Topo Athletic Ultrafly Review Facts
With so many large, long-running shoe companies putting out line after line of trainers over the years and decades, solid reputations and brand are built between company and customer. But there are outliers and newcomers in the running shoe world that are producing top of the line running shoes, as well. Such is the case with Topo, a smaller company that debuted their first line in 2013 and has been refining their craft with each edition. Their latest, the Topo Athletic Ultrafly, aims to appeal to runners looking for a light trail shoe with excellent cushioning and a low drop for easy transitions.
Despite its low profile, the Topo Athletic Ultrafly is Topo’s beefiest shoe to date, with a heavily padded collar that secures your foot in the chamber, a roomy toe box that allows for toe splay, and a snug upper that cradles the arch. Maybe the most attractive feature of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly is the comfort it offers. Besides its spacious toe box, the cushioning in the Ultrafly is above average, with superior padding in the heel and an overall midsole that’s plush and absorbs shock superbly when out on the trail. The midsole is made of three EVA layers with varying densities that are designed to follow natural forward motion. With a firm medial EVA layer positioned below the arch that tapers in the heel and forefoot and a softer lateral EVA layer in the heel, runners will feel the difference in their stride from this carefully crafted multi-layer midsole.
Made of durable materials, this trainer will also last a long time after many miles across unforgiving terrains thanks to the synthetic mesh and welded overlays that protect high-stress areas. For serious runners that are looking for a durable, comfortable light trail runner that will hold up and perform in the long run, the underdog Topo company has created a winner with its Athletic Ultrafly.
With an outsole that features a smart design and lugs to grip the earth and keep you safe on slippery surfaces, the Athletic Ultrafly’s outsole follows Topo’s solid pattern they have established for their outsoles. Made of high-abrasion carbon to increase traction and durability, the multi-directional lug system encourages midfoot strike and works great on dry trails and traditional running surfaces. Designed to keep its grip and overall integrity even after many miles have been put on it, the Ultrafly’s outsole is one a runner can depend on.
Perhaps the centerpiece of the overall construction of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly is its midsole. Somewhat maximalist in design with a 28mm stack height, the midsole is comprised of three layers of EVA foam
constructed to encourage natural forward movement. Each layer has been specifically designed with varying weights and shape to address specific issues a runner may have, including its medial layer that acts as a stability post placed just beneath where the arch of the foot sits. Although this arch area midsole is sculpted to taper off at the heel and forefoot, it is not noticeable when wearing the Athletic Ultrafly. However, runners may notice a smoother midfoot to forefoot transition thanks to this complex midsole construction. An EVA Strobel board under the sock liner provides a firm platform for this midsole. Providing enhanced stability and comfort, the midsole of the Topo Athletic
Ultrafly will be enjoyed by most runners, especially those who enjoy light trail running, except for perhaps heel strikers, who may find the midsole construction not as well suited for their running style.
The upper of the Athletic Ultrafly is made of synthetic mesh and are covered by welded overlays in high-stress areas. Although it may look bulky, the upper is actually flexible and well-ventilated, with double-layered mesh for durability that flexes as the runner moves for a natural feel during a run.
One major feature of the Athletic Ultrafly is its wide toe box, which allows for natural toe splay and accounts for swelling while running. The toe box is capped with a rubber cover for durability and protection while running, while the tongue stays firmly in place after lace-up.
The snug fit of the upper never feels constrictive, and with a padded ankle
collar that secures the foot in the chamber, runners can feel confident while on a technical trail that their foot won’t slip out of the Ultrafly. While this also means that you can’t easily slip into the shoe, it’s important to feel secure while on a run.
Although not technically a maximalist
shoe, the Topo Athletic Ultrafly does have a relatively hardy midsole with a stack height of 28mm. This triple-layer midsole adds over an ounce to the overall weight of the shoe, coming in at 10.1 ounces/286 grams, which is moderate but keeps the Ultrafly out of the lightweight category.
Thanks to its lightweight, flexible, dual-layer upper mesh, the Athletic Ultrafly is a surprisingly breathable trainer. Surprising mostly because looking at the shoe, one would think its breathability would be impaired by the chunky overlays on its upper. But these are mostly design and aesthetic choices for durability and protection--they don’t affect the Ultrafly’s breathability.
One of the strongest aspects of the Athletic Ultrafly is the amount of comfort it offers. Its triple-layer midsole delivers a plush, ergonomic ride that’s been designed to correct and support the runner throughout with extra arch support
. Meanwhile, the wide toe box allows for natural toe splay during a run. In addition, its padded heel keeps the foot secure after lace-up while its reliable tongue offers steady padding for the forefoot. Since many trail runners don’t usually offer the level of support and cushioning as this one, the Topo Athletic
Ultrafly is a go-to for trail enthusiasts looking for a comfortable, stable ride.
