Topo Running Shoe – From Five Fingers to Split Toe.
The Topo Running Shoe is the brain child of Tony Post, the former CEO of Vibram Five Fingers. He has now created ToPo Athletic, a new running shoe company where split toe design is in and Five Fingers is out.
Based on the Japanese Tabi shoe, the Topo Running Shoe split toe design creates a unique anchor point in the forefoot, offering more security and a stronger connection to your footwear. The shoes are anatomically designed with an open toe box which allows the remaining toes to spread naturally. This design promises to deliver more comfort and control when running over traditional non-split toe designs.
By separating the big toe from the rest of the foot, the shoes are designed to offer more stability, greater power and enable the runner to have more agility. The Japanese of course, already knew this.
The shoes are made from lightweight material and heat welded seams. This design not only reduces potential chafing, it also saves weight.
One things that makes these shoes stand out is the Boa lacing system. The RR (The Topo Racing shoes) is equipped with the Boa system instead of traditional laces. I have used the Boa system for many years while cycling and absolutely love them. Topo utilizes the Boa system on the side of the shoe, which keeps the shoe from forming any hot spots.
- RT, which is an all around shoe (Retail $100)
- RX, geared for Cross Training (Retail $110)
- RR, their top of the line racing model (Retail $130)
Sizing and Weight
Womens (Size 7)
- RX – 5.9 oz
- RT – 5.1 oz
- RR – 4.6 oz
Mens (Size 8.5)
- RX – 6.7 oz
- RT – 6.0 oz
- RR – 5.3 oz
Better, Stronger, Faster
When we first saw Topos, we knew we had to test out the shoe line. I mean come on, a Boa system on a running shoe, now that is cool. After searching and searching for someone to talk to we came across Tony’s LinkIn profile. A little side note. I knew a thing or two about LinkIn because that is how I first contacted my girlfriend who didn’t know she was my girlfriend and who would eventually become my amazing wife and another awesome contributor here.
After quick emails back and forth with Tony and his staff we had our very own Topo’s sitting in front of us. You see here at EndTheTrendNow we love to review products and the only real way to do that is to actually have products in hand.
The shoes are designed for the minimalist runner, but realistically anyone wanting to spice up their training will like these shoes. With the split-toe design you will need split-toe socks, five finger socks or go barefoot. I am more of a guy who likes to run in socks that rise above the ankle by about 2 inches or more. Kathleen likes the socks that are hidden. When you run off road I find the hidden socks allow more dirt and debris to get in. Topo sells split-toe socks that are more to Kathleen’s liking, being more of a hidden type. While these are good, I think offering a greater selection in height would be better.
The Topo Shoe Lineup
Topo has done it right with their lacing system. This is sort of one of my pet peeves. Shoe companies constantly sell shoes that have crazy long laces. These long laces are a hazard that can become tripping nightmares if not properly laced up. Lets just say that I have had one or two almost face plants because of this.
The Topo Run or Topo RT is the main shoe Topo carries to appeal to the minimalist crowd that also would like a little bit of extra protection while doing training and long runs. When running in these shoes, they seem to eliminate most of the annoying stone bruise situations you may run across with other slightly less cushioned soles. The shoes offer good support for a minimalist shoe and seem to wrap the foot in the right places. Kathleen said her shoes seemed a bit short, so while many people may find their shoes are true to size, you may want figure out proper sizing prior to purchase.
The Topo Train or Topo RX is Topo’s cross training shoe and is geared towards the crossfit crowd. This is a little beefier version of the RT with the edition of a Hook and loop forefoot secure closure system and a little bit extra side support. The closure system provides some ample support when doing activities that are non-running in nature, like jumping on blocks and moving side to side. We tested these out in a Crossfit classroom setting and found them very comfortable while performing plyometric activities and running 200 meters between sets.
The Topo Race or Topo RR is Topo’s top of the line racing shoe and features the really cool Boa closure system. For those that haven’t used a Boa system before, they simply rock. You simply turn the nob to tighten the metal laces or pull the nob to loosen them. The shoes are really easy to get in and out of. Should you need to make a tension adjustment while running, no problem, just use the Boa system for a quick and easy change. Did I mention I really love the Boa system? The Topo Race weighs a scant 5.3 ozs for a size 8.5, which makes them the lightest Topo shoe available.
The only real note of caution with the Topo lineup is they are minimalist shoes, so for people just starting out in the minimalist realm, they may need time to adapt. If you are used to running in traditional shoes and then make the switch cold turkey, you may wake up the next morning after your first run with all sorts of aches. Sort of like how Kathleen and I felt after doing our first Crossfit workout. Muscles sore in places you didn’t know muscles existed.
The main competitor to Topo in the split-toe category is probably Born2Run, who also has a split-toe minimalist shoe lineup. Born2Run has something that Topo doesn’t, which is their Strength Training System. What sets them apart is Topo’s lacing system, sex appeal and wider toe box. While the Born2Run might have an edge in the sole being a bit more flexible, in a head to head Topo just feels more refined and better engineered. You can just see the shoe industry experience that Tony brings to the ToPo brand. It’s top notch.
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