Monday, December 07, 2020

Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dom Layfield, Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, Cheng Chen, Jeff Valliere, and Jeff Beck

Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 ($135)

Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 10 oz / 283g (US9) //  women's 8.5 oz /  241g (US8)

Samples: 

US M10 291 g (10.3 oz),  US W7.5 8.25oz/234g (left) 8.04oz/228g (right)

US M8 267g (9.4oz), US M10.5 10.7 oz / 302 g

Stack Height: 30/25 mm, 5mm drop 

Available Feb. 2021. $135


Pros:

Renee/Dom/Cheng/Jeff/Jeff B: Decent weight

Renee/Dom/Cheng/Jeff/Jeff B: Excellent grip

Cheng/Jeff: Well designed arch support with high quality Ortholite insole

Dom/Jeff: Surprisingly good foot retention (for such a stretchy shoe)

Dom/Jeff: Plenty of protection

Renee/Dom/Jeff/Jeff B: Comfortable

Cheng: Greatly compliments natural running form


Cons:

Renee/Dom/Cheng: Firmer ride may not be to everyone’s taste.

Renee/Dom: Heel feels oversized

Jeff: Not particularly responsive

Cheng: Uninspiring design

Jeff B: Minor heel slip issues


Tester Profiles


Dom 48, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46. 2019 was a quiet year, with his only notable finish at the multi-day Dragon’s Back race in the UK.

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has 2020 PR’s of 1:35:44 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon

Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with recent PBs of 5:29 (Mile), 1:28 (Half), and 19:45 (5K). In season, he trains at 50-80 miles per week in shoes ranging from 0-10mm drop, racing in various plated super shoes. He is 5’7” and weighs around 145 lbs.

Jeff B. is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December 2019 he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 



First Impressions and Fit


Dom:  Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I felt predisposed to dislike the Ultraventure 2.  I was initially suspicious of its plush, foamy upper, and wide heel collar.  This smelled like a Clydesdale-focused shoe, where weight and performance had been deprioritized behind cushion and comfort.  But the shoe surprised me by being lighter than I expected, with better foot retention than I expected, better ground feel and excellent stability.

Renee: I’m fresh from running the Ultraventure Pro, a shoe that I thought I would love but didn’t. I was happy to test the Ultraventure 2 (RTR Review) as a comparison and am pleased that the Ultraventure 2 worked much better than the Pro for me. I think the Ultraventure 2 is in a competitive class of trail shoes (see comparisons below), but I think has earned a place in my rotation for slow to moderate paced long runs when I do not want a high stack plush shoe. The weight is fairly light for a trail shoe too, which is a bonus. I wore a women’s size 7.5 and thought the fit was good. For runner’s in-between half sizes, I suggest sizing down a half as I did from my usual women’s 8.. As a Topo, the toe box and forefoot have ample room. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Pro, and I think that contributed to the heel slippage I felt in those shoes. 


Dom:  +1 on what Renee said.  Given the stretchy upper and roomy fit of this shoe, if you’re on the fence regarding sizing, I would suggest opting for the smaller size.


Cheng: This is my first pair of Topo’s, a brand that I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’ve heard great things and see them as a middle-of-the-road option for those who don't want to adopt a complete zero-drop (Altra) yet want to run more naturally. 


After testing them on road and trail, they’re exactly that: a middle-of-the-road offering that checks off many boxes, a utilitarian platform that somewhat fails to inspire... 


I tested  a men’s size 8 with a fit rather similar to Altra’s 8. I have an Asian-last foot that’s very wide at the toes but very narrow at the heel with an actual length equivalent to US 7.5. Wide toe box shoes like these fit just right width-wise, but have a thumb’s gap up front when sized at US 8. For the Ultraventure 2, I did not have to lace lock as the significant heel padding helped to keep things together. The overall step-in feel is solid, stable, and slightly supportive at the arch. Plush would not among its list of adjectives.


