Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Multi Tester Review

Article by Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 ($145)


Introduction

Sam: The MTN Racer 2 sees big changes in its 2nd edition. The first edition (RTR Review) was firm, secure if a bit suffocating given its not very breathable ripstop upper, and for me more of a hiker (if a very light one) than a fun to run trail shoe.


The second edition still has a tri density midsole but gets a softer bouncier top layer of Zip Foam to join its EVA heel and the yet firmer medial side support insert.  

The upper is now a very soft debris mesh with internal instead of external overlays and with an extended TPU heel and front of heel clip for some light guidance. The Vibram MegaGrip  remains full coverage. The 30mm heel / 25 mm forefoot stack remains. The  price increases $5 to $145 as does the weight by about 17g / 0.6 oz in my US 8.5 to a still very reasonable 10.12 oz / 287g so we are still talking a very reasonable 10.3-10.4 oz in a US9.  The whole package changes to one that says more  upper and midsole comfort, more flexibility, more versatility. 

Renee: Don’t run mountains? That’s okay. Me neither! The shoe name suggests the MTN Racer is for mountain trails only, but this is not the case. 


I tested the MTN Racer 2 in Nebraska during February and March running on muddy single tracks, snow/slush covered horse trails, and on dirt/gravel roads. My longest run was an uneven, muddy 15 miles, and I ran/hiked another 3 hours on muddy single track trails (plus several shorter runs). 


The MTN Racer 2 lugs are supposed to be optimal for “mud and snow release” and I’ll attest to the traction goodness the shoes delivers in sloppy surfaces. The nimble ride with “guidance” is no joke either (think roll forward more so than guidance). 


Overall, the MTN Racer 2 is an improvement from version 1 (for me), and I would suggest that non-Topo fans and non-mountain runners consider at least trying them on. The MTN Racer 2 is my fourth Topo trail shoe (including the MTN Racer 1, Ultraventure 2, and Ultraventure Pro) and is my favorite of the bunch.  



Pros:

  • First Topo with a noticeable rocker upfront: Sam/Renee
  • Comfortable secure upper: Sam/Renee/Jeff V
  • Lots of shoe(stack and outsole) at a very decent weight of approx.10.4 oz Sam/Renee/Jeff
  • Surprisingly nimble/quick on uneven terrain: Renee/Jeff V
  • Dual tongue lace loops are genius Sam/Jeff V

  • Very fine (and fast) on road even with noticed big lug vibram outsole Sam/Jeff V
  • Layer of Zip Foam adds some bounce and clearly softer cushion than v1 Sam
  • Traction is amazing in just about any condition or surface, dry or wet:  Jeff V
  • Much more breathable than previous:  Jeff V
  • Fit/length is “normal” and not stubby as previous:  Jeff V
  • Trail feel is very good, while still being protective:  Jeff V

Cons:

  • Toe box mesh may be too pliable/ foldable at the easier flex point. Slight irritation: Sam
  • The upfront rocker+foot shape might not work for every runner: Renee
  • Tongue is a bit thin which can cause lace bite on top of foot on downhills depending on how they are laced: Jeff V


Tester Profiles

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

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

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.


Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 10.3-10.4 oz / 295g (US9)  /  women's 8.62 oz/244g US8

  Samples: men’s  10.12 oz  / 287g US8.5  women’s 8.62 oz/244g US8

Prior version 9.8 oz /278g US9

Stack Height: 30mm heel / 25mm forefoot, 5mm drop

Available April 2021. $145


First Impressions and Fit

Renee: The MTN Racer 2 is a good looking trail shoe in my women’s moss/grey color. The profile of the shoe (5mm drop) and the design of the upper makes the MTN Racer 2 visually inviting, and that goodness goes beyond just its superficial looks. On first try on, the shoe is comfortable and secure throughout. I struggled to get a good heel hold on the Ultraventure 2 and especially in the Pro, and I was pleasantly surprised that the heel hold on the MTN Racer 2 fit was outstanding. I wear a women’s size 7.5 in Topo and would recommend the same size for the MTN Racer 2 as any other Topo trail shoe. For those new to Topo, you may consider a half size down from other brands (as I did) , particularly if you tend to be between sizes as I am. 


