Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Topo Athletic Trailventure Review

Article by Dominique and Sam Winebaum

Topo Athletic Trailventure ($140)
Dominique:   As a runner who likes to hike, I was excited to transition from the Topo MTN Racer, a shoe I got many miles of hiking and running in, to the Trailventure, Topo’s first lightweight trail boot.  My preference for a boot versus a shoe for hiking (and I have also hiked in plenty of trail runners) makes the Trailventure a contender among other brands, such as Salomon, Hoka One One, and Altra.  
Designed more specifically for speed hiking and hiking, the Trailventure is a hybrid between a trail runner and a hiking boot -- a trail boot. It is intended for speed hikers and hikers who want all the advantages of a trail runner - lightweight, comfort, breathability, no break-in required - yet prefer a boot for extra ankle support, sturdier outsole protection and traction, and overall improved durability and protection.  With the Trailventure it is like hiking in a trail runner but with the added support and protection of a boot.  

Familiar with the “Topo Fit” and its signature roomy toe box, I find that the Trailventure is a bit too roomy in my usual size -- which was not an issue with the Topo MTN Racer. In comparing the MTN Racer with the Trailventure, the width and length of the underfoot platform are identical, however the difference is in the upper which is quite spacious in the women’s Trailventure. 

Sam: I too was intrigued with the possibilities of combining the stable, well cushioned and relatively lively MTN Racer trail running underfoot platform with a more boot-like upper.  I generally hike in trail runners but welcome more upper support when carrying a pack such as for trekking even on more moderate terrain as we did across Switzerland or for the very rocky White Mountains of New Hampshire. Further the higher upper, while not having a waterproof breathable membrane, presented possibilities for snow running and snowshoeing. 

And heck I often like to break out into some running when hiking and the 12.6 oz weight here makes that feasible. 

  • The lightweight upper, which is made of an abrasion-resistant ripstop mesh, provides extra protection, some water resistance, and improves durability.  
  • The outsole, which is made of Vibram® XS Trek rubber, provides great protection and traction on all terrains. 
  • Super lightweight and cushioned with a roomy toe box. 
  • Molded foam collar around the ankle color provides added comfort, support, and protection. 
  • Well padded and breathable tongue.
  • The lace up system is designed to keep shoelaces in place via a set of self-locking loops that create two different lacing areas.  No need for additional knot techniques to keep foot securely in place.

  • The light weight for underfoot and upper substance is notable.
  • A great hiking and trail running option for wide high volume feet
  • The only shoe or boot I can recall I did not need to take off or loosen on a long plane flight!
  • The “Topo FIT” is a bit too roomy for this particular model in my regular size W9 (US).  Unlike the MTN Racer, which has the perfect balance between a secure fit and plenty of toe room, the Trailventure’s roomy toe box feels just too roomy for a secure fit.  The upper feels to spacious though I have not experienced any blister issues thus far, hiking in them for 4-5 miles at a time on hilly terrain. Downsizing half a size might be the way to go.
  • The dense mesh upper, which is described as breathable, might not provide enough ventilation in hot weather, to be determined later in the season/year.  

  • I concur with Dominique. Narrower to normal feet may struggle on more technical terrain with this upper. I think a more substantial compressive mid foot bootie or a denser tongue might help.
  • Lacks a waterproof breathable membrane.

Official Weight: 13.1 oz / 371g (men’s US9), 10.6 oz / 300 g (women’s US7)
Estimated Weight (based on sample): 12.6 oz / 357g (men’s US 9) 
  Sample: 347g / 12.24 oz (US8 men’s 8.5)
Stack Height
Rubber Outsole: 6MM
Midsole: 19MM EVA (HEEL) // 14MM EVA (BALL)
Footbed: 5MM
Total Stack Height: 30MM X 25MM
Available now.  $140

First Impressions and Fit

Dominique: Familiar with the Topo MTN Racer, I was pleased to progress into a new model that was more specifically and technically oriented for hikers.  This is a super lightweight hiking boot (1lb. 4.8 oz for the pair), and lighter than the Hoka Sky Toa (1lb. 5.75 oz). The overall look of the boot is attractive and slightly understated in the Navy/Blue color, but for the teal shoelaces. The women Trailventure is also available in Raspberry/Black.  The roomy toe box is very generous and the cushiony midsole, along with the ankle foam padding, create a super comfortable environment for feet in motion. However, as mentioned above, the fit is too roomy despite the so-called “secure midfoot fit.” For an optimum fit, I would probably need to size down to an 8.5 as opposed to a 9.  This somewhat impacts my experience hiking in the Trailventure. To offset the roominess, I have been wearing a thicker sock, which works well in cooler temperatures. I have hiked in the them for 4-5 miles at a times logging some 40 miles, often on snow packed trails, and have not experienced any discomfort despite the roomy feel.

