Monday, September 23, 2019

Topo Athletic MTN Racer -- The Gals' Review!

Article by Dominique Winebaum and Allison Valliere

Topo Athletic MTN Racer ($140)
RoadTrailRun also published an in-depth multi tester review of the Topo Athletic MTN Racer in mid-July, see it at the link: HERE

Dominique: Compared to the reviewers (5 men) who tested the Topo MTN Racer back in July, this is my first pair of Topo trail running shoes as I mostly run roads – also my frame of reference is a bit outdated, i.e. the Altra Lone Peak 3 was my last trail runner. (see below).   
Dominique: I run trails when in Park City, Utah, otherwise I mostly run on the road along the coast of New Hampshire.  
After one run in the Topo Mtn Racer on easy trails at a local park on the single track trails, I decided to wear them hiking since I do more hiking than trail running when in New Hampshire. Trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire are rough, rocky, rooty, steep, and rather slippery when wet; a challenging environment for the feet and footwear!  
Dominique: In my pursuit of hiking NH 48 4000 footers I have come across many Thru- Hikers on the NH Appalachian Trail (AT) carrying heavy packs and happily cruising along in their Altra Lone Peak (3.5 – 4).  Prior to the Topo Mtn Racer, I would only wear hiking type shoes, such as the Salomon X-Ultra and more recently, the HOKA Sky Toa, when hiking in the White Mountains. This changed as I tested the Topo MTN racer.

Dominique: Designed “ for trail racing and speed hiking,” I find the Topo Mtn Racer to be a great hiking shoe as I tested it in August and September while “peak bagging” in the White Mountains (in addition to some hiking and trail running in Utah). 

9oz./255g US Women’s Size 9
Stack Height: 30/25mm (5mm drop)
Available now.

First impressions
Allison: The MTN Racer is a lot of shoe for the relatively reasonable, weight with very high quality construction, excellent comfort, cushioning, protection and padding all around.  Foothold feels good and the outsole looks to be very grippy with reasonable moderate lugs and Vibram rubber. Fit initially feels a bit on the short side despite being my normal size 9.
Dominique:  At first sight, the Topo Mountain Racer reminded me of the Altra Lone Peak 3, a pair of which I have had since the summer of 2016.   Eye catching with bright colors (Pink/Orange for the Altra and Berry/Gold for the Topo), a wide toe box and plenty of cushioning for running trails, however, with a significant difference, the Topo is not a zero drop shoe. 
Dominique: When I first stepped into them, I thought they might be a bit tight, however, that first impression dissipated with my first run.  Overall, the fit is snug and comfortable and my feet are secure and well grounded. I should add that for an optimum fit I wear a medium weight pair of socks -- the Drymax Speedgoat, Lite Trail, ¼ Crew
Dominique: Foremost this is an extremely comfortable shoe that performs well on rugged terrain and for the long haul – hiking all day long on uneven trails, rock and steeps!  
Several features create a snug and comfortable environment for the feet: a padded ankle and Achilles’ collar; thinly padded tongue; a shaped snug mid-foot with a wide toe box and plenty of cushioning.  
 In comparison to my other hiking shoes, the Topo Mtn Racer is much lighter; it weighs 9.3 oz (men) and 7.7 oz (women).   Less weight to move with each step is always a gain! The shoelace system is well designed with eyelets that keep the shoelaces tightly in place for a great fit.  

Allison: The upper feels very well built with high quality materials and ample overlays.  Fit is wider in the forefoot, as is expected with Topo, but midfoot security and heel hold are excellent.  I noticed that when initially trying on, my toes are right up against the front of the shoe, however, this was only at first when trying on and thinking about sizing, however on my first run and on subsequent runs, it really did not bother me at all.  Over time, I think the shoe broke in and I noticed it less and less. I found the upper to hold my foot well on most terrain, but did experience some movement on technical downhills, steeper/faster descents and sometimes when cornering. This added roominess is very welcome for the most part, but is not ideal for my foot on steeper, more technical terrain.

Additionally, the upper is not particularly breathable and is quite warm for summer use, however I think they will be great as the temperature cools.

Dominique: The fact that the upper is not breathable is a bit of a downside, however, I have only experienced some discomfort (heat wise) at the end of one long hike.  To help offset the lack of breathability, I wear socks with wicking properties treating my Drymax Speedgoat socks as an essential part of my hiking equipment. On the upside, the upper, which is made of ripstop nylon, appears more resilient and is free of pilling unlike the more breathable upper of my HOKA Sky Toa. 
Hiking on a rainy day in mid-September, the upper kept my feet fairly dry and comfortable.  At times, the mud covered my shoes but my feet stayed protected -- I often wear my Dirty Girls gaiters for added protection.  When crossing streams - or just rinsing my shoes in a body of water - the medial and lateral drainage ports help release the water and act as quick drying mechanisms. 
At 80 plus miles of mostly rugged very rocky NH trails the ripstop nylon upper is still in fine shape with no tears or splits. 

Allison: The midsole is very plush and well cushioned and I find it to protect very well over rough terrain.  Response is a bit muted and though they are great for slower paced long runs, they do not inspire speed.

Dominique: In addition to hiking in the White Mountains (Owl’s Head; Pierce; Monroe, Jefferson; and Cabot), I wore them hiking a 10,000 footer in Utah (Globbers Knob) and trail running in Park City at Round Valley.   Like the other reviewers (July review and Allison), I find the shoe lacking responsiveness when running trails , something I am not overly concerned with as I am a non competitive runner.   

Dominique: The Vibram Megagrip Outsole gives me peace of my mind as I hike downhill, especially on rugged and steep trails, even though it’s at a slow pace.  The profile of the thread gives it good and secure traction. 
At 80 miles plus including many miles of rugged rocky NH trails there is plenty of tread left.

Allison: I love the grip that the Vibram MegaGrip outsole provides, as it is quite sticky on all surfaces, whether it be dry rock, wet rock, loose dirt and also performs very well on less technical trails and on roads.  The lug pattern/depth and profile of the lugs are such that they provide wonderful versatility.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Allison: The Topo MTN Racer is most appropriate for slower paced runs or hikes of about any distance on just about any terrain, though I do find that the wider forefoot somewhat limits security and stability in rough, steep terrain if you have a narrow foot.  I do quite a bit of hiking in addition to running and find myself more likely to reach for the MTN Racer when hiking than I do if going for a run. Definitely not a shoe for warmer days and I look forward to using these more as the weather cools.
Allison's Score 8.6/10
Ride: 9, Fit 7.5, Value 8, Style 9, Traction 10, Rock Protection 9
I would love to see a more lively midsole as well as a more breathable upper.

Dominique: As a wide toe box trail running shoe , with a 5 mm drop, and all its padded and cushioned features, in addition to its Vibram Megagrip Outsole that offer both great traction and protection, the Topo Mtn Racer is a contender when selecting a trail shoe that doubles up as a hiking shoe. 
Dominique's Score: 9/10

Read the guys take on the MTN Racer here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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