Since I started reviewing trail running shoes for iRunFar, the Topo Pursuit ($140) has been by far the best out-of-the-box natural fit for my running style and overall foot health preference. I openly welcome low-drop, foot-shaped design running shoes. If there is a shoe to test that hits these marks, I am eager.
The first weekend I had The Topo Pursuit, I ran a series of technical mountain runs totaling 46 miles. They performed every step of the way — across buttery trail, scree, and rocky terrain on the U.S. Pacific Crest Trail. The after-impression of these runs in a zero-drop shoe was one of surprise and overwhelming enthusiasm — that my 50-kilometer shoe and daily trainer had finally arrived. My pursuit was over because the Topo Pursuit has arrived in all its modesty, a quality I have a tendency to respect in running gear. It is the shoe without ostentation, yet shows up and performs consistently.
The Topo Pursuit is exquisitely simple in design. It boasts a dialed-in heel lockdown with ample forefoot room. The shoe is unremarkable in its looks, but it is a remarkable performer. Topo designed the Pursuit to be balanced in cushion, neutral in support, and moderate in pliability — specifications that are all true to fit and form. These have an actual weight of 10.8 ounces in a men’s size 9 with a stack height of 28 millimeters and a 0-millimeter drop platform. I welcome Topo’s zero-drop design and fit with excitement and splayed toes.
From my experience in both the Topo Terraventure and Topo Ultraventure series — read iRunFar’s Topo Terraventure 3 review and Topo Ultraventure 2 review — I feel that Topo knows a good thing when they have designed something tried and true. They have made the effort to stick with it, and any slight changes in construction are so nuanced that it is either a non-issue or a design aimed at enhancing fit, performance, purpose, or one that is simply aesthetic in nature.
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Topo Pursuit Upper
The Topo Pursuit’s upper reminds me of the Terraventure 3 forefoot’s enhanced mesh design, which allows for better dust and dirt exclusion, while also increasing the durability of the shoes and maintaining adequate airflow. This tightly woven mesh is reinforced with a welded inlay system on both sides of the midfoot for extra support, requiring less need for external overlays and overly constructed uppers. The inlays are nicely hidden and non-abrasive.
The runner has to look for them to know they are there. Furthermore, the mesh is nicely stitched in a simple wave pattern that gives way to a more open weave above the mesh and then onward and up to a smooth, padded heel collar. At the bottom of the instep, the tight mesh is replaced by a small patch of drainage holes for those long runs in the rain or stream crossings.
Since I immediately tested the Pursuit on some of the most technical trails around my home base, I notably welcomed the extended rubber bumper and external overlays at the forefoot above the toes. This added protection boosts the durability and ruggedness of the trail shoe and the enduring appeal of the ride across all terrains. There are also subtle external overlays along the lateral and medial uppers for added anti-abrasion support integrated into the design.
The slightly angled heel design and collar provide comforting lock down, adding substantial security to the overall ride. This is an ideal shoe to easily slip in and out of without losing the initial tie-down snugness of the whole upper. The padded collar swoops up and forward to a low profile and soft tongue that is three-quarters gusseted.
I didn’t experience any shifting or unwanted movement from either the tongue or upper. It is simple and it works. Topo has integrated a unique gaiter attachment design on their trail shoes for their own Performance Gaiters. Although I have not used this feature or their gaiters to date, the two attachments on the rear of the shoe and the one at the base of the tongue are unobtrusive and provide a quick release system.
Topo Pursuit Midsole
The new Topo Pursuit provided substantial cushion and comfort on both the trails and the road. I often have to run a couple of miles of road or hard forest service roads before finding some prime Southern Oregon singletrack. The underfoot feel was quite nice, with just a hint of spring to get me to my desired destination. The Pursuit integrates a ZipFoam midsole that is slightly rockered underneath a compression and odor-resistant OrthoLite Performance Insole. This dynamic duo provides a plush and soft feel with decent resilience.
I never thought about the need for a rock plate in this shoe. It performs nicely without the added rigidity and weight. What the ZipFoam may lack in energy return throughout the gait cycle, it makes up for it with cushion and absorption. This combination did allow for longer miles over rocky trail without the wear and tear on the lower body that happens when wearing other zero-drop shoes on big days.
I would say any feeling of instability on the volcanic scree terrain was my dependence on previous shoes with a substantial rocker. It took a slight shift in mindfulness to heed to my midfoot landings and foot placement to drive through some of these more technical sections. Any instability I felt at the ankle was more runner-driven than shoe-driven.
Alas, it is important to be aware that if you are new to a zero-drop platform without a substantial rocker, the technical trails may seem to be more of a challenge initially, but over time the runner will feel more connected to the ankle and foot strength such a shoe design provides for the wearer. Importantly, the Pursuit is actually slightly rockered, with a heel bevel and the ZipFoam supports softness and pliability at toe-off. Overall, the midfoot is balanced, flexible, and secure from heel to toe. Confident landings are also aided by a well-designed outsole.
Topo Pursuit Outsole
The Topo Pursuit full contact outsole is nothing new, since I have been wearing the Terraventure 3 and Ultraventure 2 throughout the 2021 and 2022 running seasons. The Pursuit uses top-notch Vibram Megagrip, similar to the Terraventure, which allows for exceptional grip and flexibility over technical terrain. The lightly aggressive and multi-directional lug design and spacing is similar to both the Ultraventure 2 and Terraventure 3. It is constructed without an overbearing sense of heaviness or excessive stick across the variety of trails. The outsole confidently shows up with superb traction and decent ground feel.
Topo Pursuit Overall Impressions
The arrival of the Topo Pursuit in Topo’s lineup is a boon for the company and all the trail runners waiting for a well-constructed, zero-drop daily trainer. It is a minimalist trail shoe that has been built to last and one that rises to the challenge of technical trails. The Pursuit is a cushioned and moderately pliable shoe with durability to ride rocks and roots in inclement weather. It is relatively light and resilient as well.
The entire Pursuit package worked well for me from day one, and I was able to run much longer in these shoes than anticipated. I didn’t experience any undue stress on my calves and ankles post-training. I am excited to continue running in the Pursuit as I prepare for an upcoming 50k in the central Oregon Cascade Range.
In my trail running arsenal, I now have a 5-millimeter drop Ultraventure 2, a 3-millimeter drop Terraventure 3, and the 0-millimeter drop Pursuit. Each shoe has its purpose and praiseworthy qualities, and I am beyond grateful for the range of Topo choice. I am a loyal Topo customer who appreciates the company’s mission to support human movement, natural footwear for performance, and simple and enduring product design. The pursuit of natural movement is a daily act of mindfulness, and it is nice to experience part of that in the new Topo Pursuit.
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Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Topo Pursuit? What were your thoughts?
- Have you tried any other shoes from the Topo range? If so, how does the Pursuit compare to them for you?