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My Rating

Facts

Terrain: Road
Arch support: Neutral
Weight: Men: 9.5oz | Women: 7.4oz
Heel to toe drop: Men: 5mm | Women: 5mm
Fit: Medium forefoot, Medium heel, Wide toe box
Pronation: Neutral Pronation
Arch type: High arch
Use: Jogging
Material: Mesh upper, Rubber sole
Features: Breathable | Cushioned | Comfortable
Strike Pattern: Midfoot strike
Distance: Daily running | Long distance | Marathon
Heel height: Men: 28mm | Women: 28mm
Forefoot height: Men: 23mm | Women: 23mm
Release date: Nov 2019
Brand: Topo Athletic
Type: Low drop
Width: Men: Normal | Women: Normal
Price: $130
Colorways: Blue, Pink
Size
Small True to size Large
See more facts

Expert Reviews

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94 / 100 based on 7 expert reviews

  • 98 / 100 | Nikki Justice

    The Zephyr is the most responsive shoe of 2019

    More photos

    Just when I thought Topo Athletic had made the perfect shoe for all of my running needs…BAM! My world got shaken up again with the newly released Zephyr!

     

     

    The new Zephyr far exceeded my expectations making this my absolute favorite shoe of 2019.

    Overview

    I honestly don’t know how Topo Athletic does it, but they seem to always craft shoes that are designed with exactly what I need. Topo is phenomenal at listening to customer feedback and positively change their newest shoe models.

     

     

    Carbon fiber embedded midsole plates appear to be all the rave right now in the shoe industry. Though the new Zephyr is not outfitted with a carbon fiber plate, it has a worthy contender.

    The Zephyr is equipped with an embedded elastomer stability plate to add a little pep in your step. This certainly helps to propel you forward as the Zephyr’s elastomer plate offers impressive responsiveness.

     

     

    In addition, the Zephyr has a balanced ensemble due to its light weight, responsive ride, breathable mesh, and comfortable, roomy toe box. What more can you ever ask for in a running shoe?!

     

    Specifications

    Here is a quick break down of the Zephyr specifications:

    Weight 7.4 ounces (W7), 9.2 ounces (M9)
    Heel drop 28mm
    Forefoot height 23mm
    Heel-to-toe drop 5mm offset
    Shoe type Road running
    Category Neutral; Low drop
    Strike Midfoot
    Cushion Balanced

     

    Midsole and outsole

    I adore the updates to the underfoot platform of the Zephyr. Similar to the Topo Phantom, the Zephyr is partially comprised of Topo’s Zip Foam TPU blend midsole, which is springier, yet heavier than EVA foam.

     

     

    What differentiates the Zephyr from the Phantom is where Topo combined both Zip Foam and EVA foam for the Zephyr. Sandwiched between the Zip Foam and the EVA is that stiff elastomer plate.

     

    Exposed elastomer plate of the Zephyr

     

    Let me tell you: this shoe is quite zippy! This plate acts as a plantar flexion stabilizer and adds extra stability during toe offs, which is unmistakable on your runs.

     

    Onyx was stoked to run fast with me and my Zephyrs

     

    Moreover, the Zephyr has a comfortable and removable Ortholite footbed. The overall feel of the midsole is slightly on the firm side, in my opinion, but be patient. I found myself loving the shoe more and more with each run.

    The Zephyrs feel more firm than the Phantoms or the Fli-Lyte 3, but they are much more responsive than each of those models.

     

    Ortholite removable footbed

    Upper

    Unlike the mesh upper found on the Fli-Lyte, ST-3, or even the Phantom, the Zephyr has an updated breathable mesh with very minimal overlays to give your foot just the right amount of lockdown.

    Normally, I am not a fan of overlays, but these printed overlays were not a problem at all as they provided additional lockdown without irritation.

     

    Updated breathable mesh upper with minimal printed overlays

     

    I’ve run and trained in five different Topo models, yet the upper of the Zephyr is by far the most breathable and comfortable.

