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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
Here is a quick break down of the Zephyr specifications:
|Weight||7.4 ounces (W7), 9.2 ounces (M9)|
|Heel-to-toe drop||5mm offset|
|Shoe type||Road running|
|Category||Neutral; Low drop|
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
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.
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:
|The North Face||9.5|
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!
- 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
- A bit firm for distance running
- Miniscule issues regarding tongue of the shoe
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.
Recently, I was introduced to a shoe company called Topo Athletic when given a chance to review the Topo Phantom. Topo is known for its foot-shaped toe box, similar to Altra.
I have been impressed with what they are doing. I'm excited to review another shoe from Topo the —Topo Zephyr.
Although this is not a comparison review, I can’t help but think about the differences between the two shoes. The Phantom is a plush maximalist daily trainer, whereas the Zephyr is a lighter shoe.
The Zephyr can be used as both a daily trainer and on race day. The two shoes do complement each other well for training — the Phantom for your long and recovery runs and the Zephyr for speed and tempo work.
After running over 60 miles in the Zephyr, I'm ready to provide my input and see if this is a shoe worthy of your consideration.
|Weight||9.2 oz (men's 9), 7.4 oz (women's 7)|
|Stack height||28 mm (heel), 23 mm (forefoot)|
|Heel to toe differential||5 mm|
|Upper||Breathable engineered mesh|
|Insole||Ortholite Antimicrobial foam footbed|
|Midsole||Elastomer stability plate|
Overall, I’m enjoying the upper of this shoe. I do have a few complaints which I’ll address in a bit.
The upper around the toe box area is fantastic. It’s breathable and stretchy. This breathability extends along the rest of the upper, keeping your foot cool and dry.
I consider this a great summer shoe. If you are running in colder weather, you may want to wear thicker socks to keep your feet warm.
The foot-shaped toe box offers plenty of room for toe splay. I never had any issues with rubbing or hot-spots in this area of the shoe. This is very reminiscent of an Altra shoe, albeit without the zero drop.
The heel counter is lightly padded with an Achilles notch that allows for decent lockdown and comfort while running. I did, however, experience a bit of slippage and rubbing in the heel.
This required me to tighten down the laces and utilize the extra eyelets. This may be due to the lack of padding in the forefoot than the heel counter being the issue.
You have the standard seven eyelets on each side, and the laces have plenty of lengths so that if you wanted to use the lace-lock method, it should not be an issue.
As for the laces, they are not very textured and seem to be a bit slick.
I have had them come undone from a double knot a couple of times during my runs. If I use these for a race, I will definitely triple tie them.
There is nothing worse than having your shoe come untied during a race, and these have the potential for doing so.
My biggest complaint with the upper is the tongue. It is too short. The tongue ends at the top of the laces.
When you try to tighten down your laces, you feel a lot of pressure on the upper part of your foot. This is exasperated by the fact that you have a very thin tongue that doesn't offer any cushioning.
On the positive side, you have two loops connected to the tongue. When you run the laces through them, it stays extremely secure and doesn’t move around.
I have not seen this on a shoe. I am quite impressed with this innovative way of securing the tongue.
Moving on to the midsole. The Zephyr offers something new called an elastomer stability plate.
This plate runs inside the midsole. It is supposed to help stabilize the forefoot and aid in propulsion during plantar flexion, which I believe means, toe-off.
You also have Zip Foam, which is Topo’s answer to Adidas' Boost or Nike’s React. The Zip Foam sits above the stability plate.
The combination of both provides a unique running experience. You have a decent stack height, but the midsole is more firm than plush, which gives you a bouncy feel.
It’s nice to see a shoe company provide a high-quality removable foam footbed.
Some companies (hello Nike & New Balance) only provide cheap thin ones, whereas some (ahem Skechers and Under Armour) have a glued on the footbed. The Ortholite footbed is anti-microbial and gives a little extra cushioning on your runs.
On the outsole, you have carbon rubber in high wear areas. After 60 plus miles of running, it is holding up great and should be good for well over 300 miles.
Most of my runs have been on pavement or an indoor track. I have had no issues with traction even while wet.
I did test them on some lite trails, and they performed well. I would not try these on any heavy or technical trails since these are designed for road running.
Limited color options seem to be the norm with Topo. I assume it is because they are a smaller company and don’t have the resources of a Nike or Adidas.
For men, you have Blue/Black and Salmon/White, whereas women are offered Salmon/White and Teal/Lime. The pair of shoes I have look orange to me, but I guess salmon sounds fancier.
I usually shy away from loud colors, but the orange, Uhm, salmon, has grown on me. I think the design is sleek and attractive. The logo on the forefoot adds a nice touch. This is not a shoe I’d wear casually but would be proud to trot around on race day.
Comfort & fit
Because of the thin tongue, it lacks comfort. You will feel some pressure on the top of your foot.
It's not enough to cause pain, but it can be noticeable on longer runs, especially if you're someone whose foot tends to swell.
Similar to the Phantom, these run true to size. You have plenty of toe room. My size 12 fits perfectly for me. There should be no need to size up.
Although Topo doesn’t offer a wider size, these should be wide enough to accommodate most feet. To get a decent lockdown, I did have to work the laces a bit and use the extra eyelet to prevent slippage.
Snappy comes to mind when trying to describe the ride of this shoe. The elastomer stability plate, in combination with the Zip Foam, seems to promote a quicker cadence.
This shoe has worked well for tempo runs and when trying to push the pace. There have been no stability issues with the stack height or when cutting tight corners.
