Topo Athletic Ultrafly Review
Topo Athletic started when Vibram’s ex-CEO Tony Post (ToPo) branched out on his own to start his eponymous brand. The company’s first few models incorporated a split toe and some other unique technologies (below) that I probably wouldn’t have liked a few years ago and frankly didn’t take too seriously.
Fast forward to 2016: The company has come a long way with the Topo Athletic Ultrafly, a shoe I believe appeals to a wide swath of runners, particlularly those who are looking for a Hoka/Altra lovechild with a solid build and a decent price.
Initial Impressions of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly
When I received the shoes in the mail (full disclosure, they were provided to me free for testing/review purposes) I toyed with them and tossed them around a bit before slipping them on, and frankly, I wasn’t overly impressed. Here’s what I wrote down:
Seems to have a tough outer.
Reminds me of an Altra.
Doesn’t feel fast.
I slipped them on and got to work around the house, doing my normal dad stuff, running errands, chasing kids, and planning out my next adventure on the trails. The shoes felt great, very comfortable, felt true (I’m a 12), with plenty of cushion, but they still needed trail time to get a good first assessment.
Running in the Topo Athletic Ultrafly
I’m not generally a fan of wide toe boxed shoes: They feel sloppy, slow, and heavy on my more-narrow-than-normal foot. Topo encourages and promotes the natural running style, which isn’t really something I’ve adhered to, but for whatever reason, these Ultraflys are an exception. I’m a heel striker on slow runs or on the trails, and tend to run on my forefoot when doing speedwork. Though I’d never consider the UltraFly a “fast” shoe, its build still allows me to do a tempo workout without feeling bogged down.
The lesson? Don’t let first impressions mess with your opinion.
The Topo Athletic UltraFly is a Great Shoe For…
- Runners looking for Hoka-esque cushioning with an Altra toe box.
- Someone looking for a road shoe that has no problem on light to medium trail.
- Runners needing a shoe that can hold up to abuse. I’ve put 400+ miles on mine on both road and trail and there’s not any sign of wear on the upper. No snags, tears or problems at all. Very reassuring.
- Runners who like to have some heel control in the back with some extra room up front.
- 5mm drop. (28/23)
- My size 12s weighed about 12oz each.
- More info here on the Topo Athletic website.
Final Thoughts on the Topo UltraFly
As you can see from the pics, I put some real miles on these suckers. I wore these shoes on training runs at home on tarmac, wore them for stair workouts at the track, on light trail in the Sierras, and most importantly, these were the only road shoes I chose to bring with me to the Himalayas. They performed beyond my expectations on all surfaces and conditions, with the exception being muddy trails or wet stairs.