Verdict from 6.4 hours of research from the internet

6 reasons to buy

  • The traction capacity of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure’s outsole unit was lauded for being precise and dependable.
  • The midsole’s multiple densities protected the foot from sharp surfaces and debris, according to several consumers.
  • Some testers commented that the breathability of the upper unit was agreeable; they didn’t feel any buildup of stuffiness while wearing this product.
  • The inner sleeve was soft and comfortable, according to a handful of testers. Blisters and hot spots apparently didn’t become a problem for them.
  • Most purchasers commended the color schemes of this shoe, stating that the various hues were appealing to the eyes.
  • Runners were happy with the durability of the Ultraventure; the materials didn’t wear off or tear apart quickly.

1 reasons not to buy

  • A few consumers complained that the Topo Athletic Ultraventure was a bit narrower than what they were used to.

Bottom line

The response of runners when the Ultraventure was released was overwhelmingly positive. This addition to the global roster of Topo Athletic running shoes was hailed as a reliable companion for the trails. The durability of the components, the steadiness of the midsole and the well-ventilated upper became the elements that caused people to appreciate the whole package. On the other hand, a handful of people claimed that there was some tightness when the foot rested in the interior chamber.

The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is a trail shoe that’s meant for both neutral pronators and fans of stability running footwear.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Our reviews

95
/100 by Geoff Roest, posted on .

If I had to describe this shoe in one sentence, I would say it is a marriage of the Hoka Speedgoat and the Altra Lone Peak—a moderate heel-to-toe drop, a wide toe box and natural foot shape, and enough cushion to run for hours.

Best use

Long-distance trail running over a variety of surfaces

Experience so far

  • One 16-mile run on flat, fast trails
  • One 18-mile run on rugged mountain terrain
  • A 100-mile trail race on rolling singletrack and dirt roads

Fit

For someone with a somewhat wide foot, this shoe fits like a glove. It has neutral support with a 5mm of heel-toe drop—less than many conventional trail shoes, but more (of course) than true zero-drop brands.

I find the 5mm drop to be aggressive enough to approach steep ascents with confidence. It does so without putting too much strain on my calves over long distances.

The wide toe-box is reminiscent of Altra shoes and accommodates swelling during ultramarathons.

The 30mm stack in the heel provides plenty of cushioning, but the shoe still feels connected to the ground—much more so than some maximalist shoes out there, such as the Altra Olympus.

 

These shoes are humble in their appearance but deliver on the trails.

Performance

This shoe has proved its worth over a 100-mile ultra. The midsole is cushioned enough to remain comfortable over long distances.

Meanwhile, the 11oz weight (men’s 10.5, measured on a kitchen scale) is reasonable compared to other cushioned trail shoes. The upper is durable yet forgiving with a wide toe box, allowing for swelling while remaining comfortable.

The lugs on the Vibram outsole are enough to provide traction, but running in slippery mud may prove to be too much.

Overall, this shoe is versatile enough to cover a variety of terrain, cushioned enough to go for miles on end, and light enough to feel lively for hours.

Durability

After 130+ miles, including a 100-mile ultra, the shoes are holding up well. There is noticeable wear on the outsoles, but they still have plenty of life left.

The areas of exposed midsole on the bottom of the shoe also show signs of wear but are still intact. The midsole on the sides and the uppers are still in great condition, despite some contact with rocks on my runs.

Lastly, there is no noticeable separation between the upper, midsole, or outsole.

 

The outsole remains in good shape after 130+ miles.

Features

This shoe is not pushing the boundaries of running shoe technology and features, which is a good thing. I like this shoe because of it’s simple design—manageable stack height and heel-toe drop, forgiving upper, and a durable outsole.

This shoe’s features, while humble, allow it to excel as a versatile long-distance trail shoe. Other reviewers have commented on Topo Athletic’s bizarre approach to their gaters.

It utilizes two horizontal hooks on the heel and another hook to attach to the laces. Admittedly, this design does feel secure and accomplishes the goal of keeping debris out of your shoe.

But, changing your socks at the 70-mile aid station in your ultra may prove to be difficult and frustrating, as the hooks on the heel require some effort. Topo Athletic should look to Altra for a more user-friendly approach to gaters.

 

The gater loops are secure but not very easy to work with.

Style

My navy blue and black colorway is smooth and subtle, though not very exciting. The shoe is also available in a grey/orange design, which is brighter, but still not bold.

Overall

The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is humble, versatile, durable, and—most importantly—fun. This shoe is a solid long-distance trail shoe, especially considering that the price tag is low compared to similar shoes from other brands.

It will satisfy runners from half-marathon distances up to (and beyond) 100 milers. At 11 oz (men’s 10.5, weight on a kitchen scale), it is not the lightest shoe on the market, but this weight translates to durability and cushioned comfort.

The 5mm heel-toe drop is a reasonable compromise between the large drops of traditional running shoe brands and the zero-drop market.

This shoe will remain in heavy rotation within my collection—especially for 20+ mile trail runs—anywhere from flat gravel trails to the steep, rugged slopes of the Grand Canyon.

However, for a similar shoe with a smaller heel-toe drop (3 mm), look to the Topo Athletic Terraventure.