Sam: A wonderful bold yellow in my sample but one that is muted enough to not scream canary or neon. 

The fit is a perfect true to size in my sample with of course plenty of toe box room and at the same time more than adequate overall hold even on my narrower right foot. With thinner socks and a narrower lower volume foot as Renee suggests one might size down a half size.

Jeff V:  Immediately obvious when pulling the Mtn Racer out of box is that these shoes are YELLOW!  This yellow in a cool colorway. They look sleek and modern, with a completely reworked upper, new midsole and familiar outsole.  Putting them on the scale, I note about a ½ oz weight gain (as confirmed on the scale), but they do not feel overly heavy in the hand or on the foot.  

Fit has been much improved over the previous version. Topo has clearly listened to feetback, fixing the length issue that had the previous version feeling a bit stubby (which ultimately was never a serious problem for me, just noticeable and somewhat distracting).  Either way, version 2 is a perfect length, with no toe bump and ample wiggle room as expected with a Topo, but it is also secure and not overly voluminous for my low volume foot.


Upper

Renee: I love the upper. The mesh feels much more comfortable than it looks. I had no issues with hotspots or discomfort anywhere from the upper. The heel hold is great, much better than what I experienced in the Ultraventure 2 or Pro (I did wear a half size too large in the Pro). 


I think the heel hold is “better” in the MTN Racer 2 because the outer TPU heel clip is lower on the MTN Racer 2 and extends low profile further forward as compared to the Ultraventure 2 and Pro. 

The midfoot hold is also excellent for my not-so-high-volume foot. I have plenty of space in the toebox (of course), and probably a bit more space than I need. 

The MTN Racer 2 lacks the externa; overlays of the MTN Racer 1, but provides similar structure on the inside across the midfoot sides. 


The tongue is thin and has a layer of mesh absent from the Racer 1 with the tongue sitting lower and more comfortably for me compared to the Racer 1.

The Racer 2 has less padding in the heel than version 1, yet is more comfortable with better security. The upper is very breathable, which should be great for hot weather. I ran through lots of mud and mud puddles, and the water freely entered  the upper. Version 2 lacks the drainage slots that version 1 had on the medial forefoot, so be prepared for a wet foot during rain and mud runs. That said, I didn’t have water sitting inside the shoes once I moved to dryer surfaces; I do think most of the drainage of water is from the upper itself (I was not wearing a gator, fyi). 

While I do agree with Sam that the upper “creases” after wear, I have enough volume and space in the toe box that it does not bother me.  


Sam: Topo really shines in the upper department and they are getting yet better in 2021 with the MTN Racer one of their best if not best uppers yet for me, trail or road. 


The debris mesh upper material is soft and pliable. So soft I worry about a bit too much folding on the medial side of the toe box as the shoe is also quite flexible While not an issue as of yet I notice some very light pinching there. Yet pliable and all the roomy toe box is nonetheless very well held.

The internal laminated overlays, although they show through to the outside giving the appearance of being external as in v1 do a great  job locking the midfoot to the platform especially given how roomy the toe box is.


As with other 2021 Topo such as the Cyclone and Phantom 2 we have 2  loops far up right at lace up.  

The thin tongue with just a touch of foot side mesh padding is thus very well held given the shoe volume. MTN Racer has been lace it up and forget about it on every run. There is a gusset connecting the tongue to the top of the upper just below the lace holes for yet another element of tongue and overall upper lockdown.


I do think the tongue could use a touch more padding right behind around those lace loops as they can be felt if very slightly so maybe substituting for mesh loops as in the Phantom 2 (RTR Review soon).

The toe bumper is very stout and double layered (front firmer and more substantial than rear layer and appears to be flexible TPU plastic. I really like that the toe bumper does not extend far over the top of toes and is relatively high. Combined with its firmness and thickness it does the job of protecting the front and providing volume over the foot very well. I suspect that if it was less substantial we would get a sloppier less secure front fit but it does appear a bit overbuilt maybe contributing to weight. 

Overlays of the same material as the thinner layer at the toe box surround the relatively low rear collars and heel counter. These overlays really tie the foot to the platform extremely well at the rear although with lower volume right foot I did have to go to the rear lace hole on my narrower right foot.


