Topo Athletic Magnifly 4 Review

This week it’s the Topo Athletic Magnifly 4 review. Topo Athletic make running shoes designed to allow your feet to function. The toe boxes of their shoes are rounded and roomy, to give your feet the space to spread on impact. The heel to forefoot drop varies but remains very low compared with traditional shoes. The highest is 5mm, then 3mm and some shoes are zero drop. The Magnifly 4 is a zero heel to forefoot drop shoe.

The Magnifly 4 is designed as an everyday training shoe. It is cushioned enough for longer runs but not too soft and soggy, and with a good level of energy return. As a result, the Magnifly 4 is responsive enough for steady runs, tempo runs or intervals.

The Magnifly has a 25mm stack height. The midsole is made of Zip foam, which is Topo’s TPU and EVA blend, which has been designed to offer a good level of cushioning but remain durable enough for daily training. As with a lot of Topo Athletic running shoes, the midsole of the Magnifly is dual density. There is a firm piece of midsole next to the ground with a softer feeling piece next to the foot. This coupled with the Ortholite insole gives the shoe an initial soft feel with a positive, energetic push off.

The outsole rubber is now 3mm thick. This is thinner than on the Magnifly 3, but Topo Athletic feel that 3mm gives enough durability but makes the Magnifly 4 lighter. The outsole has more rubber coverage than the previous model which will also increase the durability of the shoes.

The engineered mesh upper is the same as Magnifly 3 but with a PU print on the medial and lateral side to hold the foot onto the midsole. The heel cup gives a good solid fit without a plastic heel counter. The collar is moulded, which gives the heel some padding but it isn’t supper ‘squashy’, so the firm hold that the shoe has of your heel isn’t affected. The tongue is lightly padded and made from a soft engineered mesh. This offers more than enough protection from the laces and adds to the soft, comfortable feel of the upper. The upper is now made of 30% recycled materials.

The Magnifly 4 is 28 grams lighter than the Magnifly 3. That makes the Men’s 255g in a UK 8 and the Women’s UK 5 204g. This makes the Magnifly 4 very light weight everyday training shoes.

The current trend in running shoes is to make the cushioning very soft as, mistakenly, amateur runners perceive the soft feeling cushioning as shock absorbing. The downside to this is that in a very softly cushioned shoe your foot doesn’t ‘know’ and respond as if it has touched the ground, so it doesn’t function naturally. Your foot doesn’t spread on impact to absorb shock, stabilise you and spring you into your next stride. Your feet don’t get stronger the more you run. Although the Magnifly 4 is far from hard (and much softer than the Magnifly 3) the firmer base to the midsole gives your foot that feel for the ground that it needs to be activated. This reduces the chance of getting injured, as all the parts of your body designed to work when you are running are doing so and getting stronger the more you run.

The broad and rounded toe box of Topo Athletic running shoes (similar to Altra and some Icebug styles) allows your big toe to sit straight in the toe box. This gives you better toe off and reduces the stress on the big toe joint. More pointed toe boxes push the big toe across, which puts stress on the joint and as well as reduces the power of your push off, can lead to bunions.

Zero drop shoes allow your feet, ankles and lower legs to function better and much more naturally. If you have been used to running in shoes with a higher heel to forefoot drop then it’s a good idea to gradually increase the time you spend in the shoes. Alternating with your current shoes. This gives your body a chance to strengthen up without getting over loaded.

I run a lot in low drop shoes. However, I still notice the difference between a zero drop and a low drop shoe. In a zero drop shoe there is nothing to stop or slow the foot down. I drop straight onto my midfoot. This makes the shoes feel faster, my posture feels more upright and my cadence quicker. The Magnifly 4 has this effect. They are soft on impact but responsive, which makes you feel light on your feet. The Magnifly 3 had the same feeling except the cushioning was a bit too firm to run slowly in. The combination of zero drop and firm ride pushed you into a quick pace. The softer cushioned Magnifly 4 is easier to jog in so you can use them for your recovery runs or a long slow run. However, when you decide to pick up the pace they respond well and I am zipping a long just as I did in the Magnifly 3.

Quote from Store Manager Craig

Craig is running to work and back in the Magnifly 4 most days. “I love them, comfortable roomy toe box, plenty of cushion for long distance but firm enough to get some pace on when needed. True fit size wise. Zero drop helps me run more efficiently so no sore calves as everything can flex as nature intended. Cushion feels better than the previous version which means I can spend more time on the road.”

In summary the Topo Magnifly 4 is a very versatile, neutral, mid cushioned, zero drop everyday road running shoe. It feels good doing everyday slower mileage but is enjoyable when you speed up too, due to the genuine balance of cushioning and energy return. There’s also a roomy, rounded toe box designed to give your feet the room and stimulation to function naturally and both zero drop and a rounded toe box can help to encourage your best running form. We are huge fans of the Magnifly 4.

Other Considerations

Altra Torin 5: All Altra shoes are zero drop. The Torin 5 is Altra’s everyday cushioned training shoe. They are much softer than the Magnifly and therefore not as versatile in that they are harder to run quickly in. The Torin is more flexible. Here is our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/altra-torin-5-review/

Karhu Fusion: The Karhu Fusion has a similarly cushioned but responsive feel. They are 6mm from heel to forefoot and not as flexible as the Magnifly 4. So, they aren’t quite as good for speed work. The toe box in the HiVo version is roomy with a straight big toe but not as rounded as the toe box of the Magnifly 4. Here is our review: northernrunner.com/blog/karhu-fusion-ortix-2021-review-by-northernrunner-com

Saucony Ride 15: These are form and responsive like the Magnifly and as versatile for slow running and speed work alike. The drop is 8mm and they have a more pointed toe box. Here is our review: northernrunner.com/blog/saucony-ride-15-review/
New Balance 880 v12: These have a very soft cushioning in the heel with a firmer more responsive midfoot. They are available in three widths Men’s and two widths Women’s. Here is our review:
https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/new-balance-880v12-review

Hoka Clifton 8: These have very soft cushioning but the rocker in the shoes help with propulsion, which makes it possible to run quickly in the shoes. They are available in wide too. northernrunner.com/hoka-m92/clifton-t147

Scott Pursuit: These are similar to the Clifton in that the cushioning is very soft, and the rocker gives the shoe some propulsion. Here is our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/scott-pursuit-review/

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