Saturday, January 06, 2024

Topo Athletic Magnifly 5 Review: 5 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski

Topo Athletic Magnifly 5 ($135)

Introduction


Mike P: I was very impressed with the previous version of the Magnifly (RTR Review). A smooth and comfortable zero-drop daily trainer - I ended up putting in a decent amount of mostly easy road miles in them. V5 features a somewhat redesigned upper along with a new, softer flavor of Topo’s ZipFoam. The outsole remains unchanged. Topo always impresses with their subtle yet effective improvements from version to version. Here we seem to be following the trend..


Pros:

  • solid 12g weight drop from v4 Mike P

  • familiar, plush, comfortable upper Mike P

  • new Zipfoam 2 feels a bit more energetic Mike P

  • easier on the legs than v1 - perhaps the newer foam? Mike P

  • ride seems to transition better, feels less “flat” Mike P


Cons:

  • heel striking seems harsher than forefoot landings lowish 25mm heel  Mike P




Stats

Weight: men's 8.7 oz  / 247 g (US9)

  Sample: men’s  8.9 oz / 252g US 9.5

Stack Height: men’s 25mm heel / 25mm forefoot (0 drop spec) 

$140.  Available February, 2024


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Mike P: Classic, no-nonsense Topo fit here - comfortable around the heel, secure through the midfoot, opening up a bit to a spacious (but not overly so) toe box. I mostly test Topo’s trail models, and some of the recent models such as the such as the MTN Racer 3 and the Ultraventure 3 seem to have wider toeboxes -. The Magnifly’s is more moderate in width with plenty of comfortable space, but not so much that your foot would be moving around, especially during road runs.


The engineered mesh upper material itself seems to be slightly refined from the previous version. V4’s material was very plush, seemingly soft and cushy, even on the outside. Hard to say definitively, but I get the impression of a more streamlined upper construction. We do have quite a solid weight drop (-0.4 oz, 12g from V4), so perhaps in addition to the reformulated foam, some weight has been shaved in the upper materials.

Tongue padding, and heel/ankle collar padding hit just the right note for comfort. No hotspots or irritations anywhere against my foot. The tongue is non-gusseted, but the two lace loops along the tongue do an excellent job keeping it centered. Stretchy laces allow you to snug up the fit as you’d like, while still allowing a slight bit of stretch for comfort, a very complimentary lace choice here from Topo.


One noticeable addition to V5 is a wraparound section of soft foam along the lower heel on the exterior of the shoe. I’m not sure what the design impetus is on this, but I can say that I did not notice it whatsoever on the run. Perhaps a good thing? I would not say that it provides any noticeable stability effect. Maybe the new softer ZipFoam required a bit more inherent heel stability? 


Midsole & Platform


Mike P: Stack height remains unchanged at 25mm (zero drop), but the big feature update here is a new softer and lighter ZipFoam formula. 

The evolution of the foam is a bit hard to keep track of across Topo’s models - they call everything “ZipFoam” and only mention whether it has been updated or not when new models come out. I’d say based on my testing of different models, both road and trail, that this is the 3rd noticeable iteration. 

The initial ZipFoam and the “Next Gen” version (V2?), tended to feel a bit on the dense side, more shock absorbing and impact dulling as opposed to responsive. I detect a bit of improvement here with the Magnifly’s version of ZipFoam. It does feel lighter on foot, and that lighter weight is also observed on the scale. But there’s also a bit of “quickness” and dare I say “responsiveness” to the feel underfoot that just wasn’t there with their previous foam formulations. 

As seen above, there’s a bit of an upward tilt in the outsole at the lateral heel landing area. I tested out a few “heel strikes” during my test runs (not natural for me) and I was surprised by how firm the landings felt. This is no issue for me whatsoever with my normal foot strike pattern, but I’m curious to hear if any of our testers who heel strike have a similar feeling.


Another typical Topo aspect is the arch support. If you’ve run in Topo shoes before, you’ll be aware that there is a slight contour under the arch. It feels subtle for me - and I like it, but other runners have found it to be too noticeable.