Sam: Oh so comfy and roomy on try on! Huge amounts of volume. The dual tightness lacing system took some getting used to. It is very important to get the toe box lace down the way you want it before customizing the upper loops with the locking mechanism (see pic below) to your preferences. Even tuned, I wonder if a half size down from my usual is in order here for my medium to narrower width foot especially for rougher terrain. This said wide high volume feet should be totally overjoyed!

Dominique: The upper is made with a ripstop nylon mesh which acts like a dense protective barrier.  Although not waterproof, the mesh is “abrasion-resistant” and water resistant to a point. Hiking on snow covered trails (4-5 miles), my feet stayed dry and protected.  It is too early in the year (March) to determine if the “breathable,” yet dense upper, will stand the test hiking in hot summer weather.  

The Trailventure, with its ripstop nylon mesh upper, works great in cooler temperatures and can be taken on all kinds of terrains. I anticipate that the mesh upper will be quite resilient over time, in like manner to what I saw in MTN Racer.   
Sam: Dominique describes the upper well. The mesh is very similar to the MTN Racer’s but is a bit thicker, more burly and and somewhat less pliable. There are is no stitching beyond around the heel counter and one row connecting lace up to the rear with the support and structure provided by welded on overlays as in the MTN Racer. 
There is a drainage port of 5 slits down low on the medial side at mid foot. It proved effective in evacuating water when I walked through several inches of water that topped the full rand or overlay between the top of the midsole and bottom of the upper. The rand provides not only durability but some wet protection. The toe bumper is notably stout and boot like, unlike the MTN Racer’s where it is basically a pliable overlay. Given the high over the toes volume it is not really noticed but should stop all dings up front.

I do think mid foot hold might be improved by a more substantial, wider, and denser tongue or even a less padded more leatherette tongue as is MTN Racer. The tongue is quite soft and somewhat flimsy

Dominique: Made with tri density EVA, the midsole provides great cushioning, comfort, and shock absorption. The midsole is softer at the heel for a cushiony, yet bouncy, landing.  A firmer density EVA underfoot provides great medial support. I have not felt any kind of sore points, i.e. heel, when hiking and my feet are staying comfortable. 

Sam: The midsole and on the ground platform is as far as know and feel exactly the same as the MTN Racer, namely with a total stack of 30mm x 25mm made up of 6mm of outsole 19mm x 15 mm of midsole with underfoot a 5mm Ortholite footbed.

The actual midsole is tri density, as Dominique says, with the softest foam at the lateral heel for landing cushion (red below) , the firmest towards the medial heel just above the outsole (black) for support, with the rest of the midsole (gray) of a density between the other two. Additionally there is an ESS stability plate embedded in the midsole towards the rear.
The result is a very well cushioned, very stable platform with, unlike a typical hiking boot and more like a trai shoe, some flexibility up front and no break in required. Is this a heavy duty backpacking platform, no. It is a fast moving hike run platform with plenty of support and cushion in a trail runner with a mid height boot upper that weighs about 12.6 oz / 357 g so lighter than most any “hiker’. 

Sam: Vibram XS Trek is very close to MegaGrip in characteristics but by spec is said to be slightly softer and bouncier with a touch less wet rock grip. The bouncy part is welcome and felt as MegaGrip outsoles definitely feel somewhat firmer.

Equally, if not more important, is how the rubber is configured. The pattern here is exactly the same as on the MegaGrip shod MTN Racer. Unlike say the Hoka Speedgoat 4 or Mid. a competing higher stack shoe with MegaGrip, the Trailventure has flex grooves up front so one is a able to move along comfortably, even of course run, without the stiffness of the typical hiking boot. 

