Topo Athletic MT-3
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76% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
The MT-3 is considered the entry-level trail shoe/hybrid from Topo. It’s not as aggressive as the Mountain Racer, but still holds up well on rough trails and can even be used on roads.
This performance makes it very versatile, basically the swiss army knife of running shoes.
The MT-3 has a heel-to-toe drop of 3mm, which is great for those who like a more natural feel or for those attempting to transition to a zero drop shoe.
It is a neutral shoe and weighing in at 9.8 ounces, placing it squarely in the daily usage category.
As is typical in the Topo brand, the MT-3s has a very roomy toe box. The ample space allows your toes to spread naturally and comfortably.
As a hybrid, the MT-3 performs well on both roads and trails. I will point out that there is no rock plate, which helps keep the shoe light and versatile.
But, if you are running on extremely rocky or technical surfaces, that may be the one exception to the possible terrains.
For lighter to moderate trails, there is enough cushioning here to protect your foot without the rock plate. One of the highlights of the shoe is how well it handles across varied terrain.
The combination of the secure heel and mid-front with the wide toe box allow you to shift efficiently through rough terrain. Additionally, the MT-3 features drainage ports, which help dry the shoe.
I’ve taken them out in some very muddy conditions and found that they held up perfectly.
The MT-3 are perfect for runs that involve mostly trails but short portions of the road. I have used them on exclusive road runs as well.
I find that they work best for easy and recovery runs. You could use them for speed workouts, although there are way better options.
The versatility is definitely the high point of the shoe for me. As an avid traveller, the MT-3 is my go-to athletic shoe—running shoe, hiking boot, and walking shoe all in one.
The MT-3 midsole is a good midway point between comfort and responsiveness.
The midsoles come with Ortholite insoles, which provide extra cushiony goodness on your feet. Overall, the midsole is well designed for maximum comfort without adding excessive weight.
The upper features a lightweight rip-stop mesh with printed overlays. While not as breathable as I typically like, the upper does a fine job at keeping debris out and maintaining your foot from moving too much.
The shoe also has midfoot drainage ports. This feature is perfect since my city’s trails retain a lot of water and are often muddy. Despite these, the MT-3s drained and dried quickly.
The rubber outsole of the MT-3 has 3 mm lugs. These work well in a hybrid—big enough to maintain stability on light to medium trails but not too big to where they’d cause an awkward road feel.
The shorter lugs also allow for a higher amount of surface contact, which can help with the grip on the trails.
I might look elsewhere for the more technical trail, but for the average runner, the outsole should hold up fine.
Fit & comfort
The shoe runs true to size with a larger than average toe box, which allows for a more natural feel. This is a huge positive for trails as it gives you ample room to maintain balance over uneven terrain.
There is ample cushioning throughout, especially towards the heel. The shoe is comfortable straight out of the box with no real break-in required.
The midsole features an anti-microbial footbed. This footbed not only provides comfort but also keeps the shoe smelling nice—or as nice as a running shoe could smell.
If you are searching for a cool looking shoe, you may want to look elsewhere. The MT-3 and Topo, in general, prioritize functionality over flash.
The roomy toe box may provide comfort and better performance, but you won’t be seeing them on the runway anytime soon. Additionally, the MT-3 is in limited color schemes.
+ Great hybrid option for mixed road/trail runs or someone looking for one shoe to handle both.
+ Roomy toe box, which allows your toes to spread naturally and comfortably
+ 3 mm heel-to-toe drop great for those that like a more natural feel or those transitioning to low drop
- Built for purpose, not for looks
We all love surprises, right? Well, I found a few in this shoe!
To start, I never even heard of the brand before I opened the mysterious box I found on my doorstep one afternoon. I assumed they were shoes due to the size of the package but was expecting something totally different.
I was quite disappointed at first, but as soon as I put them on to just get a feel, I fell in love with the comfort. Since then, these have been my most worn shoes. Let me explain why.
Neutral Trail Hybrid | Weight: 9.9oz. | Drop: 3mm | Retail: 110.00
For those of you who are not familiar with Topo Athletic, here is a quick synopsis that I took away from scrolling through their website. They are a relatively new company that started in 2013 by a former accomplished runner.
