Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]


Topo Athletic Terraventure 4: Running, Hiking, and Everything In-Between
By Nathan Brown

Topo Athletic has been making great strides across all lines of their shoes and dropping trainers for the road and trail that are keeping in step with the big companies on the market. They also do this while offering some things that are unique to them. They include a wider, anatomically shaped toe box paired with varying amounts of drop. Many times you only get anatomical toe boxes with zero drop or minimalist footwear. This is what makes Topo Athletic appealing to many. Let's check out one of their main-stay trail models in the Terraventure 4.

Topo Athletic Terraventure 4
Price: $135 at Topo Athletic
Weight: 10.1oz, 286g (men's size 9), 8.6oz, 244g  (women's size 7)
Stack Height: 25mm (heel), 22mm (forefoot)
Drop: 3mm
Classification: Trail Runner and Hiker


The Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 is a versatile trail shoe in that it is extremely well-suited for hiking as well as trail running. It sports Topo's classic fit, an upper that is breathable and doesn't hold water, and good grip on a variety of terrains. It has a mildly cushioned feel and is very flexible in the forefoot for easy transitions when walking or running.

: Altra Lone Peak


If you've enjoyed Topo fit in their other models, you'll enjoy it here, too. It is true to size for length, has a wide and anatomically shaped toe box, and is secure in the midfoot and heel. The wide toe box is wonderful for longer hikes and runs where my feet start to swell, but the midfoot is secure enough to prevent sheering and the development of any blisters. The heel is a semi-rigid counter with moderate padding. The tongue is gusseted throughout the lacing system which helps keep dust and other rocks from skirting into the shoe.

Additionally, there are attachment points for gaiters built into the upper at the heel and front of the lacing system. The upper is a tightly woven mesh that does a good job of staying dry overall. It is not water-resistant or water-proof, but it dries quickly. I personally prefer an upper like this to one with waterproofing for hiking as I find that once water gets into a water-proof upper, my socks (and therefore my feet) are done for. It also is breathable and kept my feet cool on some of the warmer days. In short, you get a simple, effective, and secure upper that allows you to take it on very long adventures.


Investing in a trail running shoe takes somewhat specific demands, as I've found that many of the trails around me can easily be navigated with the right road shoe (typically a stable neutral daily trainer). With some of the trail running models coming out that are mimicking the trends of road shoes (high stack, highly rockered, and sometimes plated), it is hard to find a trail running shoe that has value beyond just trail running. For example, I don't love hiking in the Endorphin Edge or even the Salomon Ultraglide 2 (my current favorite trail running shoe) because they are just a bit too stiff and operate on their rocker platform. This isn't the case with the Terraventure 4. The forefoot is very flexible which makes walking easy, but there is enough protection that allows for smooth running as well. 

The midsole has a total stack heigh of 25mm, but that includes 6mm of rubber, 14mm of EVA foam, and 5mm of an Ortholite footbed. Sandwiched in the forefoot is also a rock plate for protection (but doesn't add much rigidity). The Vibram outsole is grippy in all the conditions I brought it through, which included dry dirt, rocks, and muddy conditions. The full composition of the midsole makes you feel very connected to the ground while still having some protection. I used this shoe to crew a friend for a 50-mile race, and during that day we ran for several hours and were walking and standing for the rest of the 10 that it took him to complete the race. In everything that day demanded, the shoe felt great. During an 8-mile run on the Ice Age Trail, the shoe felt stable on the rocks and roots that were hidden by leaves and despite the 10+ oz weight, it felt nimble and light. I simply felt confident running with this shoe on my foot. It isn't a responsive or fast trail shoe, but is great for long days or easy runs on the trail. Overall you get a lot of ground feel, a flexible forefoot, and enough cushioning to put in a lot of time on your feet.


I mentioned above that I felt confident in this shoe. Given the moderate stack, wide base, secure upper, and ground feel, I would consider this a stable neutral shoe when on technical terrain. That said, stability on the trail is so much different than stability on the road. The selling point for me was the fact that I didn't roll my ankle once during any of my trail running, and given my history of ankle sprains I'm usually rolling my ankle a few times every trail run. The flexibility of the midsole and outsole allows this shoe to morph to the terrain underneath, maintaining good levels of structure in all situations. However, the shoe doesn't have any major sole flaring or side walls or things to guide your foot, so if on flatter terrain or if taking this on road it runs more as a neutral shoe.

