Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3
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74% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
Topo Athletic does it again! The Fli-Lyte 3 got a completely new facelift from its predecessor the Fli-Lyte 2. Good-bye old uncomfortable overlays, and hello new ultra-comfortable running shoes!
Crafted specifically with the anatomical shape of your foot in mind, let’s dive deeper into what makes the Fli-Lyte 3 a stellar running shoe.
Just as the Topo motto implies “Move better, naturally” be prepared to do just that.
Time and time again, I am impressed with Topo Athletic’s ability to listen to customer feedback and implement positive improvements with each new model.
Though the Fli-Lyte 3 uses the same platform as Fli-Lyte 2, be prepared for a whole new experience. The Fli-Lyte 3 is a phenomenal, lightweight, daily trainer with a wider toe box for ample toe splay.
As per usual, the Fli-Lyte 3 is constructed with human anatomy and biomechanics in mind. Thus, these shoes encompass a wider toe box than your average running shoe.
Moreover, the wider toe box does not compromise the adequate midfoot or heel lock-down. This new and improved shoe quickly became a “fan favorite” in my book!
Upper updates galore
Hello, new updates!
Upon unboxing, I could not believe how drastically different the Fli-Lyte 3 looked from its predecessor!
Before I even put the shoes on my feet, I was immediately elated to see the printed overlays previously seen on the Fli-Lyte 2 become a thing of the past.
The Fli-Lyte 3 is comprised of a completely different, new and improved breathable mesh upper with no printed overlays. That’s right! The overlays are no more!
Absolutely no overlays on the Fli-Lyte 3!
Without the printed overlays, not only does the Fli-Lyte 3 look better aesthetically than its predecessor, it is far more comfortable! The updated mesh upper is durable and hugs the foot really nicely.
To be clear, the wider toe box does not compromise the snug fit through the midfoot and the heel whatsoever.
Updated breathable mesh upper
I was so thankful that I didn’t have any issues with irritation, hot spots, or blistering like I had previously with the Fli-Lyte 2. Let’s be honest: blisters and hot spots are never fun to deal with.
In addition, I feel as though the updated mesh is much more breathable. This definitely will come in handy for my long runs on hot summer days for sure!
It is important to note that the improvements of the upper did not compromise the shoe's weight. The shoe still remains incredibly light in weight despite its new facelift.
Also, interestingly Topo omitted the rubber toe bumper on the Fli-Lyte 3, which is found on the Fli-Lyte 2. I wasn’t too worried about it, but it was just something new that I noticed for the Fli-Lyte 3.
Thanks to the new mesh upper, I also didn’t have a prolonged break-in period as I experienced with the Fli-Lyte 2. I quite literally put these shoes on and ran 8.5 miles in them right out of the box!
They truly remained comfortable mile after mile.
Furthermore, I wanted to mention how much I love the padded collar on the heel. The padded heel collar was just the right height. It hugged my heel flawlessly and never caused any blistering.
Check out how padded that heel collar is!
I never had any issues with my heel slipping out of the shoe. Also, I applaud its overall comfortability thanks to its snug and secure feel.
Midsole and outsole
Sitting on the same platform as the Fli-Lyte 2, the Fli-Lyte 3 has some updated improvements to the EVA foam midsole, as well as a new Ortholite footbed.
Comparing both the Fli-Lyte 2 and Fli-Lyte 3, I’d say the Fli-Lyte 3 is a much softer and more flexible ride. On hand, it is easy to see how the Fli-Lyte 3 shoe itself can be flexed more easily.
Meanwhile, the Fli-Lyte 2, which is much more rigid and stiff. (Be sure to check out my RunRepeat Review video to see the comparison between the two shoes)
Similar to the Fli-Lyte 2, the EVA foam of the Fli-Lyte 3 has strategically targeted rubber pods immediately under high traction areas.
The greater amount of exposed EVA foam with targeted rubber pods attributes to the overall light weight of this shoe.
Lots of exposed EVA foam!