He “founded this company from common sense, simplicity, and comfort for runners seeking a more natural running experience.” He was sick of all the gimmicks in the shoe market that just harmed the athlete and wanted to make the best natural running shoe out there.
Some of the features that set Topo apart and are seen on all their models are:
- A roomy “anatomical toe box”
- Secure heel and midfoot
- A low drop
All sounds really good and makes sense, but the real question is: Does the shoe follow through on the goals and promises? In short, after wearing the MT-3, I say a BIG YES!
Let’s break this bad boy down and in this full access review!
This shoe has a lot of unique features I'm excited to share with you. I want to point out to you the biggest need-to-know. This isn’t a trail shoe. This isn’t a road shoe. It’s Both!
As far as Topo Athletic commitment, a lot of it applies to the upper. It is focused on a secure mid/rearfoot, a lightweight shoe, and a wide toe box. These features on the upper of the MT-3 were right on!
Checking out the heel, we see a lot of cushion, and you sure can feel it! It is like you are nestling deeply in a cozy pillow.
I was very delighted with the design, and it allowed for a great fit on the shoe. Fit is so important to me. I hate when I get any heel slipping, especially on trails. This shoe creates a beautiful fit starting with the heel.
Like most shoes now, the tongue is connected to the shoe, which in turn helps with snug, secure, and comfortable fit.
We also see in the tongue some very durable fabric that is moderately cushioned — nothing really notable good or bad here.
The lacing system
The lacing system comes first with nice and thick laces that do not come untied. I never experienced the shoe coming untied once while running in these. In my opinion, that makes the lacing system a win.
It seemed to secure really easily as well. I didn’t have to yank on them at all to get tight. The set up here helped for a great midfoot lock down which was a follow through with a promise from the brand.
The only issue I had was that it seems like one of the eyelets around the collar is beginning to tear which makes me nervous because there doesn't seem to be much reinforcement in this area.
Traditional insert which is actually more high end than what some companies put in their shoes. The ortholite insert also has tech built in that helps prevent stinky shoes.
The toe box
This is unique to the brand as well, and all their shoes come with a large toe box to allow for great natural, foot splaying.
Now, I heard many companies start to go this way, but I just thought it was garbage. I promise you, once you experience a shoe with a natural toe box ( like Topo or Altra for instance) you will not go back.
I loved this and thought Topo did a great job creating this. It feels great but not sloppy or too big, either. It is very comfortable and not as goofy looking as some of the Altra shoes on the market. I would say Topo does a great job with bringing this without making it an eyesore.
As you can see, we got a few different things going on here. In the back, we have a very cushioned fabric which allows for comfort and secure fit of the shoe.
The shoe then transitions to a very unique material that I would say is somewhat of a “kite-like” feel. It is very thin, very sturdy, very breathable, and very comfortable. I have no idea what it is, but I love the stuff.
The rubber material is also surprisingly lightweight and makes its way into the upper of the shoe into the midfoot, allowing for midfoot lock down . It then flows down around the bottom of the shoe for all the protection you need for on the trail.
Real cool tidbit here. They have vents at the very bottom to aide with drainage and breathability. Not necessary but a real cool feature.
The mid is great in this shoe. It starts with a 3mm drop in a soft but firm foam that is quite flexible. It bends pretty easily, which allows you to maintain that natural type feels but not to the point of being unsafe while on the trail.
The feel is comfortable and responsive. I would say it is about a 50/50 ratio of responsive/cushion. I really think Topo hit the sweet spot in this shoe’s midsole.
Topo's MT-3 is pretty supportive too. I wouldn’t consider this a stability shoe by any means, but it will give you a little help and support when out there running. I really appreciated the approach in this area.
So this area is a little complicated to review. You have to come in with the understanding that this is a hybrid shoe for trails and roads. In my opinion, if you are considering this shoe (or any hybrid shoe), you need to have the expectation that it will not be a superstar in either but will do the job well.
With that understanding and approach, I am able to say I got what I expected from the outsole. The treads give you enough that when you are on trails, you get some traction but not too much for the road. The MT-3 hits the mark in this area, and I can say that I gave these shoes great time on both areas. They followed through on their promise.
