion resistant mesh and no-sew printing techniques that protect the upper while adding structural integrity. A molded TPU midsole plate and 19 mm platform provide plating protection without sacrificing ground feel. The multi-directional lugged outsole offers traction over a variety of surfaces.

Specifications:

– Dual layer, tear-resistant mesh
– Fully gussetted tongue
– 4.5 mm rubber outsole
– 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: 233 g

The Testing

So right out of the box it was time to put these on and go for an 8 mile road run after work. When I initially opened the box I thought, oh no! these look quite small, hopefully I won’t need to go up half a size like the Altra Superiors. I needn’t have worried, I put them on and it was like wearing something that had been made specifically for my feet in mind. A ton of room in the front but the mid-foot and heel were locked into place so there was no unwanted movement at all. The run felt great, they felt light on my feet compared to my Altras and overall I was very pleased. But now for the real test:

18 mile Ridgeway Trail Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

For anyone that knows the Ridgeway around the Wiltshire area you will know that it is undulating, chalky and fairly hard ground with a fair share of small rocky areas and plenty of rutted tractor trails. Perfect for testing out a shoe that’s All Terrain.

So the run starts out at the bottom of the steep Foxhill, rock hard, rutted with pot holes all over. This was a breeze for the TOPO’s which felt light under foot, the grip was superb and there was no slippage of the foot within the shoe – just what I wanted at this point.

Once you hit the peak of Foxhill it’s a short flat area just before decending for around 1/2 mile on a very gravelly track. The biggest worry for me with the downhill sections is those toes banging into the front of the trainer – I’ve lost a few toe nails and had serious bruising with other shoes in the past. This time absolutely nothing, I can’t believe it, I very rarely run downhill without some sort of banging of the toes on the inside of the shoe. It has to be the fact that the mid-foot and rear are so well locked in and the shoes just fit my feet so well.

So the descent passed the test and now for 2 or 3 miles on fairly flat track with no issues, shoes are comfortable, no hot spots anywhere (areas where blisters may form) so all is good.

As I approach Ashbury it’s a right turn through the edge of some fields that run towards Ashdown House. Again through the hard soiled fields it’s no issue as the TOPO’s eat up the ground under me.

 

 

 

 

So as I leave Ashworth behind it’s back into some fields with hard rutted tyre tracks where the farmers have been. This is still no problem for the TOPO’s, the feet are secure and the ankles are strong through this area.

 

 

 

Now onto White Horse Hill where the ground is very chalky, very rutted and generally quite hard to deal with under foot. Again, nothing uncomfortable here and my feet are still feeling great at this point. I’m about 12 miles in and all is feeling fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point it’s time to make my way back to the start, so off I head in a direct route along the Ridgeway again. Nothing too difficult, fairly undulating but very hard under foot.

With 18 miles under my belt the run is over, my legs feel fresh, my feet pain free, definitely no hot spots and I feel that I could go on – which is a good job because on the 29th October I have the Exmoor Trail 50km Challenge and these will be the shoe of choice for the race.

So overall very very happy with the TOPO Runventure, it is a great alternative to the Altra shoes I would normally wear.

So how do they stack up?

PRO’s

  • The fit is excellent
  • Mid-foot and rear locked in well
  • Wide toe box that allows toe splay
  • 2mm drop for more natural running
  • Built in rock plate to protect the foot from stones

CON’s

  • The 2mm drop may not suit all. If you are not used to this type of shore it may take a while to get used to.
  • Cushioning – they are designed to be as minimalist as possible. Some people may struggle with the cushioning compared to some other shoes. But remember, these are trail shoes not road.
  • Not so easy to purchase in the UK right now. Some shops like Northern Runner are doing the latest models and Amazon are doing a few specific sizes.

Overall Score – 9 / 10 Great Shoe

If you have any comments with reference to the review, or maybe you have had experience with the TOPO Runventure, or you might want to talk about your favourite trail shoe then please let me know below.

 

Happy trails.

22 comments

    1. Thanks Darrel. I will have more of an update after the upcoming 50km Exmoor run so will let you know how that goes.
      Will be interesting to see how they perform in a slightly muddier environment.

  1. I appreciate you sharing your experience with these shoes in such depth. really helps someone come up with an informed decision about the best running shoes to buy. 150 miles doesn’t sound like a whole lot for the ruin you experienced with the first pair, btw!

    1. Hi Penelope, thank you very much for your comments. I am trying to mix the review up a bit by actually explaining how things went on an actual run. Hopefully it makes things a little more realistic.

  2. Hi Mark. Thanks for the very informative review of the Topo Athletic Runventure shoe. When I look at the pictures of the terrain you run on, they must be a very well built shoe. I also read your whole website and was impressed by your own story and how you made the change in your life from being a heavy smoker to a vegan athlete. You must really have your diet worked out to achieve the endurance events you do on a plant-based diet. Just proves you don’t need the huge amounts of protein that bodybuilders consume if you follow the plant-based diet. Do you know if Topo produce shoes for anything other than runners? I can’t run great distances because of an ankle injury years ago, but a good cross trainer shoe would be good if they made one.