Jeff V:  Like Renee, I had high hopes for the Ultraventure Pro, but they fell short of my expectations.  I figured I would try the Ulraventure 2 to compare and was glad I did, as the Ultraventure 2 is a far superior shoe in my opinion.  


The UV 2 has a more secure heel hold, more secure midfoot, easier to secure lacing (I struggled with the UV Pro) and an accommodating toe box without it feeling uncertain in technical  terrain.  I found my normal size 10 to fit me perfectly and would not size up or down.


Jeff B: I’ve tested a number of road and trail Topos, including the Ultraventure, Mtn Racer, and very recently the Ultraventure Pro. Pulling the UV2 out of the box, it was clear that Topo didn’t go very far from their mold, and I actually like that. Some folks may see their lineup as redundant, but I think it means that runners can really dial in what they are looking for. Want a rock plate? Ultraventure Pro. Want a little lighter/faster shoe? Mtn Racer. Want the workhorse? That’s what we’re talking about, the Ultraventure 2. 

I found the length to be true-to-size, with 3/4th of a thumb’s width in front of my big toe, which is a good place that gives my feet plenty of room without being what Sam likes to call “ponderous”. I had some other minor fit issues, but we’ll dive into that below.



Upper


Dom:  The upper mesh fabric of the Ultraventure 2 is notable for having a foam-like liner, and has a good amount of stretch to it.   This makes the shoe feel extra plush and comfy, like a vintage Cadillac, and I was expecting that this would mean the foot retention would be awful.  I was wrong.  The midfoot has a different kind of inelastic lining, and holds the foot surprisingly well.  So much so, in fact, that I spent quite a lot of time scrutinizing the upper and trying to figure out exactly how Topo had pulled off this feat.

Dom:  The interesting part of the upper is the lacing, which foregoes conventional eyelets in favor of cord loops, very reminiscent of Nike Flywire construction, but not extending down to the sole.   

The laces do not slide as smoothly through these loops as they would through regular eyelets, which makes getting an even tension tricky when lacing up the shoes.  


The flip side of this appears to be that the laces don’t slip when loaded, and this is (I’m guessing) the reason that foot retention is so much better than expected.  Even on steep downhills, my feet didn’t slide forward much.


Dom:  My biggest negative regarding the upper was that the heel felt oversized, as if the last from the next size up had been used for the back end of the shoe.  I’ll admit that I have slender heels, but I haven’t experienced this sensation with other Topo shoes, and it makes me guess that this shoe may be targeted at runners with a stouter build than me.

Dom:  The external, plastic heel counter was unobtrusive.  I’m not sure what the advantage is, beyond providing a gaiter anchor point without having to introduce additonal structural elements.  Maybe there’s a construction advantage in not having to sandwich a plastic stiffening element between fabric layers.  Happily it’s nice and low, so that it doesn’t interfere with lateral ankle flexion.

Dom:  The mesh upper is super breathable, which is nice, but it also allows a lot of dust into the shoe.  If you live somewhere dry and dusty, expect to have black toes when you take off your shoes.


Renee: The mesh upper is comfortable and breathable. A good amount of air enters through the upper, so for cold-weather running I wore thicker socks. 

The toe bumper extends around the sides to help prevent some moisture from entering, although I did not run in the pouring rain and I imagine water will easily enter through the upper. The shoes do have gaiter attachments. 

The heel cup has a good amount of exterior TPU plastic that extends high, which will also prevent moisture entry from that area. Speaking of the heel, I agree with Dom about the heel counter. The fit is a bit obtrusive. The heel and the tongue have a fair amount of padding, not plush by any means, but enough to help with comfort and fit. The lacing system is good for adjusting the fit and security. I had no issues with needing to readjust the laces or fit while running.


