Topo Athletic Runventure 2 ReviewMarch 31, 2015
- Very comfortable
- Lightweight breathable upper
- Good underfoot protection
- Good Grip
- Poor agility
- Not fast
- Stiff midsole
The Runventure is built on Topo Athletic’s successful anatomic last, with a three-density EVA midsole, and a full-length TPU flex plate for underfoot protection without compromising ground feel or flexibility. This is a very comfortable shoe with a new breathable upper, reduced toe bumper and overlays. Topo has also added a two part, collapsible heel (to be packed flat). This makes the upper very comfortable and flexible.
As with most zero drop shoes, the Runventure 2 is designed to be help promote a more “natural” footstrike. This shoe works really well when you are landing on your midfoot or forefoot, but is harsh and hard if you heel strike. There is little to no transition from heel to toe which makes this shoe a little more slow going than many others tested. This is a good shoe for those wanting to transition to a more natural foot strike since forefoot cushioning is good and since it is uncomfortable to heel strike.
The grip on the Runventure 2 is very good. It has deep, aggressive lugs that grip well on a variety of terrain and is even decent on the roads. It has a flexible rock plate that provides excellent protection in addition to the thick outsole and firm midsole. Agility is lacking, mostly due to the very flexible upper and wide toe box that makes foot placement difficult.
The comfort, especially of the upper, was one of the strongest points of the Runventure 2. With a completely overhauled upper from the original Runventure, lightweight comfort was still the top priority. The upper is incredibly comfortable with its light mesh, flexible overlays, and wide toe box. The uniquely designed heel was a big hit. It is a two piece neoprene sleeve inside the heel collar. It is very flexible yet securely held testers’ heels in place. It was designed for ultimate comfort and as an added bonus it folds flat for easy packing. One downside is that it is low slung, and allows some debris to get in. Topo probably realized this and so they made a gaiter designed specifically to work with this shoe.
With its light weight, and firm midsole, this shoe initially feels like it would be quick. But, most reviewers found this shoe lacking when it came to all out speed. As with most zero drop shoes, this shoe feels flat and unresponsive when really pushing the pace. It certainly is more at home at a regular or relaxed pace. Even with helping promote a midfoot or forefoot foot strike there is just not a lot of speed there.
Security of Fit
The fit of the Runventure 2 was another really strong point. It does have to take a little getting used to the wide fitting toe box. The midfoot locks down nicely, but the heel can feel too loose. That is purposeful according to Topo to allow a greater range of motion in the heel/ankle. The downside is that it can feel unsecured. The lacing system works unobtrusively and the shoe runs true to size. People with narrower feet may feel like there is just too much room in the shoe.
Agility is not the Runventure 2’s strong suit. It was pretty unanimous among our testers that this shoe felt unprecise when forced to turn or pivot sharply. Part of the problem is the wide toe box, but also the grip sticks pretty well but since the upper is so flexible your foot is able to slide from side to side. When hopping from boulder to boulder or gently maneuvering around rocks and roots on the trail it performs just fine, but on more technical trails it struggles to keep up.
The Runventure 2 has been given a pretty serious diet over the previous model, however, just because it is lighter does not make it necessarily responsive or fast. The firm midsole does return some energy but with little to no toe off so your foot is having to work harder than it would in some other shoes. Part of the feeling of having to work harder comes from not being used to running in a zero drop shoe. Runners accustomed to a zero drop shoe will be pleasantly surprised by the response and speed of this shoe.
Overall, the shoe provided more than adequate protection, especially underfoot. The solid and thick rubber outsole, paired with the firm midsole and rock plate provides really good underfoot protection. It also has a nice toe bumper and outsole rubber that wraps up to protect the toes really well. The only downside—which has been noted on several other shoes as well—is the lateral protection. With such a thin upper, there is very little protection from sharp rocks that may catch on the side of the foot.
Out testing spans the course of several months. Our testers spend a few weeks running at least 50 miles (typically much more) in each shoe. They live all over the country so each shoe can be put through our testing protocol in a variety of terrains and conditions. Each tester is encouraged—to the best of their ability—to test the shoes in as many different terrain environments as possible: in the mountains, on dirt roads, buffed single track, technical terrain, etc. In addition to varying terrain, our testers have to test each shoe at different efforts including a long run, easy running and fast running. As mentioned above we test for six different criteria: comfort, speed, security of fit, agility, responsiveness and protection.
Gavin Coombs brings 20+ years of running and racing experience and a background in run specialty retail to his reviews.