Analogous to that of the Fli-Lyte 2 and the ST-3, I had early signs of wear to the EVA foam just below the rubber pods beneath my first metatarsals and to the forefoot area.
I am predominantly a mid/forefoot striker. So, that particular area of my shoe has taken a beating very quickly on these shoes.
I would like to see the rubber pods inferior to the metatarsals and the area around the forefoot to have just a tad more coverage to prevent premature wearing.
Exposed EVA foam early wear to the forefoot region
Besides, I found early creasing to the midsole EVA foam around mile 20. The creasing has become more obvious after surpassing 55 miles in the Fli-Lyte 3.
I have concerns about the longevity and durability with each mile because it will only continue to become compressed.
Ultimately, I worry that the foam will no longer rebound back to original shape after use and the shoes will have to be retired early.
Midsole creasing seen in yellow foam at ~60 miles of wear seen in photo
The updated EVA foam and Ortholite footbed do not sacrifice responsiveness. Though the cushioning is softer than its previous iteration, the shoe remains incredibly responsive.
This makes the shoe great for various distances. With that being said, the lightweight nature of this shoe makes it versatile enough to be used for both tempo runs, and endurance runs alike.
This is not my first occurrence wearing Topo Athletic shoes. Thus, I knew that these shoes run somewhat small in size. With that, a half-size increase should be enough for optimal fit.
Here is my size chart of various shoe brands to be used as a comparison in choosing the right size for yourself:
|The North Face||9.5|
Despite the new look and improved feel of the Fli-Lyte 3, the specs are nearly identical to the Fli-Lyte 2.
Here is a quick break down of the Fli-Lyte 3 road running shoe specifications:
|Heel-to-toe drop||3mm offset|
Be mindful that the Fli-Lyte 3 is classified as a minimalistic shoe because of its low 3mm offset/heel-to-toe drop.
If you are currently running in a shoe with a 6mm or greater offset, you might want to work your way into this shoe slowly to prevent injury.
I rotate a handful of shoes to accommodate my individual training needs. So, this isn’t my first rodeo with a lower drop shoe.
Initially, with the Fli-Lyte 2, I made sure to spend a lot of time getting used to the lower drop before trying to hit a personal record in them.
Thus, I was able to transition the Fli-Lyte 3 into my shoe rotation seamlessly.
It is important to take caution despite seeing what seems to be only a slight differentiation in stack height. Without proper acclimation, there is a possibility for injuries.
Such injuries include the Achilles tendons, calves, posterior tibialis, etcetera to ensue. Speaking from experience, I had past issues when I overeagerly dialed up the pace in a zero drop model.
It caused some irritation to my Achilles causing Achilles tendonitis. Achilles issues are never fun; just take my word for it.
Performance & comfort
I cannot emphasize enough how much I love the comfortability of the Fli-Lyte 3!
These trainers are incredibly light, yet so versatile. I have used these shoes for both endurance running, shorter distance running (<10K), and tempo runs. Their adaptability is impressive.
Weighing in at a mere 7 ounces, I never felt weighed down by these shoes and still felt as though there was ample underfoot cushioning.
I loved how I felt just as comfortable in these shoes on my 8-10 mile runs as I was training shorter distance speed work with them on the track!
I also found myself wearing these shoes out-and-about due to how comfortable they are. Also, I am on my feet a lot at work, so they are certainly comfortable for long periods of standing and walking.
For being a neutral shoe, I still feel as though it hugs my arch nicely. This certainly adds to the overall comfortability of the Fly-Lyte 3.
Even loved the Fli-Lyte 3 for cross-training!
I wanted to mention something about the width of the Fli-Lyte 3 really quickly. Topo typically incorporates wide toe boxes in their running shoes to allow for greater toe splay.
Though wider than your average running shoe, I did not find the width to be that much wider.
Despite having average width feet, I still found myself wishing for just a tad more space in the midfoot area.
The uppers have zero overlays. This compensated for the extra space I was hoping for. Either way, I felt as though I desired just a touch more room in the toe box to allow for optimal toe splay.
