I run in Topo shoes nearly every day: on trail, road, and hybrid terrain. I even wear Topo recovery shoes around the house. One of the newest items in my quiver is the Topo Terraventure 3 ($130).
My feet feel at home in the signature foot-shaped shoes with a wide toebox and OrthoLite insoles. I have been excitedly swept up with Topo technology and their design concepts — enough room for toe splay, a secure midfoot and heel for a stable ground feel, and low drop for the minimalist and functional athlete.
As a previous Topo Terraventure 2 runner, the transition to the Terraventure 3 was seamless. The shoe is made from the same last, so the new Terraventure 3 has a similar all-around feel and was also made to last.
The flex point of the rock plate is very similar to the previous version. I logged a couple of hundred miles in my Terraventure 2 shoes, eventually passing them along to my neighbor who hikes daily. She loves the support.
I am close to 150 miles in the Terraventure 3 without signs of shoe fatigue or compression lines. Overall, the ride of the Terraventure 3 is very similar to its predecessor, with a couple of great upgrades.
I recently reviewed the Topo Ultraventure 2 here on iRunFar, my go-to shoe for longer and burlier mountain runs. The Ultraventure 2 provides a little more cushion and a higher drop for larger volume days. The Terraventure 3, on the other hand, is what I grab on race day, for technical trails, and for most moderate training days with a lot of rolling terrain that may include rocks, tree roots, or considerable agility.
In comparison to the Ultraventure 2 model, the Terraventure 3 has a rock plate, a 3-millimeter drop, balanced cushion, and neutral support. It is relatively lightweight given the durability of the package, with an advertised weight of 8.1 ounces in a women’s size 7, and 10.2 ounces in a men’s size 9, allowing for a nice, efficient gait and faster technical running.
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Topo Terraventure 3 Upper
Several upgrades in the Topo Terraventure 3 include the design and construction of the upper and previously welded overlay. Despite the breathability of Topo shoes as I mentioned in my previous review of the Ultraventure 2, I managed to find a fair amount of dirt and dust in my shoes.
The new Terraventure 3 has a denser weave mesh at the forefoot, with considerable stretch on all sides creating ample room in the toebox. This enhanced mesh design allows for better dust and dirt exclusion, while also increasing the durability of the shoes and maintaining nice airflow.
Topo integrated a unique gaiter attachment design on their trail running shoes for their proprietary performance gaiters. I have not used this feature or their gaiters, but 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.
The Terraventure 3 is designed with fewer external overlays than the previous model. The overlays are replaced by several welded inlays at the base of the forefoot and lacing system. The inlays are nearly imperceptible to the socked foot, but can be seen on closer inspection, after dirty runs, or felt with the fingertips.
If I tied my shoes tighter, I may feel them during my runs, but I prefer a loose forefoot, hence my gravitation toward Topo shoes. The new inlays give the shoe an uninterrupted aesthetic while functionally improving water drainage.
Subsequently, the small venting system on the previous model is no longer needed. The overlays are reduced and stitched in an unobtrusive yet reinforcing manner. They are also surrounded by a denser, tighter weave split-mesh upper, and integrate the heel cup to the forefoot in a distinctive, low-angled crossing pattern. This improved construction creates a firm and sporty feel from the heel into the midfoot.
The mesh around the heel is also more pliable even with an increased collar height, but still secures the rearfoot. With regard to the changes in the collar, I didn’t feel a difference in how my foot was snugly anchored compared to the previous version, nor did I experience any rubbing or discomfort from the slight increase in material.
Topo designers have gotten foot-shaped and functional-type shoes right compared to other shoe manufacturers that consistently make narrow and tapered toeboxes. Topo makes a wide toebox, not just a wide shoe that often misses the mark for toe splay. A wide toebox allows for the toes to move, gain strength, and function efficiently.
Topo Terraventure 3 Midsole
Every Topo shoe I have used is ready to go out of the box, including the Topo Terraventure 3. I wouldn’t hesitate to run 10 or even 15 miles without a break-in period. In fact, the first time I wore the Terraventure 3, I ran 12 miles with my fellow iRunFar reviewer and friend, Annie Behrend.
We hit the pavement for three miles, climbed a steep and rutted dirt road for five miles, descended on a fast, rocky road for four miles, and ended with hot coffee in hand. The shoes performed perfectly. Although the Terraventure 3 is built for trails, specifically with technical trails in mind, brief stints on the pavement aren’t unbearable.
The midsole is the same dual-density injected EVA midsole as the previous model. The dual-density design provides a soft layer of foam underneath the foot with a firmer foam underneath it. The double layer provides more ground feel and stability, while still allowing the foot to ride comfortably, yet the Terraventure 3 is not rated as a highly cushioned shoe.
The shoes also have a flexible rock plate for extra protection. An integrated rock plate is ideal for those fast root- and rock-hopping runs, but luckily with Topo, the stability isn’t compromised. The rock plate is flexible and hardly noticeable. A good running friend, a champion of Topo trail shoes as well, recently bought the new Terraventure 3. She thought the updated version didn’t have a rock plate because it didn’t feel stiff like other fortified rock plate trail shoes.
Topo Terraventure 3 Outsole
The outsole of the Topo Terraventure 3 provides great traction and is a large contributor to how the shoe rides in terrain, and how it withstands three-dimensional movements. The Terraventure 3 sees an upgrade to a Vibram Megagrip outsole from the previously used Vibram XS Trek rubber. Megagrip is a softer rubber with outstanding grip on wet, muddy, and slick surfaces, adding a bit more stick at ground contact.
Despite an initial sticky feel, it does perform well in all conditions. Southern Oregon, where I live, has been weathering a lack of precipitation this winter, but in a sigh of relief recently, the skies opened up and dropped a bunch of snow in the mountains and rain in the valley. It was a great opportunity to really test the new outsole on the wintry mix of snow, mud, and ice-packed trails. I ran without hesitation on the ascents and descents, the outsole gripping every step of the way.
The Terraventure 3 soles are designed with multi-directional and well-spaced lugs. They are somewhat bulky, but they augment the grip while also allowing for quick mud and snow release. I did find some sandy mud built up over the course of a couple of 10-mile runs, but it didn’t weigh me down or hinder the outsole support.
Topo Terraventure 3 Overall Impressions
The Topo Terraventure 3 is tried and true for cruising the trails. I appreciate that they are relatively light, and deliver a complete package with the benefits of a foot-shaped shoe, with a low drop that is secure and stable through the midfoot. The upgrades to the shoe enhance performance, durability, and breathability. Kudos to the new split mesh upper and decreased overlays.
The new Vibram Megagrip outsole and integrated flexible rock plate with dual-density foam in the midfoot extend the vitality of this shoe for longer and more technical runs, giving it a more aggressive and secure feel. The Topo Terraventure 3, in its quiet way, supports quick turnover and the urge to race up and down the trails with a smile on my face.
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Call for Comments
- Have you tried out the Topo Terraventure 3? Let us know about your experiences.
- What other shoes of the past or present would you compare with the Terraventure 3?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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