“Sweet spot” combination of comfort and ground feel
Molded arch shape in last
Slightly gappy fit in midfoot
The Topo Athletic ST meets all the key criteria for high-performance minimalist footwear, and is ideally suited for fast running–either in training or on race day.
Security of fit The Topo ST fits snug and comfortable through the heel, and has synthetic overlays to pull the heel and midfoot areas into the traditional lacing system. Although the laces are effective at customizing tension the fit was slightly gappy and allowed for a small degree of movement through the midfoot/forefoot junction (just before the metatarsal heads) during our testing.
Stability on impact With a low and flat platform, biomechanic stability on impact is ideal. The ST’s molded rubber outsole has sufficient traction for road running, but loses grip easily on dirt surfaces.
Smoothness (flexibility) The 7mm of EVA in the midsole is just thick enough to provide comfort at foot strike, but thin enough to allow maximal flexibility in all directions. The EVA compound is moderately firm, with a slight degree of rebound; the ST definitely isn’t an “energy return” shoe, but flows very comfortably with pure midfoot striking.
Comfort One minor drawback of the ST is a fairly pronounced arch built into the last, which will feel weird for anyone accustomed to true minimalist footwear. However, the arch wasn’t bothersome during testing, and somewhat blends into the background from a comfort standpoint – which is a good thing. The ST also ditches Topo’s earlier experimentation with a Boa lacing system; in our testing, this results in a net comfort gain, as the traditional laces don’t feel nearly as tight and wiry as the Boa, particularly on downhills. Interior lining in the heel and midfoot provides a soft feel against the skin, and the airy mesh upper ventilates and dries the feet very effectively in hot or wet conditions.
Speed and agility The ST could easily be used as a racing shoe, with similar stack height, flexibility, and lightweight construction. Agility on surfaces other than good old-fashioned asphalt or an all-weather track surface may pose minor challenges.