Last year Topo blasted into the running scene with a new line of split toe tabi-style designs. These shoes were well received, but I am not sure they hit their mark or changed habits into split toe running. Split toe shoes are not for everyone and to be quite honest, most people don’t have split toe socks. This means in order to really use split toes for everyday runs, you’re going to have to purchase, at least in my case, totally different socks. For most people, the thought of having to purchase shoe specific socks for different running shoes is often shunned. Five fingers gets away with this because people in general don’t use socks in their five figure shoes, thus they don’t have to buy separate five finger socks.
I am quite certain Topo realized this dilemma and came full circle to a more traditional setup. The Topo MT or Mountain Trainer eliminates the split toe in favor of a conventional shoe setup. This means no more having to buy split toe or five finger socks.
The Topo MT is designed to be an off road shoe, but I feel it falls a little short in this category for 2 main reasons.
First, when running on the trails, at least here in Austin, you need a shoe that really grabs and holds on to your foot. The MT does a great job in the rear of the shoe, but the front section has a little play. When the shoe is tilted because of a rock or some unevenness, your foot (at least my foot), has a habit of sliding a bit in the shoe. Running on uneven terrain then becomes even more of a challenge.
Second and less of an issue, is the fact that most trail shoes have some type of rock plate to protect your foot from sharp rocks and bumps. The Topo MT seems to lack any type of rock plate, so you can certainly feel more of the ground. Now I am sure this is by design, but many people might find this annoying when running on rough terrain.
Topo MT – The Basics
- Anatomic shape for natural foot positioning
- 3-density midsole for plating protection and comfort underfoot
- Lugged outsole for multi-directional traction
- 19mm x 17mm total stack height (2mm drop)
- Seamless printed upper pattern on breathable mesh
- Weights: 6.8 oz (W7); 8.2 oz (M9)
- Colors Men (Black / Royal) & (Grey / Green)
- Men’s Sizes 8 – 13
- Colors Women (Berry / Black), (Grey / Teal) & (Pool / Green)
- Women’s Sizes 6 -11
- Retail Price $100
What To Like In TheTopo MTs?
I have to say the Topo MT is about the most comfortable walking shoe I have worn. Your toes have a ton of wiggle room and the heelcup keeps the foot down where it needs to be. The lacing system is pretty awesome and the laces used are top notch. The traction on the bottoms make for very surefooted travels. Entry and exit is super easy, unlike my experience with the Five Finger shoes I have tried. The extra wide toebox really helps aid in both putting on and taking off the shoe.
Topo makes a CrossFit spit toe shoe called the RX and I wanted to see how the Topo MT matched up. After doing a series of CrossFit type workouts, the MT’s felt great. Part of the workouts have us running around a track and around goal posts in the grass. Both on the track and in the grass the shoes performed flawlessly. The extra traction really helped when running on the uneven surface of the grass. When doing more CrossFit type moves, I felt very sure footed. We are talking power moves like going from a plank to jumping up in the air in a star type move, quick feet and a series of high knees and lunges.
Beyond hard core stuff I have been using the shoes for basic things like walking the dogs, riding our fun bike and wearing them to work. I have worn them for a good 12-14 hours straight without issue. I know this is subjective, but there aren’t any hot spots or pressure points issues with these shoes. They feel just as good on for an hour as they do for eight hours.
People who like minimalistic type shoes should really like the feel of the Topo Mts, with their limited 2mm drop.
Honestly I wouldn’t change a thing with these shoes except maybe the name. I feel Topo could come out with a more rugged trail shoe and keep this one exactly how it is. If I were going to make a recommendation it would be to somehow incorporate a way to add more tension near the front of the foot.
If you want a great all purpose shoe, you should definitely check out the MTs.
Be sure to check out Topo’s website and their new Topo MT.