Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 Multi Tester Review: 6 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski and Renee Krusemark

Topo Pursuit 2 ($145)


Mike P: I was quite surprised when I tested the original Pursuit. My Pursuit V1 in size 10.0 weighed 11.1 oz, but I still found it quite agile and runnable, even in moderate techincal terrain. The zero drop platform was noticeable, not necessarily ideal for me, yet very comfortable underfoot for long miles. I found the toebox to be exceptionally wide, and at the time, wider than the Topos that I’d run in the past. It was essentially a direct Altra competitor. With many shoes in for test, the Pursuit V1 fell out of my running rotation, but it’s been my go-to post-race comfort shoe, to this day. The new Pursuit 2 has some noticeable changes, so will it get back into my running rotation? Please read on.. 


All day comfort: Renee, Mike P

TPU insole makes the zero drop feel more comfortable Mike P

More responsive than V1 Mike P

Great midfoot hold as usual from Topo Mike P/Renee

Comfortable well-padded tongue Mike P

Supportive, well-padded ankle/heel collars Mike P/Renee

Protective underfoot without a plate Mike P/Renee


Heavy for running: Renee 

Seems to have lost some softness from V1 Mike P

Not as flexible as V1 - outsole feels less elastic Mike P

Please find the testers run bios at the end of the article after Comparisons.


Weight: men's 10.5 oz  / 299g (US9)  ::  women's 9.2 oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 10.8 oz / 306g US 9.5

                  women’s 8.98 oz / 255g US 7.5

Stack Height: 28mm heel / 28mm forefoot (0 drop spec) 

$145.  Available June 2024

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: The Pursuit 2 uses the Topo recipe:  grippy outsole, a comfortable upper, and a midsole for long efforts. Topo fans will find the Pursuit 2 on par with other shoes in the brand’s lineup. If it’s not broken, I guess don’t change it. 

For sizing, I wore a women’s 7.5. I always wear a half size smaller in Topo as compared to most of my other shoes. If between half sizes, I suggest the half size down. If you’re a Topo wearing regular, your usual Topo size will be fine. 

The upper is updated with a tightly woven recycled mesh material. I found it comfortable and had zero issues with it when hiking for hours. The overlays provide ample security without being restrictive. As usual for Topo, the heel and midfoot security are fantastic. 

The heel collar sits low, below my ankle, which is great for being nimble on uneven surfaces. The shoe isn’t heavy, but heavier than I prefer for faster running efforts. For long efforts, especially hiking or run/hike combos, the Pursuit 2 worked great. 

Mike P: I have a slightly different take on the fit than Renee. I find that the recent iterations of Topo’s models fit perfectly true to size. In the past (several years ago) I found Topos ran a touch short (ex- Ultraventure 1, MTN Racer 1), but they seemed to have updated the fit. I tested the Pursuit 1 in a 10.0, which was quite spacious - so I went back to a 9.5 for V2 and it’s just right.

The width across the forefoot has been reined in a bit compared to V1 (see the pic in the comps section below). I do have a smaller size, but that much difference in width can’t be chalked up to going just ½ size down. They definitely seemed to have tightened it up a bit, and that’s for the better. 

Security from the heel through the midfoot (Topo’s signature) is perfect, but now the forefoot/toebox also has the same level of security. I don’t get as much foot movement as I did in V1. 

Another standout feature of Topo is the general comfort of the tongue design and the ankle/heel collars. The tongue has just the right amount of cushion - not too thin and not too thick. Zero pressure points, just what you want. The ankle/heel collars also are nothing special, nicely cushioned, seating the heel well, no pressure points, no rigid spots on the ankle, just great. 

The engineered mesh utilized some wavy underlays for midfoot hold and the material itself is quite breathable. There’s not much stretch to it, but also no rigidity, so it wraps the foot well and feels great with no fuss. A gaiter loop up front and hook points for Topo’s proprietary gaiter are a welcome inclusion.

Midsole & Platform

From the Topo product manager:

When fit testing the Pursuit 2 we used the updated TPU bead footbed and were careful to make necessary adjustments to the fit of the shoe to ensure the Pursuit 2’s fit was consistent with other products in the Topo Athletic line. When testing the Pursuit 2, and the Traverse last year, we found that the difference between the Ortholite footbed and the TPU bead footbed was not the amount of foam underfoot, but that the TPU bead footbed compresses less when weighted.


The TPU footbed does weigh slightly more than Ortholite, but in a shoe like Pursuit 2 or Traverse the benefit of the TPU insole not holding water outweighs (no pun intended) the small cost of the increased weight.”