My foot stayed secure in place. On longer runs, the lack of softness in the midsole will tend to catch up with you and beat up your legs.
For racing, I would not consider these for anything longer than a ½ marathon. I do think they would perform best in a 5K or 10K race.
At the time of this review, the Zephyr is priced at $130. A comparable shoe would be the Altra Escalante.
I find the Zephyr to be of better build quality and more durable than the Escalante. The price is right, in my opinion.
There is not too much improvement that is necessary, but a few items come to mind. For instance, the tongue needs to be a bit longer and offer more padding to improve comfort.
Shave a bit off the stack height to reduce weight. The 23mm in the forefoot is substantial, so if a couple of millimeters were shaved off, it would make it a lighter and snappier ride.
Make the elastomer plate even more rigid for improved responsiveness. Finally, provide textured laces that will not come untied while running.
I’m enjoying the Zephyr for a mid-distance and tempo runs. This will be one of my go-to running shoes come summertime, where I can take advantage of its exceptional breathability and bright orange color.
If you are looking for a shoe that will be kind to your toes, has a low stack height, exceptional breathability, and helps you push the pace, I think you can’t go wrong with the Zephyr.
The Zephyr, new to the Topo line up, is a unique running shoe offering that features cushioning, stability, lightweight while also providing responsiveness.
I found this shoe to be the right selection for days that I want to pick up the pace but need some cushioning for my runs especially when they include a variety of surfaces.
It is true to the Topo standards of natural fit, comfort, and offers just the right amount of cushioning and bounce.
The Zephyr has a unique combination of a ZipFoam midsole compound along with an Elastomer plate that runs through the length of the midsole for stabilizing and helps add propulsion at toe-off.
In addition, it has the Ortholite footbed that provides comfort and is anti-microbial.
The color shoe is simplistic but attractive. Women’s are available in teal/lime and salmon/white; with men’s option of blue/black and salmon/white.
The shoe has a 5mm heel-to-toe drop and is relatively light with approximate men’s weight of 9.0 oz and women’s 7.8 oz.
The upper shoe is made of a lightweight engineered mesh that fits comfortably on the entire foot. It has minimal overlays, and because it breaths well, it is a great option for hot summer runs.
I have also used the shoe in upstate NY during winter runs and did not have a problem with my feet feeling the cold.
One thing that I did encounter, while running on gravel or sand roads, dirt does collect in the wide weave of the mesh. The mesh of the Fli-Lyte 3 is a tighter weave and, from my experience, kept the shoe cleaner.
In traditional Topo standards, the toe box is roomy, provides a natural fit, and is very comfortable. It allows the toes to not feel cramped while at the same time well-contained. I also have not encountered any rubbing nor blistering during my runs.
The tongue is thin and short. It is designed with a pair of loops for the laces to pass through and keep the tongue centered.
I do have to smooth out the tongue prior to lacing; however, with the loop design, it does keep it secured in place once tied.
There is an extra eyelet at the top, providing the option for those needing a tighter fit using the lace lock method. There is plenty of length to the laces, but I feel the laces are rather weak, and I started a habit of triple tieing for they have a tendency to come undone.
The Zephyr possesses the perfect balance between firm and plush. The combination of the ZipFoam providing the cushion and the lightweight EVA plate is what makes this shoe stand apart from others in the Topo line-up.
Because Zipfoam can be heavy, Topo reduced the amount required by placing it just under the foot and fits inside the EVA frame.
Topo is true in its statement: “the rigid elastomer plate between the midsole foams helps stabilize the forefoot and aid propulsion during the plantar flexion phase of the gait cycle.”
I found this unique feature beneficial and use the Zephyr in my shoe rotations for mid-distance runs. Although I cannot match this shoe to the performance I attain from the Nike Zoom VaporFly Next %, the Zephyr does provide a reasonably priced alternative.
To assist in reducing the weight of its shoes, Topo’s “wear you need it” approach in not overusing rubber on the outsole is evident in the Zephyr.
The heel has solid rubber coverage and efficient coverage over the ball of the foot. A section of the midsole has a concave gap that displays the plate, which in this case, is teal in color.
Despite the fact I have put over 200 miles on the shoe, I am only seeing a slight amount of wear on the small pods. I have been very pleased with the grip and have not encountered any issues on wet surfaces.
The shoe is true to size and fits securely. I have not experienced any heel slippage, and the toe box possess the comfortable wide design with which has made me a fan of the Topo line.
The Ortholite foodbed provides additional cushioning that I really find useful when running on loose gravel and on long runs.
The tongue's thinness has been a bit of a problem and requires the lacing to be precise due to the lack of padding to ensure comfort.
The stiffness of the shoe, in the beginning, takes some adjustment and is a totally different feel in comparison to the Topo Fli-Lyte. However, once having them broken in after a few short runs, I encountered no problems, and they conformed to my gate quite well.
My first impression of the shoe was that it was overall stiff. However, as I began using them, they became comfortable, and I really have become fond of the Zephyr for my mid-distance runs.
The elastomer stability plate is especially helpful for Plantar Fasciitis sufferers.
In Topo tradition, the Zephyr has a wide, foot-shaped toe box and a relatively low drop. The shoe is overall fairly lightweight, the upper is breathable, and the midsole is plush but not mushy.
From an appearance standpoint, the shoe color and fit are elegantly simple. The Zephyr is a “keeper” in my shoe rotation pool and will be a go-to with forthcoming summer running months in Florida.
The shoe falls at a reasonable price point of $130.00.
- 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.
Size and fit
How Zephyr compares
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