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Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3: Old Reliable
By Chief Editor Matthew Klein

Many running shoes today are pushing extremes. Extremely tall stack heights, aggressive designs, stiff rides, excessively heavy or light weights, etc. Moderation is not as common and is certainly not done as well. The Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 manages to break the mold and takes moderation to a high level. A taller stack height is now present, although not the tallest. A moderate weight is present at 10.2 oz, along with well-balanced cushioning and flexibility. All this with a wider/anatomic fit makes for a consistent trail shoe for moderate terrain. Moderation is something you can rely on, just like the Topo Ultraventure 3.

Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3
Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.2 oz, 289 g (men's size 9), 8.3 oz, 235g (women's size 7)
Stack Height: 35mm / 30 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Anatomic Cushioned Trail/Hybrid Shoe


The Topo Ultraventure 3 is taller stack height, anatomic/wide fitting trail hybrid shoe for those who want a moderate amount of cushioning and a high level of comfort. A taller stack height of Zipfoam provides a balanced ride between soft and firm underfoot. A well-rockered sole provides a smooth transition no matter where you land. A wide toebox sits up front for those who want to splay their toes and a little extra room in the midfoot/heel for those who want a wider fit or have slightly wider feet. The Vibram outsole provides a high level of durability while the mild lugs provide traction on both road and mild to moderate trails. Those wanting a little extra room in the upper with a balanced and protective ride for longer efforts over a variety of terrain of efforts may want to give the Topo Ultraventure 3 a try.

: Hoka Challenger ATR 6, Altra Outroad


The Topo Ultraventure 3 fits me true to size in my normal US men's size 10. The fit is on the wider side throughout the length of the shoe. It is the widest in the front of the shoe, which features a large, higher volume and anatomic toe box. There is tons of room for foot splay and those who want tons of room up here or have a wide forefoot will love those. Those who have narrow feet may have too much room. The midfoot is slightly wider and features a gusseted tongue that is thin to moderate in thickness. The tongue is also locked into the laces up high and I had no issues with slippage. There are additional strips of material on the inner side of the midfoot that add additional security and structure. They do add some scratchiness and contrast to the internal feel, so I would highly recommend socks with this upper. The rearfoot is slightly wider with a flexible heel counter. There is some heel collar padding, but I had no issues with the stiffness of the counter. Those sensitive to counters should still try this shoe out first before they buy it, but most people will not have any issue.

Although the fit is wider, I did not have to lace lock the shoe. However, I did experience some slippage side to side on turns, which required me to tighten down the laces in the midfoot. This initially caused a large amount of pressure up higher on my foot. The laces are secure, but do not work together well. I had to take extra time to tighten down each lace individually to make sure that no single one pulled down too tightly on the dorsum (top) of my foot. Once this was tied down, I had an excellent fit that was also comfortable during long miles or longer periods on my feet. I did have to undo this when taking the shoes off, so as long as you are comfortable taking some extra time to dial in the lacing, the fit is great for those with normal to wider feet who want more width in their shoe.


The Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 features a taller stack height with full-length Zipfoam underfoot. The cushioning is moderate and balanced between firm and soft. It is softer than previous firm versions of Zipfoam, which continues to be a proprietary EVA from Topo. The weight is modest for a trail shoe at 10.2 oz and this is exactly what it feels like (not too heavy or light). This makes it an excellent choice as a daily mileage shoe. It is not nimble enough for faster efforts (see our review of the MTN Racer 2) but is an option for easy or long efforts. There is no rock plate in the Ultraventure 3 but the taller stack height (35mm/30mm) provides underfoot protection against sharp objects. There is a 5mm drop, but the decently rockered sole makes this not feel as low. Those used to most 4-5mm drop maximal shoes will be fine in this one. The heel features a solid bevel that is slightly lateral. This makes for excellent heel transitions.

The outsole has large slabs of Vibram rubber and small lugs. The midfoot is exposed, but the heel and forefoot have extensive coverage. The break in the outsole at the forefoot provides a nice flex groove. Combined with the larger toe spring/forefoot, this provides a nice relaxed roll forward off the front of the shoe. The smaller lugs and durable outsole allow the Topo Ultraventure 3 to transition easily between road and mild to moderate trails. I have used the Ultraventure 3 as a door-to-trail shoe and have only noticed the lugs during more moderate trail efforts. The lugs are not aggressive enough to be used on highly technical terrain, so the Ultraventure 3 will work better on decently groomed trails. The Vibram outsole does have solid grip despite the smaller lugs. I have spent a large amount of time on wet roads and had no slippage issues. This shoe does not work best in deep mud, so more a more aggressively lugged shoe would be a better choice on that type of terrain. Despite the extensive road use, I have barely any wear on the outsole. For this reason, I expect an above-average number of miles out of the Ultraventure 3 even with road use.