Finally there is a TPU stabilizing clip which is more substantial than v1’s and extends on either side forward. It is low profile and doesn’t over stabilize or restrict the foot in motion but does with the firmer medial foam insert provided a touch of welcome guidance and supprt.  The cip also incorporates two channels for Topo’s gaiters.


Jeff V:  The upper is made of a lightweight durable mesh, which is softer, more pliable, flexible and breathable than the previous version and does not require a break in period as the previous did.

As I mentioned previously, fit is true to size and I do NOT feel my toe bumping against the front as was the case in the previous version, as well as in other Topo models I have tested.  I have a narrow foot and traditionally have not really done well with shoe brands that cater to wide feet, not just because of my thin, low volume foot, but slo because of the steep technical terrain that I frequent and often moving fast, I have found wider shoes to not offer the security that I need, but Topo has done a very good job striking the best balance I have experienced yet of providing a wider, accommodating toe box, while maintaining more than adequate foothold for just about any type of running on almost any terrain.  The only time I feel any movement is running straight down the fall line on very steep off trail terrain, my foot will slide forward just a little, but this scenario is a bit of an anomaly and something most runners do not frequently seek out, but is something to keep in mind if this is your thing and you have a low volume foot.


That said, for 99% of the running I have done, I find that the upper holds my foot as expected on any trail, rock hopping, side hilling, or cornering.


Breathability is much improved over the previous, which I found to be quite hot, but that said, version 2 is I think average. Note thatI  am only judging based on cold weather testing and that my foot did not really feel much cold breeze through the upper in winter conditions, often an indication of relative warmer weather breathability.

Heel hold is excellent. Midfoot and lacing are snug and secure.  On my first run I was getting some lace bite over the top of my foot when running downhills, which I attributed to the very thin tongue, but later noticed that out of the box, the laces were laced through what on most shoes I consider to be the extra eyelet and not the “top” eyelet.  After I rerouted the laces to the uppermost eyelet, thus leaving the “extra” eyelets unthreaded, I no longer have had any issues.  That said, I would still like to see the tongue bolstered just a little bit.

The toe bumper is sturdy and protective though minimal in coverage by not extending far back across the toe box.

I was also provided with a set of Topo Performance Gaiters , which are easy to attach, stay attached well, are breathable, durable so far and provide a close fit around my (thin) ankle.  I love that I can just leave them on the shoe, lace up and just velcro them shut.  I also appreciate not having a strap that goes underneath the shoe as is the case with many gaiters, at least all of the gaiters I have used previously.  Not having the strap underfoot means there is nothing there to get chaffed on rocks, break or feel awkward underfoot.





Midsole

Sam: The big magic of the shoe is the midsole and its geometry. It is a tri density midsole as before but instead of the first version and older Topo’s relatively firm EVA underfoot we have a layer of their Zip Foam which provides not only a softer landing but some bounce. The Zip Foam extends all the way forward replacing the prior EVA with at the heel a yellow layer of slightly firmer EVA. 

On the medial side, as in v1 we have the firmest foam at midfoot for a touch of stability but this stability piece is in no way the usual very firm “post” of stability shoes. It goes unnoticed in terms of feel but clearly helps stabilize the foot, important given the softer bouncier nature of the Zip Foam above. Not to worry, even Salomon’s top of the line trail racer the new Pulsar has such a plug in the same area for the same purpose.


On the lateral side we have the yellow insert of relatively firm (but not as firm as the medial) EVA.

The cushion feel is forgiving yet in no way sloppy or lacking in response (of course the stout outsole playing a big role in response as well). There is no rock plate here as was also the case with v1. I hunted out rocks to test the protection and it appeared more than adequate but maybe not high technical obstacle and pointy rock bomb proof as a rock plated shoe would be or the firmer foamed v1 was.


This is the first Topo I can recall that has a mild rocker sensation while also having a relatively easy quite far back flex. Shoes such as the MTN Racer 1 and newer road Cyclone and Phantom 2 all require a more decisive mid foot strike and/or faster paces to really activate. Not so here all paces and strikes welcome! The geometry translates to a very flowy smooth transition and toe off on all surfaces, even road. 