Outsole

Mike P: The outsole remains unchanged from V4 - both in layout and as far as I know, rubber formula. V4 moved to a softer, lighter rubber and the same is used here in V5. I found it to be a big improvement over rubber found in Topo’s very early models. Despite claims of being just as durable, I did notice that it seemed to wear a bit faster than the harder rubber of past models. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, and in line with most road outsoles. I did put in 175+ miles without any issue. 


The segmentation of the outsole works well for this zero-drop model, as it allows the forefoot to flex nicely and enables a nice and easy roll at the end of the stride. There’s rubber in the high wear landing areas - specifically for me in the lateral midfoot/forefoot area.


Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations


Mike P:  I mentioned in my intro how Topo always seems to make minor improvements from version to version. Throughout the review so far, I’ve touched on many of the positive elements that are holdovers from V4, which continue to work well. The not-so-minor improvement that I notice in the new Magnifly is in the ride department. 


The new Zipfoam seems to enable a quicker feel on the road and a more dynamic stride turnover. I harped on the forefoot flex grooves in my V4 review, but now the new ZipFoam adds another dimension to the ride. I find less of the inherent “flat” feel that typically comes with most zero drop shoes. When landing effectively on the midfoot, my ground contacts feel just a touch quicker and smoother. 


For me, it really makes it less noticeable that I’m running in a zero drop shoe. I’ve been recently logging all of my road miles in the Cyclone 2 (RTR Review) since I like the responsiveness of its PEBA midsole and the shoe just feels so light on foot. Now I’m certain that I’ll be using the Magnifly 5 for most of the “daily” or “training” miles (8:00 - 9:00/mi -ish), and reserving the Cyclone for slightly faster stuff.


The ride of the Magnifly 5 just feels that effective, and I don’t get the strong feeling of my lower legs being over worked by the zero drop. It’s an improvement over V4, where I found the zero drop more noticeable on the lower legs. This is a recommended pick in the cushioned zero drop daily trainer category. I’d even recommend it as an entry point to runners who may be zero-drop curious. Yet again, Topo does the trick-effectively pushing a model forward!

Mike P’s Score:  9.63/10

Ride: 9.5 - New ZipFoam gives a quicker and lighter feel on the road

Fit: 10 - Secure, yet comfort focused. Plush, without excess

Value: 9.5 - A high quality cushioned, zero drop trainer

Style: 9 - Some new gradient effects, but still sleek and subtle

Smiles: 😊😊😊😊😊


5 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 


Topo Magnifly 4  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Compared throughout the review - the big difference is the new lighter ZipFoam and the associated overall lighter weight of the shoe. V5 loses a full 0.4 oz from V4 with a redesigned, but effectively similar upper. So the new foam underfoot does make the ride feel quicker and livelier, especially for forefoot/midfoot strikers. 


Topo Cyclone 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The PEBA midsole of the Cyclone 2 is very dynamic, much softer, and bouncier than the more “regular” feeling ZipFoam of the Magnifly 5. The Cyclone 2 upper has the same similar Topo fit, but a bit less stretch to it, and more secure feeling for faster paces. I was doing daily miles in the Cyclone 2 since I liked it so much, but I will likely use the Magnifly 5 for those now as I think they’re light enough and the foam is lively enough, while being a bit more stable for easy mileage.


Topo Fli-Lyte 5 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): A different shoe from the Magnifly in that it has a slight 3mm drop, and a bit thinner foam underfoot. The 3mm is noticeable if you’re comparing it to the Magnifly, but when running up on the forefoot in the Magnifly, it doesn’t “ride” as flat as other zero drop shoes. I’ve actually been using my Fli-Lytes exclusively on the treadmill, racking up a whopping 254M since I got them - mostly doing speed work. The thinner midsole works for me on the softer treadmill and the 3mm is enough to take some strain off the lower legs at speed.