The Topo Ultraventure 3 is a neutral shoe but is on the stable side. The midfoot does not narrow like many shoes and stays wider. The shape of the shoe is slightly wide, which balances the taller stack height. There are no major sidewalls, so the foot does not have any additional pressure upon it from the sides. As mentioned above, the heel counter is flexible, but still does a solid job of providing structure to the rearfoot. There is sole flare at both the heel and midfoot, providing some mild resistance to motion medially or laterally. Although not necessarily a "stability" measure, the arch in the Topo Ultraventure 3 runs a little higher and is more noticeable than other shoes I have tried recently. The forefoot, featuring an extremely wide shape and sole flare, is inherently stable. These different features provide almost a borderline stable neutral ride, especially in the forefoot. However, those who want a wider platform without any intrusion on their mechanics will enjoy this shoe the most. 

Footwear Science: What is Anatomic Fit Exactly?
By Chief Editor Matt Klein

The term "anatomic fit" is thrown around frequently but how it applies will vary on the individual. An "Anatomic Fit" in shoes usually refers to a fit or upper that has a wide and rounded toe box. The argument for this is that the forefoot of the shoe should allow the toes to spread or abduct without major restrictions. This argument has a degree of merit as the abduction of the phalanges (toe bones) can assist with shock absorption and force dispersion at the forefoot. There are also several important structures between the metatarsal bones (longer bones in the front of the foot before the toes) including important nerves (common digital plantar nerves) and arteries (plantar metatarsal arteries). Having enough space for these structures is important for their optimal function. It has been suggested that narrow shoes can cause impingement of these structures, leading to issues such as neuromas (benign nerve growth, with Morton's neuroma between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals being most common). Nerves need three things for optimal function: blood flow, space, and movement. A narrow shoe may take one or more of those away, hence the argument for wider shoes.

The challenge with the above is that anatomic means different things depending on foot width and the individual uniqueness of feet. The lower extremity comes in a large variety of shapes and sizes. Different people will have different bone lengths and sizes, which dramatically change joint axes (ie where things bend). Different feet will have different volumes and widths. A person with narrow feet will likely have too much room in the Topo Ultraventure 3, while someone with incredibly wide feet may still find it too narrow.

There is nothing inherently wrong with saying a shoe has a more anatomic toe box, ie something that is foot-shaped. I just want to caution people against the assumption that everyone's feet look like that or should look like that. The term "wider toe box" may be better to help describe the features of a shoe without using confusing jargon. That may be a better way to educate consumers who can be easily overwhelmed by the large number of choices out there on the market right now. Topo uses both terms on their website, leading with "roomy toe box" and then following it up in smaller print with the term anatomic. This is a better way to explain things and hopefully helps guide and educate consumers at the same time.


When I first received the Topo Ultraventure 3, I found the ride to be fairly average. I did not run in it as much initially as I honestly found it a bit boring. It wasn't until I started using it on the rough roads around the University I teach at in Los Angeles that I started to enjoy the shoe's consistency. The lugs are not so aggressive that they can't handle road running, yet still provide some traction to handle the hard dirty with confidence in LA. The wider fit is extremely comfortable for all-day wear and I have found the Ultraventure to be a shoe that lives up to its name. It can handle almost any impromptu adventure. If I want a comfortable shoe I can wear in clinic or while teaching that can handle a quick decision to go for a run during lunch, this is the first shoe I grab. If I need a little extra room and have a run that varies between road and trail, this is a great choice. So while not the most exciting shoe, it makes up for it with versatility combined with a wider toe box.

The only things I would like to suggest for Topo is to continue on the path they are taking with their foams and consider some mild sidewalls in the heel/midfoot transition. As a trail shoe, some mild sidewalls would be helpful to further improve guidance, especially on softer surfaces. While they are already going this with several models and the Zipfoam is improving, I want to challenge them to continue to experiment with new foams. The PEBAX insert in the Spectre was great and I would love to see that in an Ultraventure. I would encourage Topo to keep a rim of Zipfoam and add an internal core of PEBAX to provide a responsive ride that maintains its inherent guidance. 


The Topo Ultraventure 3 is for those who want a shoe with a wider fit, especially in the forefoot, that can handle a variety of terrains and distances. The wider toe box allows for plenty room for the toes and will work best for those with wider feet, wider forefoot or those with normal-width feet that want more room. The rockered sole and moderate cushioning provide a balance ride for those that want a solid transition without too much interference. The outsole provides solid grip and durability while being versatile enough to handle road, trail and transitions between the two. Best as a daily training or possibly a longer effort/race shoe, the Topo Ultraventure 3 is ready for almost any adventure.


Fit: A-/B+ (Comfortable fit with plenty of room without being completely sloppy. Laces can be locked down for security, but take extra time to get just right)
B+ (Moderate cushioning and a well-rockered ride work well on road, mild to moderate trails and everything in between. Best for easy and longer efforts)
Stability: B/B+ [Neutral] (Wider platform, especially in midfoot. Unobtrusive)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Wider midfoot is important for taller stack height, but could use some mild sidewalls for security due to wider fit)
Personal: B+ (Comfortable for all day wear and quick adventures during lunch and after work. Not the most exciting shoe, but its versatility and consistency keep me reaching for it)
Overall: B+ 


Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse

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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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