    Furthermore, the tongue is much thinner than other Topo models I’ve tested. It is very thin and non-padded, which I actually found to be quite comfortable.

     

    Flat laces with the new sewn eyelets on the tongue

     

    I love how Topo pays attention to fine details. Another feature I loved about the Zephyr was the additional fixed shoelace eyelets to help stabilize the tongue.

    These are strategically placed near the top of the laces, which not only mitigates pressure off of the top of the foot but keeps the tongue from shifting during runs. Definitely a fan!

     

    Comfortable and thin tongue

     

    Thanks to the added sewn eyelets, the tongue was not cumbersome and stayed in place for all of my runs. The only qualm I had with the tongue was that it tends to fold over on itself upon inserting your foot.

    I just made sure to really loosen the laces and flatten out the tongue inside the shoe before lacing up. Not a big deal, but as you could imagine, it will irritate if you are not careful to lay the tongue completely flat along the top of the foot before lacing up your shoes.

    This is a no-brainer, but it takes an extra few seconds to make sure it is just right.

     

    Sizing

    This is not my first rodeo running in Topo Athletic shoes; thus, I was cognizant that Topo’s fit somewhat small. With that being said, a half-size increase should be adequate 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:

    Topo Athletic 9.5
    Nike 9
    Reebok 9
    Asics 9
    Salomon 9
    Altra 9
    New Balance 9.5
    Brooks 9.5
    Inov-8 9.5
    Mizuno 9.5
    On Running 9.5
    Saucony 9.5
    The North Face 9.5

     

    Performance/comfort

    Spoiler alert! The Zephyr is my all-time favorite shoe of 2019. I’ve tested the Zephyr for exactly 98.75 miles, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

    The shoes are very durable and still have plenty of tread life. I plan to run in the Zephyr until they fall apart.

     

     

    Holy mackerel, this shoe is a fast one! I love the Zephyr as a daily trainer, but it is hands down my favorite shoe for up-tempo runs.

    I naturally have a propensity to pick up the pace in the Zephyr because it simply feels effortless! The construction of the midfoot almost guides your foot into a midfoot strike which really helps with each toe-off.

     

     

    The Zephyr is designed to help you run fast thanks to the elastomer embedded plate and the overall construction of the shoe. As I mentioned, I really do feel an extra pop with each step.

    At faster paces, the Zephyr feels like it is working for you and helps propel you forward. This is, by far the most responsive shoe I have ever run in!

     

     

    If you’re not familiar with Topo shoes, they have a roomier toe box which is extremely comfortable. I have neither wide nor narrow feet, but I love having an extra room in the toe box.

    Not only does it eliminate any potential for irritation, but it also allows my toes to adequately splay for a natural running feel. Also, I found the Zephyrs to be the widest Topo shoe model I have run in to date.

     

     

    Lastly, I wanted to reiterate that the cushioning of the Zephyr is somewhat firm. The only time I was wishing for a bit more midfoot cushioning was when I ran half-marathon+ distances in the Zephyr.

    Don’t get me wrong; the Zephyr was still comfortable. It just felt firm, which became more obvious while running in them for long distances.

    Ultimately, if you are looking for “Cadillac” type cushioning you might want to opt for the Phantom or even the Fli-Lyte 3. If you desire to go fast, choose the Zephyr!

    Pros

    • Extremely responsive ride
    • Elastomer plantar flexion stabilizing plate
    • Lightweight trainer
    • Versatile for various distances
    • Perfect for up-tempo runs, racing, or even as a daily trainer
    • Excellent shoe lockdown
    • Love the breathable mesh upper
    • Roomy and comfortable toe box
    • Very durable

    Cons

    • A bit firm for distance running
    • Miniscule issues regarding tongue of the shoe

    Final thoughts

    The Zephyr quickly landed a top spot in my books thanks to its extremely responsive ride. I love the addition of the elastomer embedded plate, and I hope to see this addition to future Topo shoe models.

