This review was written in partnership with Topo Athletic. They provided a pair of MT-2 shoes for me to test and review. All the opinions expressed here are my own.
Earlier this summer I found myself searching for a new pair of trail running shoes. I had been running in the New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail (New Balance no longer makes this particular version) for a few years. While I loved the color, but was never really in love with the fit of the shoes and over time the side of my foot started to wear through and create a hole in the upper.
I’ve noticed some changes in my feet recently (chalk that up to getting older and pregnancy) and I wanted to try a trail shoe with a wider toe box. I headed to my local running specialty store, Runner’s Alley looking to see what they had. The shoe I had hoped to try was out of stock, but the salesperson showed me the Topo Athletic road shoe and asked if I wanted to give it a try and they could order in the trail version if I wanted. I had all three kids in tow with me and was wearing the baby in the front pack, we’d already been there for 30 minutes and the kids were getting a little stir crazy. Thank you, but no thank you was my answer and I hightailed it out of the store before my kids toppled the GU display.
But I was intrigued by this new shoe: Topo Athletic. I’d never heard of them. I did a little digging and found out that Topo Athletic is based here in New England in Newton, Massachusetts. While they may be newer to the shoe industry they are offering up shoes that are making waves, the Tribute was featured in Runner’s World’s Spring 2016 Shoe guide. Their Hydroventure trail shoe was also received National Geographic Adventure’s Gear of the Year award. Topo Athletic’s MT-2 (the shoe I tried) was also named Runner’s World’s “Best Buy.”
The three major features of Topo Athletic shoes is their natural foot-shaped toe box, the neutral platform (the highest heel-toe drop on their shoes is 5mm, with most at 3mm or 0mm) and their light weight.
Since I usually run in shoes that have a low heel-toe drop it seemed a great fit, and I loved the idea that the Topo Athletic shoes are both rugged and lightweight.
Topo Athletic was kind enough to send me the MT-2 trail shoe that easily converts from trail running to road running.
Since they arrived in June I’ve logged over 50 miles of training on them and have worn them for one race (The Loon Mountain Race).
When I first pulled the shoes from the box I was surprised at their weight, they were incredibly light. The trail shoes I had been running in weigh 10 oz (women’s size 10) and the Topo Athletic MT-2 weighed in at just under 8 oz (women’s size 10). I also noticed that the outsole had lugs from top to bottom and that the grooves in the shoes weren’t too wide (sometimes wider grooves catch rocks more easily). The mesh upper seemed breathable and lightweight.
I was sent a women’s size 10 which is what I typically wear. When I first tried them on I wondered if they might be a little too big, but I think that was more due to the roomy toe box which felt a little new and different. I adjusted the laces and they provided a snug fit through the arch, although the heel remained a little lose. In the future I’d like to try a 9.5 and see if that provides a slightly better fit in the heel, but I don’t want to lose the extra room in the toe. I’ve always sized up my running shoes (typically I wear a size 9-9.5 in a street shoe) and because of that I’ve never lost a toenail. Once I was running though, I didn’t really notice any slipping of the heel, and since that initial trying on they seem to fit better.
Performance on Trails:
I took the shoes out on a packed dirt trail first and they did great. I felt like the mountain run would be the real test and I was pleased with how the shoes performed over rocks, streams and roots. They had great traction, felt lightweight and had good responsive cushion for the run down the mountain. I wore them for the Loon Mountain race, which really put them to the test as we ran up loose gravel, through ankle-deep mud and up grassy ski slopes. Honestly, I was so glad I had these shoes on, they were light enough to feel like I could race in them and that was a huge asset on the cross-country section of the course where I could really pick up the pace. And they were grippy through the mud and drained quickly. The shoes were soaked through when I stepped in those mud puddles at mile 2 but were dry within a mile.
Performance on Road:
Sometimes trail shoes have a tendency to feel sluggish and heavy on the road, but not the MT-2. It performed really well on the road and was well-cushioned, providing a smooth ride. I’ve been running in them both on trails and road and they are a great shoe to choose if you run will include terrain on both.
I’m really impressed with the shoe so far and am considering overhauling my entire shoe “collection.” I’ve been wearing Saucony shoes for training, racing and track for a while now but I really like what I’ve experienced from Topo Athletic so far and would really like to try out more of their road shoes, specifically the Magnifly ($110), which is a cushioned trainer and the Tribute ($100) and ST-2 ($90), which are both similar to road racing flats. As I wear through my old Saucony shoes I may start replacing them with Topo Athletic shoes both for the road and the trail.
All of Topo Athletic’s shoes are really reasonably priced. Most are around $100 (there most expensive is $130). When most new shoes are now pushing $150 seems like a great deal.
Get 15% off your Topo Athletic purchase at ANY Runner’s Alley locations when you mention this blog post. Offer ends August 3, 2016.
I’ve partnered with Topo Athletic to let one lucky reader WIN A PAIR of Topo Athletic shoes of their choice! Enter the giveaway below to WIN a pair of Topo Athletic shoes.
Open to residents of US and Canada 18 or older. Void where prohibited.winner will receive one pair of Topo Athletic shoes in style/size/color of choice subject to availability. Contest ends 7/27. Winner will be contacted via email and published in this blog post on the Rafflecopter App.
Which Topo Athletic shoes would you try and why?
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