This summer, I unexpectedly received the Topo Ultraventure Pro ($145) to test, though they weren’t yet on my radar back then. This beefed-up version of the Topo Ultraventure 2 piqued my curiosity in the months since, and this shoe has gained a lot of popularity in my rotation.
I’ve always envied runners who behave like engineers (and many of them are): creating training plans and never wavering, rising at 5:00 a.m. year round to run, and doing all of the ancillary work to keep the niggles at bay. I see these types of runners make decisions about gear and never try anything else while claiming, “It just works for me.” They’ll wear the same gear for years, never curious about trying anything new, eschewing any trends. These are the types of runners who find a shoe they like and buy at least five, maybe 10 pairs, knowing that running shoe companies are constantly chasing updates for the next product release cycle. I’ve always found myself thinking: The trail shoe models that work for me will only get better with time! And, yes, while cushioning and propulsion technology have made leaps in the last few years, newer models and the changes that come with them are sometimes detrimental to what I liked about a shoe.
If I’m being truly honest, there is only one shoe that I wished I’d stocked up on before the model disappeared, the Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail N2. Designed with a legacy of OG ultrarunners, the N2 was a shoe that never seemed to fail me, no matter the distance or pace. The first time I ran in the Topo Ultraventure Pro, I thought I’d found the replacement to my beloved N2. It checks a lot of familiar boxes. First, it has a 5-millimeter drop. Second, it has an actual weight of 10.0 ounces for men’s size 9 and an advertised weight of 8.2 ounces for a women’s size 7. And it has an accommodating toebox, rock plate in the forefoot, and responsive cushioning. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pair of N2s around anymore for a direct comparison, but these two shoe models seem so similar.
FYI, we’ve named the Topo Ultraventure Pro one of the best trail running shoes!
Topo Ultraventure Pro Upper
If you are new to the Topo fit, the best comparison is to think of the upper of an Altra shoe with a slimmer midfoot and heel. It’s a bit like mixing an Altra Lone Peak with a Nike trail running shoe — a wider toebox like an Altra, with a bit more structure in the uppers. However, the Topo Ultraventure Pro strays just a bit from their previous fits as the midfoot and heel have been criticized by some as not feeling secure. While the Ultraventure Pro has a bit more robust of a heel collar, I didn’t experience any slippage, and the midfoot, while not tapered like the Topo Mtn Racer 2, did not cause me to have any fit issues. I found the upper secure on both mellow and technical trails.
The upper consists of very tough dual-density mesh, a gusseted tongue, and minimal-yet-effective rubberized toebox rand. I found the durable and water-resistant mesh a bit warm when the temperatures crept up over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is a noticeable coating of salt around the upper from wearing the Ultraventure Pro in high heat this summer. I didn’t experience any durability issues with the upper, and like all the other Topos I’ve worn, they seem to last. Additionally, the upper is gaiter compatible with hooks on the heel and toebox that are almost unnoticeable and cleverly designed. From a fit perspective, my typical size in Topos and Altras is a 10, while I prefer a 10.5 in other shoe companies. The Ultraventure Pro is true to size.
Topo Ultraventure Pro Midsole
The first Topo shoes I tested back at the company’s inception were minimal in nature. While fun to run in, I struggled to take them past 10 miles and avoided rocky terrain. Topo’s current lineup features the somewhat lighter and more nimble Mtn Racer 2, the Ultraventure 2, and then this more robust and supportive Topo Ultraventure Pro. The midsole of these new Topo models features ZipFoam, which is Topo’s proprietary midsole foam. In this case, Topo uses three different densities of ZipFoam with the softer foam cradling the foot and the more firm ZipFoam closer to the ground. On the medial side of the shoe, there is some firmer ZipFoam which lends gentle structural support for when your gait is breaking down due to fatigue, and I didn’t notice anything that felt remotely like motion control.
The ride of the Ultraventure Pro can be described as comfortable and simple. I didn’t experience any discomfort in the shoe, and the feel is right in the middle of responsive/firm and soft/springy. It’s a shoe that I laced up and forgot about during my run, which is a tribute to its functionality. The rock plate, combined with the higher density midsole toward the outsole, provided more than enough protection on rocky terrain.
Topo Ultraventure Pro Outsole
The Topo Ultraventure Pro has a simple yet effective use of moderately deep, well-spaced lugs designed to shed mud, and Vibram Megagrip rubber that grabs at everything. I didn’t get to test the Ultraventure Pro much in muddy or rainy conditions, but the outsole inspired confidence and it shows almost zero wear after my testing.
Topo Ultraventure Pro Overall Impressions
If you’re a runner looking for a nimble, eight-ounce trail shoe with ground feel, the Topo Ultraventure Pro is not your shoe. In that case, you will find the Topo Mtn Racer 2 to be perfect for your needs. However, if you’re looking for a simple yet effectively well cushioned trail shoe to spend all day racking up the miles in, then the Ultraventure Pro would be my first choice in the Topo line. I feel that this was an added level of protection incorporating a rock plate to the very popular Ultraventure 2, and the ride feels better in my opinion, especially for long days on the trail. If you’re looking for a great all-around, ultra-distance trail shoe, the Topo Ultraventure Pro is a must-try.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Topo Ultraventure Pro? If so, share your thoughts on the shoe in general and its details.
- If you wear multiple models of Topo shoes, including the Ultraventure Pro, can you compare them in the comments section?
- Are you the type of runner that sticks to one shoe and stays with it, or do you try new styles when they come out?
[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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