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Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2: A Light Stability Performance Trainer for the Trails!
By: Chief Editor Matthew Klein

Although trail shoes typically have inherent stability, finding a pair of true light or moderate stability trail shoes is difficult. A few road stability shoes have been converted into trail shoes in the past, with the Asics GT 2000 series the only model left (Asics GT 2000 9 Trail). True trail stability shoes previously were limited to only a few models, including the Asics Trabuco 9 and the La Sportiva Bushido II. Both these models are more on the training side, so those looking for a stability performance or racing shoe on the trail are limited with one exception. The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 is the only mild stability trail shoe that is nimble enough to be used as a performance trail trainer/racer. It is the lightest of this small group of mild stability trail shoes (10.1oz) and combines solid protection with the nimblness necessary to pick up the pace on different kinds of terrain.

Price: $145 at Running Warehouse 
Weight: 10.1 oz, 286 g (men's size 9), 8 oz, 226 g  (women's size 7)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 25 mm
Drop: 5mm 
Classification: Light Stability Trail Racing / Performance Shoe


The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 is a mild stability trail performance/racing shoe for those who want a performance fit and an anatomical toe box. A protective but smooth and snappy ride sits below, with a subtle medial post that guides those who need a little extra stability in the rearfoot. The upper is tough and secure but provides an anatomical performance fit for those who want more room for their toes. Those looking for a nimble, mild stability, performance/racing trail shoe should check out the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2. 


The Topo MTN Racer 2 fits true to size if just a hair short due to the thick toe guard in my normal men's US size 10. The fit in the heel is fairly normal if slightly snug providing a secure fit without the need to be lace locked. The midfoot is slightly snug and wraps both sides of the foot well. The laces can be tightened up more, but the upper is secure enough most people won't need it. The tongue is gussetted, keeping it well secured regardless of the terrain. The forefoot is anatomic but not overly wide. There is more room on the medial side for those trying to keep their big toes spread out or in a neutral position. The toe guard is quite thick in the front, providing a ton of protection against accidentally rock kicks. I am clumsy and had no problem when I would accidentally whack my toes into rocks on the trail. There is a heel counter that is significant but flexible. There is some mild heel collar cushioning around the most rear and upper portion of the rearfoot. I have had no issue with this, but those who are extremely sensitive may notice this, so try it before you buy it if possible. The upper overall is comfortable but secure. This has more of a performance fit, which makes it easy to pick up the pace and handle rough terrain. I did not have any foot slippage in the sole with turns or banked terrain. To have an anatomic toe box on top of this was amazing and the upper is one of the many reasons the MTN Racer 2 would be my top choice for any long-distance trail run or race. 


The ride of the Topo MTN Racer 2 is firmer, stable and responsive when the pace picks up. Despite the aggressive lugs on the outsole that provide excellent traction on both normal and muddy terrain, the MTN Racer 2 does have the capability to handle road to trail transitions. Although on the firmer end for road, it can handle these transitions for short periods, giving some ability to handle road miles. However, this is not its purpose and should be kept to a minimum. Once on the trail, the ride is nimble due to the smaller volume of the shoe but protective thanks to the decent stack height underfoot. The Vibram Megagrip outsole does what the name suggests and grips well on both dry dirt and mud. There is no rock plate, so the MTN Racer 2 has some flexibility through the forefoot. This is combined with a solid amount of toe spring, making for a good transition off the toes at easy and fast paces. There is also a heel bevel with softer foam on the lateral side, making for easy initial contacts on trails. There is a 5mm drop, which is noticeable when walking around. During running it becomes less noticeable thanks to the bevel and toe spring, but the firmer ride makes it more apparent (those not used to lower drop shoes should take some time to transition). The MTN Racer 2, despite the 30mm/25mm stack height, has decent ground feel thanks to the mild flexibility and no rock plate. The more traditional shoe volume makes the shoe feel nimble, allowing for quick steps over uneven footing. The slightly firmer and more responsive ride makes the shoe feel lighter than the 10.1 oz weight (men's size 9). Picking up the pace is easy in this shoe, making it an excellent choice for uptempo trail efforts over moderate distances. For those used to a little less shoe, the MTN Racer 2 has enough protection and stability for longer efforts, making it an excellent ultramarathon trail shoe. For me, it works better as a shorter to moderate distance shoe. I have used it for up to 15 miles without fatigue, but am concerned it may not be enough shoe for me for anything above marathon distances. The durability has been excellent despite extensive road use for me. I have 39 miles in my pair and there is almost no wear on the outsole. Those looking for an uptempo/performance trail shoe with excellent traction, durability, and a bit more flexibility will enjoy the Topo MTN Racer 2.


