Topo Athletic is coming on strong with this year‘s lineup to say the least and this is nevermore clear been in the new Ultraventure. This well cushioned trail runner is definitely here to take on the big boys in the trail running game and we put it through its paces to see if it truly stacks up. Our initial thoughts, Altra and Hoka beware… Topo Athletic is coming for you.
The Ultraventure features a fully gusseted tongue and an engineered mesh upper which seems to be able to handle most of what the trail can throw at it. They are very breathable and actually feature a drainage system to move water from inside out quickly. So if you have run through a creek, river, etc, it does do a good job of moving excess liquid out. It also has attachments for their custom nylon gaiter which works well, but we kind of wish they followed an industry standard gaiter system. Internally, the Ultraventure has a glove like feel on the foot and we couldn’t really notice any internal seaming.
The midsole is the big star on the Ultraventure. It is made of a 3 piece multi-density EVA system and features a 30mm stack height in the heel and 25mm in the front. This is right up there with the Altra Olympus and even the higher stack Hoka, and this is clearly made for cushioning and stability and it works really really well.
The outsole is all Vibram (XS Trek) which you know means industry solid traction, grip, durability, etc. The only caveat is a bit more stiffness, but there is no rock plate in the Ultraventure and the Vibram makes up for it a little bit. The outsole isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but it does its job really well.
Style & Aesthetics
The visual profile on the Ultraventure now feels like an extension of the Topo Athletic lineup holistically. Their entire suite used to feel a bit fractured as you move between models, but this year brings an alignment across their entire lineup that makes everything feel like it’s part of a family. If you put the Ultraventure next to the Runventure 2 and then next to a Terraventure 2 or the Fly-lite 2, you’ll find a cohesiveness from a visual perspective that is quite appealing. We also love how the best of each part has been carried through the lineup. From that nice wide toebox to even the way the overlays are handled, the design feels intentional. The Ultraventure is available in 2 colors for men and women.
As this was a head-to-head like always, we’re going to let our male and female testers give you their direct take.
My first thought on these after taking them out of the box was wow this looks just like other Topo Athletic shoes I’ve tested lately. I’m also a big Altra fan and I couldn’t help but notice the similarity visually with the Olympus platform. The Ultraventure from a spec perspective stacks better against the Altra Lone Peak. Initial impressions on foot are similar as well. It has a super wide natural shaped toebox which is great especially for distance trail runners. You never have to worry about any discomfort in the front of your foot and your toes can just relax. Out on the trails, I learned a few things. First off, the shoe was lighter feeling that I expected. It actually comes in an ounce less then some other Altra shoes I have tested. At distance, this was really welcome because my legs didn’t feel as heavy over time. The lack of responsiveness that I felt initially diminished because while not super bouncy, I was feeling a decent kick which was helping with leg turnover. The outsole gripped well under majority of conditions. It’s not the best at really muddy and sloppy conditions, but is very solid on hard single track as well as ups and downs. Overall, I was honestly really impressed with the shoe. It looks visually very simple and I could use a little more fun from the styling maybe, but what’s under the hood functions really well and I easily could see myself using these on a regular basis.
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I can second pretty much everything he said, but I actually ran into one fairly major issue. For me, the overlay that extends across the toebox, just behind the toes themselves was actually a little too snug for me. If you compare these to the Runventure 2, I had less flexibility here and it actually got a little painful even at distance. I wish they would have handled the overlays in the same way and removed them from the lateral and medial sides.
I think it’s clear after this review that Topo Athletic is really onto something with the Ultraventure. They have produced a shoe that can compete directly with Altra, Hoka One One, and others. For a decently cushioned trail shoe with a higher stack, it barely breaks 11 ounces which is incredible. It’s all set for gaiters which they offer as well and they have a big comfort to responsiveness ratio. We love what they’re doing with the lineup overall and can’t wait to see where they take it next. Our only negative might be that the aesthetic is a little subdued and we’d love to see at least one more dramatic color way to give them a little flash for those that want it.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 10.4oz (size 9)
- Drop: 5mm heel/toe
- Type: Neutral Trail (Cushioned)
- Stack Height: 30/25mm (heel/toe)
- MSRP: $130.00
- Available: Now