    1. Hi Greg, thank you for the feedback on the site. I had to make a change in my life as I was going down a very bad route that was starting to affect my health. I first stopped smoking but didn’t do anything about my diet for a few years. I have never felt better since going plant based.
      TOPO do shoes for Trail, Road and Gym. I tend to find trail shoes are great for walking in anyway. Here is the link to the website (I’m not affiliated).
      http://www.topoathletic.com/

      All the very best,
      Mark.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Very informative review. I will certainly be checking the trail shows when it is time for me to get new ones. I can see that the Pros outweigh the Cons, which means they are worth the buy! Thanks for the awesome review!

    1. Hi Kay, thank you for your comments. I have just been out in them again tonight on the road and I am still very impressed with them. I don’t need loads of cushioning, although I think they are quite good anyway so they are perfect for me.

  4. Although I am not a runner anymore, I still do a fair share of walking and easy to moderate hiking in similar conditions as you described on your 18 mile Ridgeway Trail Run. I have been looking for a lightweight and comfortable shoe that fits snuggly on my heel and that leaves my toes some room. I also get a lot of blisters and callouses and always seem to have problems with hot spots.

    Do you think that these shoes would be a good fit for my style or do you could you recommend something you think may work better for hiking and walking?

    Thanks,
    Patrick

    1. Hi Patrick, I have used 2 shoes in the past year that I have found to be great for walking and running. The TOPO Athletic Runventure, although new I have been impressed. I also love the Altra Lone Peaks – they have a bit more cushioning than the TOPO’s. What I particularly like is the wide toe box, this really does let your toes splay out rather than being all squashed in the front of the shoe. This really was a game changer for me, since using any of the Altra’s or the TOPO I just haven’t had any blisters at all. All with the very low heel to toe drop everything feels so much more natural when running / walking.
      You might also notice your foot get slightly wider and you might just walk differently. Myself and a friend at work have both noticed that our normal shoes have now started to wear in a different place than normal.
      All I can say is my feet feel great.
      It’s worth noting though that these won’t give you ankle support as they are trainers.
      Hope this helps and all the best,
      Mark.

  5. Hi Mark,
    I have to admit I am not an avid runner but your review caught my attention and I was frankly intrigued by the pictures shared in this article. They are beautiful and paint the scenery vividly. I won’t mind running more if the scenery is half as nice over here. Lol, another excuse from me. I have not come across Topo before and this is the first time I was introduced to this brand. I will check it out and see if it fits my needs and budget.

  6. Hey Mark, first, thanks for the informative review. Second, what are your thoughts on using street running shoes on trails? I’m taking a trip soon and enjoy taking adventurous runs (especially something I do whenever I’m in a new place). My next trip may involve some trails and although I don’t own a pair of trail running shoes, your review got me thinking I may want to double check if I need them or not. What do you recommend I do?

    1. Hi Charlie, thanks for your comments.
      So my thoughts on road shoes on the trails – I’ve tried it before and it really does depend on the trail. If it’s very firm and dry with little to no stones etc. then I have seen people do off road races very well with no real issues. The problem for me is when the trail is more technical – the road shoe will not have the right kind of grip or protection you need. For example:
      1. If it’s wet and there is grass or mud, the road shoe is not going to grip at all which may result is you slipping and falling and god forbid injuring yourself.
      2. If it’s rocky ground or there are roots etc. then a lot of trail shoes will have a rock plate built in – this protects the base of the foot when you step on something raised. It’s not pleasant standing on a stone with no protection.
      3. You are better protected at the toe with trail shoes. The amount of roots and raised objects I have kicked on the trails I have lost count. With the road shoe it’s going to hurt a lot if you stub your toe.

      I really hope this helps you decide on whether the trail shoe is the right choice for what you want to do.
      All the very best,
      Mark.

    1. Hi Vince, thanks for your comment. Up to now I have found them to be quite breathable and certainly after a 3 hour run my feet have been dry and blister free. I’m doing a 50km at the end of the month and I’m sure the conditions will be a little bit wetter than recently. I plan to revisit the review after the race to give a further update on how they coped with the very different terrain. There will be open land, forest, hard trails etc. so a good mixture to review and feedback.
      Cheers,
      Mark.

  7. When I do sports, I always want my shoe to have strong ankle support since I had injuries past. I actually couldn’t find a good trail shoe which has good ankle support but this one looks legit. I will give it a shot man.

    1. Hi, yes I’ve found the ankle support to be fairly good. I think it is more to do with the lower heel to toe drop of 2mm where your foot plants more naturally rather than a high heel which can result in injuries.
      I would say with any shoe though to try them on first if you can. It’s always a bit of pot luck online, so best to know that they fit before the purchase.

  8. Sounds like a very interesting shoe. I may have to take a closer look at those. I’m the type I don’t like shoes at all but you have to wear them. These sound like you won’t feel like you were wearing them. Thanks for the information!

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