Renee: I’m a fan of the insole being TPU beaded instead of the Ortholite.  TPU beaded insoles seem to help with comfort for distances and responsiveness. I often take TPU insoles and put them into other shoes. The Pursuit 2 is a zero drop shoe with 28mm of total stack. The stack plus the TPU insole give all day comfort. I found the Pursuit 2 to work best for me for hiking efforts off trail or on ungroomed terrain. 

Mike P: To be honest, the new TPU insole was the first thing that I noticed about the Pursuit 2. I’ve been hoping for Topo to upgrade their insoles for a while now, and finally my prayers have been answered. Hopefully they can use this insole, and associated midsole accommodations, in all of their models going forward.

The TPU insole changes the feel of the shoe so much. I’m really not a fan of Ortholite insoles in any shoe. They dull ground feel, make the shoe “feel” softer than they are, and tend to wrap around the edges of the foot - causing hotspots. Of course the “soaking up water” factor is another obvious issue.  I asked Topo right away if they accounted for the added firmness of the insole in the general design of the shoe, and they did say that was the case (see Topo’s response above).

In general though, I think the insole does make the shoe ride slightly firmer. As with other Topo models, they continually tweak their Zipfoam formulation, generally in the direction of being both more responsive and lighter. It’s hard to tell in the Pursuit 2, since the feel directly underfoot (from the insole) is so different from other Topo models. The soft squishy feel of the Ortholite has been replaced with a more direct feel/connection to the midsole and on through to the ground. More on that in the Ride section below.


Renee: Topo fans know the drill: Vibram MegaGrip. The outsole is the same as most other Topo trail shoes. The grip and traction are great. I wore the shoes for long efforts  hiking with some running on ungroomed terrain. In a mix of snow, mud, and debris covered terrain, the outsole performs well. I’d prefer a more mellow outsole on anything smooth or groomed. 

Mike P: Yes, as Renee describes, typical Topo outsole here - similar to most Topo models, outside of the newest Ultraventure 3. Solid, well spaced lugs add some bite in loose terrain, and there’s a general flex cutout pattern under the forefoot which allows a natural foot flex. Again, I’ll point out that the width under the forefoot has been narrowed compared to V1. It does feel like the outsole is stiffer than V1’s as well - perhaps this is due to the rubber just being a bit more concentrated across a less-wide area. I generally felt more flexibility under the forefoot in V1 - perhaps the outsole plays a small role in that feeling.

The outsole is designed for more technical/rugged terrain, which does match the target description of the shoe. It definitely would be a bit much for groomed, hard packed surfaces or door-to-trail usage. One thing to note though is that Topo outsoles do “wear in” a bit over time. The sharp edges of the lugs round out a bit and they tend to feel smoother after putting some miles into them.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Road Scoring Rubric

Renee: The 28mm stack front and back is great for long efforts, and the TPU insole gives an extra boost of fun (I love TPU insoles). 

The shoe is surprisingly flexible underfoot and it can be nimble thanks to the low sitting heel collar. 

Topo markets the shoe for technical terrain, and the ride and outsole work well for that purpose. For anything more mellow, I’d prefer a lighter shoe. I’m fine with zero drop on a shoe that is lightweight, but for the Pursuit 2, the zero drop seemed to slow the ride some. 

For hiking or slow running on debris covered terrain, that’s not an issue. I’d suggest the Pursuit 2 for anyone cruising on ungroomed or technical terrain during all-day efforts.  

Renee’s Score: 8.9/10 (-.60 weight, -.25 zero drop not for everyone, -.25 more hiker than runner) 


Mike P: I’ve mentioned all of the differing elements from V1 above - slight narrowing in the toe box (still Topo-wide, and foot shaped), massive insole upgrade (beaded TPU), new lighter more responsive Zip Foam and a slightly less flexible feel underfoot. But what is the overall result of these changes, taken together as a whole? For me, a big step forward for the Pursuit. 

I found V1 to have a distinctly zero drop feel - that is, feeling flat at times, perhaps overly soft, and also overly wide in the toebox. The TPU insole really tightens up the ride here and also gives much greater underfoot feel and support. It almost feels like it’s not a zero drop shoe - that’s a good thing.. What I mean is that it’s such a comfortable ride, with seemingly less “pull” on the lower legs, Achilles, and heel insertion area. 

They’re so comfortable on the run, to the point where I would definitely consider them as a daily trainer, at least for up to moderate terrain. That’s not really a feeling I get from most zero drop shoes. I tend to use them somewhat in moderation. I’m not sure if it’s just the new insole, or if it’s a combination of the insole/new Zipfoam formula, but the shoe feels more responsive, and less mushy underfoot. It feels different from the Pursuit 1, MTN Racer 3 and Ultraventure 3 - all of those are softer and more flexible. I know some runners do find those shoes overly soft.