    I have found the Zephyr to be the “roomiest” of all Topo models which adds to the overall comfort of the shoe. Make no mistake; the roomy toe box does not compromise the lockdown of the Zephyr whatsoever.

     

     

    The Zephyr is certainly lightweight and versatile enough for all distances. It can be used as a daily trainer or even for racing. I plan to race my next road 5K and 10K in the Zephyr as I am confident these shoes will help me PR!

    If you are ready to go fast, you need to add the Zephyr to your shoe arsenal, ASAP.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 90 / 100 | Jeff Coen

    Wind of change for Topo Athletic: The new Zephyr

    More photos

    Topo Athletic is a new one for me. It came out in November of 2019. I was excited to try this one out because I had heard a lot of positive feedback from their Phantom shoe. So, let’s dive right in.

     

    Design

    The design of the Zephyr is pretty nice. I tested the salmon/orange colored shoes which have a nice pop to them. So, as far as looks, these are very attractive.

    I’m not a huge fan of bland colors in running shoes. I prefer bright and “fast” looking colors. Colors do not affect how you run or how your feet react to the shoes, but psychologically, vibrant and bright colors do affect your mindset.

     

     

    If you “feel” fast because of the colors, you will “run” fast - at least your mind will trick you into thinking that the colors are making a difference, whether true or not.

    The shoe is designed to follow the contour of your feet, making for a more natural running experience. The overall construction, inside and out, seems really well done, a seamless pattern on the upper works well and does not seem to affect the comfort.

    Comfort and durability

    These are relatively comfortable shoes right out of the box. They have a very pliable and breathable mesh upper and a wider and roomier toe box allowing plenty of room for toes to spread out.

    That being said, the toe box seemed a little too roomy for me. I wear a size 12 in all of my road running shoes, so it made sense to get a size 12 in these as well.

    I thought about sizing down a half size, which may have helped a tad. But, I decided against it because, well, they did fit and I did not think a half size smaller would have made too much of a difference.

    Over 50 miles later, I have gotten used to the roomier toe box, but it still feels a little too roomy. These shoes would benefit someone with a wider foot.

    The upper is crafted with a very flexible and breathable mesh allowing the foot to conform to the shoes while providing ample airflow to the feet.

     

     

    The layers of zipfoam and the plantar stabilizer, along with the black rubber that are strategically placed in the higher “wear” areas, seem to protect the shoe from breaking down too quickly. With over 50 miles so far, I only see slight wear on the zipfoam.

    Performance

    The first thing I noticed about running in this shoe was the elastomer stability plate that runs inside the midsole. This was incorporated into the shoe's midsole to help stabilize the forefoot and aid propulsion.

    Does it work? Well, yes, I believe it does make the shoe snappier and aid in propelling your feet forward. However, the reason I noticed this plate was the noise I heard when my feet hit the ground.

    They made a “clapping” sound when running. I’m not a noisy runner, and I usually do not hear when my shoes come in contact with the ground, but these I heard right away.

    I’m certain that the reason for the additional noise is because of the plantar flexion stabilizer. The stabilizer is inserted in the midsole, and if you flip the shoe over and take a look at the bottom, you can see the plate because it’s purposely exposed.

     

     

    Because of the “pocket” it creates tucked into the foam, it makes a clapping sound. This is my theory, of course. This does not affect the performance of the shoe.

    However, it is just a bit bothersome if you’re not normally used to your feet making additional noise. A solution would be to turn up that music or podcast to drown out the noise. It is really not a big deal, just an observation.

     

     

    I took these on a 14-mile long run, used them for some interval speed training, and laced them up for some hill repeats. I wanted to make sure I covered all grounds to see what they were best for.

    I prefer a shoe with more cushion for my longer runs. These were great for my interval sessions, where speed was the focus.

    They are not the lightest shoes, at 9 oz for a men's size 9. I wear a 12, so I would imagine size 12 would be over 10 oz, but light enough for faster-paced workouts.

    You really need to take into consideration what you will be using these shoes for before deciding on what shoes to buy. I did feel the benefit of the plantar stabilizer when I did my speed work and hills.