Renee: Honestly, I do not notice anything special about Zip Foam. I have three pairs of Topo trail shoes and one pair of road shoes with Zip Foam, and it does not have a “wow” factor for me. That said, the MTN Racer 1 lacks the Zip Foam midsole and it does feel “flat'' compared to the MTN Racer 2. Otherwise, the MTN Racer 2 midsole provides a good amount of protection and balance between responsiveness and comfort. I did feel sore after 15 miles, probably because I ran uneven and muddy horse trails. The midsole does have a “ride with light guidance” as Topo calls it. I don’t consider it a rocker necessarily, but it does provide a gentle push forward from the forefoot. I think this roll/rock/guidance (whatever you want to call it) coupled with the very generous toe box and “foot shape” might not work for every foot. 


Jeff V:  The new tri density midsole  with Zip Foam in the mix is another huge improvement over the previous version’s tri density injected EVA midsole.  Unlike the EVA, the Zip Foam offers up a softer, more flexible and compliant ride, with a nice lively feeling of responsiveness.  The added flexibility gives the Mtn Racer 2 not just a more lively feel, but also provides a very good blend of trail feel and protection.  This is a tough combination to achieve, however this is one of the best examples I have experienced.



Outsole

Renee: The outsole is very effective on uneven surfaces, including mud, slush, snow, and thick gravel. There’s no rock plate, but the midsole provides enough protection for my running terrain. The outsole is not much different than the version 1 or the Ultraventure 2, but coupled with the midsole and ride, the MTN Racer 2 becomes a surprisingly nimble and protective ride. I ran only short portions of pavement between trail heads, and like any 5-6 mm lugged trail shoe, it can handle some hard surfaces, although for me, this is not by any means a road-to-trail shoe or a shoe I would choose for buffed trails. 


Sam: I ran the MTN Racer on relatively mellow forest paths and road. I did encounter mud and the Vibram MegaGrip outsole handled it with ease. While noisy the outsole also played very well on the road especially as the shoe is also flexible. Yes the outsole feel there is of a trail shoe, you will notice the lugs but they are not in the way

Jeff V:  The Vibram Megagrip outsole remains largely unchanged but is now full coverage  and remains a leader in the clubhouse when it comes to versatile, all terrain, any condition traction on just about any surface.  

I have run in mud with no sliding and minimal build up (although build up really depends on the composition of the mud), snow packed trails with nary a slip, cautiously negotiated short bits of not too steep ice with surprising confidence, steep scruffy off trail and they held and most impressively, wet grip on rocks, wet or dry polished slab, wet log water bars, wet wooden bridges, I am so impressed.  

The lugs are low profile enough and arranged such that they run well on road and hard surfaces as well.



Ride

Renee: The midsole’s slight roll/rocker forward allows the ride of the shoe to be nimble and quick on uneven surfaces, which for me is the highlight of the shoe. On uneven surfaces, the shoe feels/runs much lighter than they are, reminding me of a more protective/higher stack Torrent 2 or Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270. The outsole is not much different than other Topo trail shoes, but coupled with the midsole roll and secure upper, the MTN Racer 2 worked great for me on mud and generally uncomfortable surfaces. I do not have a Topo shaped foot (although I like a wide toe box), so although the roll/rocker + midsole worked on shorter distances, this is not my first choice for 15+ miles runs.

Sam: A great all purpose any terrain, any distance ride so far for me with a notably easy flow on hard surfaces even pavement and great grip in sloppy stuff. MTN Racer 2 is clearly a trail shoe more than a door to trail type shoe but its geometry and cushioning is never harsh and even on pavement as v1 could be   even and it has plenty of response and get up and go from its mild rocker and flexibility. 


Yes one could MTN race it for just about any distance but I think it is a bit misnamed. I would call the ride here more “anywhere, any distance, any surface, any pace”. The upper is superb in balancing comfort, room  and security. The full coverage MegaGrip outsole proved versatile and effective on all surfaces I tested it on and could clearly be felt adding some responsive pop on the road.  


