Topo Athletic hits us again with another update, this time on the road side with their new ST-3s. This super light and zero drop shoe gets a bit of a rework, so again we put it in the hands of our capable testers to capture both the good and the bad.
The upper on the ST-3 uses a full engineered mesh just with an updated pattern. The heel cup itself is actually neoprene and flexes pretty easily and we saw this before on the trail side with Topo Athletic, but they have brought it over into the road as well. It is definitely comfortable, but it doesn’t have the rigid hold or control like a typical molded plastic heel might. The toebox is obviously nice and wide giving you plenty of room for movement.
With only 16 mm of EVA foam, the ST-3 is not meant to be a highly cushioned shoe or to even provide that soft of a ride. It is fairly simple in its design, it doesn’t compress all that much, and gives you some ground feel when you’re in them. This is definitely more of a minimalist shoe, so don’t expect a ton of responsiveness.
That EVA continues into the midsole with the addition of strategically placed rubber which provides a decent level of control regardless of pace.
Style & Aesthetics
The ST-3 is available in 3 colors, they are all primarily solid colors in the upper coupled with a black neoprene heel cup. It definitely doesn’t look sporty or necessarily like a running shoe. In fact, it is starting to look like something you’d want to wear to walk or even travel in more than run in.
I came in to test the ST-3 fresh off testing the MT-3 and I was pumped, to say the least. The MT-3 is fantastic on the trails and while barely not as impressive as their new MTN Racer, I did love that design. I was hoping I would find all of that and more in the ST-3 update given it sounds like it should be the road counterpart. It is most definitely not. Out of the box and on the foot the first time, I can clearly say I am not a fan of that neoprene heel cup. There’s just a little too much movement for me and not enough locking in. Regardless of how tight I get a lace down, that heel still wants to pull upward. This is really tough for me in run especially at speed, it just a little sloppy. The shoe is zero drop, but strangely it almost feels like a negative drop to me and that may have something to do with the heel as well. Even standing I could feel myself rolling back right on my heels which does not translate well to the actual run experience.
This for me is a summer, no sock-style walking shoe and not something you would want to run in. I don’t know if its the minimal cushioning or the zero drop platform, but its just too barefoot for me to work out in as it just has too much ground feel. Don’t get me wrong, the shoe feels really good and I actually put a lot of miles on them, but it came less on the performance side and more in the everyday category and leans to walking instead of running.
The Topo Athletic ST-3 is a really mixed bag for us. We love the lightweight, but the lack of cushioning and the use of that flexible heel cup we are just not bought into. We much prefer something with a little more heft in it like the Fli-Lyte 3. This could be a great travel and walking shoe for many as an interesting alternative, but as a straight runner it’s not our favorite.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 7.3oz (size 9)
- Drop: 0mm heel/toe
- Cushion: 16mm
- Type: Neutral Minimal Road
- MSRP: $100.00
- Available: Now