When you get these things on the road, they are sufficient. You will feel the great lock down which will carry you miles if you desire. You will feel the wonderful midsole cushion and response, which will keep your run enjoyable. You will feel the hybrid outsole, which makes the road feel a little clunky.
Due to the hybrid goal, the outsole brings too much for the road and brings a heavy feeling when contacting with the road. You can even hear the contact of the thick outsole as you contact the ground. I did wear these on the road a lot and was able to have good runs in them, but it certainly wouldn't be my go-to road shoe.
I would recommend wearing them on sloppy roads when it’s wet or snowy out, as well as runs that have a mix of trail/asphalt. These would also be good for you if you are a low mileage runner who just wants one shoe to do all. If you intend on putting these things through a lot of road mileage, you will not be happy.
This trail hybrid shoe felt so much better on the trail than it did on the road. This shoe brings all you need for a long trail run, but it will also bring the lightweight design to allow for quick trail work as well.
All the awkwardness I felt on the road with these was washed away when I got on this gravel/dirt trail. It connected well and allowed for great contact. I did not feel any of the clunkiness feeling that I felt on the road.
This shoe functions best on the trail and is great, especially for light trails such as gravel or dirt, due to the lack of large lugs. I would not want to bring these things on any aggressive or muddy surfaces for fear that the traction would just not be there.
If you love to run light trails/rail trails like we have everywhere in PA, then I would say these things are awesome.
This trail/road hybrid shoe has been an awesome experience overall. It has been so dynamic, and it quickly has become my go-to shoe over the past month. I enjoy the versatility and comfort it brings.
Here are some of the highs and lows.
- I love the brand's philosophy and features. Natural is always better, and this brand blends natural and applicable better than any I have seen.
- I love the idea of having a shoe that can do anything because sometimes I just can’t make up my mind of what shoe Ill need for the journey.
- The midsole combines cushion/response perfectly!
- Great lock down
- Wide toe box. I am converted now.
- Lightweight is impressive in this type of shoe.
- The upper materials are great and unique.
- Rock plate up front sometimes catches my toes and rubs a bunch.
- The road feel is just not great. It works but nowhere near as good of a feal as the trail.
- The durability is in question.
- The glue that keeps the upper to the mid seems to be coming apart in some areas already.
- Tearing is occurring in the upper eyelet, as seen in the picture. Not happy about this. It happened very early on.
I loved my experience in this shoe. I am so glad I experienced not only this shoe but the brand. I am a believer in Topo and their mission. I will be trying all the lineup now and am excited to welcome them to my running journey.
The MT-3 is a great shoe for you guys looking for a light trail shoe or a shoe that does everything. You absolutely can’t go wrong with buying these because they can do so many things well. I never knew I needed a hybrid shoe, but surprise! I did, and I will always keep a pair in my lineup.
Thank you, Topo for the amazing journey and I look forward to many more miles on not just the MT-3 but the rest of your lineup.
Topo Athletic was founded former D1 collegiate track and cross-country walk-on athlete Tony Post. With over 35 years in the shoe industry, Tony has created a shoe brand with simplicity, comfort, and versatility in mind.
Although their MT-3 is placed in Topo’s trail category, the MT-3 proves to fit right in with today’s changing surroundings. To further explain this shoe’s versatility, I’ll share more of my experience in the first fifty miles of testing the Topo Athletic MT-3.
Category: Trail Running || Stack Height: 25mm (heel) / 22mm (ball) || Heel to Toe Drop: 3MM || Weight: 9.9 oz (M-9)
Out of the box
The first thing I noticed with the MT-3 out of the box was the rip-stop mesh material. This material seemed both light and durable with moisture-wicking properties.
The design is simple, with no flashy aesthetics and clean colors consisting of slate grey, black, and orange.
My first run in the shoes was only a few hours after a half-marathon race in the morning. To get a picture of the terrain, I went on my local trail for just a few miles shared by dogs, walkers, cyclists, and runners on crushed gravel.
Having already tired legs from 13.1 miles, the Topo’s provided enough cushion and toe room to remain comfortable. The low drop reminded me of my previous Altra Torin 3.0 shoes on similar terrain.
This neutral shoe is flexible with a great heel cup that locked in the rear of the foot. The wide toe box allowed all my toes to spread naturally. Shoestrings were nothing special and looked generic in design and but overall functioned as they should.