Cheng: +1 on Dom and Renee’s thoughts regarding the comfortable upper. Many “engineered mesh” and knit uppers can appear nice on the shelves but dramatically fail at performance. Not here - Topo utilized a simple breathable mesh that’s not over complicated and performs well across a spectrum of temperatures. However, what it is not is weatherproof. All this breathable and comfortable material means that rain and puddles are a no-go. Save those runs for the Ultraventure Pro (RTR Review)


Jeff V:  I agree with Dom on all points regarding the upper, however I did not detect any issues with the heel feeling oversized.  I too have what I believe to be a thin and narrow foot, but for my foot,  I found the heel area of the shoe  to be well cushioned, comfortable and secure.  


Coming from the Ultraventure Pro, where I had heel retention issues, the UV2 in comparison felt like a dream.  


While not the ideal shoe or first pick for technical runs, I was impressed with how well the UV2 held my foot with only minor, but predictably workable movement inside, but only when descending the steepest fall lines, aggressive sidehilling or really fast running through rocky sections of trail.  Even so, I did not feel as though I would blister and I barely had to back off my pace.


Jeff B: It’s funny, Dom and I are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to foot shape (and running ability, he’s an absolute beast and I’m very much not), but I had the same response he did. I am the exact use case he outlined, but had the same issues with the heel. The rest of the upper seems like a solid improvement from the first version (which had a good upper, though it felt a little like a budget offering - and Topo has gotten much better at their upper since), but the heel doesn’t seem to be an upgrade over the UV1. Luckily, there’s an extra eyelet so I can lace a runner’s loop into the shoe, effectively eliminating the heel slip I experienced, but I have concerns for runners with narrow heels. Otherwise, I had a solid foothold, and seemed very planted on the platform.



Insole


Cheng: Before discussing the midsole, I’d like to point to Topo’s considerations for the Ultraventure 2’s insole design. Specifically, the insole utilizes a 4mm Ortholite model that contributes significantly to the ride and feel of the shoe (20g/0.7oz US 8). The insole is a feature of shoes that we tend to overlook, but I have done enough swapping over the years to note that its design significantly affects what we attribute to “rebound” or “responsiveness” in ride. Here, Topo seems to depend heavily on the layer to create the cushioning sensation as the main midsole isn’t very bouncy and is topped by a rather dull strobel layer. 

Further the unit is molded to the shape of the last not just across the 2D plane, but also vertically. That is, the insole’s shape curves with the midsole, such as the raise at the midfoot arch. I’ve seen Ortholite implemented by many brands across many shoes, and most are simple, flat models. Topo’s version in the Ultraventure 2 is certainly among the best.



Midsole


Dom: Topo Athletic are not known for bouncy midsoles (at least in their trail shoes), and the Ultraventure 2 is no exception.  The tri density U2 midsole is somewhat lifeless, and feels a little thin for a shoe that has a name like “Ultraventure”.   On the other hand, ground feel and stability are excellent, and the shoe’s weight is competitive.  

The medial midfoot midsole (blue above) has the firmest of the three densities foam for stability with the lateral side heel (black below) somewhat softer than the main white midsole. 

Underfoot feel is reminiscent of the more minimal Runventure 3, but beefed up.   


Renee: The EVA midsole is sufficient for longer runs, and I do think it provides enough comfort for long runs. I do not have experience with runs longer than 50k, but the midsole is fine for that distance, and I prefer to wear these shoes UV2 for runs that are at least 2 hours long. The midsole is not soft or plush but rather is comfortable. For me, this can work better than super plush “beefy” midsoles when I run uneven surfaces. Runners who need cushion and like soft, plush feeling midsoles might not like the midsole ride here. In my opinion, the shoes are a better choice for less “buffed” surfaces. Because I  use this shoe for slow or moderate pace long runs, I do wish the forefoot of the midsole was a touch softer. 


Cheng: EVA, but nicer - this is the exact phrase that I first thought of when attempting to describe the feel of the midsole. With the Ultraventure 2, there is no rebounding TPU feel nor is there the special blended EVA (ala ASICS FlyteFoam Blast) that creates a unique bounding feel. However, rather than choosing to outpace others in the superfoam wars, Topo clearly has chosen to focus on a niche market of runners who want a lightweight and highly functional platform. Here, the Ultraventure 2 delivers. 