Topo knows a good design when it sees it, and the company’s motto seems to be, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This follows through with the Topo Athletic Ultrafly’s aesthetic, which is similar to many other Topo brands. Although this looks like a deceptively chunky shoe, the upper is actually quite lightweight
and flexible. The company seems to appreciate the structural sense and overall aesthetic of overlays since the Ultrafly’s upper is covered with overlays that zig and zag across the shoe. Not that it’s a bad thing: besides providing a fair amount of structural integrity, these overlays also give the shoe its pizzazz that would otherwise leave the shoe looking a little goofy--especially with the large toe box, which is smartly covered by a black rubber guard. Hiding its nature as a somewhat maximalist and stability shoe, the Ultrafly instead looks like an eye-catching trainer reminiscent of Altra
’s aesthetic--which is a good thing.
From the synthetic dual-mesh upper to the overlays that secure and protect it, to the rubber-guarded toe box, to the triple-layer midsole and high-abrasion carbon rubber outsole, the Athletic Ultrafly is a highly durable shoe. Of course, for a light trail running shoe it would have to be. But many runners and reviewers were impressed by how it kept its grip, cushioning, and all-around integrity even after many miles and runs have been put on the Ultrafly. While it’s not as tenaciously designed as other trail running
shoes, runners will find the Ultrafly will keep performing long after first-step in with no visible wear and tear long into their lifespan.
The Athletic Ultrafly offers a fair amount of overall protection. The carbon rubber outsole will keep its tread and protect the foot from the jostles and bumps that varying topographies subject the runner to, while the toe box is protected by a rubber shield. The triple-layer EVA midsole effectively absorb shock, while the overlays of the upper--particularly the heel guard--will protect the foot against smaller impacts. However, this is not as tenacious as a trail gaiter
or even other trail running shoes and are meant for more extreme activities other than walking, workouts, and running.
One would think that with a 28mm stack in its triple-layer midsole, responsiveness would have been lost along the way. But Topo has smartly designed the Athletic Ultrafly to retain responsiveness thanks to the thinner padding in its heel and forefoot. Although there is a fair amount of arch support to make the shoe more stable, runners will still feel a fair amount of responsiveness while running in a pair.
The well-crafted triple-layer midsole in the Ultrafly features excellent support for the runner’s arches, and while not specifically a stability shoe it does have some overlapping traits a stability shoe would have. That said, this is mostly for neutral
runners with regular arch support.
The Topo Athletic Ultrafly is marketed as a road and light trail running shoe, which means it’s designed to traverse over dry dirt, bumpy topography, and the regular challenges one finds in nature. It also functions well as a comfortable shoe on traditional running surfaces. Just don’t try to climb a mountain while wearing these!
Loaded with a high-stack midsole and extra-wide toe box, the Ultrafly isn’t your standard trainer. Built to last and crafted with care, it’s going to be a little more expensive than trainers produced by a larger company--that’s just the bottom line and business talking. But a pair of these are also long-lasting, so it’s a solid investment for a trail runner looking for a pair of comfortable trainers.
With multi-directional lugs on the outsole, the Ultrafly certainly offers a fair amount of grip and traction on the road or on the trail. While some runners feel the lugs sometimes get in the way of a run, for those that need a little push while taking a ride, the Ultrafly will keep them moving forward.
With a flexible mesh upper that’s not constricted by its overlays, the Ultrafly feels comfortable after lace
-up. Although it has a firm platform, its 28mm triple-layer EVA midsole cushions against any potential stiffness the runner may feel.
While not specifically a stability shoe, the midsole of the Athletic Ultrafly does offer a good amount of stability, mostly thanks to the extra cushioning at the forefoot that acts as a stability post. Its low drop also aids in providing stability, so those who overpronate but don’t want to purchase a staunch stability shoe
may find a great middle ground with the Ultrafly.
The 7mm drop from heel to forefoot in the Athletic Ultrafly is lower than the average drop in a trainer, so those who don’t want to go full zero drop
but would benefit from a lower drop will find the Ultrafly a fair compromise.
- Well-designed midsole offers great stability and encourages natural forward movement
- A flexible, breathable upper mesh that secures the foot after lace-up
- Aesthetically pleasing and smart-looking design
- Extremely comfortable thanks to 28mm triple-layer midsole and wide toe box
- Incredibly durable construction that is resistant to wear and tear
Topo is a small company with big ideas, and their Athletic Ultrafly is reflective of the ambition this company has to design a light trail runner that doesn’t skimp on either comfort or performance. Breathable, versatile, and durable, the Topo Athletic Ultrafly is for the runner looking for a little more stability in their shoe and a lot of comfort. While it may be slightly more expensive than other trail runners, this is a good investment in a trail runner that will get you over the hill and through the woods and remain intact for many rides afterwards.