Topo Trailventure WP & Vibe Review: Before, During, and After
Article by Sam Winebaum
Topo Trailventure WP (fast hiker $160) & Topo Vibe ( recovery and all around casual shoe $110)
Hiking has been a big part of our spring and summer activities as we were in Park City during the early pandemic and then back to New Hampshire as my wife Dominique is on her way to completing her 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers, all rugged rocky with long days on our feet.
Perfect testing terrain for the Trailventure WP on the trail and the recovery focused Vibe before during the long drives and after, as well as pretty much all day long every day.
-Anatomical toe box that is both broad, high, and well held so an ideal boot for wide feet with a all day comfortable, secure fit even for narrower feet such as mine
-Trailrunner based platform is well cushioned, stable, and extremely protective
-Classic solid grip from Vibram Megagrip
-eVent waterproof membrane has proved waterproof, breathable, and comfortable even in warm temperatures
-Early pairs such as my first had an overly broad opening making lace up hold problematic, solved with 2nd pair from full production
-Lateral lace hook occasionally bites the ankle, sharply and momentarily when laced tight.
-May be related, tongue is too lightly padded/flimsy and with shorter than ideal side wings at lace up. A thicker tongue might allow tighter lacing with more comfort.
-Weight at 14.5 oz / 411g: Yes a boot but trail runners including Topo's MTN Racer are as hike versatile,,weigh 3-4 oz and can be run
Official Weight 14.5 oz US / 411 g men's US9
Official Weight non WP Trailventure: 13 oz US M9
Stack Height: 30mm heel, 25mm forefoot, 5mm offset
The Trailventure WP is Topo’s second hiker/fast packing boot following the non waterproof but still dense ripstop mesh upper earlier Trailventure (RTR Review). The first Trailventure was an excellent and light boot at only 13 or so ounces but its upper lacked some structure for rougher terrain. With the addition of an eVent waterproof breathable bootie to the WP version I was eager to test to see if the addition of the bootie alsoadded some structure.
Already familiar with eVent from the Hoka Toa which we hiked 200 miles across Switzerland in last year in cool wet conditions, I knew how comfortable, breathable, and waterproof the full bootie membrane is but wanted to see how it performed in warmer temperatures.
The Trailventure is a mid height boot built on the exactly the same underfoot platform, as far as I can tell, as the low cut and 4 plus ounce lighter Topo’s MTN Racer (RTR Review), top above which had already proven excellent for both rugged hiking and more technical terrain trail running.
The platform has a tri density midsole made up of a softer lateral heel area (photo below the gray)
With a firm medial side support piece (photo below the black in the women’s version), and then light gray EVA foam between the two in firmness grade for the rest of the midsole.
Not content to rely on the stout Vibram Megagrip outsole and the midsole for protection, we also have a full length ESS rockplate for protection and stability. The approach provides the cushion of a trail runner with the protection of a hiking boot. I have never experienced any rock bite or lack of protection in 40 miles of rugged rocky hiking but do wish the main midsole was a touch softer and bouncier.
And very notable the Trailventure has Topo’s anatomical toe box and a super wide and roomy (but well held one) one indeed making the WP a great choice for wider higher volume feet.
First Impressions, Fit, and Upper
One is immediately struck by the broad, high volume toe box.
I was worried my medium to narrow foot would swim around and torque on off camber terrain but after almost 40 miles of often very rugged hiking this has not been the case with only a few times on extremely steep downhill slabs at strange angles some slight movement. I personally think that for my foot a bit lower volume and width toe box would be better but for wide high volume feet it should be heaven!
The fit is true to size for sure for a wider foot or with thicker more hiking focused socks. I wore Smartwool Outdoor for my narrower to medium foot. With thinner more run oriented socks, which I also tried for low volume feet one might consider sizing down but for intended purpose and normal width feet, hiking thicker socks are probably a good idea and they should fit true to size.
Topo first sent a pair from early production and we noted that the rear collars and lace up wrap was quite loose and difficult to cinch down for more rugged terrain.
It felt, and in the photo above with right early production and left current production one can clearly seen, that the collar opening was too broad and not as molded to the ankle as it could be or to Topo’s spec.
This said during a later 10 mile plus hike in them with over 4000 feet of vertical to the Carter Range for some reason I decided to ford a stream and get the the early production pair completely over the top wet very early in the hike.
After that the boot was, if you will, custom molded to my foot for the rest of the long day with no issues of looseness. I also noted it drained and dried very quickly through the drainage ports,, and despite being soaked never felt clammy during the quite warm humid rest of the hike and eventually dried out before at hike’s end I forded the same stream to cool off!
A subsequent 19 mile through the night hike the improved hold remained so it is clear that my soak and go approach improved the fit.
I contacted Topo telling them the story above. They told me that initial pairs were not quite lasted to spec during the height of the pandemic in China with processing sped up with more heat and not enough time for proper shaping. They kindly offered to send me another pair from the main production.
I was able to test the new pair this past Sunday on a brutally rocky 11.5 mile round trip to Mt Isolation with 5200 feet of vertical and the wrap is notably improved out of the box, no soaking required.
