Topo MT-3 Review
The Topo MT-3 can be classed as a road to trail shoe. It’s designed to do it all. This is a tough ask as a shoe that is heavily studded and superb in the soft mud of your favourite trail doesn’t grip well or feel good on your local 10km. So, obviously there has to be a compromise. This is a compromise that the MT-3 does well.
This is the type of shoe that I use a lot. Most of my runs are a mix of tarmac, hard packed tracks, muddy single track and farmers fields. Previously I found that one of the best shoes for this kind of running was the original Terraventure ( https://www.northernrunner.com/search/terraventure ). You can read my review of this shoe here:
I was therefore excited to try the Topo MT-3. The first noticeable improvement was the upper. The MT-3 has a much lighter more breathable upper. It is also softer and more pliable. So, it moulds to the shape of your foot really well. The material is still rip stop so it won’t get holes in easily if you catch on brambles or alike. The upper also has small drainage holes on either side to stop water building up inside the shoe should you have a particularly wet run.
The heel is a snug well padded fit. The tongue is gusseted to stop debri getting into the shoe and also has good padding. The upper is bonded together to reduce stitching that could rub and there is no bonded seams around the toes to allow them to spread unhindered.
All Topo shoes are made on a more foot shaped last than most shoe brands use. This gives them a more rounded toe box and a slightly broader fit. This is a similar shape to Altra shoes with not quite as much volume and a snugger fit through the midfoot and at the heel in comparison. The heel to forefoot drop of Topo shoes varies from 5mm to zero. In the case of the MT-3 the heel to forefoot drop is 3mm. So, this is a shoe designed to help promote a more natural midfoot landing. The snug heel and midfoot fit and the stiffness in the back part of the midsole does offer the foot some support. So, if you are used to a higher heel to forefoot drop you could use this shoe as a way of transitioning to a lower drop shoe. Although it would still be advisable to build up the time spend in the shoes gradually. This is because lower heel to forefoot drop shoes allow the foot, ankle and lower leg to function. If you have been running in a high heeled shoe then this area of your body will be relatively untrained so it needs a bit of time to build up strength and flexibility.
The midsole is the same as the one used in the Terraventure and the Terraventure 2. This is 25mm at the heel and 22mm in the forefoot giving a 3mm drop. There is no rock plate like there is in the Terraventure and Terraventure 2. This makes the MT-3 noticeably more flexible and gives you more feel for the ground. This made the shoe nicer to run in both on and off the road. I never felt that I could feel stones of rocks through the shoes and so never felt the need of a rock plate. The cushioning is firm and responsive rather than soft and pillow like. This makes the shoe more nimble on tracks and trails. On the tarmac I found the cushioning ample. For me it was one of those shoes that you just forget they are on your feet and enjoy your run. This level of cushioning also allows your feet to know they have touched the ground. So, your feet get the message to spread on impact this cushions, stabalises and springs you into your next stride. The rounded shape of the forefoot allows your foot the room to be able to do this.
The outsole is the same pattern as the original Terraventure. The length of the lugs and the spread of them gives a good feel on the Tarmac. On the trails there is a reasonable grip. The lugs aren’t deep enough to give good traction in deep mud or spaced out enough to not clog up. This is one of the compromises that have to be made as if the lugs where longer to give better grip on soft ground and spread out more to avoid clogging. Then due to the low surface area in contact with the tarmac outsoles of this type slide on tarmac. Especially when it’s wet. You also feel like you are running on jelly, never quite getting a positive feel for the ground.
The rubber compound of the outsole is softer than it is on the original Terraventure which has made the traction much better. Particularly in the wet. As with the winter tyres on your car the softer compounds grip better but, aren’t that durable. The compound used for the MT-3 outsole is a good compromise between grip and durability. After a few hundred miles of mixed terrain running there is little wear on the outsole and the cushioning in the midsole still feels the same as it did when they where new.
In conclusion the Topo MT-3 is a very good road to trail shoe for those wanting a more natural ride.
Other shoes you might consider:
Hoka Challenger ATR 5: If you prefer a more pillow like feel to your shoes then these would be worth considering. 5mm heel to forefoot drop:
Brooks Cascadia: For those not wanting such a low heel to forefoot. The brooks Cascadia is made for the heel strikers with a 10mm drop. The ride is like a road shoe:
Scot Kinabalu: 8mm from heel to forefoot. Scott’s eRide systems helps you run with good form whether you land on your heels, midfoot or toes. The grip is superb. The ride is firm and responsive:
On Cloudventure: 7mm heel to forefoot. The ride is like a road shoe. The stiffness makes it good on firm trails but, not so good on more broken ground:
Altra Timp and Timp 1.5: Zero drop like all Altra shoes with a rounded toe box shape like the Topo’s. A broader more roomy fit at the toes. The cushioning is softer than the MT-3 but, not soft and pillowy like the Hoka Challenger:
You will find our review of the Timp 1.5 on the product page!