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Topo Phantom 3 Review: A Workhorse for Almost Anyone
By David Salas, Nathan Brown, and Andrea Myers

The Phantom line is Topo Athletic's moderate to highly cushioned daily trainer. The shoe features a 5mm drop and a balanced rocker profile throughout the geometry. The shoe is resides in the neutral category and is designed to be the workhorse in your lineup. The Topo Phantom 3 updates bring a lighter package and a more responsive midsole. 

Topo Phantom 3
Price: $145 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.2 oz, g (men's size 9), 7.5oz, g  (women's size 7)
Stack Height: 33mm heel/ 28 mm forefoot
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Neutral Daily Trainer


The Topo Phantom 3 is a moderate to highly cushioned daily trainer. The shoe certainly runs neutral and gives a balanced rocker profile. For those sensitive to 0mm or 3mm drop shoes this one is at a more forgiving 5mm drop. The shoe is very rhythmic at daily paces and has quickly joined my workhorse arsenal. 

Nathan: The Topo Phantom 3 is a cushioned daily trainer with an anatomically shaped toe box, giving a lot of room for different foot types. It is built to last and has a moderate rocker that helps create smooth transitions. For those wanting to dip into Topo for the first time on the roads, this would be a great entry point.

I have yet to find a Topo shoe that I do not enjoy running in. The anatomical toe box and late toe spring of most of their shoes works well for me, and the Topo Phantom 3 is no exception. It is a higher stack, cushioned daily trainer that I have enjoyed testing on my easy runs. While many Topo shoes are zero drop, the 5mm drop Phantom is a more accessible shoe for those interested in trying out the Topo brand.

: HOKA Arahi (without the post)


David: Topo has always nailed the upper for me. This continues with the Phantom 3. The shoe uses a comfortable engineered mesh that is breathable yet secure. It leans on the thicker end, though is definitely airy enough for longer efforts. The fit is classic Topo. The heel and midfoot are normal to slightly snug with a roomy forefoot and toe box. The length is true to size for me in my Men's 9.5. The tongue is moderately padded and allows for you to lock the laces down snug if you like a tighter fit without irritation. The lacing system weaves through the tongue to keep contact with it and prevent slippage. The tongue is not gusseted, though I had no issues with slippage. There is both an internal and external heel counter that did not provide me any irritation. It seems to hold the structure of the shoe well without digging into the heel in any areas. The overall package was certainly comfortable and trustworthy. This feels like a relatively premium upper for the price point. 

Nathan: I completely agree with David. Topo manages a wide, roomy, anatomically shaped toe box without sacrificing upper security. The midfoot and heel are secure, and the lacing system is simple but is adaptable at various points along the foot (creating a tighter feel where you need it). The heel is a rigid heel counter with mild cushioning, but it does have enough of a backward curve to avoid irritation to the Achilles or calcaneus if you are sensitive there. The tongue is also mildly padded and non-gusseted, but stays completely secure thanks to the again simple but effective lace loops. The amount of padding through the heel and tongue is perfect, as it protects the foot but is not so much that the foot gets lost in padding. The upper itself is a mesh with a thin layer of inner padding. This does make it slightly thicker, but it breaths well enough overall. My favorite upper Topo has created in the past was on the Magnifly 4, but I was limited in my use of it due to the 0mm drop (that I just don't do as well in). Now I have that upper on a shoe I can wear for miles. 

Andrea: The Phantom 3 fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5. The fit is secure while the anatomical toe box provides plenty of room for toe splay, without allowing any foot translation. The rearfoot and midfoot are normal width and fit securely, without needing to overtighten the laces. The overall fit is very similar to the Cyclone 2 and the Terraventure 3, with a high degree of step in comfort. The mesh upper is soft, breathable, and has a small amount of stretch. The tongue is not gusseted, but is held in place by Topo's usual lace loops on the proximal portion of the tongue. The fit of the rearfoot is secure and comfortable, thanks to a rigid counter at the inferior half of the heel and a small amount of padding internally. This is a shoe that I can put on and go, without having to stop in the first half mile to adjust the laces. It is hard for me to overstate just how much I love the fit of Topo shoes, including the Phantom 3.


David: The Topo Phantom was a pleasant surprise. The shoe is reminiscent of the Magnifly 4 with some noticeable changes to differentiate it. The shoe uses a 5mm drop, more stack height, and a slightly more rockered profile. The Zipfoam feels pretty good with shock absorption and I do not seem to slap my foot hard when landing. The foam is right in the middle between firm and soft. There is a decent amount of exposed midsole on the underfoot and that does help with making the sensation a little softer throughout. There is a slight bounce to the shoe, though nothing major. The shoe feels like it relies more on a balanced rhythm rolling from heel to toe. The heel bevel is a posterior lateral heel bevel that seems to work pretty well for my mechanics. The shoe does have a gradual toe spring as well.

