Product Review: Topo Athletic Terraventure Trail Shoe

Topo Athletic has been seeing a lot of momentum in the market recently as they continue to expand their product line and reach a wider user base.  I see more and more of them out on the trail, which tells me that their formula is working.  Their most recent expansion of their Trail line is the Terraventure.  For those of you that have been looking for a shoe that caters to more rugged terrain, this one is meant for you.  Let’s take a look.

DISCLAIMER: These were provided to me for free as a member of the Topo Athlete team.  While I am partial to Topo, know that I don’t take the decision to commit to a single shoe brand lightly.  At the end of the day, my goal in all reviews is to lay out the facts in an unbiased way so that you can make an informed buying decision and so the company can use the feedback to make their products better.

Product Description

The Terraventure is marketed as a shoe for more rugged terrain where traction and durability is more critical.  In looking at the shoe out of the box, I can see that this was definitely the focus in creating this particular shoe.  I don’t see the Terraventure as a shoe built completely from the ground up as much as I do a spinoff from one of their existing shoes, the MT-2.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the MT-2 (it is my favorite of their shoes all-around to date), but it does have its shortcomings when running in the rugged Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah.  The Terraventures are meant to address those shortcomings, most notably with:

  • A more durable upper
  • A more grippy outsole
  • A more protected ride with the inclusion of a rock plate

Of course, these things don’t come for free with the trade-off being more weight in the shoe.  However, if you are looking for something that you can beat up and don’t mind a little more weight, this might be the shoe for you.

Specs

As I am largely comparing the Terraventure to the MT-2, I wanted to include the side-by-side specs for ease of comparison.  Also, here is a link to my review of the MT-2 if you want to look at that one.

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As you can see, they are comparable in most areas.  The difference in the stack height is largely attributed to the deeper lugs and the addition of the rock plate in the shoe.  The price is only slightly higher, most likely reflecting the increase in materials used.

Outside the Shoe

Sticking with the comparison with the MT-2, I have included some side by side images below (the terraventure is on the left/bottom in these photos).

On the upper, the design is only slightly different aesthetically, but largely the same.  What you can’t tell from the image, but is the main difference between the two in terms of the upper is that the Terraventure uses a slightly thicker, more durable material.  This is largely meant to reduce tearing.  The shoe uses a standard lacing system along with a nicely padded heel and tongue.

     

On the outsole, the lug pattern did change ever so slightly, particularly in the midfoot.  Additionally, the lugs are about 1mm deeper for increased traction and grip.

Inside the Shoe/Fit

The inside of the shoe fit almost identical to that of the MT-2.  That is to say, plently of room in the toe box for your toes to splay with a snug fit through the midfoot and heel to keep the shoe firmly in place.  This is Topos bread and butter design approach and it is resonating with a lot of people.

In Action

Fall/winter is my favorite time to test new shoes here in Salt Lake City because you have access to all weather conditions depending on whether you are back in the mountains or down in the foothills.  As such, I got a chance to test these in snow, mud, and dry conditions.  I had a number of observations:

  • The fit was pretty much identical to that of the MT-2.  In other words, my toes had ample room in the wide toe box while the shoe stayed snug with the secure fit through the mid-foot and heel.  Topo continues to stick with what works in my opinion.  They didn’t invent the wide toe box and foot shape design, but I think they perfected it.  While I have found other models to be clumsy in the midfoot and heel (causing slipping and blisters), the Topo design approach simply does not slip and slide around.
  • The deeper lugs, although only about 1mm of depth was added, made a world of difference, particularly in slightly packed snow.  While running, it allows the shoe to get a deeper grip in the snow, which reduced slipping by quite a bit.  In mud, I felt that they did a great job at shedding and preventing build up underfoot.
  • I noticed the rock plate, particularly on scree, where pointy rocks definitely felt a bit more dull.
  • No blisters or hot spots, which has never been a problem with Topo.
  • While heavier in comparison to the MT-2 that I usually run in, they didn’t seem cumbersome.  The shoe was responsive and had a good transition throughout the foot.

Overall, I maxed the distance in these out at about 12 miles for a single run.  It is a bit shorter than I usually like to go, but such is life in my offseason training plan.  Still, I didn’t see anything in those runs that would indicate possible problems over longer distances.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

As with most trail runners, I have a number of different shoes that I use depending on where I am running and what the conditions are.  In terms of the Terraventure, I see these becoming an integral part of my every day training, when I often like to wear a heavier shoe.  I also see myself being able to log more miles in a pair of Terraventure versus the MT-2 thanks to the durability.  I would then save the lighter MT-2 for race days or speed trail workouts.  For everyone else, I always recommend that you at least try Topo out if you haven’t before; all of their models promote proper foot and running form through their foot shaped design and low heel-toe drop.  If you primarily run in rugged terrain and/or are looking for a solid everyday trainer, I would start with the Terraventure.