Geoff Roest | Level 1 expert Verified
I started running to lose weight back in 2012. I quickly fell in love and ran my first race—a road marathon. Since then, I have run four more road marathons and will be running Boston in 2020. I have also run several ultramarathons and finished my first 100 miler in 2019. I average 50-70 miles per week and do a mix of road running and trail running. Shoes in my current rotation include several Hoka One Ones (Speedgoat, Clifton, Bondi), Altras (King MT, Olympus, Escalante Racer), Xeroshoes (Prio, Terraflex), and Topo Athletics (Ultraventures), among others. I prefer neutral shoes, but I run in everything from minimalist flats to thick maximalist shoes. I am fortunate to live in Flagstaff, AZ, where I am a research scientist. My favorite places to run include the trails around Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona. I am hoping to explore more the Southwest US in the next few years and run some iconic mountain races while I'm at it. My near-term goals include running Boston (and maybe Chicago) next year and starting to qualify for major trail races—Western States, UTMB, Hardrock, etc. Long-term, I want to get good at the 100+ mile distances, and I want to run a road marathon in all 50 states. Happy trails!

- Extended running sessions on technical terrains are the forte of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure. This product features an underfoot platform that has three varying densities. The full-length part is soft and springy while the ones in the heel and midfoot are firmer and more aligned towards stabilizing the foot. A footbed that has antimicrobial capacities rests on top of the tri-density foam.

- The external pad of this trail running companion is made up of Vibram® XS Trek, a rubber compound that is capable of resisting the abrasive nature of the outdoor topography. Prominent traction nodes help the shoe when it comes to clamping the ground and maintaining movement control.

- The upper unit of the Ultraventure utilizes a mesh that is optimized to resist scratches and tears. It is supported by printed overlays, generously padded collar and tongue, and a soft inner sleeve that is non-irritating. Drainage holes and gaiter attachment modules round out the features of the façade.

The Topo Athletic Ultraventure was constructed to be true to size. Runners are encouraged to get a pair with their typical sizing preferences in mind. It is worth noting that trying on the shoe first and scouring for other users’ comments about the size options can ultimately help in achieving a pleasant in-shoe experience.

Widthwise, the available option for men is D – Medium; for women, the variant is B – Medium. Low and medium foot volumes are welcome inside this product’s interior compartment.

The outsole unit of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure is made up of Vibram® XS Trek. This compound has the job of protecting the midsole from the unpredictability of the trails. It is also meant to provide traction through its inherently grippy construction.

Aggressive gripping lugs pockmark the external pad. These prominent nodes are designed to heighten the shoe’s grip over the surfaces. The opposite-facing configuration helps in the tackling of slopes and other types of uneven ground.

Forefoot flex grooves allow the foot to move naturally through the gait cycle. The liftoff phase is the part of the step that benefits the most as it is the motion that requires the bending of the toe joints.

A multi-density ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) system is used for the midsole unit of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure. The full-length part of this scheme is the one that carries the entirety of the wearer’s foot, supporting it as it goes from the heel to the toe. It is light yet able to attenuate impact shock when the striking phase takes place.

The heel part has a firm wedge that aims to steady the back of the foot and prevent it from buckling. The added volume can also bolster the quality of the impact attenuation.

The medial side of the platform has an elongated post that supports the arch. Overpronated foot motion is averted because of this add-on. Lateral stability is also an aspect that is put into focus because of such an inclusion.

An OrthoLite® foodbed is the surface on which the foot is going to rest. This accoutrement serves as a barrier between the underfoot and the lasting board. It is padded, but it’s not inflexible or weighty. It even has antibacterial and anti-moisture capabilities which maintain the health and cleanliness of the interior chamber.

The upper unit of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure utilizes an Abrasion-Resistant Mesh. This material can stave off tears, especially from sharp objects and rough surfaces. It still has a bevy of breathing holes to allow air to enter the interior chamber and maintain a well-ventilated environment for the foot.

Printed overlays bolster the structural integrity of this running shoe. These synthetic prints ensure a relatively uncluttered look, thereby bringing modern shoe-designs to the traditionally large frames of trail footwear. They also help the lacing system when it comes to securing the foot in place and preventing in-shoe wobbling.

The ghillie lacing system involves semi-round shoelaces that loop through discrete fabric eyelets. These elements work together to secure the foot and keep it in place.

The anatomical toe box is a spacious forefoot design that accommodates the natural splaying of the toes. The relaxation of the foot may contribute to a well-rounded step.

A soft fabric is used for the internal sleeve. This textile hugs the foot securely yet it doesn’t irritate the skin. It also has ventilation pores to further encourage breathability.

The padded tongue and collar cushion the topmost portions of the foot. These facets of the upper unit also help in preventing accidental shoe removals.

Runners can attach separately sold gaiters to hooks that are fashioned on the façade. This inclusion would merit extra security because gaiters are essentially barrier-like sheets that prevent water, mud, and rocks from infiltrating the interior through the opening of the shoe.

Drainage holes are ports through which water can go if it infiltrates the inner compartment.

Size and fit

True to size based on 220 user votes
Small (15%)
True to size (85%)
Large (0%)
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How Ultraventure compares

This shoe: 92
All shoes average: 85
58 99
This shoe: $130
All shoes average: $130
$60 $250
This shoe: 10.4oz
All shoes average: 10.4oz
5oz 24oz
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com