My absolute favorite aspect of the shoe is the new breathable mesh upper. The overlays on the Fli-Lyte 2 caused some irritation for me until the shoes were completely broken in.
This is not the case with the Fli-Lyte 3. It felt wonderful not to worry about bothersome overlays anymore. Plus, I never blistered in the Fli-Lyte 3 whatsoever, which is phenomenal.
Moreover, I felt as though the ride was much more comfortable in the Fli-Lyte 3 in comparison to the Fli-Lyte 2. That is saying a lot because I really liked the Fli-Lyte 2!
The EVA foam provided a much softer and smoother ride, in my opinion. And, I found myself choosing the Fli-Lyte 3 as my preferred training shoe quite frequently.
I love the balance of cushioning and responsiveness that the Fli-Lyte 3 has. This balance was absolutely perfect for my preference.
I feel like Topo hit the nail on the head with the ideal amount of cushioning without sacrificing responsiveness.
The laces on the Fli-Lyte 3 are similar to the Fli-Lyte 2. They are outfitted with flat laces, but the material is quite different.
These laces are much shorter than their predecessor but ample in length to not be “too short.” For some reason, I did find my shoelaces coming untied more frequently unless I double-knotted them.
Untied shoes can be a bit frustrating to deal with. But, if you just double-knot them, you shouldn’t have any issues.
In my opinion, the “silky” feel to the shoelaces could the reason why these untie so easily. Just as I mentioned in my review of the Fli-Lyte 2, I am a fan of the flat shoelaces.
Flat laces distribute pressure across the top of the foot more evenly. Throw a double-knot on these bad boys and everything should be fine.
- Extremely comfortable
- Lightweight and flexible
- Versatile enough for various distances
- Responsive ride
- Softer ride than Fli-Lyte 2
- Great shoe lockdown
- Updated upper with zero overlays
- Zero break-in period required
- Early signs of wear and longevity concern for outsole/midsole
- Shoelaces untie very easily
- Felt a bit narrower than other Topo models
I can speak of the praises of the Topo Fli-Lyte 3 all day because I truly love these shoes. The recent updates genuinely made the shoes my personal favorite shoe from Topo Athletic.
You can rarely find a shoe that is both agile and light, as well as comfortable and versatile. I love how it was able to suit my individual needs for various distances without compromising comfort.
From speed work on the track, to hill training on the treadmill, to long road runs, I was comfortable mile after mile.
With that being said, despite having various shoes in my shoe arsenal, I frequently choose these over my other trainers.
My only major complaints about the Fli-Lyte 3 were the shoelace material, the longevity concern, and that the Fli-Lyte 3 did not feel as wide as other Topo models.
Perhaps in the next Fli-Lyte, I would love to see the targeted rubber traction pods to be re-strategized in regards to placement. Doing so will protect the EVA outsole from wearing down quickly.
Otherwise, these are hands down, my favorite shoes from the Topo line!
It’s a good time to be a runner now that the market is filled with a plethora of shoes. This means that there’s something out there for each runner that would fit them perfectly with no frills.
Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 is a neutral, low drop shoe from Topo Athletic, known for having all of its shoes with a drop of 5 mm or lower.
The Fli-Lyte is a simple shoe. It has a fairly responsive midsole, a light mesh upper with very small but efficient ventilation cuts, and a very spacious toe box.
The shoe is wider than most shoes that I have and has a really high volume that offers a very pleasant and different ride. Gone are the days of toe squishing.
The Fli Lytes run true to size. The shoe is slightly wider than other shoes.
The toe box is very wide and high. It’s reinforced with a rigid bumper, and it’s a bit “squared,” which didn’t bother me but might be something to consider.
The upper is a well-ventilated mesh. It has tiny cuts that improve breathability without letting “too much air” in, making it suitable for hot summers and chilly winters (but probably not rainy ones).
There are no overlays, wires, or any form of support on the upper of the shoe, it’s a simple upper, so if you absolutely need some support, then maybe this is not for you.