Jeff V:  Sam gives a great view on the ride and I agree.  The ride of the Mtn Racer 2 is smooth, lively and provides an amazing blend of flexible ground feel with surprisingly good protection underfoot, despite the lack of rockplate. It is a versatile shoe, good for door to trail and just about anything else.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Renee: The MTN Racer 2 is not only for “mountain running”.It works best for me on less buffed trail surface as well. The highlight of the shoe is its ability to be nimble on uneven surfaces while also providing good protection and comfort from its decent stack height. I don’t get enough comfort underfoot to run more than 15 miles in the MTN Racer 2, but for me, it shines at distances less than 15 miles when the surface is muddy or uneven. I would reach for MTN Racer 2 for runs when I wanted to be quick but wanted more protection underfoot than a lighter weight trail shoe. The roll/rock forward guidance of the midsole might not be for every runner, and like most Topos, the foot shape is not everyone’s preference. I imagine the MTN Racer 2 might be somewhat of a goldilocks shoe for some runners who get a perfect fit with the foot shape and gentle midsole roll/rocker. 

Renee’s score: 9.10/10 (-.45 midsole not comforting enough for long runs or buffed trails, -.45 roll/rocker forward + foot shape might not suit all runners)


Sam: My favorite Topo to date and while the same stack height and outsole essentially a brand new and much improved shoe. More forgiving in cushion given Zip Foam but not mushy as the all Zip Foam Phantom 1 was or overly firm and harsh as the original MTN Racer was, Topo has balanced protection, cushion, and a smooth roll from a moderate rocker and some flexibility really well here to create a great all around trail runner that should be able to handle the majority of most runners’ terrain, distances, and paces and very well indeed.


While still at an admirable weight of about 10.3 oz I think the full coverage MegaGrip and the double layered substantial toe bumper may add to weight. 


The upper will of course be a delight and a secure one for higher volume feet as it provides great room and comfort without being suffocating as v1’s was and  worked fine for my lower volume feet as well. Topo is to be commended for pulling off an anatomical upper that works well for a variety of foot shapes. Tough to do. 


One of Topo's hashtags is #MoveBetter and with the MTN Racer 2 they clearly give runners a top to bottom well executed shoe to do so.

Sam’s Score: 9.34/10

Ride: 9.45(30%) Fit:9.4(30%) Value:9(10%) Style: 9(5%) raction:9.7(15%) Rock Protect: 8.8(10%)


Jeff V:  I was lukewarm  about the first version of MTN Racer. This 2nd version is a dramatic  improvement.  I was really surprised at how much I enjoy this shoe.  I really appreciate that Topo is a company that truly listens to feedback, takes it to heart and then delivers, addressing essentially all of our constructive criticism from the previous version (well, maybe not just ours, likely a lot of similar feedback).  How often does that happen?  Almost never really from the big companies, but Topo, being a smaller company, are more agile and able to adapt quickly to feedback which really impresses me. 


I think the Mtn Racer 2 is ideal for mid distance training on moderate terrain, but can easily handle rocky technical terrain, as it is agile, secure, stable, grippy and reasonably well protected for most of my runs.  If I were in the high alpine for a long day, I may prefer a shoe with a plate and more bomber protection underfoot, but for just about anything below that, this shoe is plenty.  While not the lightest, go fast shoe on the market, I probably would not pick first for actual racing or a PR type run, but I think it would make a fine race day shoe for many and can certainly rise to the challenge when you have good legs.


Experiencing the improvements made here, this is hands down my favorite Topo to date and I am very excited to see what Topo comes up with in the future.

Jeff V’s Score:  9/10

Ride: 9 Fit: 9 Value: 8.5 Style: 8.5 Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 8


Please Watch Sam's Initial Video Review (10:23)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Topo MTN Racer 1 (RTR Review)

Renee: Topo was nice enough to send me the version 1 for comparison, so I ran in the Racer 2 before the Racer 1. I agree with Sam that the MTN Racer 1 feels more like a hiking shoe when compared to the Racer 2, which feels more like a trail runner. My women’s size 7.5 is slightly lighter in weight in the Racer 2. The MTN Racer 2 runs better for me. The upper is more comfortable and more secure, and the Racer 2 rides quicker and more nimble. The Racer 2 has a more square toe box and a slight roll forward in the forefoot; whether or not that’s a plus depends on the runner’s foot shape. 


Jeff V:  Compared throughout review, but the first version is short in length, is not really lively or responsive with the upper really warm.  It is a little lighter and a bit more protective underfoot.