Thoughts as a DPT: Stability on the Trails
By Nathan Brown

How we discuss stability in terms of road and trail shoes should be a bit different. On the road we are typically talking about things like sole flaring, side walls, posting, chassis of dual densities, and softness of the midsole. On the trails, stability needs to be talked about a bit differently. Some of these factors still come into play, but the stability of a trail shoe may have to do more with how it is paired with the terrain you are on instead of only based on the construction of the shoe. 

Let me try and illustrate this with a few examples. First, let's look at the New Balance More Trail v3. This is a maximally stacked shoe with side walls and a wide base, and can be considered stable neutral in many circumstances. However, if you are a runner lacking ankle stability (like myself due to recurrent sprains from soccer), a high stacked shoe paired with rocky terrain may not be an ideal option from a stability standpoint. Another example would be a stable neutral shoe that has a sloppy upper and shallow lugs that you try and bring on the mud. it just won't keep you upright or moving forward.

Now let's look at the Terraventure. The overall wider base, lower stack, and malleability of the outsole make this shoe quite stable on technical terrain and the 6mm lugs keep it stable on muddy surfaces. This is why I had luck with this shoe and didn't sprain my ankle. However, if you are someone who needs some structure in the foot itself (maybe a bit of a rocker or some rigidity), you may find that this allows for too much play and doesn't provide enough stability particularly on flat surfaces.

Trail running is its own animal, and "stability" needs to be considered in terms of the needs of the runner, the structure of the shoe, and the terrain to be ran on.


Compared to Version 3, the biggest update was the upper. I appreciated that it was thinned out and the security was improved. This shoe sits in a nice walker/hiker space and hope it continues to stay there and not change too much. I do think the lacing system could be updated to match the fantastic lacing of some of the road models, and moving to laces that hold less water could also possibly help. Such small changes, because I really like how the shoe fills the space it's in. Oh, and the gray I got was pretty boring. Give me some fun colors (to be fair, I haven't seen the projected release colors that they may be coming out with).


The Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 is a direct competitor to the Altra Lone Peak, a premier hiking shoe and one of the most popular for through hiking the Appalachian Trail. The things that make it unique from the Lone Peak include the 3mm drop, it is slightly firmer, and has a significantly more narrow and structured heel, giving it more security than the Lone Peak for running. So if you need a wider heel/midfoot and like a shoe without a heel counter, you'll look toward the Lone Peak. But if you want a shoe that has a bit more structure in the heel, gives you a little drop, and has the midfoot lockdown that helps it be a bit more nimble, the Terraventure 4 will get the edge.


Fit: (Only knock is the laces choice and that lacing system could be slightly more streamlined, but it's fantastic)
A (Perfect for long hikes and some long trail adventures, great ground feel for running)
Stability: B+ (Molds to the ground underneath, but has protection from rock plate. No structure for the foot.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Nothing remarkable, but does the hiker/runner hybrid well)
Personal: A (My new go-to hiking shoe and will be able to run in it often as well for easy trail runs)
Overall: A- 


Topo Athletic Terraventure 4
Price: $135 at Topo Athletic (Coming Soon)

Using the following links to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Saysky Running Gear: We were really taken aback by this Scandinavian company's ultra-thin, durable performance clothing
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!
Fractel Hats: Our team's wider fitting running hat of choice!


Brooks Catamount 2 - A redesign adds a SkyVault plate to the trail shoe
Brooks Divide 3 - A surprisingly solid trail runner at $100
Hoka Challenger ATR 7 [Stable Neutral] - This road-to-trail comes in at its lightest yet with a firmer rolling ride
Hoka Tecton X 2 - Subtle changes keep this trail racer a fun and fast ride
New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3 - A real balance of cushion and durability for the trails
Salomon Glide Max TR - A new max cushion trail entry from trail specialists, Salomon
Salomon Glide Ride 2  - A solid moderately stacked trainer for the trails
Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - A fast, aggressive trail shoe that has one setback that holds the shoe back
Salomon Sense Ride 5 - A lower cushion, well-riding trail shoe that can do a bit of everything
Saucony Blaze TR - Surprisingly light trail running for $100
Saucony Peregrine 13 (and ST) - The lightest, yet also most cushioned model in the trail line
Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 [Stable Neutral]- A great trail runner becomes even better. Lighter, better fitting, and fun

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!


Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running


Check out the Doctors of Running Podcast to find more reviews, interviews, and running features from the team.

Visit our Podcast Page
Find us on Apple
Find us on Spotify

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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at

Hoka Tecton X 2

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>