Topo Athletic TerraventureReview Facts
Topo Athletic, a shoe company created by Tony Post, has had a lot of buzz lately in the running world for their unique approach to crafting footwear. The company claims, “We’re not minimal, we’re not maximal, we’re not motion control” and connects shoe design to research for “natural running and fitness.” Specifically, this shows up in three features across their variety of shoes: a neutral low-drop platform, light-weight materials, and a roomy toe box. The Topo Athletic Terraventure is a top-of-the-line trail shoe designed as the latest and greatest for the more technical terrain category, but with versatility for hiking, travel and walking. I had a chance to test out the Terraventure in both Washington and Alaska over the past month and agree that this shoe lives up to all the hype!
The shoe features a 6mm thick rubber outsole with an aggressive lug design that handles well on trails but does not feel awkward on pavement running or walking. This translates to excellent multi-terrain traction and handling with ample mid-foot stability. This shoe features rock protection via a flexible ESS forefoot plate. This was a noticeable benefit which I’ve found in some of my heavier shoes, but never in a shoe this lightweight.
The “bread and butter” of Topo’s designs
center around a larger than average toe box. If you’re not used to this design it may take a few runs to adapt, but a roomier toe box
has been a more popular and scientifically-backed recent trend, that ultimately effects the midfoot and heel running mechanics. Some shoes with large toe boxes seem to have more slipping, rubbing and blistering, but the folks at Topo Athletic have trialed this feature down to a fine-tuned art.
The “ghillie” lacing system is designed with midfoot security in mind. The outer material is breathable but also more windproof than average. The tongue and heel areas have a comfortable amount of padding. The mesh material is strategically placed to provide ample breathability, but also plenty of protection in the areas most exposed to the elements. The bonded seams held up well in the first month of use.
Weighing in at 8.2 oz (size 7) and 10.4 oz (size 14), this is not the lightest shoe out there, but I think it’s one of the lightest
that has stellar capabilities for technical trail performance. The Terraventure is a few ounces heavier that Topo’s MT-2 trail shoe, but it has better reviews on traction performance. (There’s always something of a trade-off). It’s comparable to the Brooks Mazama
in terms of weight, but it’s upper material seems more durable, rugged and weather-proof, which is hard to accomplish without sacrificing overall weight. This makes it a great shoe for longer trail runs and racing as well as sprinting, hills and more technical workouts.
I tested this shoe indoors a few times and noted no issues with overheating, but did not subject it to extreme heat. Where the Terraventure really stood apart for me was in its ability to be breathable yet warm in winter conditions. I tested it in zero degrees Fahrenheit, in normal running socks, and had no issues with my usual Raynaud’s (circulatory issues) that are typically triggered by the cold/wind. The outer material is superior to most of my other shoes.
I have to admit, when I first eyed this shoe, I thought that the toe box looked too roomy for my narrow feet. I was surprised when this shoe immediately fit like a glove. This is owed to Topo Athletics’
winning combination of an ample toe box for toe splay with a snugger fitting heel and midfoot. I found absolutely no break-in time, and from day one it felt like a familiar friend pulled from my existing shoe collection. The lacing system paired with the toe box design seems to contribute to the high comfort level for those with both narrow and wide feet. Most agree that this shoe fits true to size. My only observation was that I noticed a little more pressure on my toes when running downhill, possibly due to my un-trimmed insoles.
This shoe has been applauded by most for its neutral color scheme options. If you’re looking to make a fashion statement with wild neons, this shoe may not meet your style needs. I found that the blue color I tested was sufficiently bright and pleasing to the eye. Terraventure is currently available in blue/black and charcoal/green for men and light blue/sapphire, purple/black, and teal/mint for women. I felt like the style could almost pass for a regular street shoe, as its design speaks less “running” to me as it initially meets the eye. I even contemplated wearing the shoes to work one day!
“Rugged durability” is one of the selling points by Topo Athletics
for this trail shoe. I expected to see more visible wear-down by mile 50, especially since I tested these on so many different types of terrain, but the outsoles looked essentially the same after my first month. I could not find any reviews that differed from the conclusion that Topo has fine-tuned their construction to a sturdy, reliably durable product.
As mentioned, the forefoot plate is designed to prevent stone soreness, and I think that Topo achieves this well without sacrificing their lightweight reputation on the trails
. The rock plate performs well and the thick lugs seem to add an extra layer of protection. The outer material also aids in excellent protection from the elements and is quick drying.
