Today I will be reviewing a pair of shoes that has been on my list to review for much longer than I ever intended–especially given how great they are. (We have a very busy few months, hence our absence from the site.) In fact, my Topo ST’s have more miles on them than any other pair of shoes prior to their final review. My Topo ST’s have already seen more than 500 miles of road which includes a great deal of training runs, an 8K race, a sprint triathlon, and the 70.3 Half-Ironman in Racine, WI. The reason for the beating I’ve put these shoes through is that they offer up nearly every one of my favorite features in one shoe.
Before moving on to the actual review, I should also add that I went into testing these shoes with a negative opinion of the entire brand due to the poor build quality and awkward design of their first release, the Topo M-RT.
Comfortable and competitive is what I thought when I first laid eyes on these shoes. Topo has done a great job of concealing the wide toe box by making it a little boxier which helps to offer ample toe space and provides a signature look to the brand. As for the color-ways, I’m not in love. I realize they are a small company, so making a ton of options is not realistic, but I am a man who loves a red and black color scheme and when that isn’t available I can normally find a compromise in a full red or black pair of shoes. The color-ways for Topos, however, are so extreme that they are nearly impossible to match with any running clothes.
In a word, perfect. And that may seem extreme for someone who has been otherwise difficult to please and has only gone gang busters over one other pair of shoes: the Skora FORMs. Maybe it’s the lower cost of the Topos, or maybe it’s just how perfectly these fit my feet, but I can honestly say that in my years of running experience, no shoe has pleased me quite like these have. The 0mm drop, extremely low weight, and great ground feel provides you with ample comfort and control. Plus, they still provide copious amounts of foam cushioning which proved more than necessary in the long downhills on my usual training routes and felt especially plush on the running leg of my lengthier triathlons. The only complaint I can think of regarding performance is that after breaking them, I found that the middle of the shoe grew tight and, over time, the foam cushioning compressed fairly deep into the sole. This meant that the shoe started to fit differently.
The quality of my Topos is one of the tougher areas to review. On one hand, I think they did a great job of surviving the torture I put them through, but on the other hand, they are the first pair of shoes I’ve reviewed that will likely be retired or recycled because of the poor condition they are now in. There is a small hole that is beginning to grow on the toe box of the left shoe and the soles are very worn. As for the inside, they have formed to my feet to levels I’ve never seen before, but the struggle is that if my feet shift, it makes the shoe uncomfortable and awkward to run in. The last time I checked my running logs, these shoes have seen over 500 miles of road. I know the average runner may think “Well that sounds great,” but it should be noted that I’ve done the same with my Merrell Pace Gloves, Vibram FFS Bikilas, Vibram FFS SeeYas, and my Skora FORMs , and with just a little cleaning, I could probably get away with selling them as lightly worn.
After taking my Topos from their infancy to their death, I find myself yearning for another pair. These are one of the most versatile pairs of running shoes I’ve owned, and considering Topos’ otherwise unfortunate beginnings, I believe they’ve knocked this one out of the park. I look forward to seeing what’s next!
Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.