There are attachments for gaiters as well as a laterally biased slight heel flare. 


Aside from this flare, the midsole does not significantly spill out over the sidewall but still does a fantastic job of providing stability while getting out of the way of the runner. This is all in the spirit of natural running - more on that later.

Jeff V:  My cohorts cover the midsole well.  I think it is great for mid distance, but personally would not consider this to be an Ultra shoe.  Cushioning and protection is adequate for several hours on most terrain and I did not feel as though it were prohibitively thin, just not super cush and plush either.  Response is mediocre, not necessarily sluggish, but does not inspire fast running either.

Jeff B: And here I thought being the heavy slow one I’d be the only one not considering this shoe for ultra distrances, despite the name. The midsole has a decent amount of cushioning, with good protection without completely eliminating ground feel. If you want a trail crusher, this isn’t it, but it does serve as a solid mileage trail trainer, if such a thing exists.



Outsole

Dom:  The Vibram rubber outsoles of Topo’s trail shoes are consistently excellent, and the Ultraventure 2 sticks to their tried-and-tested recipe.   I’ve not tested the U2 across the range of surfaces I would hope to, but so far the grip has been impeccable, and I expect the outsole to be highly capable everywhere.

Renee: The outsole is durable, and Topo calls the Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole out as “aggressive.” The lugs are aggressive as compared to other trail outsoles, but there is some give in their firmness to help with comfort while running on harder surfaces. I found the traction to be great on muddy/soft single dirt trails, dirt/gravel roads, and through corn fields. There is no rock plate, but for the surfaces I run, I don’t always want or need one. The outsole should work for a variety of surfaces, although probably is not my first choice for a road to trail shoe. I did run some pavement between trail heads, but not much. 

Jeff V:  I found the Vibram outsole to be fantastic and versatile, having run on steep technical trails, packed gravel/dirt roads, pavement, packed snow, grungy ice and rocky slab.  

The rubber is sticky and grips well, however when getting off trail, both when climbing or descending, but especially when descending, I wished for more bite, though will concede that these conditions are a bit outside the norm for most.


Jeff B: Folks who complain that running shoe companies change things up to much clearly haven’t examined the outsole of a Topo trail shoe. This is the same design they’ve been using for a few years, and I can’t fault them for not iterating - this outsole doesn’t leave much to be desired. Only recently did I get to start testing them in snowy and muddy conditions, and I still think it’s one of the best around. There are a few gaps in the rubber to allow for some forefoot flex, but otherwise the lugs do a solid job on dirt, in mud, on snow, and even on icy roads. It isn’t my first choice for a road-to-trail run, the outsole slaps just a little on the roads, but is very solid out on the trails.



Ride


Dom:  The Ultraventure 2 is an interesting proposition.   In a world of thick, spongy soles, it makes a clear statement, remaining relatively low to the ground, prioritizing feel and stability over cushioning.   The result is a firmer, more transparent ride.   I enjoyed the shoe more than I expected -- but I’m not sure I’d pick these to run ultramarathon distances, so I find the name a bit misleading.

Renee: The ride has a ground feel for runners who prefer that as opposed to a rocker or high stack cushion feel. I found the ride to be good for slow, long runs when I wanted to change to a moderate pace. 


The ride is fairly even and secure on inclines, declines and uneven surfaces. Again, not my choice for a buffed out surface. 


Although I did not find the heel “slipped” as I did in the Pro, I did find the heel fit intrusive at times. The shoes feel heavier and cumbersome in the heel area as compared to the mid and forefoot areas. Perhaps the external TPU heel counter does not work for me.


Cheng: As a brand, Topo is on the natural running part of the ride spectrum. While they have other higher toe spring offerings, expect this one to be a platform that’s more about getting out of your way as opposed to a highly rockered/controlled approach. 