Sam: More hiker than trail runner for me the v1. While super secure and stable on rocky terrain at hike paces it was warm, stiff, and firm when running. I have no doubt the MTN Racer 2 will also be a great hiker (if not quite as densely protective on the rocks) its improvements make it a far better all around trail runner.


Topo Ultraventure 2 (RTR Ultraventure 2 Review

Ultraventure Pro (RTR Ultraventure Pro Review)

Renee: All three shoes feel similar and are sized the same. The heel hold and overall upper security and comfort are superior for me in the MTN Racer 2 as compared to both the Ultraventure 2 and Pro. I had forefoot pain and heel hold issues in the Pro. The upper of the Pro offers some water resistance, but overall I find the upper of the MTN Racer 2 the best of the three, by far. Even though the Ultraventure 2 is lighter, I think I prefer the MTN Racer 2 in all instances. The MTN Racer 2 is the only shoe of the three that has a roll/rocker/guidance forward, which may or may not appeal to all runners.


Jeff V:  The Ultraventure Pro was a bust for me, as I found it to be unstable and not very secure.  The Ultraventure 2 is a nice shoe, but not particularly exciting to run in, although it gets the job done.  The Mtn Racer 2 has great fit, security, is stable and is a much more responsive and fun to run in.


Brooks Caldera 4 and 5 (RTR Review)

Renee: I tested the Caldera 5 but  not the 4. I consider these two shoes to be in two different categories: The Caldera is a “beefy” high stack cushion shoe whereas the MTN Racer 2 has ground feel with a quicker, nimble ride. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Caldera and a women’s size 7.5 in the MTN Racer 2. I have more space in the Topo at a half size smaller. Unfortunately, I found the Caldera very narrow in the forefoot on the medial side that caused pain/discomfort. The Caldera would work for narrow-forefoot runners looking for a soft, high cushion shoe that is easy for long runs while still workable on technical terrain. The MTN Racer 2 offers a better ground-feel and is significantly lighter in weight.


Jeff V:  The Caldera 4 and 5 are higher stack, more deeply cushioned shoes.  The 4 is comparably wide in the toe box, but not quite as secure as the Mtn Racer 2.  The Caldera 5 is more narrow than the 4, which for me is an asset given my thin foot and preference for technical terrain, but is more narrow than the Mtn Racer 2.  Mtn Racer 2 has superior traction and ground feel.

Sam: I agree with Jeff’s assessment. 


Salomon Sense Ride 3 and 4 (RTR Sense Ride 3 Review) (Sense Ride 4 review soon)

Jeff V:  The Sense Ride 3 and 4 serve a similar purpose to the Mtn Racer 2, an all arounder, all day trainer with reliable performance and door to trail capability.  SR 3 and 4 are a little more narrow, though the SR3 can more easily accommodate a wider range of feet.  SR 3 and 4 have a bit more firm and less responsive cushioning.

Sam: I ran the Sense Ride 3 but not the 4. The Sense Ride 3 is less door to trail capable for me as it is stiffer and denser than the Topo with less flex and less rocker . On trail I would say Sense Ride 3 is somewhat more protective and cushioned at the forefoot but has less of a rocker effect with a snugger, more secure, and narrower less comfortable upper. It is a somewhat better option for long rough slogs with the Topo more agile and quicker in feel.


Fresh Foam More Trail (RTR Review)

Renee: I really like the NB More Trail for long slow runs on buffed trails. For me, these shoes are in two different categories: the More Trail is a bit heavier than the MTN Racer 2, and has a softer, more cushioned midsole. The rocker is more pronounced in the More Trail and the outsole is best for buffed terrain. The MTN Racer 2 is better for more technical or sloppy terrain and runs with more ground feel and has a quicker more nimble ride. I would choose the NB More Trail for my long runs on buffed terrain and the MTN Racer 2 for shorter, quicker, more technical runs. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in the MTN Racer 2 and a women’s size 8 in the NB More Trail. The upper of the MTN Racer 2 fit much more securely as compared to the NB More Trail. 


Sam: I concur with Renee here. While super comfortable and a great western smooth single track cruiser. I found the More Trail toe box overly unstructured for more technical terrain.