Topo ST-5 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Similar to the Magnifly in that it’s zero drop, but much thinner underfoot. Not really a daily trainer option unless you’re practically in the barefoot camp. I like them for casual use and gym/strength work, and they’d be ok for short runs in a pinch. If I wanted to put more running miles in a zero drop shoe, I’d go with the Magnifly.


Altra Escalante (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): I haven’t run in this shoe in a long time, but I think the Escalante tends to have a much flatter feel underfoot, with a lot less support under the arch. Topo’s contouring arch support feels better for me. Altra’s foams, especially in the Escalante, are more bouncy and energetic, but perhaps less stable. Their upper also tend to be stretchier unless you go with a racer version. I prefer the more secure, yet comfortable, upper of the Topo, especially on top of their newer more energetic ZipFoam.


The Topo Athletic Magnifly 5 will be available February 2024

Tester Profile


Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to 100+ mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. From 2022-23 Mike has won the Standhope 100M, IMTUF 100M, and Scout Mountain 100M trail ultras. He also set a CR of 123.74M at the Pulse Endurance Runs 24H and completed the Boise Trails Challenge on foot in 3 days 13 hours, besting the previous record by 7 hours. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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6 comments:

Tom said...

Great looking shoe too. I have the Altra Rivera 2 and these seem pretty similar. Both zero drop, mid 20's midsole and can also work casually. Would love to know how long it took you to comfortably run in zero drop shoes or if you have any tips which helped you transition (apart from take it slow and lots of calf raises!). Cheers, Tom

Mike P said...

I haven't tried the Rivera, but yes they look similar. One difference, at least in all the Altras that I've tried, even on trail, is that they tend to be much flatter under the arch. Some like that, while some prefer Topo's more contoured footbed, which is more like a traditional running shoe. Altra uppers 9 out of 10 times are also wider. But I'd say this shoe does have some good stretch to it and the laces work well - so it should work for a wide variety of width preferences.

As far as transitioning - I don't exclusively run in zero drop shoes. But I am comfortable running anywhere up to the 1.5 - 2 hour range if I felt like it with no real discomfort.

I'd say the number #1 tip I could give is just walking around in zero drop shoes on a day-to-day basis. Jumping into running right away can be harsh, especially if you heel strike or don't normally land on the midfoot. The walking and casual use at least stretches out the lower leg tendons and muscles without the impact factor.

These days I typically use zero drop shoes for all my casual use - they just feel more "normal" at this point. I use Vivobarefoot in the summer, Altra Superiors a lot, and now I've got Vapor Trail GTX for cold weather.

For running, if you have access to a treadmill that can be helpful too. The impact is softer and you can more easily build up usage time as you feel comfortable. Hope that helps

Tom said...

Hey Mike, thanks for the in-depth response mate. So many excellent tips there.

I bought a pair of Vivo's last month actually so with those and the Altras I'll continue to wear those casually as I agree with you, zero drop feels so much better for everyday walking.

I dipped my toe into zero drop running late last year with the Torin 6's and as I'd been running in the NB Rebel v3 for all my runs (which as I'm sure you know, is lowish drop and super flexible) I thought I'd be ok to pick up the mileage fairly quickly in the Torins. Unfortunately I overworked my plantar fascia a little which is now a bit tender. Classic!

Great tip re treadmill. I'll definitely consider that next time I get the Torins out.

Thanks again!

Mike P said...

Tom-

I was thinking more about Achilles/lower leg strains, which is more of a general zero drop concern. But if you had a Plantar issue, that's even more reason to check out Topo. You'll definitely get more underfoot support than with an Altra.

Another option for transition is the Fli-Lyte 5. The 3mm drop is very slight and could definitely be used as a transition shoe between higher drops and zero.

Tom said...

Thanks Mike, nice to know Topo has some underfoot support. I'll definitely check them out.

I have a pair of Kinvara 13s lying about with a 4mm drop which might make it a nice transition shoe, similar to the Fli-Lyte.

Thanks again for your help.

Anonymous said...

I tried the magnifly 4 and I thought the toe box was not roomy enough compared to my other topo shoes. Can you comment on the width of the toe box in the v5 compared to v4?