Topo Athletic remains a top choice among runners who prefer a wider toebox. Every time I look at a traditional shoe (with its pointed toebox), I cringe a little inside. With the updated Topo Ultraventure 2, Topo continues with a well-cushioned trainer that can tick off the miles in comfort.
Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 Features:
- Internal microfiber belt wraps the midfoot
- External TPU heel counter
- 30mm heel and 25mm toe height
- 5mm drop
- Vibram® XS Trek EVO outsole
- 3-piece injected EVA midsole
- Engineered mesh upper with reduced overlays
- Weight: 11.2 oz each (men’s 11, actual)
- MSRP: $135
Training from deserts to mountains
As Topo’s most popular trail runner, the Ultraventure 2 hits the trails with high expectations. Browsing some of the reviews, some stalwarts are both praising and casting shade on the new model. With any introduction, there’s bound to be some polarization. I set out with an open mind to both compare the Ultraventure 2 with other Topo models tested and against some of the best trail runners on the market.
As it turned out, my first real test of the Ultraventure 2 was in the desert. Just outside of St George, UT, I hit some of my favorite trails and cobbled together a nice 6-mile loop on the Zen Trail. The terrain was dry, rocky and, at times, technical. Dodging between sandstone and red sand, the Ultraventure 2’s delivered a comfortable ride with sure-footed traction. I could dance between obstacles and drops with confidence as the outsoles kept me in control.
One of the primary features of the new Ultraventure is the microfiber belt that runs across the midfoot. At the outset, that belt feels a little bit constricting and required the use of lightweight socks (Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralight Socks). It’s not that big of a deal as I prefer lightweight socks for trail running anyway. But with these in my usual size 11, I had no choice. The benefits of that belt are very apparent when descending. Your feet stay locked in place and don’t creep forward at all. In addition, it provides solid arch support for those with low arches, like myself.
The lace-up process is straightforward and the laces pull evenly throughout the eyelets. Topo chose to use standard eyelets at the top and loop pulls towards the forefoot. With a cushioned tongue, the laces are easy to cinch and pressure points were never a concern.
Another key feature of the Ultraventure 2 is the heel cup. this design features an external heel counter that also has gaiter attachment points. The uppermost part of the heel is made from a neoprene-like material for added stiffness and structure. All the new features are well-executed and allowed me to, yet again, go from box-to-trail in confidence. I’ve never had even a hot spot testing Topos and I’m happy to report that the string continues.
With a 30mm stack height, comfort is excellent for this long-distance specialist. And, at 5mm drop, these are a good option for those who still prefer a more traditional heel-toe drop. Unlike other shoes, these don’t feature a rockered sole, but do have a nice stride from mid foot strike to toe-off. Each step is comfortable and only under the most loose and dry conditions would I lose a little traction. I haven’t had an opportunity to test these in mud, but the outsoles should shed mud just like the Topo MTN Racer.
Stability has been excellent on all terrain. I have low arches and the support has also been great. The heel cup and structure really locks your feet in place. Dancing through loose rocks has been no problem and the trail feel is outstanding. These are neither numb to sharp rocks, nor are they super-sensitive. Honestly, the fact that I haven’t even thought about sharp rocks means that they hit the sweet spot between protection and sensitivity.
I have also used these for road approaches and morning walks around the neighborhood and they are decent for that purpose. They don’t feel overly clunky on pavement and actually do quite well (but don’t think they will run like a road shoe). As temperatures have risen, it has become apparent that these are not going to be my favorite shoes for hot, mid-day runs. Things do get a little toasty above 80-degrees.
- Excellent cushioning for long training
- Really good combo of support and stability
- Confidently go from box-to-trail
- Vibram outsole offers excellent traction
- Signature toebox allows you toes to wiggle and splay
- Perfect trail feel
- Midfoot belt keeps feet in place on descents
- Can get hot as temperatures rise
- Fit is a little more snug than I expected (you may need to size up)
The Bottom Line: Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2
As Topo’s most popular trail runner, the Ultraventure 2 has some high expectations to live up to. As you look at consumer reviews, you’ll see some passionate runners both love and hate the new design (but most are very positive). I’ve had good luck with the Ultraventure 2 on many fronts — traction, stability, trail feel, and comfort are all solid. They feel natural with every step and feature Topo’s wide toebox to allow your toes to wiggle and splay.
Buy Now: Available from REI