Topo Athletic Shoe Review

I will start by saying this review and opinions are of my own. I bought the shoes myself and Topo doesn’t know I am reviewing them.  Full disclosure I do run for Carson Footwear, but they only make trail shoes so there is no conflict of interest since they do not have road shoes.

In a quest to find a road shoe I like I am trying out many in the next few weeks.  I have predominantly been running trails since 2010 and haven’t really owned a road shoe since then either.  If I run on roads, I usually run in old trail shoes.

This June I signed up for a 50 on the roads.  What was I thinking? I’m not sure, but it was the only 50 I could find relatively nearby and during the last week of June… so I guess that’s my excuse.  And, because..why not?  Its something totally new for me.  Last marathon I ran on the roads was in 2006, so I guess every 10 years I run a long road race.

Anyway, I need to find a road shoe I like.  I have a particular fondness of lower drop/minimum shoes, even when running roads.  I don’t think we are meant to toddle around in high heels, nor do I think a 12mm drop road shoe is appropriate.  For me it puts pressure on the front of my feet and lower back.  So many “traditional/popular” road shoes are out.

That leaves companies like Altra, Topo Athletic, New balance minimus, and some others for me to try out.  Added to the fact that I do barefoot strides and foot strengthening exercises so my toes splay widly across my forefoot and I like ground feel, with some makes my options limited, and makes me worry about my race coming up.

SO anyway, this is about the Topo’s FlyLyte.  Here are the specs according to their website:

  • 4mm rubber outsole
  • 3mm drop
  • 22mm stack height
  • Wide toe box for toe splay and natural foot shape
  • Weight 6.7 oz

I wore them straight out of the box for a 30 mile road run.  That may seem weird to some, but for me a shoe should be comfortable out of the box, there is no such thing as breaking them in. Since then I have worn them for both walking around running some shorter distances.  I have about 400 miles on them.

Overlay and Upper

For the most part I liked them.  They were more shoe than I am used to.  What do I mean by that?  The overlay over the toe was hard; I was aware of it, not necessarily in a bad way, just aware of it.  The heel cup is quite firm and gave me blisters around my ankles.  I’m use to pretty soft uppers and never worry about them rubbing skin off of my feet.  Another thing I would comment on is that the tongue seemed a bit short.  Didn’t make a difference one way or the other to my run, but I felt like most tongues I am used to are higher.

Picture taken from Gearist


Under foot: Midsole and Responsiveness

They were firm ride with medium responsiveness.  Aside from the heel blister they were quite comfortable, I’m betting if I wore a higher sock they wouldn’t have rubbed me at all.  However, if I had a perfect shoe I would change a few things.  Softer heel cup, more flexible sole.  I’m not a heavy runner and have a light foot strike so I felt like the toe off was a bit less springy than some of my more flexible shoes.  As I stated above they are very natural feeling, good foot shape, firm, low drop.

This is weird, but I like to take the sock liners out of my shoes and play around with different ones, and the Topo Athletic shoes had their sock liners glued in, so they were hard to take out.


I guess for road shoes all you can test is wet or dry.   They worked well for both wet and dry and I have minimal wear on them after a few hundred miles.

Parting thoughts,  these will stay in my road shoe rotation.  I think its important to use a variety of shoes to challenge different muscles, however, maybe not the perfect 50 mile shoes for me.  Anyone have any other ideas of shoes I should try?

Next review: Altra One2.5


4 responses to “Topo Athletic Shoe Review

  1. Shana and Hobbes

    Rachel – I don’t know if you have them on your list to try but I really like Skora’s Tempos. They are zero drop with a bit of cushioning, the wide toe box and they fit my heel nicely without slipping around. The mesh allows them to breathe and the leather is very soft. Anyway – I love them even more than my Altra One2’s which I thought were pretty much perfect other than the strange sizing…

  2. Thank you for reviewing our shoes and sharing your insights with this community! We’re launching a new shoe this month with a softer heel cup, zero drop and lower platform (also slip on!) that you might be interested in. If so, shoot me an email and I can connect you with a discount code.

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