Rip-stop nylon mesh covers nearly the entire upper of the MT-3. The material was great at wicking away moisture during rainy days along the exterior surface. However, the internal temperature was on the warm side. This seems to be common with trail shoes having nylon, waterproof materials, and moisture-wicking properties.
The tongue is comfortable with no folding or slipping, but does add to the warm foot feeling due to its thickness. Incorporating the rip-stop nylon in this area of the shoe could help with cooling and at the same time lighten up the shoe even more.
The midsole features a 3-millimeter drop with EVA foam. The offset stack height of 14mm in the heel and 11mm is what makes this shoe to have a distinctly low-profile, There was no slipping in the heel even though steep ascending and descending trails.
The outsole is constructed with 6-millimeter rubber lugs. The placement of these lugs are spread out enough to allow debris to escape while clearing out outsole debris on their own.
The rubber lugs showed no sign of wear whatsoever after encountering rough roots and rocks. There is no rock plate in this model, making it flexible but not so safe around unexpected sharp objects.
An extra 5mm Ortholite foam insole is featured in a majority of the brand’s shoes, which offers extra cushion and antimicrobial properties to prevent those little things you don’t want from hibernating in your shoes or causing odors.
The low profile lug design without a plate makes you feel most of the ground below. I felt like the cushion to ground-feel ratio was not well balanced.
In addition, the front area of the upper covering the metatarsals experienced some pinching and was undetermined what initially caused this to happen. I believe after further review, it was due to the tightening of this area of the laces and seemed to be less worrisome after spreading the laces out.
Shoes in the trail category can sometimes be so aggressive where any attempt to wear them in a casual setting would be difficult. That is not the case with these shoes. The MT-3’s look just as good with casual wear as they would out training at your next park run.
The MT-3 would appeal to those adventure seekers with a minimalist approach to getting from point A to B. Would I use it as an everyday trainer? Not likely since the shoes just weren't comfortable enough to want to continue several hard training sessions.
For that reason, I would choose a trainer fit for a more specific running purpose.
The EVA foam in this shoe just didn’t seem to offer a responsive ride when compared to other shoe foam technology (i.e. Boost, DNA Amp, Zoom, etc.). Although the flexibility and lightweight helped in maintaining a high overturn and cadence, the shoes still felt sluggish when transitioning from trails to road.
The MT-3 is made with quality materials from top to bottom. Over the first fifty miles (mostly off-road), the outer lugs took a beating and still look brand new even during a trip through the subways and streets of New York City for without any issues.
The Topo Athletic MT-3 is a simplistic running shoe that excels on the trails and looks good for your everyday commute. It functions as a “hybrid” designed to handle any average terrain and outdoor climate.
Topo Athletic is getting a lot of things right in their shoes’ design, performance, and quality, and I look forward to checking out more from this brand in the near future.
I’ve worn these shoes for about 60-70 miles mostly on trails with some roads and paved paths. I do want to mention that not only are these shoes extremely comfortable for running, they are also very comfortable walking shoes, so I could see them being a great hiking shoe for someone as well.
I have very few complaints about these shoes. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. These shoes are mostly trails, with some roads.
The shoe weighs 8 ounces. They didn’t feel heavy, most of the time, it didn’t even feel like had trail running shoes on.
The pair of MT-3 I have is orange and yellow with a brown/dirt-colored sole. I really do appreciate the darker shoe. These are trail running shoes, so they are going to be used on dirt and mud.
With the darker sole, the shoes just look less dirty and old after being worn on a trail. I went to Topo Athletics’ website and found that these shoes also come in emerald and orange (with the sole being bright oranges) and blue and coral (with the sole being brown and coral).
I like how all of the color options are darker colors because especially with a trail running shoe they are going to get dirty, so at least they look less dirty when they start out darker.
Cushion & overall design
Overall, I think this MT-3 has a great design. The shoes have Topo Athletic high traction outsole, which is meant to give you a good strong grip on just about any surface you run on.
I can honestly say the shoes can do anything from mud to gravel to roads. I felt like I had an equally strong grip on all of these surfaces, even in the pouring rain. The MT-3 also have midfoot drainage ports, which allows the shoe to dry fast.