With the Ultraventure 2, there isn’t any bouncy nor roll-forward feel. It’s a simple, stable classic EVA ride that transmits ground sensation while filtering out harshness. 


Unlike other platforms with rockers that queue you to go fast or toe off harder, the control here is all in your hands. When you go fast, it goes fast; when you don’t, it doesn’t... natural running.

Jeff V:  The ride here is very predictable, stable and steady, but definitely not lively, responsive or inspiring.  I appreciate the balance of flexibility and ground feel coupled with adequate cushion and protection for mid distances on just about any terrain, though it is more a home on more moderate trails.


Jeff B: My colleagues define it well. The UV2 ride is predictable, if not remarkable. There isn’t much giddiness to it, but not every shoe needs to make you swoon. While I tend to favor shoes that offer a little more cushioning and a little less ground feel (especially for long runs), this is a very solid shoe. It could be thought of as a version of vanilla out on the trails, but some of us really enjoy vanilla so don’t read that as a pejorative. 



Conclusions and Recommendations


Dom:  The Ultraventure 2 definitely exceeded my expectations. I was puzzled by the apparent self-contradiction between the plush, roomy upper (and oversized heel collar) and the business-like sole.  But I enjoyed the shoe’s stability, and neutral underfoot feel.  This is a very comfortable shoe that performs well in all conditions, a strong candidate for runners who are skeptical of the spongy, over-cushioned shoes that currently dominate the world of ultrarunning.

Dom’s score:  8.25.   Ride 8, Fit 7, Stability 9, Grip 10, Ground Feel 9, Rock Protection 8, Cushioning 7, Foot retention 8, Weight 8, Comfort 10, Energy 7.


Renee: The Ultraventure 2 will appeal to runners who like a ground feel trail shoe with a durable outsole, and at a fairly light weight, The Ultraventure 2 might be appealing for runners who can’t stand heavy shoes and high stack, plushy midsoles. I do not think the Ultraventure 2 is light enough or nimble enough to be a fast pace shoe, and for ultra distances, it might not have enough stack height or softness underfoot for some runners. For me, the shoes occupy a place between my lighter, fastest trail shoes (Torrent 2 or Terraultra G 270) and my big cushion “beefy” shoes. If the heel cup/counter had a different feel/shape and the midsole was a touch softer in the forefoot, I’d be very happy.

Renee’s score: 8.8/10 (-1.0 cumbersome heel cup/ heel counter fit, -.20 midsole might be too dull/firm for some runners)


Cheng: No expectations were surpassed, but neither were any missed. The Ultraventure 2 is a solid trail shoe that does exactly what it was designed to do: to offer a reliable platform that allows you to run naturally while minimizing the harshness of the trail. For that, I’m a believer in maintaining one’s ability to run more mileage on simpler platforms, saving rockered and bouncy rides for specific training sessions. This shoe aligns exactly with that approach.

One more thing: I attempted to run this on a regular, asphalt road… don’t. The outsole becomes too grippy and all the smooth natural running mentioned earlier goes out the door.

Cheng’s Score: 8.75/10

Ride: 8 (30%), Fit: 9.5 (30%), Value: 7 (10%), Style: 6 (5%), Traction: 10 (15%), Rock Protection: 10 (10%)


Jeff V:  The Ultraventure 2 also exceeded my expectations and I really have no complaints.  It is very comfortable, has excellent fit, security, protection, breathability, stability, traction and is a high quality shoe.  The UV2 will please a wide range of runners with various foot shapes and preferences and is quite versatile.  If I had to compare this shoe to a car, I would pick the Toyota Camry, as it is practical, comfortable, reliable, efficient and satisfies a wide range of customers, getting the job done with no surprises, but is not necessarily known for its high performance or curb appeal. 