There’s a heel counter inside of the heel that reinforces it. The tongue is plush, but it’s not gusseted, which I would have preferred.
The shoe fits very comfortably with no hot spots or cramping of your toes.
However, it took a bit of time to adjust the lacing to get some sort of stability in the midfoot. Possibly it’s because the shoe itself is wider than other normal shoes as I had before.
If you try to tighten the laces, the inner lining on the midsole’s inner sides tends to rub a bit, which causes discomfort sometimes if you are wearing thin socks.
The outsole has some strategically placed rubber in high wear areas; the rest is just exposed EVA foam.
This is one of the main contributing factors that made this shoe very light. Hopefully, this won’t decrease the shoe’s longevity.
With a 3 mm drop, the Fli-Lytes fall under the low drop spectrum. This requires some adjustment for some people who are used to running in higher drops (typically 10 mm).
Running with a lower drop usually works your calves more and sores after a run compared to running with a shoe that has a more traditional drop.
The midsole is responsive, but it feels slightly more rigid than what I would prefer. The Fli-Lytes really shine in short tempo runs and long easy runs, but I don’t think it would be comfortable racing a long distance.
Due to the wide toe box, the first shoe that I have in my rotation that comes to mind was the Altra Escalante (I have the OG version).
- Both shoes have a wide toe box, albeit the Escalante might look slightly “clown-ish” because it has a narrower last than the Fli-Lytes.
- The toe box is much shallow in the Escalante, but it doesn’t have a bumper or a reinforcement like the Fli-Lytes.
- The heel is structured in the Fli-Lytes, while the Escalantes don’t have any form of structure.
- Both shoes have a low drop, but I would give the edge to the Fli-Lytes as it’s less extreme than the zero drop on the Escalantes.
- It’s much easier and more comfortable to get a locked fit on the Escalantes.
Overall, the Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 is a simple shoe. It’s neutral with a very spacious toe box.
I found myself reaching the Fli-Lytes more than I’ve planned for because of how light and comfortable they feel.
In the past, I have had the frustrating experience of my favorite running shoes redesigned by the manufacturer resulting in features that I loved replaced by not so good modifications.
However, Topo’s release of the Fli-Lyte 3 has been an exemption making my runs feel “On Topo of the World”!
From the first run to now having almost 200 miles on Fli-Lyte 3, it has exceeded my expectations. Although I am primarily a road runner, I do vary surfaces on my runs.
This shoe provides the comfort and responsiveness needed especially with the new Ortholite foam footbed.
The wide toe box comfort, breathability, cushion, and wearability have me checking all the boxes.
Design and Comfort
In the redesign of the Fli-Lyte 2, Topo removed the upper plastic ascetically enhancing the Fly-Lite 3. But, most importantly, it also improved breathability.
The roomy anatomical toe box provides a natural and comfortable fit. It has eliminated all my prior blister problems, painful rubbing, and black toenails.
The engineered stitchless mesh upper with no additional overlays feels soft, lighter, and less restrictive.
As a Florida resident, anything that can help with summer heat running is a significant plus.
Thus, the 7-ounce weight (W7 size) / 9 ounce (M9 size) of the Fly-Lyte 3 in comparison to its predecessor has remained almost the same.
The Con: The wide toe box takes some adjustment. This is especially for those used to the more traditional streamlined fits as in the Saucony Kinvara, which was one of my prior go-to models.
Additionally, Topo retained the 3mm heel to toe drop. Thus, if one is not accustomed to low drop shoes, it does take time to adjust.
My experience once adjusted to lower drop shoes has been in improving positioning and striking. In addition, I have not incurred any running injuries.
The introduction of the new Ortholite foam footbed and tweak to the midsole provides a softer yet responsive ride. The removal of the plastic offset the weight of the footbed.
The Pro: Fli-Lyte 3 the heel cup has been modified, resulting in a comfortable, perfect fit. The Ortholite foam footbed cushion is firm, responsive, and not squishy.
The new breathable mesh upper is lightweight, soft, and durable.