     

     

    The plantar plate seemed to help propel my feet, making them more responsive to workouts where you are landing on the ball or midfoot and pushing off with your toes.

    Conclusion

    The Topo Athletic Zephyr is an overall good running shoe. The design is nice, the addition of the plantar flexion stabilizer is a nice feature for additional responsiveness and propulsion.

    The mesh upper is very pliable and comfortable, allowing your feet to conform to the shoes as well as excellent breathability and airflow.

    My only real con is the large and roomy toe box. I am a fan of a larger toe box because, like many of you out there, black and banged up toes and toenails are not fun.

    The roomier toe box allows the toes to splay nicely without the concern of the friction of your toes hitting the upper or fronts of your shoes. However, these were a little too roomy for my feet.

    You may want to consider downsizing a half size to see if that will work better for you, it’s possible. I’m getting used to them, but my toes still feel like they are swimming a bit.

    I would recommend these shoes for faster workouts or hills and hill repeats. They seem to feel better when I did my faster runs most probably because of the plantar plate and zipfoam.

    If your goal main goal is strictly running for recreation, pure enjoyment, stress relief, or just to get outside and take a load off, then I would suggest a shoe with more cushion, support or stability.

    If you are planning on buying a shoe for fast paces and better racing performance, I would recommend the Zephyr.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 90 / 100 | asdebord | Level 2 expert

    I think this could potentially be a speed shoe.

  • 91 / 100 | Road Trail Run | | Level 5 expert

    Striking in its simple blue with that wider natural shape toe box and secure fit we have come to expect from Topo...

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- The Topo Athletic Zephyr is a road running shoe that features updated materials designed to provide a light, responsive, and comfortable ride. The technologies incorporated into the shoe deliver specific benefits that meet the runner’s optimal performance needs. 

- The engineered mesh upper integrated into the shoe offers breathability and stability. This component also makes the shoe feel like a natural extension of the body.

- An elastomer stability plate is infused inside the midsole section to help stabilize the forefoot and enhance propulsion during plantar flexion. 

- The rubber material strategically placed in the heel and forefoot areas provide added protection and durability. It also improves the shoe’s gripping performance on various surfaces. 

Featuring the traditional lacing system and a padded tongue, the Topo Athletic Zephyr guarantees to provide a personalized and comfortable in-shoe feel. Another technical component that affects the fit of the shoe is the wide toe box that also offers an extra room to reduce pressure and allow for natural foot movements.

This running shoe is manufactured using the standard measurement to accommodate the usual choices of consumers when it comes to sizing. However, it is advisable to fit the shoe first to ensure a perfect fit. Runners can also utilize general feedback about sizing before purchasing a pair of shoes.

The Topo Athletic Zephyr utilizes a highly durable rubber outsole that contributes to stabilizing the shoe. This material is positioned beneath the forefoot and heel sections to provide reliable protection against sharp and hard objects. It also gives the right amount of traction in both wet and dry conditions.

Providing a soft and responsive ride is the zip foam core that has been reduced to be lighter and more durable. It stands exclusively at the base of the foot for plush comfort and support.

In order to maintain propulsion and reactivity, the manufacturers have integrated the elastomer stability plate. This material is placed below the zip foam core and can be seen through the sole. 

This Topo Athletic running shoe uses a lightweight EVA frame that houses the zip foam core and stability plate. This component provides added stability and durability. 

This lightweight running shoe features a printed upper pattern that offers maximum support and durability. The breathable mesh upper is designed to secure the heel and midfoot while walking or running. Engineered mesh is also used in other popular running shoes like the Adidas Solar Glide ST and Adidas Ultraboost.

The functional mesh upper is created with a water-wicking structure to keep the foot dry and comfortable throughout the day. The shoe also features a wide toe box that provides plenty of room to promote a more natural toe splay. The extra space also helps prevent foot and toe problems. 

The moderately padded tongue provides additional comfort while the traditional lacing system allows for a customized in-shoe feel.

Comparison

Author
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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