Along with an ortholite footbed (that is anti-compression with anti-microbial properties) which stops microorganisms and their growth and is extremely comfortable. This shoe is extremely comfortable for standing and walking, as well as running.
The ortho compressions footbed makes the shoe feel brand new every time you were it.
This shoe has a 3-millimeter midsole drop. I think the drop really helped with the comfort of the shoe.
Most of the time, I stick to midsole drops anywhere between 4 and 6 millimeters. So a 3 wasn’t really that strange for me, but I feel like because the shoe was so light, and grip having your foot closer to flatter really helped.
The shoe ran true to size lengthwise. I normally wear a 7.5, and the 7.5 fit perfectly. If anything, the shoe may run a little narrow, I have a narrow foot and didn’t have to pull the laces very tight, so a person who has a really wide foot may have a problem. The shoe also had a very roomy toe box.
This may be my one and only con for this shoe. The shoelaces weren’t very long, which made it sort of difficult to tie and double knot. I had to stop a few times mid-run to retie my shoes.
Overall, I really liked these shoes, and would defiantly purchase them again. From the drop, to how comfortable they were with running and walking, to the darker color options, and many other things.
Updates to Topo Athletic MT-3
- The Topo Athletic MT-3 is a running shoe expressly made for the trails. But this product has been built to be versatile enough to handle cement paths and other types of flat ground. The underfoot cushioning system follows the structure and configuration of the original Terraventure model, though the rock plate has been removed. An OrthoLite® sockliner is a substitute, though the entire platform isn’t flimsily made.
- Though the upper unit of the 3rd iteration looks somewhat similar to its predecessor, the MT-2, the changes are more functional. A ripstop fabric replaces the lightweight mesh of the previous version, invoking extra durability.
Size and fit
The Topo Athletic MT-3 was constructed to be true to size. Runners are given the opportunity to get a pair using their regular sizing choices. However, it is generally recommended to test the shoe first or get ahold of user reviews to be sure about the in-shoe experience.
When it comes to width, the available options are D - Medium and B - Medium for men and women, respectively. Low and medium foot volumes are the ones that are welcome in this shoe’s interior compartment.
The semi-curved shape of this running shoe mimics the natural curvature of the human foot.
The outsole unit of the Topo Athletic MT-3 uses rubber. This layer of protection is meant to stave off wear-and-tear, especially since the trails are rife with elements that would cause abrasion to the materials of the underfoot platform.
Semi-prominent gripping lugs fill the surface of the external pad. These opposite-facing, flat-ended nodes offer extra traction on the various types of topography. The even tips permit transitions to flat ground, thereby making it a versatile product that also works on the roads.
The midsole unit of the Topo Athletic MT-3 uses ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), a compound that is responsible for delivering reactive steps and shock attenuation. It has a lightweight build and a flexible structure, permitting lively and natural performances. EVA is an industry-standard product that is used in many running shoe series, including the well-known Hoka One One Clifton roster.
An OrthoLite® footbed is placed on top of the main cushioning unit to provide a soft surface for the underside of the foot. This removable piece has anti-moisture and antimicrobial capabilities which allow it to maintain a clean and healthy in-shoe compartment.
The upper unit of the Topo Athletic MT-3 is made of ripstop fabric, a light and flexible material that is able to protect the foot from invasive trail debris through its close-weave construction. It also has the ability to resist rips and tears because of its high-grade fibers.
Printed overlays line the front, the sides, and the back. These synthetic prints are tasked with maintaining the upright position of the facade while also working with the lacing system to provide a snug and secure coverage. The sturdiness of these accoutrements also bolsters the anti-debris purpose of the upper unit.
The padded tongue and collar work together to cushion the topmost portions of the foot. These elements are also designed to prevent in-shoe wobbling during the run, as well as unintentional shoe removals.
The lacing system is comprised of semi-flat fabric shoelaces that loop through a cascade of isolated lace-loops and print-reinforced eyelets on the instep. This fit-adjustment scheme allows the wearer to quickly and effortlessly adjust the tightness or looseness of the cover system, following personal preference and intentional in-shoe steadiness. Extra eyelets are installed near the front of the collar to permit additional heel security and lockdown.