Pro’s

  • The increased durability really lived up to the test.  Have yet to see so much as a snag in my Terraventure.
  • The added 1mm in lug depth doesn’t seem like much, but I definitely felt a difference when running in mud/packed snow.  In fact, this was probably one of the most notable improvements in my wear test.
  • The rock plate is a nice addition.  The few times running on scree, I definitely felt more comfortable under foot.

Con’s

  • It is a bit heavy in comparison, coming in a full 2 oz. heavier than the MT-2.  As a user, if you are deciding between Topo shoes, you really need to understand how you want to use the shoe and what the most important factors are, weight or durability.  At the same time, it is actually lighter than many other shoes in the space that tout higher durability, such as the Brooks Cascadia or Saucony Xodus.
  • Breathability, while still more than adequate, is not as good as the MT-2 (as you would expect with a thicker upper).  This, again, is more of a tradeoff versus a deficiency.  I never had an issue with my feet sweating in the Terraventure, but the more durable upper definitely takes away a bit of the airy feel that I get with the MT-2.

If you decide to follow my advice, you can give them (or any other Topo shoe) a try AND get 20% off at topoathletic.com with code TOPODEAN20...with 20% off and a friendly return policy, why wouldn’t you?

If you like this post and would like to stay up to date when future gear reviews, race reports, and other related posts are released, please follow my Facebook page at Ultrarunner Joe!

The Runner’s Holiday Wish List

With the holiday shopping season upon us, I am going to join in on the plethora of “holiday shopping ideas for runners” blog posts and offer my own thoughts on what might cause the eyes of that special runner in your life to sparkle a little brighter this season.  Runners can be hard to buy for because we usually impatiently buy things without waiting.  If this is the case, you should look for things that they either must continuously have to re-buy throughout the year or for those things that have a cool factor, but may have been difficult for them to justify buying themselves.  Here are a few ideas including some of my personal recommendations from some of my sponsors.

Socks

I absolutely LOVE a fresh new pair of socks, so I tend to go through more than the usual runner, but the bottom line is that replacement is inevitable.  Socks lose their cushion, develop holes, or take on a rather permanent smell.  This makes running socks are a no-lose gift idea for runners.  While many runners are also picky about the brand they use, I personally recommend Injinji.  Aside from being super comfy, the individual toe design provides maximum protection and reinforces proper toe splay.  They have models for all types of runners, but during the winter months, the Outdoor wool line is great for running through snow or kicking the feet up by the fire.  Use code JOEULTRA at injinji.com for 10% off.

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Stocking Stuffers

Continuing with the theme of “things runners continuously buy”, you have those items that are constantly being restocked, such as Food and other nutritional supplements, body glide, headbands, hats, etc.  A random grab bag of essential accessories would be a welcomed gift for any runner.  My favorite accessories that I love to collect are the hats from Headsweats, the best performance hats in the business.  Use code ULTRARUNNERJOE at headsweats.com for 25% off.

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Relief and Recovery

I know so many runners that severely neglect themselves when it comes to stretching, recovery, and working out trouble areas in the body.  What better way to nudge your runner toward a more healthy and productive season of running than buying them the tools needed to take care of their aches and pains throughout the year.  I recently came across and started using the kit from RAD.  They have a wide array of tools for self-enabled trigger point and myofascial release therapy.  They literally have something for every need and their kit is built tough!

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Eliminate the Boredom

We all know that running can be a solitary (lonely) endeavor.  Sometimes it can be a welcomed escape, but other times it can be a drag.  When I want to listen to music, podcasts, or anything for that matter, I hate having wires running all over the place.  Wires constantly get caught on things while running or cross training.  Why not help your runner go wireless with a pair of bluetooth headphones.  The best I have found out there so far are those from Red Fox Wireless.  With about 8 hours of battery life and a great fit, these can help pass the time.

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Instagram Models

They are out there; the runners that like to take lots of pictures of themselves, nature……themselves in nature.  The best add-on I have found to make my photos Instagram-worthy are the iPhone lens attachments from Olloclip.  I especially like the macro photography options!

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Of course, this list is by no means complete.  Runners love gear and would probably be happy with anything that you get them.  I will say though, these are my personal favorites.  For other ideas, check out some of the stuff from my sponsors on my “What I Use/Discounts” page.