The Phantom feels like it has a light rolling sensation. A sensation being a hybrid between a rockered and flatter design. The shoe also maintains a balanced weight, being in the 9 ounce range. I find I like the shoe the most for logging daily mileage. I have been able to turn over with some strides, though I would not necessarily reach for this shoe for any workouts. While I'd agree this foam has a tad more bounce than previous Topo trainers I have tried with Zipfoam, I don't think I'd push the shoe as a responsive one in the speed sense. The shoe rides the middle line on a lot of categories and does provide a nice balanced feel underfoot. This has been one of my favorite trainers of the year so far. The only thing I'd say is after longer miles, the distal midfoot/early forefoot has a weird crease point that almost makes the shoe feel a tad flat. It feels like the stance phase in that region just lengthens a tad. I think extending one more outsole panel into the midfoot might help with making that transition feel a tad more snappy. 

Nathan: The Phantom 3 is a consistent, simple, and smooth riding shoe. Everything is in the middle of the road with a 5mm drop, moderate softness from the foam, and a mild rocker with some maintained forefoot flexibility. The mild rocker helps the 5mm drop feel true, and the geometry is simple and does not lead to any clunky transitions. The heel bevel is lateral and minimal, but it doesn't need to be larger because they do not put any posterior heel flare on the shoe. The rest of the geometry maintains a wide ground contact so it transitions nicely. I agree with David that the ride feels like a hybrid between a rockered and flatter design. It rolls nicely but never feels like you are falling forward and is not propulsive in feel. Overall it feels more like a floating sensation. The foam has a cushioned feel but is not soft, as it does not feel mushy in any way. It also is void of bounce or pop. Given the lack of responsiveness, I sometimes did not prefer this model for long runs, but found it best for moderate distance runs, recovery runs, and other easy runs. If you want a no-frills yet cushioned ride, this is where you can look.

Andrea: The Phantom has become one of my go-to daily trainers, alongside the Brooks Hyperion Max and the New Balance Beacon v3 (yes, I still have 2 pairs left). The excellent fit, moderate weight, and late forefoot rocker and toe spring make it perfect for easy miles. The ZipFoam is not soft or marshmallowy, but the 33mm/28mm stack height provides plenty of protection from the pavement for tired feet and legs. I was able to do super easy recovery runs in addition to regular easy runs without feeling beat up. The 5mm drop and mild heel bevel make midfoot landings feel perfectly natural, and the late forefoot rocker and toe spring provide gentle assistance to push off, without feeling abrupt or forced. The shoe definitely feels best at easy paces and I would not reach for it on a workout day or even a day where I have some mid-run strides. The higher stack and lack of responsiveness from the midsole make this shoe best at slower speeds, which is what a daily trainer should be designed for.

The outsole has strategically placed rubber over the rearfoot and forefoot, with the midfoot being exposed midsole. I started to see wear at the lateral midfoot after only 15 miles on the shoe, so it remains to be seen how durable the shoe will be for my mechanics. I did test the shoe on wet roads for one of my runs, and did not have any issues with traction despite the lack of rubber coverage where I land.


David: The Topo Phantom 3 is not a stability shoe. The shoe does register as a stable neutral shoe for me though. The shoe does quite a few things good to give you some elements of stability. The first thing is the platform. The platform is wider underfoot and uses its sole flaring well. There is a small sidewall that integrates with the upper to give you a centered feel. There is both an internal and external heel counter that really keeps your heel feeling like it is held in the shoe well. The upper is comfortable, though still maintains good security throughout. The overall lockdown on the shoe is dialed in and makes you feel connected to the platform. The traction is decent, though nothing that elevates stability per se. The posterior lateral bevel seems to ease the initial contact transition for me as well. For being a neutral shoe, it does a good job of making you feel relatively centered and forward moving. 

Nathan: The Phantom 3 would get the stable neutral tag from me. It has a wide ground contact in the heel and midfoot which widens further into the forefoot. There is a rigid heel counter, some mild side walls, and a very secure upper. The mild rocker yet flexibility that is maintained also helps promote a forward motion of the foot. For me, it ticks all the boxes for a stable neutral shoe. For those who like a stable neutral shoe but don't do well with sidewalls, this is a good option to check out since the side walls in this model are mild.

Andrea: Topo has included several features in the Phantom 3 that places it squarely in the stable neutral category. The wide base provides stability regardless of where an individual lands and the balanced sole flaring that runs the length of the shoe further helps center the foot from initial contact to push off. The small heel bevel and late toe spring and forefoot rocker provide very mild guidance through stance phase as well. The well-fitting upper further stabilizes the foot, particularly thanks to the secure and comfortable rearfoot. The best word I can use to describe the stable neutral features of the Phantom 3 is balanced. It is a shoe that is not going to force motion in any direction, but helps you feel centered and connected with the shoe. 

Thoughts as a DPT: What about Anatomical Toe Boxes?
By Nathan Brown

There is a lot of marketing that companies put out regarding anatomically shaped toe boxes. There are lots of claims about foot health, toe splay, avoiding things like bunions, etc. Many times, these claims are unfounded and exaggerated based off of theory. However, this isn't what we are talking about here today. It's great to have enough space in the toe box to allow space for your feet to move as you absorb load, and too much compression can certainly lead to a myriad of issues. However, an anatomically shaped toe box isn't completely necessary to give your foot the space it needs. 

