The Topo Athletic Ultraventure represents Topo’s entry into the maximal trail running shoe market. Building on the success and popularity of the road Ultrafly, the Ultraventure brings ultra comfort to the trails. For those of you out there who have been eagerly awaiting a maximal shoe that has a natural foot shape but isn’t zero drop, it’s time to rejoice. The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is a great shoe.
Note: if you would like to watch a quick video preview of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure you can find this video on the URP YouTube channel here.
- Weight: 8.0 oz / 227g, women’s US size 7 (Tested, Women’s 9); 10.4 oz / 295g, men’s US size 9
- Category: Neutral
- Drop: 5mm
- Stack Height: 30mm (heel), 25mm (forefoot)
- Fit: Sarah: slightly small, recommend sizing up 1/2 size; Ben: true to size for me in my normal size 12
- Ortholite insole
- Multi-density EVA midsole with light guidance
- Vibram XS Trek outsole for traction, durability, and protection on technical trails
- Fully gusseted tongue
- Drainage “gills” for water release and quicker drying
What’s good about the Topo Athletic Ultraventure: The new, differentiating, or simply well-designed aspects of the shoe.
Upper & Fit
Sarah: If you have been one of those people waiting for the Altra Hoka baby, you are in for a treat.The Ultraventure sports a wide toebox, a slightly narrowed heel, all packaged with a 5mm drop. I found the fit wide enough that my pinky toes weren’t pinched, but not so wide that it felt sloppy. It was a perfect fit right out of the box and needed no break in time.
Ben: Just like the fit of the Terraventure, which I loved, the Ultraventure fit is spot on for my foot type. It’s narrow(ish) in the heal and lightly padded, a medium fit through the midfoot, and then widens out to a foot-shaped last in the forefoot. It’s not Altra Timp wide but has plenty of room for the toes to splay for most folks I’d be willing to bet. The engineered mesh upper is soft, the tongue perfectly padded, and TPU overlays are not intrusive.
Ben: The combination of the triple density EVA midsole with a new Ortholite insole makes this one plush shoe! Oh baby is it comfortable. It reminds me a little of what I remember feeling the first time I stepped in to the original HOKA ONE ONE Clifton. However, unlike the Clifton 1, it’s not a complete pillow and doesn’t bottom out. It’s just a comfortable, cushioned shoe perfect for cruising your local trails or putting up big miles on race day.
Sarah: Ben and I are in complete agreement here. The Ultraventure offers a perfect amount of cushion for your long days on the trails. It’s cushy enough that it can handle gravel and rocky trails well, without feeling like your speed is being deadened by running on marshmallows.
Sarah: I don’t to wear gaiters because I get annoyed that they never seem to stay in place. I was excited to see this feature and appreciate the simplicity. No glues to deal with, no velcro—clip and go.
Ben: For folks who like gaiters this is probably a cool feature. Personally, I never wear gaiters so I don’t get too excited about specific gaiter attachment points.
Ben: The 6mm Vibram XS Trek outsole lug configuration is awesome as well. You can tell a lot of thought went in to the rubber compound used as well as the bi-directional configuration of the lugs. This outsole grips everything well and sheds mud with the best of them.
Sarah: Muddy seasoned has returned to the Pacific Northwest and I was excited to take the Ultraventure for a spin in the mud and see just how well they gripped. Sloppy mud, wet rocks, even mossy logs—the outsole was grippy and didn’t slip.
What could be improved: Tweaks or improvements that could improve the shoe.
Sarah: The highest set of eyelets are minuscule and it is difficult to thread the laces through them. I’m not sure why they chose to make these so small, but it makes using the heel lock lacing technique challenging. On super steep, technical downhill, I could feel my toes bumping against the front of the shoe. Even with re-lacing to try to snug my heel, I couldn’t quite hold my foot in place.
Ben: The only downside of this shoe is that all that plushness results in a bit of extra squishiness when things get really wet. The combination of the soft mesh, and padded insole, keeps things a little wetter a little longer downstairs if you know what I mean [insert laughter here].
When to use it: The situations or scenarios where the Topo Athletic Ultraventure excels.
Sarah: Everything in the moderation. The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is great for all of the middle of the road terrain. Mild to moderate trails, wet trails, gravel, moderately rocky terrain, and light road running. Long runs, and perhaps long hikes (could be a great thru hiking choice). This might not be the best choice for super technical trails, and/or very rocky terrain. The Ultraventure has no rock plate, and with the moderately low stack height, you may find that you start to feel rocks beneath your feet if you do head into rocky terrain.
Ben: I agree with Sarah in that the Topo Athletic Ultraventure is best suited for that middle-of-the-road (or trail!) type terrain. It does everything well and is a joy to slip on for those daily runs where you just want to log the miles in a comfortable shoe. This is also a great ultra race shoe choice for the 50 mile–100 mile distances as well I believe.
Should you purchase? My overall recommendation on whether to purchase this shoe or not.
Sarah: YES!!! Seriously, just go buy them right now. I am so incredibly happy with this shoe I feel like I need to stock up just in case they decide to change them. Wide forefoot, grippy soles, gusseted tongue, and integrated gaiter—what more could you ask for in a trail shoe? At $130 the Topo Athletic Ultraventure is moderately priced. The add-on Topo Trail Gaiter will run you $20.
Ben: I couldn’t agree with Sarah more. The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is a GREAT shoe. Topo Athletic nailed it with this one!
Purchasing Information: where to go to purchase the Topo Athletic Ultraventure.
Check out your local, independently-owned running specialty store, as independent stores are vital to our community and need all the help they can get. The Ultraventure is also available on Topo’s site and at other premium independent retailers. If you’d like to support URP, please use this Amazon affiliate link for your purchase. Thanks!
Your Reviewers: Sarah Bradham
I started my love of gear as a climber and as I turned my attention to running I shifted from carabiners, ice tools, and crampons to hydration packs, midsole foam types, compression clothing, and everything in between. After several years of foot injuries, I’m enjoying getting back to my beloved muddy and rocky trails near my home in Portland, Ore. In my work life, I enjoy coordinating an annual Mountain and Ultra Running Camp at the base of Mt. Hood with Yassine Diboun, Amy Sproston, Joelle Vaught, Krissy Moehl and Jeff “Bronco Billy” Browning.
Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf
I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.