The 5mm lugs are arranged and shaped effectively for all sorts of terrain from smooth to muddy and rocky, Grip has been excellent,   

Conclusions and Recommendations
Dominique: This is a super lightweight  well cushioned boot which translates into less fatigue when hiking long distances.  After hiking and walking in them for several weeks 4-5 miles at a time, I appreciate the comfort of the Trailventure with its padded ankle support, which is quite sturdy, its cushioned Ortholite footbed and high rebound foam midsole and not rock hard outsole.  Given the extra roomy toebox, I have been wearing a thick sock for a more secure fit. The shoelace system is well designed thanks to the self-locking loops which help keep my heels stay in place despite the roomy feel. The outer sole provides great traction and a secure ride.  Hiking in snow, mud, and on the road, the dense upper provides plenty of protection with some water resistance. The tip of the toebox is protected with a thick and wide rubber for added protection.

The wide toebox is my view a bit too roomy, however, might be more than adequate and welcome when feet are swollen after a long day-hike.  I have not hiked in them in steep rocky downhill terrain for hours at a time to judge whether the extra roomy fit might impact stability or be the source of blisters. My recommendation would be to spend extra time getting the right size and perhaps downsizing half a size. I am certainly excited to keep hiking in the Trailventure in the coming months -- stay tuned for updates! 

Sam: By combining the agile well cushioned and stable MTN Racer underfoot platform with a sturdy mid height upper and stout Vibram Trek XS outsole, Topo has created a great hiking, fast packing, and high top trail run option at a relatively light weight for its substance. Super comfortable to wear all day long, there is no question they are a great option for wide high volume feet, feet often neglected by trail shoe and boot makers. The comfort and room and potentially sizing of our pairs make them a bit more challenging in terms of security of hold for our narrower to more normal feet on more technical terrain.

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 
(Multi Tester RTR Review and Dominique and Allison’s Gals Review)
Coming in at 9.75 oz / 276 g  so about 3 oz lighter the MTN Racer has the same underfoot midsole platform and same outsole pattern but substitutes MegaGrip for XS Trek as the rubber. As seen above the last and fit is clearly different. While it does not have the high collar, the Racer ends up more supportive for a narrower foot if considerably snugger for a wide foot.  

Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid WP (RTR Review)
At bit heavier but comparable, the Speedgoat Mid is stiffer, has a MegaGrip outsole and a similar if not quite as supportively rigid but a higher collar. The big bonus is a waterproof breathable Gore-Tex bootie in the Speedgoat contributing to its $30 premium in price. Wider, higher volume feet will definitely be better off in the Trailventure as the Speedgoat is quite narrow if more secure overall. For long days of walking on moderate terrain I would pick the Trailventure. For more technical terrain the Speedgoat

Hoka One One Toa (RTR Review)
The Toa at 395 g / 13.93 oz  for Sam’s men’s size 8, he sized down half a size, is more than an ounce heavier and somewhat more softly cushioned and less stable underfoot. It has a less aggressive outsole but has a waterproof and breathable membrane which Trailventure lacks. Not quite as roomy, but still a generous fit, it has a collar that is a bit more flexible and a less supportive midsole, the Toa took Sam and Dominique 200 miles across Switzerland. Would we go with the Trailventure next time? Yes if we wore thicker socks, we wore thinner in the Toa, and if we potentially sized down a half size in the Trailventure as he did with the Toa. The extra underfoot stability of the Trailventure would then tip the balance in its favor.
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

hello winebaums:

i cant tell for sure from the photos, but do these boots -- or
any of the ones you compare them to -- have any heel, like
more traditional hiking boots of the past?

i ask because im always on the lookout for a hiking boot i can use
for trail rides on a horse. a heel is required for safety reasons
when using stirrups.

thank you for all the hard work in writing and publishing
these feviews.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
An interesting question. Thanks for asking it!
None of these boots have a heel protruding.
You might look to LaSportiva trekking boots and some of their trail runners such as Raptor and Akyra which do have somewhat of a heel. Also Salomon Speedcross 5.
See reviews of last two at link below
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Steph said...

I know you mentioned wearing thicker hiking socks with these to help cut down on the roominess, but do you know if they're meant to be worn with running socks or hiking socks? I have wider feet and am trying to figure out if I should order half a size up from my regular Topic running shoe size to accommodate hiking socks. Thanks!

Steph said...

*Topo, not Topic.

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