The shoe is true to size. The tight-knit structure and lacing comfortably secure the shoe to the foot.
I have had experiences with shoes, despite double-tie laces, becoming loose during wear, which is especially frustrating during a race. The Fli-Lyte 3 stayed comfortably secured even on long runs.
The shoe is lightweight (size 7 is 6.9 oz.). Meanwhile, the upper portion is made of breathable mesh materials that have proven to be very durable.
The sole has excellent traction and is not slippery on wet surfaces of which I have encountered in other running shoe lines.
Although Topo stripped away the not-needed rubber, I agree that the rubber is “wear you need it”. I ran approximately 200 miles in these shoes, and you can see the bottom tread has reasonable wear.
The Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 is a fairly-priced shoe, true to size, delivering both comfort and durability. I love the anatomical toe box with the lightweight mesh, no seams feature.
It has eliminated all my prior blister problems, painful rubbing, and black toenails.
The 3mm drop is a sweet spot providing a more responsive shoe. This is in comparison to the alternative zero-drop rounded toe box shoes, such as the Altra’s.
It’s a keeper in my shoe rotations and a go-to for racing.
Updates to Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3
- The Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 is an update to a prime series of running shoes designed for the roads. This product features a design that moves away from its predecessor. Engineered mesh replaces the regular mesh upper of the Fli-Lyte 2. In addition, a significant reduction of overlays that ensures a lightweight and uncluttered silhouette.
- While the same ethylene-vinyl acetate midsole foam is used for the cushioning system of this product, an Ortholite® sockliner adds extra softness to the underfoot experience, as well as antimicrobial and anti-moisture capacities. Rubber barriers shield the contact points of the heel and forefoot, preserving their structure and giving traction.
Size and fit
The Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 was constructed to be true to size. However, to achieve a comfortable in-shoe feel, one should consider testing the shoe first or sifting through user reviews from different outlets.
The elements that affect the fit-profile of this product are the fabrics that make up the upper unit, the shape of the lasting board, and the extra allowance (or the lack of it) that is placed on the midfoot and forefoot. Topo Athletic designed the toe box to be spacious enough to accommodate the natural splaying of the toes.
The majority of the outsole unit is made of ground-contact foam. This bottom layer offers traction through the presence of traction nodes. The same tread-pattern serves as a means of bumping up the responsiveness of the cushioning system.
Rubber covers the areas of the heel and forefoot that are susceptible to wear-and-tear. These shield-like sheets fundamentally preserve the form of the foam midsole, retaining the evenness of the external pad and the quality of the cushioning.
The tread-pattern of the outsole has resulted in the existence of flex grooves. These trenches are designed to make the whole platform flexible, thus enabling the natural capacity of the foot to bend as it transitions from the heel to the toe.
Underfoot cushioning is the responsibility of the ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam. This full-length piece is designed to receive the weight of the foot, supporting it and keeping it above the ground at all times. It doesn’t have a substantial stack height to maintain a feeling of being parallel to the surfaces. Its job is to cushion the footfalls and energizes the toe-off. EVA is a well-known cushioning piece that graces many running shoes, including rosters like the Hoka One One Bondi.
An Ortholite® sockliner is placed right on top of the EVA midsole. This add-on offers extra support for the underside of the foot, giving it a soft surface on which to rest. It has antimicrobial and anti-moisture capacities which allow it to maintain a clean and healthy in-shoe environment. It can be removed or replaced with a new one if the wearer wants to do so.
The exterior of the Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3’s upper unit is made of engineered mesh. This cloth-like material has a stretchy nature which allows it to conform to the shape and motion of the foot as it takes each step. It has many intentionally placed holes that welcome air into the foot-chamber to maintain a cool and dry ride.
The padded collar and tongue protect the foot from impact shock by holding it in place. These parts of the upper also prevent in-compartment slipping and accidental shoe removals.
The inner sleeve is made of a seamless textile that gives a sock-like wrap. The non-irritating cover prevents hot spots while preserving breathability.