Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic Running Shoe Lineup, 2019

Blister Brand Guide: Running Shoe Lineups

Intro

When considering a new running shoe, there are so many similar-looking shoes on the market being made by so many different companies, it is virtually impossible to (1) know where to begin; (2) quickly figure out which one or two products from a given brand might work well for you; and (3) determine what products from other brands might be the most similar and also worth considering.

So in our new “Blister Brand Guide” series, we provide an overview of the entire product lineup of a brand; highlight how each product stands out from the rest of that brand’s lineup; and help you figure out quickly and easily which shoe might work best for you. 

In our individual product reviews, we go very deep into the details of particular products. With these Brand Guides, the goal is not Depth, but Breadth. Our Brand Guides and full reviews are designed to complement each other — provide a broad overview of entire company lineups, and then also very detailed reviews of individual products. 

See our other running shoe Brand Guides

Topo Athletic: Brand Background

Topo Athletic was founded in 2013 with the goal of combining the features of minimal, foot-shaped shoes with some of the elements of more traditional shoes. Six years later, they have a wide range of road and trail shoes that are still built with this goal in mind.

You can expect Topo shoes to have a wide, rounded toe box similar to that found in Altra’s shoes. Unlike Altra, however, Topo makes shoes with a variety of heel-to-toe drops, ranging from 0-5 mm (though that’s still on the lower end compared to the whole market). Topo’s shoes also tend to have a slightly narrower fit through the midfoot and heel than Altra shoes. This makes them a good option for runners who love Altra’s wide toe boxes but want a tighter fit throughout the rest of the shoe. Some of Topo’s higher-cushion shoes might also be a good alternative for people who enjoy the cushioning of Hoka’s shoes but find Hoka’s fit too narrow and / or their heel-to-toe drops too high.

Topo offers shoes with a range of stack heights and heel-to-toe drops for both road and trail running. In this brand guide, we’ll go through the road and trail models separately, with each category ordered from highest to lowest stack height.

ROAD SHOES

(Most Cushioned to Least Cushioned)

Most Cushion

Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
The Phantom is Topo’s most cushioned road shoe. It’s got a light, breathable mesh upper with synthetic overlays to provide structure and hold the foot in place. The midsole uses Topo’s Zipfoam material to provide cushion for long road miles, while the rubber outsole pods increase durability without adding too much weight. The Phantom has a slightly more cushioned ride than the Ultrafly 2. It also lacks the stability/motion control features found in the Ultrafly 2, making it better suited to runners who prefer a more neutral shoe. It’s not a particularly light shoe, but it should be a comfortable option for those looking for a max-cushioned shoe for longer days on the road.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 30 mm
  • Toe: 25 mm
Drop: 5 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 289 g
  • Women's: 244 g
MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide

The Ultrafly 2 uses three different midsole foam densities to provide guidance and support for runners who need a more supportive shoe. It’s slightly less flexible and has a slightly lower stack height than the Phantom, but it still has ample cushioning for long runs. The mesh upper is designed to breathe well without sacrificing durability. If you’re looking for a moderately cushioned shoe that’s got some extra support for over-pronators, the Ultrafly 2 is worth checking out.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 28 mm
  • Toe: 23 mm
Drop: 5 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 283 g
  • Women's: 235 g
MSRP: $120.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
The Magnifly 3 caters to runners who want a shoe that promotes a natural, forefoot-striking stride while still providing fairly high cushioning. It’s the same weight as the Ultrafly 2 and offers a similar amount of cushioning, but on a neutral, zero-drop platform. The dual-density midsole is designed to provide a cushioned yet efficient ride, which should make the Magnifly 3 feel a little faster than the Phantom. The Magnifly 3 has a new engineered mesh upper for an improved fit and minimal rubber outsole pods in high-wear areas for added durability. The Magnifly 2 is also still available in limited quantities, which has a different rip-stop mesh upper but is otherwise a very similar shoe. If you’re looking for a neutral, higher-cushion, zero-drop road shoe, the Magnifly might be a good fit.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 25 mm
  • Toe: 25 mm
Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 283 g
  • Women's: 235 g
MSRP: $120.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide

The Fli-Lyte 3 is more minimal, lightweight, and flexible than Topo’s higher-cushion shoes. The latest version has a new engineered mesh upper that’s lighter and more breathable than previous iterations of the shoe. With a lower 23 mm / 20 mm stack height and 3 mm drop, the Fli-Lyte 3 offers more ground feel than the Magnifly 3. The strategically placed outsole rubber pods add durability and traction without too much additional weight. If you want a flexible, lightweight shoe that still offers some cushioning, the Fli-Lyte 3 is worth checking out. It’s an especially good option for runners looking for a lower-stack shoe with a roomy toe box that isn’t zero drop.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 23 mm
  • Toe: 20 mm
Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 238 g
  • Women's: 198 g
MSRP: $110.00