If I had to give one downside, it could be that the firmer, more responsive feel does sacrifice some flexibility. It’s especially noticeable if you’re comparing A/B with V1 or the MTN Racer 3. At times I could notice some inflexibility on uneven terrain, but this is a minor downside. The responsive feel more than makes up for this, and also you gain some protection. 

The shoe feels quite protective underfoot, without any plate in the mix. Between the TPU insole, 28mm of stack, and full coverage Megagrip outsole, the Pursuit 2 has comfort for long miles.

Topo has a winner on their hands yet again. If you like zero or low drop, you should definitely give these a long look. If you like the Topo fit and comfort, but not necessarily the softer feel of some of their other models, the Pursuit 2 is again a good option to look at. Please Topo - let’s see this insole in the next MTN Racer 3, Ultraventure 3, and others! Read on below in the comps for more ride details compared to other Topos and competitors..

Same scoring as V1 for me, except for a slight bump in the Fit category

Mike P’s Score:  9.15 / 10

Ride: 9 - Loses some softness & flexibility, but more responsive

Fit: 9.5 - Toebox has been dialed in for a better, more secure fit

Value: 9 - Solid, versatile zero drop option

Style: 9 -  The green engineered mesh color looks great out on the trails

Traction: 9 - Excellent, familiar setup from Topo

Rock Protection: 9 - The TPU midsole seems to add something here, better than V1

Smiles 😊😊😊😊


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Topo Pursuit 1  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): I already mentioned that I’m testing a ½ size smaller in V2, and I also mentioned that the toebox still seems slimmed down. V2 is noticeably narrower in the toebox, but fit through the midsole and heel is the same. The comfortable tongue is also effectively the same. V2 now utilizes a beaded TPU insole and new more responsive Zip Foam which gives better feel underfoot and less mush. The ride of the Pursuit 2 overall feels “tighter” with less flex all around. I think it’s much improved unless you have a super wide foot. “Normal wide” feet will still be fine in the Pursuit 2.

Topo MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review)

Renee: The MTN Racer 3 is slightly lighter in weight but not by much. It does feel like a lighter shoe with a midsole that has more softness yet more rebound. For running, I’d choose the MTN Racer 3. For hiking or rougher terrain, I’d choose the Pursuit 2, just note the zero drop is not for everyone. Sizing is the same. 

Mike P (9.5): My MTN Racer 3 is 0.6 oz lighter than the Pursuit 2. It has a softer, more flexible feel. I like the ride for general training, but some feel that it saps energy. I guess I would agree somewhat as I’ve never considered it for racing. But it’s a fun all around shoe that handles most everything. The Pursuit 2 feels slightly firmer and also more protective underfoot. Of course it’s zero drop as well, but with very good underfoot support. The MTN Racer 3 toe box is a little bit wider.  I would love to see the TPU insole and a similar level of responsiveness in the next MTN Racer.

Topo Ultraventure 3 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The UV3 has more stack at 35/30mm, 5mm of drop, yet is 0.5 oz lighter. The UV3 is built for easy/light trail cruising with its higher, softer feel and light duty outsole. I really love that shoe for exactly those types of trails and easy miles. The UV3 also has a wider toebox, Topo’s widest in any trail model. If you want to just cruise in comfort, UV3 is a great shoe, but if you want to mix it up a bit more (and you’re ok with zero drop), Pursuit is a more versatile shoe.

Altra TImp 5 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): This is the most direct competitor for the Pursuit 2. Interestingly, both shoes went in the same direction with their latest update - narrowing the toebox a bit, and also tightening up the ride. Pursuit 1 was very similar to Timp 4, and now Pursuit 2 is also similar to Timp 5. 

Both shoes run the same in terms of sizing (true to size), but the Timp 5 is very slightly wider in the toebox, and  also has a more rigid upper material. The Pursuit 2’s upper is more flexible and definitely more breathable. Pursuit gets the edge in overall comfort - the tongue and collars are no fuss and feel good. The Timp 5’s tongue doesn’t quite sit as well and there’s some edging that presses against the sides of the foot. It’s not a big deal, but noticeable in comparison to the no-fuss Topo fit. 

I do think Altra’s EGO Max foam is better though - it’s more responsive and the shoe feels quicker and more agile. A more stripped down outsole also helps, and does lighten the weight - it’s 1 full ounce lighter than the Pursuit. 