The upper is the same dense ripstop mesh as the non waterproof version and is only slightly heavier than the similar mesh in the MTN Racer.
As always with Topo the multitude of laminated overlays help lock the foot the broad front of the platform and in this case also provide protection to the sides of the shoe and your feet.
The toe bumper is substantial and protective. I “tested” this running into some obstacles by mistake, and hard, during my through the night hike and essentially bounced off with not even a zing.
The lacing has a locking system which allows differential lacing tightness front and back. It works well but requires some focus to first get the front tightness where you want then the top near the laces. I found that while the front stayed put for many hours as I initially had tightened the upper portion of lacing required fairly frequent tightening. Again I think the wrap at lace up and tongue itself need some tweaks as I think, due to the thin soft tongue and maybe not quite enough upper pliability, the twisting and torquing on rough terrain stretches things more than it might.
Dominique and I both noted occasional brief and sharp “bites” on the lateral side coming from the area of the last lace hook. Again this might be related to the thin soft tongue and some rotation of the foot past the tongue’s protection on off camber steeps, and this in combination with not having much padding behind the hook next to the foot. It is not a huge issue on more moderate terrain but Topo has already taken careful note of this.
The midsole does an excellent job of cushioning, stabilizing, and protecting. While not as agile on steep slabs as say the inov-8 Terraultra G270 there is more than adequate ability to “toe off” on big moves but given the wide toe area the platform is what it is.
On smoother more moderate terrain the wide platform allows for a very smooth stable ride mile after mile. I was barely sore the next day after that big vert super rocky 11.5 mile hike or after 19 through the night hikeon more moderate terrain. As a long trek shoe or thru hiker the platform should be just about ideal if you want a mid height boot with plentiful room and protection and although while very respectable at 14.5 oz there are other options including the MTN Racer which are lighter.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole is as always a solid option with great grip and a multi function lug pattern of 5mm lugs. The non WP version has Vibram XS Trek rubber, a slightly softer and bouncier flavor with slightly less wet rock grip.
I have also recently hiked totally similar terrain in the inov-8 Terraultra G 270 with its Graphene enhanced rubber, and while close, the inov-8’s stickier rubber is superior in stickiness of grip particularly at the heel and on wet rock while the WP’s somewhat deeper lugs are better on mud.
The Trailventure WP is a full featured, fast hiking oriented mid height boot that is comfortable, stable and well cushioned with a ride more reminiscent of a trail shoe than a boot. I have had none of my usual after hike on rocky terrain foot soreness issues in them.
The eVent membrane has performed very well in terms of both breathability and waterproofing in often wet humid but not extremely warm New England summer conditions with the boot draining and drying quickly.
The wide high volume toe box is a dream come true for “big feet” and while I wish for a touch less volume for my narrower feet I will take it as is.
I wish it weighed somewhat less as at 14.5 oz when I and many can hike in trail runners with close to equivalent support and protection that weigh 3 or more ounces less such as Topo’s own MTN Racer with an identical underfoot platform and equally supportives low cut upper that weighs more than a full 4 ounces plus less.
The lace up and collar areas of the upper need some tweaking to allow a tight and stay tight lace up and one without that occasional lace hook bite. I suspect the thinner and softer tongue than what the shoe would seem to call for is the main issue.
The Trailventure is a fine light and fast hiker for even the most rugged terrain and I think on smoother less rocky terrain than I tested on would be an ideal trekking boot. The big volume, eVent membrane and insulating midsole and outsole has me wishing for winter as it should also prove a great snowshoe, winter hike, commuting, and shovel the driveway shoe as with that volume thicker socks can be used and toes can still move and stay warmer.
Sam’s Score: 8.8 /10
Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 8(30%) Value: 9(10%) Style: 8 (5%) Traction: 9.3(15%) Rock Protection: 10(10%)
Topo Vibe ($110)
While for sure the Trailventure WP is not at all the type of boot you would want to take off immediately when done a long hard day on the trail, Topo’s Vibe recovery shoe will have you doing exactly that!
It has a somewhat stretchy anti microbial knit upper and molded collars wrapping over the instep. Underfoot you have essentially the platform of the Fly-Lyte 3 road shoe midsole with a 5mm drop..
Below your foot is a ridged and very soothing feeling Ortholite insole
It is shod with a durable rubber outsole with some grip. You’re not riding on foam here with wear to date minimal.
Unlike super soft recovery shoes the Vibe is very walkable and stable making it both a recovery option but a great all around beach, casual and travel shoe with styling that can take it to the “office”. I personally prefer this type of somewhat firmer more stable approach in my recovery/ casual shoes. While recovery shoes like OOFOS are very pleasant on foot I have a hard time going very far in them.
And of course as a Topo it has an anatomical toe box that doesn’t over restrict in either height or width while providing a solid hold.
Not much more to say except they have been my non run shoe pretty much every day this spring and summer for all purposes.
Sam’s Score 9.5/10
Small deduction for molded fit over shoe slip on point a bit snug initially and took some time to stretch out.
AMAZON Men's & Women's Trailventure SHOP HERE
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE