Topo MT-5 Review

An in-depth review of the Topo MT-5 trail running shoe.

By on May 2, 2024 | Comments
Topo MT-5

The Topo MT-5. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

I am not a stranger to Topo running shoes — trail and road — and I’ve found that the Topo MT-5 ($130) excels in both spheres. Newly upgraded, this is one of Topo’s hybrid shoes and has an exceptional ability to transition from road to trail and back again. It is slightly more rugged and aggressive than the Topo Traverse (review) that dropped in late 2023 and is also a bit more comfortable. Like the Traverse, the MT-5 is an exceptional choice for serious hikers. Its higher volume, bigger base, and ability to handle light-to-moderate trails for long and short distances make it appealing to many different types of runners as well.

There are several changes in the newest version of this shoe, including an increase in the stack height. It has a 28-millimeter stack height under the heel and 23 millimeters under the toe. This is compared to the 25-millimeter heel stack height of the previous version. The drop has also increased from 3 millimeters to 5 millimeters. These changes can be a source of frustration for those who don’t necessarily agree with larger drops and stack heights in trail running shoes, which may disconnect the body from actual underfoot conditions. However, some camps may find this new stack and drop fall into a traditional shoe camp when compared to the new world of shoe skyscrapers.

Given this shoe’s purpose, the specifications do make it more inviting to many trail runners. I will admit, though, that I’d prefer Topo to keep their shoes low, wide, and designed with firm yet responsive cushion. Shoes from Topo have helped me navigate both long-distance ultrarunning races with equal duty on technical surfaces, singletrack terrain, long forest road slogs, and focused road marathon training. Even though this shoe is at the upper end of drop for the brand, it still scores high for fit and performance for my general style of trail running. It is designed for balanced performance with moderate cushion and neutral support and weighs an actual 9.2 ounces (261 grams) for U.S. men’s 9.

Shop the Women's Topo MT-5Shop the Men's Topo MT-5

Topo MT-5 Upper

Topo MT-5 - lateral

A lateral view of the Topo MT-5.

The Topo MT-5 has a new sleek yet subdued aesthetic. The mesh is a tightly engineered weave with micro-stitched inlays. Like the brand’s other models, this upper design gives the shoe a more integrated look and feel without needing an overly constructed upper. The material is smooth, breathable, and comfortable, and after nearly 80 miles of light-to-moderate trail running, the fabric hasn’t started to look worn or used. Some of the miles were in rainy and wet conditions, and the shoes drained and dried quickly.

There is a decently thick, although narrow, toe bumper stretching atop the wide toebox, as well as additional small overlays at the toe flex joint for extra medial and lateral protection. It isn’t much, but it’s there. Again, these shoes are built for mild-to-moderate trail use, and Topo did a great job at balancing protection, security, and weight.

The heel collar is soft and moderately cushioned. For extra heel support and total integration, Topo uses a welded overlay to connect the laces, heel, and midsole. Comparably, it is less rigid than other models, which may have contributed to the looser heel fit. There are several potential reasons for the looser heel, including a deeper malleolus heel design, internal fabrics, and overall foot fit. It may also be attributed to the actual length of the shoe. I pulled out all of my other Topo models; indeed, this one is slightly longer than the other shoes of the same size.

The interior material, while soft and non-abrasive, has a certain slip to it, which was notable if the shoes weren’t properly laced for adequate lockdown. This was the first Topo shoe I really had to anchor down for fit. Despite this, the midfoot has a secure fit. The shoe has the brand’s original and traditional wide toebox.

Other accouterments include two tongue stays on each side of a Ghillie lacing system to keep the well-padded tongue centered and comfortable for long runs. Two additional loops at the top of the tongue secure the midfoot and lacing. In standard Topo fashion, the tongue is partially gusseted, which helps keep out unwanted materials. Interestingly, there are two gaiter attachments at the back of the heel, but no corresponding loop attachment point at the base of the laces. I am sure there is a way to work around this.

Topo MT-5 Midsole

Topo MT-5 - medial

A medial view of the Topo MT-5.

The Topo MT-5 uses the brand’s proprietary ZipFoam for the midsole. It has a soft layer of foam directly underfoot and a firmer foam underneath riding above the outsole. One of the biggest draws of Topo shoes, from my viewpoint as a very consistent and sometimes competitive trail runner, is how the midsole meets both training and race day ambitions, and this shoe is no different. The first layer of foam provides cushion and comfort while the second layer confidently tackles the ground and outsole interface — affording the runner protection and stability.

The midsole ZipFoam design superbly integrates more cushion for those who want it while still offering a decently responsive ride on both the road and trail for runners looking for that experience. It is comfortable underfoot and isn’t too plush. Through the gait cycle, the heel is soft and protected, the midfoot remains stiff and secure, and the forefoot feels flexible and in touch with the ground.

Topo MT-5 Outsole

Topo MT-5 - outsole

The outsole of the Topo MT-5.

While traditionally Topo trail shoes are keenly designed for dirt-focused runners and have the tendency to inspire some tough and technical running, the Topo MT-5 takes a different approach to honor more versatility and hybrid training models. The shoe’s new outsole design uses the brand’s upgraded Vibram XS Trek EVO rubber and has less aggressive lugs than many other models, resulting in smoother trail-to-road transitions and lower weight. It does all this without compromising durability and necessary traction for meaningful trail excursions. The sticky Vibram allows the shoe to perform suitably on moderate trail terrain.

Through these winter and early spring months, I logged low-to-moderate training mileage in these shoes and found them ideal on my local trail system when everything is damp. However, once summer hits and the granitic soil-based trails turn dry and loose, I suspect this outsole may not perform as well.

The shoe has a much wider base of support and landing pad than other models from Topo. As mentioned above, it was designed with a longer last, but designers also built out the shoe’s rudder and midfoot arch support in the midsole. The exposed midsole foam on the bottom of the shoe adds flexibility, and the shoe sports a nifty nimbleness largely from the outsole design.

I also like the fact that the outsole design understands how a foot lands, rolls through mid-stance, and then toes off. It is simply dependable.

Topo MT-5 Overall Impressions

Topo MT-5 - top

A top view of the Topo MT-5.

The mission of the design and production of the Topo MT-5 is clear — a gateway to other Topo trail shoes and an amenable entry point into mild-to-moderate trail running with seamless road-to-trail performance. The shoe can offer stability and surety to any runner looking for a long-lasting versatile running shoe that can kick around the dirt and pick up some speed if necessary.

The shoe enters its fifth generation with across-the-board changes in an effort to keep pace with market demands and the latest shoe science. It also greatly factors in user comfort and support through the lens of functional footwear. The upgraded ZipFoam midsole and Vibram outsole are a great combination for traction and durability. With these changes and a revamped upper, the shoe is lighter than its predecessor and serves up some pep under the step.

The emergence of new hybrids in shoe brand repertoires is an ideal way to invite new runners to the trails and expand seasoned runners’ horizons. Versatility is not only a gateway — but a key to running longevity.

Shop the Women's Topo MT-5Shop the Men's Topo MT-5

Call for Comments

  • Have you had a chance to run in the Topo MT-5 shoes?
  • How does this edition compare to prior versions of this model?
  • Do you have a pair of hybrid road-to-trail shoes in your quiver?

Our Favorite Trail Running Shoes

Check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article to learn about our current favorite trail running shoes!

Molly Schmelzle

Molly Schmelzle is a gear reviewer for iRunFar. She is relatively new to the reviewing scene but is a veteran competitive athlete, ultrarunner, and writer. Molly has authored biology-based research papers and numerous grants for funding opportunities. She has been coaching runners of all abilities with a particular focus on strength and conditioning training over the last 7 years. Together with her partner, a sports chiropractor with a specialty in running and endurance athletes, they are in the beginning stages of building a mobility and strength program for runners. Molly is a dedicated biologist for the state of Oregon and is a strength coach on the side. She enjoys running ultras in remote mountainous areas and will occasionally hop into road half and full marathons.