Normally I’d pick the lighter, faster feeling shoe, but this one is really close for me. While the Altra feels like a better shoe, the comfort of the Topo really stands out. Probably a subjective call between the two.

Nike ZoomX Zegama (RTR Review)

Renee: Topo has the Pursuit 2 comparable to the Terra Kiger but it reminds me more of the Zegama in terms of comfort underfoot. The Pursuit 2 has more flex underfoot and is much more nimble. If zero drop isn’t for you, the Zegama might work better. The Zegama is a few tenths of an ounce lighter in the same size. I wore a 7.5 in both with much more width and length in the toebox on the Pursuit. 

Mike P (9.5): The Zegama is a little heavier, and for me, feels much bulkier underfoot. Pursuit is zero drop so you have a nice streamlined heel, while the Nike has a more traditional beefed up rear to accommodate heel striking. If that’s appealing for you, great, but it’s a totally different ride setup from the Pursuit, and in fact, most Topo trail shoes.

Brooks Cascadia 17 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both shoes are more for hiking to me with some running mixed in. The Pursuit 2 has a better ground feel and is more nimble without compromising cushion. For  hiking only and the benefit of a few mm of drop, the Cascadia might work better. I wore a half size shorter for the Pursuit. 

Tester Profiles

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.

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 PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

The Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 will be available June 2024

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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I'm wondering how the stability of the Pursuit 2 compares with the MTN Racer 3?

I found I didn't like the MTN Racer 3 because to me it felt unstable in the heel—perhaps the pairing of height stack-height, 5mm drop, and a heel that isn't particularly wide. (I don't have this problem with the MTN Racer 2, nor with the Speedgoat 5, which has a similar stack-height.) I am hoping that with the zero-drop and lower stack in the heel the Pursuit 2 feels significantly more stable than the MTN Racer 3. Is this the case?

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in hearing how this compares to Altra Lone Peak 8

Anonymous said...

the width is an interesting...I tried Altra Timp 5 and found them suprisingly narrow.

Mike P said...

Interesting how you felt about the instability in the heel. I think all three shoes have very close platforms (in terms of width) under the heel - MTN Racer 2,3, Pursuit 2. They're all narrowish relative to a lot of other shoes with flared out platforms such as the SG. The Topo design favors a more streamlined heel since I'd say they're more oriented towards a midfoot strike with their wider forefoot.

That said, perhaps it's the overall softness and flexibility of the MTN Racer 3 that was the issue for you. In that regard the Pursuit 2 is more similar to the MTN Racer 2. The MTN Racer 2 was firmer and it also had the rear heel clip as well as a firmer medial insert. The Pursuit 2 doesn't have those specific features, but overall it's a less flexible shoe so I would guess for you it would feel closer to the MTN Racer 2 as opposed to V3

Mike P said...

Haven't tested or even tried on the Lone Peak 8. I'm pretty sure that one is much wider in the toebox, but I can't comment on anything else.

If Timp 5 was narrow for you, these would also be narrow. The Pursuit is roughly the same width, if not a hair narrower. As mentioned, the Topo's upper material is better and more flexible though.

Marduk said...

I quite enjoy the original Pursuit for winter runs, the fabric does not let in water as quick and even icy pavement feels okay because the shoe inspires some sure-footedness. It runs lighter than the weight, but I wish some company could create a cross between e.g. Endorphin Rift midsole and Pursuit toebox.
Where I had issue with OG Pursuit was mid-foot lockdown, I took it for finest 16 miles single-trails on Jan 1, and the fabric got a bit looser because of the melting snow then i had awkward slipping despite clinching the laces hard. There are some more windy and technical downhlls where next time I'll be wearing the MTL Long Sky 2.

Mike P said...

Marduk- Yes the fabric weave in V1 is tighter and even a little bit thicker. This one is more breathable - might be cold for you in icy weather. But V2's upper is also less stretchy and the width is dialed in a bit, so the lockdown issue you felt should be better.

Alex said...

I actually have the same complaint about the MTN Racer 3. No problem with the Pursuit 1 in that regard. Looking forward to the Pursuit update. It's my go-to trail shoe, but my biggest complaint on the 1 is that I do get some medial rubbing, particularly on my big toe. Curious to see if that will be better or worse on the update.

Mike P said...

Alex - do you get the rubbing from the shoe itself or more like an edge blister - possibly from the insole? I tend to get side irritation, also on my big toe from Ortholite insoles - in other shoes too, not just Topo. If that happens, I use an ENGO patch on the insole around that area - the edge next to the big toe, sometimes around the front of the arch. For me it seems like the Ortholite compresses too much and wraps around the toe/foot a little causing the irritation.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, I'll have to try one of those patches. Thanks!