What I want to touch on is an issue that can arise when a company does use an anatomically shaped toe box. This design selection means that the upper is narrow in the heel, even more narrow in the midfoot, and then spans very wide in the toe box. The mistake some companies make is they follow this pattern not only with the upper, but also with the contact area between the outsole and the ground. When this happens, it can create a somewhat abrupt transition from a narrow midfoot to a wide forefoot, primarily by increasing the force through the big toe joint (1st MTP) as it widens into the toe box. At best, this can simply be uncomfortable and feels like the forefoot pushes you laterally. At worst, it can lead to a whole new loading profile and potentially torsion through the metatarsals. 

This is why I appreciate the Phantom's design. Instead of having the outsole pattern and shaping follow the anatomic toe box, you see a disproportionally higher medial sole flare through the midfoot, bridging the gap between the narrow midfoot and wide toe box. This keeps the transition between the midfoot and forefoot gradual and smooth and minimizes the impact of the shoe on the body.


David: I really enjoyed the Phantom 3. The only thing I noticed was a flat creasing area in the distal midfoot/forefoot region after longer miles on road. If the shoe just stiffened up a tad in that region, perhaps adding another outsole panel, I think that would give the shoe a tad more snappiness. 

Nathan: The Phantom 3 is a really nice workhorse trainer for Topo and I hope they continue refining it. I think the update could come from a refined midsole that has a bit more pop to it. Love the upper -- please keep it! I do wonder if there is a way to shave a little weight through decreasing the thickness of the upper as well, which may help it on longer runs.

Andrea: I love the fit and the ride of the Phantom 3. My main recommendation would be to add some rubber coverage to the lateral midfoot to potentially make the shoe more durable for midfoot strikers. I agree with Nathan that the upper could be refined to reduce some weight, which may then balance out a small increase in rubber outsole coverage.


David: The Topo Phantom 3 is a daily training shoe for someone that wants a relatively natural riding shoe with touches of a rocker profile. The shoe is very middle of the line with cushioning, drop ratio, rocker, weight, etc. The shoe is a nice balanced option for logging daily mileage and being the workhorse in the lineup. 

Nathan: The Topo Phantom 3 is a daily trainer for those wanting a wide toe box with a mild drop (many times anatomic toe boxes are only found in 0mm drop shoes), a comfortable upper, and a ride that has some cushion to it. It is a great option for those wanting a first look at a Topo road shoe or a shoe that can work for running, walking, or daily time on your feet.

Andrea: The Topo Phantom 3 is a stable neutral daily trainer for runners who prefer a wide toe box and a mildly rockered ride. If you like the Topo Cyclone 2 for speed work, you will like the Phantom 3 for easy miles. Its 5mm drop and mild rocker geometry make it ideal for runners who land further forward and do not want an aggressive forefoot rocker.


Fit: (They nailed it again. Good comfort, security, and room for toe splay)
A- (The shoe does pretty much anything I'd ask of it. It is a smooth daily training shoe for knocking down miles. It still doesn't feel that "fast" and despite refined midsole wouldn't reach for it in a performance situation.)
Stability: A- (Stable neutral throughout with great integration of components. I would like to see some larger sidewalls for centering, as these are small and almost not noticeable. Otherwise great.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Nothing revolutionary here, though Topo did a great job of taking familiar ingredients and fine tuning them)
Personal: A (Hands down top 3 daily trainers of the year for me so far (May))
Overall: A- (A balanced daily trainer for many miles to come)


Fit: (Still the best upper in the game -- probably would have gotten an A+ if it was a touch thinner)
B+ (Smooth throughout, would like a bit more responsiveness for longer runs or anything faster than an easy run)
Stability: A- (Stable neutral)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Solid use of simple geometry and making the midfoot to forefoot transition smooth)
Personal: A- (Will definitely use throughout he year for recovery runs and short/medium length runs)
Overall: A- 
Fit: (Another exceptionally fitting Topo shoe. Its secure fit and wide toe box make this one of the most comfortable shoes I've tried.)
Performance: A- 
(This is a great easy day shoe, but it doesn't have the pop or responsiveness to pick up the pace for strides or any kind of intervals.)
Stability: A- (Stable neutral with great use of a wide platform, balanced sole flaring, and mild rocker geometry)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (A great 5mm drop daily trainer from Topo. ZipFoam provides balanced cushioning but does not provide the responsiveness of more advanced midsole materials)
Personal: A- (A great addition to my daily trainer rotation)
Overall: A-


Topo Phantom 3
Price: $145 at Running Warehouse

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Reebok Floatride Energy 5 - Major changes to the popular training series, including a torsion system
Salomon Aero Blaze - A new lightweight trainer from Salomon
Salomon Aero Glide [Max Cushion] - Salomon brings max stack to their lineup with this new offering
Saucony Echelon 9 [Stable Neutral Trainer] - A wide-fitting, high cushion shoe that also fits orthotics perfectly well
Saucony Kinvara 14 - Higher stacked than ever, and lighter as well
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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 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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