Verdict from 2 experts and 100+ user reviews

8 reasons to buy

  • Traction: The MTN Racer 2's grip is very versatile. It does great on uneven surfaces, mud, slush, snow, and thick gravel. 
  • Ride: It's forgiving and nimble. It's not sloppy, nor unresponsive — it just has enough flex and softness that creates a lively feeling. 
  • Fit: The heel hold is better than that of the Ultraventure 2 and the Pro, the midfoot is secure, while the toe box has lots of space. 
  • Protection: The shoe's combination of the toe bumper and cushion shields the foot effectively from the harsh ground without forgoing trail feel. 
  • Weight: It's "lighter" than it looks, claimed various trail runners.
  • Comfort: The mesh upper is very "soft," "pliable," and "breathable." There have been no reports of hot spots as well. 
  • Gusseted tongue: It prevents any tongue slippage and betters overall upper lockdown. 
  • Style: The shoe is lauded by various experts for its "sleek" and "modern" design. 

3 reasons not to buy

  • Slippage: Because the upper doesn't have a lot of reinforcements, there are testers who have experienced some instability, especially when going steep downhills. 
  • Lace bite: The tongue is very thin and when the laces are cinched down, they cause pressure on top of the foot. 
  • Poor drainage: The upper is very porous that it lets in lots of water. But because the shoe doesn't have lots of drainage holes in the medial forefoot, it retains the water.

Bottom line

If there's one word to describe the MTN Racer 2 from Topo, it's versatile. So much so that if you're looking for a trail shoe that can handle any distance, any pace, and any terrain, this is the shoe for you. Running ultras is no exception either. 

However, if you think that this is a road-to-trail shoe, it's not, nor is it the best choice for buffed trails. 

Tip: see the best trail running shoes.

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2: "An all-purpose, any-terrain, any-distance ride"

Given its name, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 gives the notion that it's intended solely for mountain running. But, that's not the case. It's as multi-functional as you can imagine — it can do your easy and fast runs, just as it can run short to ultra distances on any surface. As experts say, it's almost as if it has been "misnamed." 

What is it for?

Distance: Short to ultra distances

Pace: Slow to tempo speed

Surfaces:

  • Muddy single tracks
  • Snow/slush-covered horse trails 
  • Dirt/gravel roads
  • Rocky surfaces
  • Wet rocks/slabs

NOT for:

  • Buffed trails

Balancing performance and comfort the Topo way 

Achieving an optimal blend of comfort and trail-ready features is not an easy feat. But Topo is here to disprove that with the MTN Racer 2. So, what are the defining features of the shoe? 

  • The midsole is where the "magic happens" as it has a semi-rocker geometry that creates the shoe's agile ride. Unlike other trail shoes, it's not harsh because the foam has some give to it. Lastly, it's also responsible for the shoe's protective ride that doesn't sacrifice ground feel. 
  • Complementing the midsole, is the shoe's debris mesh upper. True to Topo's signature, it's roomy in the forefoot, yet secure in the heel and the midfoot. 
  • And with a full-coverage Vibram outsole, the shoe has an aggressive bite on soft, loose, and hard surfaces. 

MTN Racer 2 vs. 1: A step-up from an already excellent shoe 

The first version of the MTN Racer has been warmly received by runners. However, there were a few things that needed some fixing. And an iteration later, Topo has introduced the following changes: 

  • Better stability. The upper has been updated with a stabilizing clip that locks the heel in place. Meanwhile, the medial foam is made firmer to guide the foot. 
  • Enhanced comfort. The upper is softer, more flexible, and breathable. Unlike the MTN Racer 1, it doesn't require a break-in period. Contributing to this as well is the shoe's new tri-density midsole, which is a touch bouncier and softer than the previous version. 

Rankings

How Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 18% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Bottom 46% Topo Athletic running shoes
All Topo Athletic running shoes
Top 35% maximalist running shoes
All maximalist running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2.
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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.