Despite not being listed as such on all websites, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 is a mild stability shoe. A medial post sits low in the rearfoot and posterior midfoot. It is mildly noticeable, but well integrated into the sole. There are also three different foams in the midsole, with the firmer foams being on the medial side and the softer foam on the lateral side. The last of the shoe is also straighter, with a midfoot that does not narrow. This adds to the overall feeling of stability. The forefoot is wider and combined with the anatomic shape makes it easy to splay out the toes for natural forefoot stability. The upper security further adds to this with how well the foot is secured to the platform. There is also a mild and low plastic clip that sits around the heel. This is meant to be a connection point for the performance gaiter, but adds additional rigidity and acts like low sidewalls around the calcaneus (heel) bone. This further adds stability to the heel. As someone who does well with mild stability, the Topo MTN Racer 2 is a top choice for me when heading out to the trails and is one of the few performance stability trail shoes out there. 


The posting design used in the MTN Racer 2 is excellent as it is set low in the midsole. This is similar to methods used by Saucony in some of their stability shoes with the plastic medial piece closer to the ground than the foot. This creates a less aggressive feel as the post is not directly pushing into the foot. It also means that it takes more compression for the runner's foot to reach the post. So those with neutral mechanics may not even notice it. For someone like me who collapses heavily, I compress enough of the foam to notice it but in a positive way. It also creates a more stable foundation being set lower in the midsole.

The slightly firmer ride in the MTN Racer 2 also adds to this stability. Firmer shoes are inherently more stable. This is particularly important for trail shoes, given the fact that most of the time they are used on softer, uneven or unstable surfaces. This also integrates the post better into the midsole. Softer stability shoes with a post may result in runners complaining of it being intrusive given the stark contrast in midsole densities. For that reason, softer midsole stability shoes may do better with geometric stability unless someone wants the rigid feel of a post into their foot (some people do like this).

The benefit of the firmer ride beyond stability is the improved proprioceptive input. A firmer ride means that the sole compresses less and there is better input into the nerve endings in the joints and ligaments that tell the body where the extremities are. This allows for faster reactions and improved muscular stabilization. This is important on trail given the risk for ankle sprains or loss of footing given the uneven terrain.

It is nice to see a light stability performance shoe like the Topo MTN Racer 2. Even in the road scene, performance stability shoes are rare. This provides some additional options for those that need some true medial stability and want to go faster. I hope Topo continues to maintain and develop this shoe, as it feels a necessary gap in the trail world while being an excellent shoe overall. 


The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 would be my top trail shoe of 2021 if I had gotten a chance to test it earlier. The mild stability works extremely well for me along with the anatomic fit, nimble feel and performance ride. The only suggestion I have would be to soften the midsole just a touch. This may add a little more bounce and will make it more forgiving over extremely long miles. However, I would not do this too much as the firmness adds to the nimble, stable and responsive ride. Other than that I hope they don't change anything as this is my go-to trail shoe right now.


The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 is for those looking for a light stability trail performance/racing shoe with an anatomic toe box, secure fit, moderate firm cushioning, and a nimble ride. The upper provides plenty of room for the toes while still locking the foot down well for those with normal to narrow feet. A mild medial post sits low in the midsole and provides stability along with the secure upper for those who need it. The ride is firmer but protective. Combined with decent flexibility and a nimble feel, it is great for fast footwork when picking up the pace or moving quickly over challenging terrain. The lugs and Megagrip outsole provide excellent traction on a variety of wet or dry surfaces, including road use. One of the rare trail shoes with stability, those who need it should definitely check this shoe out for uptempo work or a nimble ride.


Fit: A- (Secure performance fit with anatomic toe box. Slightly short fit but I suggest going true to size)
A- (Slightly firmer and nimble ride make aggressive terrain and uptempo runs a breeze.)
Stability: A [Light Stability Trail Shoe] (A well-integrated medial post and secure upper make this a rare performance stability trail shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Excellent integration of stability without being intrusive.)
Personal: A (My go-to trail shoe for the light stability and uptempo/fast ride)
Overall: (A performance riding and fitting light stability trail shoe with an anatomic toe box and firmer responsive ride for those that want stability and the ability to pick up the pace. Would be my trail shoe of the year for 2021 if I had the opportunity to try it earlier.)


Price: $145 at Running Warehouse

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Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Topo Athletic for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state-run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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