This shoe does it all! I felt that the shoe handled both longer slow paced training runs and speed workouts
effortlessly. I felt light and springy even when running uphill on trails in the Terraventure. Some recommend that the Topo MT-2 shoe is more ideal for speed days and shorter runs, since it’s lighter and possibly more responsive in comparison. Reviewers have reported the tendency to reserve the Terraventures for more rugged terrain, longer distances, or more hairy weather conditions. I tested them in all of the above and came to the conclusion that they are a fine choice for all scenarios including sprints, but that decision may be dictated by your budget/shoe collection and training regimen.
If you are concerned about making the jump to a less “supportive” model, keep in mind that you can always bridge the gap by transferring inserts in to ease the transition at first. I was still able to use my Superfeet inserts in the Terraventures (with a little scissor adjustments). However, also keep in mind that a low drop model with less material and a bigger toe box should actually enhance your bodies’ natural shock absorption support system. These shoes will initially feel very different if you’re used to wearing something like Hoka’s
, but that difference does not necessarily mean less support. Outward material-based support is what we are used to historically with our running shoes, but it’s not necessarily the best way to go when it comes to injury prevention and running mechanics.
The Terraventure did a wonderful job in transitions from trail to road to rock to snow and ice! It definitely passed the “Alaska test” by handling packed snow and light ice at the level of my microspike shoes, which I found very surprising. Users report solid and consistent performance across muddy trails and slippery stairs as well. This shoe has slightly more padding than the MT-2 according to reviewers, which aids in comfort over technical trail terrain.
The Topo Terraventure is reasonably priced, perhaps even in the best value category, when compared to shoes of its class from other name brands. Nowadays, it’s hard to find trail shoes for under $100, and the Terraventure is priced just above this. It’s on average $20 cheaper than comparable alternatives in its class.
The extra large rubber lugs ensure excellent traction on these trail shoes. The Terraventure may be one of the most versatile shoes I’ve tried – I felt that while it’s designed as a trail shoe, it’s a great multi-training option to have around for those days when your route consists of a combination of terrains
. While technically not a cross-over shoe like it’s predecessor, the Topo MT-2, the Terraventure excels in any environment. I could not find a single area where I had concern about the traction – and trust me, I put it through the ringer! In particular, the Terraventure handles very well on snow and scree/rocks according to reviewers.
To sum up my feelings on flexibility: Just right! The design is in the mid-range to low end of rigidity, which provides a nice coupling of motion between gait phases. I appreciated this because it didn’t feel too minimalistic, but at the same time promoted relaxed running mechanics and ample-feeling support despite the low drop.
The shoe is not designed for motion control but it’s also not “minimalistic." It promotes stability through fostering the right coupling of muscle activity to engage the arch and ankle support mechanisms. Proper toe splay is important for this mechanism, and less external material stability/pressure in the forefoot combined with more snugness in the heel and midfoot may also enhance the proprioception (sense of kinesthetic awareness) that reduces ankle rolls. Topo Athletics has links to good videos on the science behind their shoe design on their website!
The total stack heights of 25mm and 22mm and the rearfoot to midsole difference of 14mm to 11mm create a 3mm heel drop. This is a significant decrease from the typical 8-10mm drop range in standard shoes, so if you’re not accustomed to a low drop shoe the Terraventure may take some getting used to. Creator Tony Post explains that the 3mm drop promotes a midfoot strike and better posture with running.
I am used to the 6-8mm range and was pleasantly surprised with the high degree of ankle stabilizer, lower leg and hip muscle activation I noticed as I was running (which is a good thing!) For those who are new to low drop designs, you may opt to alternate with old shoes the first month as you get accustomed to the difference, but I didn’t feel this was necessary. Most people find that a carefully-crafted low drop shoe has a tremendous positive impact on their running form and injury prevention. (Once you go low drop, you never go back, right?!)
Key Features of the Topo Athletic Terraventure
Key Features of the Topo Athletic Terraventure
• Low heel drop (3mm)
• Lightweight materials and feel
• Comfortable, roomy toe box
• Excellent trail lug traction system
• Aggresive Lugs form the Outsole
• Handles extreme temperatures well
• More neutral color scheme options
• Minimal break-in time
• Flexible ESS Rock Plate
• Ghillie Lacing System
The Bottom Line
is to encourage natural movement and promote movement education for runners, athletes and medical professionals. The Topo Terraventure is a wonderful “ambassador” for this mission. It’s obvious that their shoes have been tested by athletes to ensure that the roomy toe box, lightweight materials and low drop are combined in one efficient and comfortable package. Reviewers of the new Terraventure gave it high ratings for comfort and ability to contour to your foot without hot spots, multi-terrain capabilities, and price, and also suggested it as a great lightweight shoe to throw in the carry-on for travel. I highly recommend this shoe as a durable, comfortable option for year-round trail and cross-over training.