Least Cushion

Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
The ST-3 is Topo’s most minimal road shoe. It’s built on a light, flexible, zero-drop platform for runners who want a shoe that promotes a completely natural, forefoot-striking stride. The new knit upper is simple and minimal. The ST-3 ditches the hard heel counter found in most shoes, which reduces weight but may make the heel cup slightly less secure. Its low weight and low stack height make the ST-3 well suited to shorter, faster runs, but it won’t offer the more plush feel of the higher-cushioned shoes above during long runs. If you’re looking for a minimal, lightweight, zero-drop road shoe, the ST-3 may be the shoe for you.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 16 mm
  • Toe: 16 mm
Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 206 g
  • Women's: 173 g
MSRP: $100.00

TRAIL SHOES

(Most Cushioned to Least Cushioned)

Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
As you might have guessed from the name, this shoe is designed for long trail runs and races. It’s got an aggressive outsole with fairly large, widely spaced lugs for traction on variable terrain and a triple-density midsole to provide extra support during long runs. The breathable mesh upper should allow for good airflow in warm weather, while slits in the synthetic overlays around the bottom of the upper should offer decent water drainage. While the Ultraventure has the same stack height and drop as the Mtn Racer, it’s a bit heavier, more supportive, and more protective. If you’re looking for a maximal trail shoe that will provide support on long runs, the Ultraventure may be a good option.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 30 mm
  • Toe: 25 mm
Drop: 5 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 294 g
  • Women's: 227 g
MSRP: $130.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
The Mtn Racer is surprisingly light for how much cushion and protection it offers. It’s got the same stack height as the Ultraventure but is 30 grams lighter (men’s version), making it Topo’s second lightest trail shoe. In spite of its low weight, the Mtn Racer offers an impressive feature set with an aggressive and sticky Vibram MegaGrip outsole (similar to the Ultraventure), mild pronation control, and breathable mesh upper. This shoe is worth checking out if you want something more cushioned than the Terraventure 2 or MT-3, but lighter than the Ultraventure.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 30 mm
  • Toe: 25 mm
Drop: 5 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 264 g
  • Women's: 218 g
MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide

The Hydroventure 2 is designed to excel on wet, technical terrain. It’s got a waterproof / breathable upper to keep your feet dry and a sticky Vibram MegaGrip outsole for optimal traction on wet terrain. The dual-density midsole offers a little pronation control in combination with a slightly firmer ride. While it’s not quite as cushioned as the Mtn Racer or Ultraventure, the Hydroventure 2’s moderate stack height and forefoot rock plate should provide ample protection on technical terrain. If you’re in search of a neutral, low-drop shoe for technical runs in wet conditions, the Hydroventure 2 is worth a closer look.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 25 mm
  • Toe: 22 mm
Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 289 g
  • Women's: 235 g
MSRP: $140.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide

The Terraventure 2 offers a similar feature set to the Hydroventure 2 but with a traditional mesh upper (no waterproof membrane) and harder, more durable, and less grippy outsole rubber compound. It’s got the same dual-density midsole, moderate stack height, and forefoot rock plate as the Hydroventure, but should perform better in warm / dry conditions. The harder-rubber outsole should also hold up longer when running on hard surfaces, though it won’t be quite as sticky. If you’re looking for a well-cushioned, protective shoe for running on a variety of terrain, the Terraventure 2 may be a good fit.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 25 mm
  • Toe: 22 mm
Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 306 g
  • Women's: 232 g
MSRP: $120.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide
The MT-3 has the same stack height and drop as the Terraventure 2 and Hydroventure 2, but it’s a bit lighter and less protective. It’s more moderate / less aggressive outsole provides a smooth ride on roads and enough traction for mellower trails, while the minimal rip-stop mesh upper and lack of a rock plate reduce weight. The MT-3 should perform especially well relative to Topo’s other models on runs that combine a mix of roads and trails. If you like the cushioning of the Terraventure 2 or Hydroventure 2 but think that the more trail-oriented outsoles and protective features of these shoes are overkill for the type of running you usually do, the MT-3 may be a good option.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 25 mm
  • Toe: 22 mm
Drop: 3 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 281 g
  • Women's: 227 g
MSRP: $110.00
Blister Brand Guide: Topo Athletic's 2019 running shoe guide

The Runventure 2 is Topo’s most minimal trail shoe. It’s also the only zero-drop model in their trail line-up. It’s got a firmer midsole than the MT-3 or Terraventure 2, which makes it feel a bit snappier and more efficient on fast runs, but less plush. The Runventure 2’s lower stack height also improves ground feel, but the forefoot rock plate and moderately aggressive outsole still offers enough protection for moderate to technical terrain (it’s been the go-to trail shoe of BLISTER founder, Jonathan Ellsworth, for more than a year). If you’re looking for something a little more minimal / firm than the MT-3 or Terraventure 2 but you still want a good amount of underfoot protection from sharp trail obstacles, the Runventure 2 is definitely worth checking out.

Stack Height

  • Heel: 19 mm
  • Toe: 19 mm
Drop: 0 mm

Stated Weight

  • Men's: 261 g
  • Women's: 210 g
MSRP: $110.00

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