Topo Athletic Tribute ReviewFebruary 25, 2016
- Super lightweight
- Highly breathable
- Improved stability
- Dual-purpose outsole
- Durability issues
- Grit gets in the toe box
- Uppers run cold in cool conditions
Topo’s Tribute is for die-hard minimalists, or for anyone who wants a quick and lightweight shoe for fast training days and racing. The outsole is rugged enough to travel off road, but the thin mesh uppers aren’t suited to trails. Testers love the barely-there feel of the Tribute when pushing the pace, but running mechanics will greatly influence the benefit you receive from this shoe.
Topo Athletic was one of the first companies to stake out the “sweet spot” between minimalism and high performance. Their mission is to create footwear that complements and enhances natural movement of the lower extremity, with three key design elements: lightweight construction, anatomic lasts, and low heel-toe platforms. The Tribute is the sleekest and fastest of their road running models.
Topo’s standard anatomic lasts provide room for full splay, but have historically been somewhat wide through the midfoot. The Tribute utilizes a slightly slimmer last that strikes an ideal balance between allowing full motion and maintaining a snug fit for dynamic activity. Overall fit is true to size, and tension is easily adjusted with a classic lacing system.
The mesh uppers are very thin and open, making the Tributes outstanding for ventilation in the heat or drying after immersion, but it also makes your toes feel more exposed in cold conditions. Light padding around the heel collar enhances comfort in the rearfoot, and the interior midfoot surface is comfortable during speed work.
With relatively little material density in the midsole, responsiveness proved to be somewhat hit and miss with our testers. Some love the high flexibility and springy feel from heel to toe, others found the EVA to be clunky. The flat platform is best suited to midfoot strikers, while heel strikers will probably find the rearfoot to forefoot motion lacking.
Cushioning is fairly strong for such a light and low shoe. The low platform and strong outsole grip give you confident foot placement in a variety of conditions. This category is also dependent on foot strike: heel strikers will have difficulty transferring energy forward in the gait cycle
This is clearly one of the lightest and fastest shoes in our test group; there are no structural elements in the Tribute to slow you down. Its fit, weight, and stability are all ideal for speed sessions or race day, but unless you’re an experienced minimalist runner, keep the racing distances to 20K or less.