Here is my confession: previous to running in these Ultrafly 3 shoes, I barely knew anything about Topo Athletic. In the scrum to get attention in the running shoe world here in the US, Topo simply wasn’t on my radar.
This all changed as soon as I opened up the box for the Topo Ultrafly 3. I was instantly impressed with the look and feel of these shoes.
I regularly run in the comparable Altra running shoes, and the wide toe box and low heel drop was super attractive checking these out for the first time.
Maybe the only critical thing you will read in this review came from my wife as she remarked, “They look like clown shoes” referring to the width, but honestly, that’s just one person’s opinion!
Pictures here will show the black/white/olive color scheme; it is simple, elegant, and the accent color jumps enough off the black to be noticed. This shoe is, as advertised, super light!
While it looks like it has plenty of girth in its width, it is not a bulky shoe in the slightest. The materials across the board are quality, making this a well-constructed running shoe looking to be unleashed on the roads.
But truth be told, I have encountered plenty of good looking shoes that out of the box simply don’t hold up; will these Topo Ultrafly 3s pass the test?
First 50 miles performance
I’ve been able to put in about 50 miles in the Ultrafly 3s so far—give me some more! From day one I have been super impressed with the immediate comfort, cushion, construction, and response that these shoes are providing.
I’ll get into some of the details of the construction in the following sections, but this shoe has made me a Topo believer!
There was virtually no break-in period needed for these bad boys. I wore them around the house for a bit the night before, and the next day I was turning in a training day 10k feeling rejuvenated; my legs thanking me for providing some great cushion, great response, and a light, yet supported, running experience.
I have kept these shoes predominantly on roads and pavement in mild weather up to this point, covering distances between 3-12 miles. There have been NO complaints from me in any running experience so far!
I find my runs to have no trouble maintaining pace, agile on inclines and declines, and always well supported.
The upper is an innovative mesh construction that looks great, is well made, and breathes like a breeze!
The tongue of the shoe is a wonderful density (not too thick; not too thin) and low profile with two unique lace loops that allow for a stable run experience.
The heel collar is pretty standard in design and super snug; I love the materials and design that Topo has put into this shoe.
If there is anything about the upper that I think Topo could have improved, it would be the laces themselves.
While the rest of the shoe seems to go beyond ordinary, the laces are pretty flat and mundane, but again, this is a very small critique. Overall, the upper is a delight to run in; perfect for regular training in all conditions.
What I noticed with the midsole during my running first was the cushion and stack height.
The heel comes in at 28mm, and the forefoot at 23mm, leaving a respectful 5mm heel drop, which is just about perfect for me when it comes to running roads. Topo boasts a “multi-density midsole” that allows for more responsiveness and cushioning during the run, which I gladly attest.
Yes, the shoe is cushy. And yes, it also balances the line of being super responsive when needed, and supportive throughout.
The outsole of the Topo Ultrafly 3 doesn’t disappoint, including plenty of traction for variety of surfaces, plenty of ground contact, including “Zipfoam” technology to add to the comfortable ride.
I notice a moderate amount of wear on the outsole after about 50 miles; this may be something to pay attention to when it comes to durability, but otherwise, everything is performing wonderfully.
As I mentioned previously, I have yet to try these shoes on too many varied surfaces, but the pavement, some dirt trail, and some gravel running have all been positive and comfortable.
If it isn’t clear enough after reading this, I highly recommend the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 road running shoes to anyone who is looking for a comfortable daily training shoe that will allow for plenty of toe width, cushion, support, and responsiveness to last for days. I’m excited to see how they age with mile 100, 200, and beyond.
For those looking for more room in the toe box to embrace more of many runners’ natural toe splay, along with a lower heel drop to allow for more natural striding, the Ultrafly 3s ace the test.
Topo is most definitely now on my radar for future running shoe experiences; they deserve to be right up there with the rest of the pack as they have put out the most impressive product!
With Topo shoes being a relatively newer brand of athletic shoes on the market, I wasn’t really expecting much. However, running in the Topo Ultrafly 3 was a pleasant surprise.
There's the immediate feel of comfort, the light, and responsive quality, a heel-box to put others to shame and enough cushion to go the distance all added up to deliver a shoe worth mentioning.
|Use||road/mid-distance, daily trainer|
|Weight||9.75 oz (men’s size 9.5)|
The simple and unassuming Topo Ultrafly 3 has a lot of notable features. The superstar of all of these was the heel-box.
The heel-box of the Topo Ultrafly 3 is so ergonomically well designed that it struck me straight away. It hugs the shape of your heel so snuggly that you almost could get away without lacing them.