Jeff’s Score:  8.4/10

Ride: 8 (30%), Fit: 9 (30%), Value: 8 (10%), Style: 8 (5%), Traction: 8/5 (15%), Rock Protection: 8.5 (10%)


Jeff B: Not every shoe has to surprise you, and that’s the Ultraventure 2 in a nutshell. The upper holds the foot well once you get the heel dialed in. The outsole is as grippy as anything around. The midsole offers decent protection without overdoing it. I don’t think it’ll be on any of our shoe of the year lists, but it is a very good shoe that runners who appreciate a bigger/wider toe box and good cushioning with some ground feel should give them a try.

Jeff’s Score 8.25/10

Ride: 8 (30%), Fit: 8 (30%), Value: 8 (10%), Style: 7 (5%), Traction: 10 (15%), Rock Protection: 8 (10%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Topo Ultraventure  [RTR review]

Dom:   There wasn’t much wrong with the original Ultraventure, but Topo managed to remove a healthy amount of weight: version two is about half an ounce (12 g) per shoe lighter.  In regard to other changes, I’m on the fence.  The new shoe takes a step forward in comfort, but a step back in terms of the heel fit -- and I find something about that stretchy, foamy forefoot fabric disconcerting.


Jeff V:  Dom sums up the comparison well.  I like the upper of the UV2 a bit better than the previous version, as it is at least as secure, but with a more streamlined, modern, breathable and lighter build.  While I never had any heel issues with the UV2, when I wear the UV and UV2 side by side, I have a better understanding as to where Dom is coming from.  The UV has a bit more padding, shaped such that it may help cradle the heel, but otherwise the shape/size/structure of the heel counter seem very similar, if not identical.


Jeff B: Completely agree with Dom and Jeff. I appreciate the slightly lighter weight and much of the upper, but the heel is a swing and a miss. Otherwise, they are two very similar shoes.


Ultraventure Pro  [RTR review]

Renee: The Pro had two issues for me: the heel fit and forefoot pain. I think some of those issues were sizing: I wore a women’s size 8 in the Pro and should have worn a 7.5, as I did with the Ultraventure 2. The Pro has a harder Vibram Megagrip outsole and a rock plate, which was too firm/hard of a ride/feel for me. I do have a better heel fit with the Ultraventure 2, but it is still not ideal. The Pro has a somewhat water resistant upper, which I liked. If you need a more technical outsole and water resistance, the Pro might be a better choice, but for me the Ultraventure 2 is a much more comfortable, better performing shoe, especially given the weight difference.


Jeff V:  Renee touches on some of my issues with the UV Pro, the heel fit and rigidity of the shoe that caused a lot of instability for me on even moderate trails.  The UV2 has much better flex and ground feel, a more secure fit, more secure heel and a arch that has a normal fit/feel, whereas the UV Pro caused me significant pain.  I much prefer the UV2.


Jeff B: I wanted to fall in love with the UV Pro, it’s an Ultraventure with a rock plate - how could I not? The result just didn’t work well for me, with the upper giving me problems and the midsole/ride being less fun than the UV 1/2. Definitely favor the UV2.


Altra Timp 2  [RTR review]

Dom:  These shoes are exactly the same weight, but Altra Timp 2  is a much softer, more cushioned ride, with 4 mm extra midsole in the forefoot (29/29 mm vs 30/25 mm).     Opt for Timp if you enjoy a good amount of underfoot squish.  Choose Ultraventure 2 if you prefer a firmer ride.  Downside to Timp 2 is poor durability (outsole seems to wear quickly and upper is prone to abrasion-related failure at junction with sole).  I expect U2 durability to be much better (upper is fully randed  above the midsole, and the Vibram outsole rubber is known to be long-lived.)


Renee: I never ran with Timp 2, but I have similar comments about the Timp 1.5 as Dom did about the Timp 2. The Timp is softer underfoot with less durability in the outsole and upper than the Ultraventure 2. The Timp is also heavier and with a zero drop, might not work for some runners. I found the ride of the Timp 1.5 to be smoother, but I did get foot fatigue from the weight coupled with the zero drop. 


Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)

Dom:  All flavors of Speedgoat share the same bullet-proof sole, which is as thick (32/28) as you’d want to get before a shoe becomes dangerously unstable in technical terrain.   Personally, I don’t enjoy the SG for training runs: I like to feel the ground beneath my feet.  But if I’m going to run a hundred miles over mountains, I want more protection that the Ultraventure 2 provides.  Pick Ultraventure for training, and SG for ultra-distances.


Renee: I ran only a bit in the Speedgoat and unfortunately found the toe box too narrow for what I prefer, especially for a long-distance trail run. For that reason, I prefer the Ultraventure 2. I agree with Dom, the Speedgoat offers more comfort underfoot while still being stable. The Ultraventure 2 will appeal to ground feel runners, and is likely also better for training than the Speedgoat would be. 


Jeff V:  I can see the UV2 as being preferable for short to mid distance, more casual outings and for those looking for better ground feel and a more generous toe box, however if the Speedgoat fits your foot, I find it to be even more secure and appreciate the added response, superior traction, added cushion and all around more sporty feel.


Jeff B: I like Jeff’s phrasing - “casual outings” and I agree. For me the Speedgoat is a beast that can handle just about everything that you can throw at it (provided your toes are a little on the narrow side - a concern you won’t have wearing any Topo), but the UV2 is great for casual use. I think the average runner would be fine with either shoe, but if you want to jump into some technical trails I’d favor the Speedgoat.


Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Caldera 5 Review soon)

Jeff V:  The Caldera 5 is more responsive, feels more plush, has a generous fit, though is still very secure. The Caldera 5 also runs very well on pavement and is a great door to trail shoe.  The Ultraventure 2 might have a slight edge in traction.


Renee: I agree with Jeff V. The Caldera 5 is more plush yet still responsive and lively. The upper of the Caldera 5 will tailor more to a narrow and low volume foot, and it is better suited as a road to trail option.The Caldera 5 is the high stack, plush option; whereas, the Ultraventure 2 suits runners who prefer a ground feel. The Caldera 5 is much heavier and because it has a narrow forefoot, the Ultraventure 2 works better for me. 


Jeff B: I’m with my colleagues, but especially Renee. Everything the Caldera 5 has going for it has something of an asterisk for me because of the narrow forefoot causing issues. The comfort means very little when I’m dealing with a matching set of blisters an hour in, but if you have narrow feet, it might be a great shoe for (and the Topo would likely be way too wide!).

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6 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Following.

Curt said...

Seems like this might be a decent distance hiker or AT shoe for people as well. Cushioned, firmish and solid traction.

Andrew Knox said...

Would you say this the trail equivalent of the Topo Zephyr? Asking as I was surprised how much I like that shoe, firm but not too firm, stable but not a stability shoe.

Andrew Knox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Søren said...

Hello guys! Greetings from Denmark!

Thank you for this review of the Ultraventure 2, which had many relevant comparisons to the Ultraventure Pro. However, not quite as many to the original Ultraventure 😉

I would have liked to know a little more precise your comments to the following:

Midsole: Is the Ultraventure 2 softer, firmer or similar to the original Ultraventure?

Stability: Is the Ultraventure 2 (which seems praised as very stable in your reviews) more stable than the original Ultraventure? Most runners – including myself – found that one (the original) quite unstable?

Heelcup: Is the heelcup of the Ultraventure 2 just as broad/loose/oversized as the original Ultraventure?

Besides from this; thank you very much for another great review. You’re the best! 😊

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Soren, I find stability and overall performance to be pretty close between the UV and UV2. I had no problem with the heel on either, but the more refined fit of the UV2 made for better control in technical situations. While they do fine in technical terrain and steep, definitely not my first pick for such use, but on more moderate trails, they are solid.