Shoe of the Week: Topo Athletic Ultraventure Pro
Topo's new Ultraventure Pro is a rugged, protective long-run or thru hiking shoe that takes on any terrain with panache and won’t soon succumb to wear or tear.
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Ultraventure Pro Review
Weight: M10.4oz, W 8.2oz
Offset: 5mm (30mm heel/ 25mm foorefoot)
Topo doubled down in burliness to make a well-clad glutton for punishment that takes on any terrain with panache and won’t soon succumb to wear or tear.
The Ultraventure Pro is a brand new shoe, that, while based on the geometries and structure of the Ultraventure, elevates the off-road performance with a bulletproof rock plate, a Zip-foam midsole, and a Vibram Megagrip outsole for underfoot protection aplenty — plus a tougher, more durable upper.
This is the shoe for you if…
You like to mix long runs or thru hiking on hardscrabble terrain, where protection, durability, stability and comfort are prioritized over quick-rolling running ease.
Remember those well-trodden memes that read, on one side, “What I envision when I think of ultra running” with a picture of a nimble smiling runner dancing through flowing coastline singletrack, while on the other side, “The reality of ultra running” above a photo of someone slogging through a mucky, arduous, dark patch of trail with a fading headlamp, trying to stay upright to fumble their way to the all-too-distant finish line. The Ultraventure Pro is the shoe you want for picture #2. This is a utilitarian tool to get you through, not necessarily in the smoothest of manners.
Outfitted with gaiter attachments, durable upper, Vibram Megagrip outsole and an external plastic heel counter, the Pro is a rugged vehicle, one boasting little in the way of luxuries. And that was just right on extreme ground. Observed one tester “I always felt super protected from gnarly trail rocks and protrusions…and felt the responsiveness was always working hard for me. I’m an ankle roller and these shoes make me feel safe and confident when negotiating all the techy bits.”
The Ultraventure Pro is firm, stable, hefty, and not very cushioned. Our testers were not impressed with the “dead,” “overly firm,” and “somewhat flat feeling” 3-piece ZipFoam midsole that lacked energy return or shock absorption and found the forefoot rock plate somewhat inflexible “so they are not at all speedy.” For testers running less technical trails, the Pro came across as too heavy and clunky enough to get in the way of a smooth stride and those testers recommended them as better suited for hiking.
That said, our test team was warmed by the Ultraventure Pro’s enveloping fit, secure lacing, wide toe splay and reliable stability. “The fit is their best feature: They provide a snug, secure hold from heel to just behind the ball, then open up into a wide toe box so roomy it initially feels like the shoe is too big, but after a few miles of stable, confident footing you realize it just feels very comfortable.” The wide toe box, although more svelte than that of Altra, was a bit much for a couple of testers, one of whom experienced some toe smashing on steep technical descents and another calling them clown-like. But others reported the lacing locked down the foot securely enough to give plenty of confidence on a number of different types of terrain.
The Ultraventure Pro’s ruggedness really stood out: both its upper and bottom unit. The test team gave unanimous approval of the durability over time and distance, no matter what harshness was dealt to the shoes. “Nothing gets through to your foot from beneath or above,” glowed one tester.
For those looking for a slightly less-rugged version, the Ultraventure 2, with an EVA-based midsole, no rock plate, and a more breathable and flexible upper will be available in February.
Altra King Mt 2, Brooks Caldera 4, HOKA Torrent 2, Merrell MTL Long Sky, Saucony Xodus 10