Other shoes need the lacing system to create that locked down feeling, but the Topo Ultrafly 3’s heel design almost does so all by itself. The feeling of security that I get there is by far better than any running shoe that I’ve tried lately.
The anatomic toe box is another great feature. The foot-shaped design (much like Altra), allows for the toes to splay and spread out comfortably.
The solid purchase of the lace cage over your foot keeps the toes from experiencing excessive movement and running the risk of blisters. The wide toe-box creates a free and uninhibited feel for the toes.
For some runners this is unnerving, so if a wide toe-box is new to you, make sure that you try them out in a running specialty store before buying them.
The 3-piece EVA midsole delivers an adequate amount of cushion for the intended use of the shoe, just enough for longer runs but not so much as to feel unresponsive. The slight 5mm drop encourages a natural foot turnover.
The Topo Ultrafly 3 has a responsive feel to it and the sole encourages a natural gait with good energy return. While far from a racing flat, the Topo Ultrafly 3 does have a quick feel to it.
With a zippy bounce and the balanced cushioning of the ZIPFOAM material, this is a shoe that feels comfortable for miles. As a mid-distance trainer, I’m loving this shoe.
After 60 miles of running in the Topo Ultrafly 3, it has been my go-to for 7-10 mile runs on roads and paved pedestrian trails.
The wide foundation of the Topo Ultrafly 3 gives it a very stable ride. Coupled with the ample grip of the sole, even on wet surfaces, the Topo Ultrafly 3 is a forgiving running shoe.
While the traction of the sole is great, the durability of the Topo rubber compound is yet to be proven to this tester. With 60 miles in, it appears to be doing great, with no signs of premature wear evident yet. Time will tell.
The Topo Ultrafly 3 has a light feel to it but it weighs in at a reasonable 9.75 ounces in a men’s size 9.5 (US).
The upper is very comfortable and nonrestrictive with a supple and airy weave. The cushioning around the heel collar and on the tongue are adequate and not over the top like some brands.
These are areas of the shoe where I personally feel like less is more, and Topo Athletic does a nice job at finding the balance between too much and too little. I was impressed by how cool my feet felt in this shoe on hot days.
This attests to the airy weave and not being over-stuffed with cushion. Conversely, on wet, rainy days, the shoe drained water very well and didn’t get that water-logged feel that some shoes do in wet conditions.
One notable feature on the Topo Ultrafly 3 is the lacing guide on the tongue. The two lateral lace holds seem to hold the lace in place much better than the standard central lace guide. This may seem like a small thing but it makes a huge difference on long runs, especially for over-pronators.
Another cool feature of the lacing system is the material that the lace hole reinforcement is made of. While rugged and providing needed resistance for lace wear, the material is incredibly supple and pliable. The extra-wide laces are a nice touch as well.
- Wide, foot-shaped toe box
- Dialed in ZIPFOAM cushioning
- Ergonomic heel box
- Still looking for these...
The Topo Ultrafly 3 has a lot to offer. The ZIPFOAM cushion is dialed-in perfectly to help keep the miles ticking away. The airy upper provides a comfortable habitat for your foot and it’s securely locked in by the well thought out lace system.
The roomy toe box is an acquired taste but for those who like ample toe splay, this is a shoe for you. By far though, the heel box is the rockstar of the shoe, nestling the bony knob of your foot into a solid home.
All in all, these features add up to a shoe that is a joy to slip on for those everyday runs. With an MSRP of $130, the Topo Ultrafly 3 is priced appropriately.
I am a 42-year-old runner, about 170 pounds and 6’1” tall, and my feet are sized 12 (Brannock). I race all distances, from 5ks to marathons, and spend at least half of my year training for an upcoming marathon.
At first glance
My feet are size 12 (Brannock). Size 12 in the Ultrafly 3 fit just about right. There is a little extra space at the end to allow for some swelling during long runs, but they fit exactly as I expected.
I use a heel-locking tie, just like every other shoe I wear, since it keeps my heels cinched down. The Ultrafly 3 laces are absolutely perfect. They are the perfect length, and they are the perfect material. I did not need to double-knot them for them to stay tied.
Like the rest of Topo Athletic shoes, the Ultrafly 3 comes with an amply wide toe-box. It might not be as wide as other shoes like Altra, but it is more than adequate to allow the toes to splay and flex on the run.
I think the heel is absolutely perfect. The Ultrafly 3 comes with a molded foam collar the comfortably holds the heel in place. Along the outside is a TPU piece that provides outer stability of the heel.