Nike Pegsaus Trail 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: I like the midsole of the Trail 2, but I did not get a great fit with the shoe. The Trail 2 fits a category of cushioned, long runs shoes on buffed surfaces. The MTN Racer 2 has a different use for me: quicker, ground-feel, more technical terrain. The midsole of the Trail 2 is softer, more comfortable, yet is responsive, but I found the upper sloppy and also given the weight of the Trail 2, its ride was unstable and chunky underfoot. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in the Topo and a women’s 8 in the Trail 2, although I think I could wear a size 7.5 in the Trail 2 for a better fit. 

Sam: As with the More Trail a sloppier less secure upper and a bit softer liviler midsole. Again as with More Trail a more door focused than trail focused shoe as MTN Racer 2 is, although MTN is super fine on the road as well ,if more “luggy” and noisier.


S/Lab Sense Ultra 1 (RTR Review)

Sam: The MTN Racer reminds me somewhat of the Ultra 1 with a comfortable broader fit than most trail shoes (and especially Salomon at the time) which is similar in many ways to the MTN Racer but not as secure or as confidence inspiring. Underfoot the Topo is more cushioned, forgiving and more stable yet provides a similar if more muted ground feel. 

The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 releases April 2021

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from Topo. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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10 comments:

Nate said...

When I think topo mt racer comparisons I think of Altra and Inov-8 because the same people looking for that roomy toebox, lower drop, grippy trail shoes is going to have those at the top of their list. Love to see a compare to the terraultra G270 and Lone peak 5

Unknown said...

Nate, I mention the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 in the written review. The G 270 is wide and has a roomy toe box; the MTN Racer 2's toe box is more square shape in comparison. Both shoes allow for a nimble landing and ride on uneven surfaces. The G 270 is much lighter and rides much lighter. The MTN Racer 2 has a firmer outsole although both perform well in sloppy conditions. The G 270 is one of my favorite trail (or road) shoes, so it's my choice between the two. For those who need more protection and stack height (and who do not like 0 drop shoes), the MTN Racer 2 might work better. The ride is somewhat different between the two: both encourage a roll forward, with the MTN Racer 2 catering to a Topo-shaped foot. I wore a half-size smaller in the MTN Racer 2 compared to the G 270. -RK

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Renee, you summed it up well. For my use/preference, I lean toward the Topo Mtn Racer 2, even though heavier and not as speedy per se, I appreciate the better foothold, protection and cushion. I think the TUG270 would really excel with just a little better foothold, a sensifilm sort of layer in the forefoot, as well as a heel/toe differential. While I consider myself to be very flexible with different shoes of varying drop, 0 drop shoes just don't do it for me, but that is just a personal preference of course.

The Stoat said...

Am I reading right that this is a Timp2 with a better outsole? I use Sense Pro 4 -> G270 -> Timp2 as my main 3 shoes providing a good spread from short/fast to long/slow. The Timp2 sole gets slippy on wet rock or pavement though. Does this shoe fill the same gap?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Stoat,
Nice choices! Not familiar with Time 2 but can say for sure MTN Racer 2 (not v1) sits above G270 and SP4 in terms of potential use for long but it also can go fast.
Sam, Editor

Dean said...

Thanks for the review. Would you suggest ordering the same size as I wear in the original Ultraventure (Men's US12) or would you suggest going up a half size as many people had to in the MTN original? Your review pretty much makes it seem like that half size up wouldn't be necessary, but I just want to make sure. I'm bleeding money on the other recent Topo trail shoes, and I'm hoping that this one will be more in line with their traditional fit.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Dean, no need to size up.

Dean said...

Thank you, Jeff! Do you feel the heel hold is better than the UV2 and UV Pro? I notice the heel cushioning has been decreased in this shoe as well.

DK said...

Would the MTN Racer 2 be more or less suited to off-trail rock scrambling? It seems less suited since flexibility was mentioned as a positive point in this review. But the breathability would be better.

My backpacking sources have said that the MTN Racer 1 were good off-trail shoes.

I believe the inov8 x-talon could be a good candidate for this too.

Jeff Valliere said...

Dean, no issues with heel hold whatsoever.

DK, the MTN Racer 2 is a much better shoe for running, but for scrambling, I think a lateral move. Both MTN Racer 1 and too are competent off trail. Can't compare to X Talon.