The waist of the shoe is pretty narrow, which keeps the arch firmly in place. The “Ortholite” insole supports the arch flawlessly.
There is nothing fancy on the upper, just a seamless engineered mesh that breathes well.
The Ultrafly 3 midsole is made up of a 2-density foam called “ZipFoam,” which is lightweight and bouncy. This shoe also provides some mild pronation control with an EVA post along the medial side.
The outsole has well-placed rubber sections to keep the weight down and provide long-term wear. The Ultrafly 3 is NOT a zero-drop shoe but goes from a 28mm stack height in the heel down to 23mm in the toe and a 5mm heel-to-toe drop.
For a men’s size 9, this shoe weighs in at under 10 ounces.
After 50 miles
I gave the Ultrafly 3 a full week of testing in my current marathon training cycle:
- Short runs (2-8 miles) at recovery pace
- Track speed work
- Long run with hills
The Ultrafly 3 broke in and became comfortable after the first 3-4 miles in the first run, but it started out pretty stiff. Immediately, I was a little nervous about having a 5mm drop combined with a wide toe-box; I was afraid my feet would slide forward.
But, the narrow waist and secure heel mechanics kept my feet from moving. These shoes became very comfortable and easy to run in after a few miles.
I repeatedly observed how they allowed my feet to “relax” and fall into place, guided by the additional stability features (medial post and TPU heel counter).
I was pleasantly surprised at the Ultrafly 3’s performance at speed and in hills. First, I ran hill loops at marathon pace in the middle of a 14-mile run, and the shoes performed remarkably well.
Then, on a track day, I ran 6,600-meter repeats at 5:30min/mile pace on the track and was shocked at how well they executed under speed. I anticipated some sliding of my foot, but again, the combination of the narrow waist and heel/arch support kept my feet locked in.
I have run more than 400 miles in the Topo Athletic Magnifly 3, and they are still holding strong. So, I do not anticipate a lifespan shorter than 500 miles for the Ultrafly 3.
The Ultrafly 3 is a very simple shoe made for daily training. It can handle long distances and bursts of speed as well. If you need some pronation control, or even if you do not, this shoe will surprise you with its adaptability.
- Heel/arch structure
- 5mm drop
- No reflective print
Good to know
- One of the more obvious changes made of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 is its revamped outsole design. It features more cut-outs than its predecessor, reducing the weight while enhancing grip.
- A two-density Zipfoam™ has also been incorporated into the midsole. With its composition, the foam is set for higher responsiveness and lasting resilience compared to standard EVA foams.
- For added support, an external TPU heel counter is implemented. An EVA medial post is also incorporated for mild pronation resistance.
- Lastly, an Ortholite®footbed is configured into the midsole. This sockliner cushions the foot while augmenting stability.
The standard sizing measurements for both men and women are used for the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3. This means that buyers can get a pair with their usual size choice.
Affecting the fit of the road running shoe is its external heel counter which gives the foot added support. The Ortholite® insole is responsible for holding the foot securely in place, heightening the fit of the platform. Meanwhile, the shoe's engineered mesh gives an adaptive wrap, following the natural pattern of the foot.
Typical among running shoes, a high-strength rubber comprises the outsole of the Ultrafly 3. It exhibits a good balance of rigidity and softness, optimizing the speed and comfort of the wearer. The outsole element also has sufficient flexibility, allowing the foot to move more freely. This is further improved by the cut-outs made on the rubber, trimming down the platform's weight.
Found at the forefoot of the shoe is a Pebax® propulsion plate. It is a polymer-based plate that has good abrasion resistance and sticky traction. It is also ultra-light, barely adding to the shoe's overall bulk.
The midsole of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 presents the brand's newest midsole innovation—the Zipfoam™. Contrary to conventional EVA foams, the Zipfoam™ offers a higher rebound and a more pronounced resilience.
Complementing the Zipfoam™ is the EVA medial post of the running shoe. It is engineered to impede pronation, preventing the onset of strain and injury.
To add stability and amplify plushness, an Ortholite® insole is introduced in the midsole. It keeps the foot in place.
Encompassing the entire upper of the Ultrafly 3 is its engineered mesh upper. The same upper textile is present in the Brooks Launch 6, giving a form-fitting wrap around the foot. This prevents premature shoe dislodgment and delivers pliability to encourage foot motions. Lastly, it acts as the ventilation system of the running shoe with its perforations.
An external TPU heel counter is also located at the rearfoot. Aside from locking down the foot in place, it also increases rearfoot stability.
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