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Topo MTN Racer 3 Review: Low Stack Trail Running
By Matthew Klein

The Topo MTN Racer series has been a unique and rare shoe among the trail market. Although not listed as such, it provides a clear feeling of medial support, making it one of the few mild stability (if any stability) trail shoes on the market. That it also has an anatomic toe box and a moderate drop makes it even more unique. After reviewing version 2, version 3 was never sent our way. I was so interested in them that I had to buy a pair for myself to check out. Although this review is a bit tardy, it is never too late to discuss one of the rare mild stability trail shoes still on the market.

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3
Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.8 oz, 278 g (men's size 9), 8.7 oz, 246 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 33.5 / 28.5 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Shoe Purpose: Light/Mild Stability Trail Racing/Performance Shoe

Pros: Anatomic toe box, mild medial post feeling, good grip, easy to change paces
Cons: Thick toe guard occasionally rubs toes


The Topo MTN Racer 3 is a moderate to high stack height trail performance/racing shoe for those who want an anatomic fit and a snappy ride. A smooth upper sits up top with a snug heel and a wider forefoot providing a secure but comfortable fit. A new higher stack height midsole with a new Zipfoam formula provides a slightly soft but responsive ride. The medial post feeling in the midfoot continues, providing rare mild stability on the trail for those who need it. A great option for longer trail races and technical terrain, the Topo MTN Racer 3 returns ready for whatever pace you want. 

: Salomon Genesis
PAST MODEL: Topo MTN Racer 2

(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

The Topo MTN Racer 3 fits me true to size if slightly short. In classic Topo form, the toebox is anatomic, rounded and wider. The toe guard is large and makes the shoe feel slightly short. This has not been an issue for me even over longer runs, although I do notice it from time to time. The midfoot fits slightly snug with a strongly gusseted and moderately thick tongue. I have not had to lace lock or tighten the laces at all. The heel also fits snug and hugs the foot along with the midfoot. This creates a highly secure fit that makes it easy to change directions or pivot without issue on trail. There is a moderately stiff heel counter in the rearfoot. I did not notice it because there is a large amount of heel collar cushioning and padding between the counter and the heel. Those sensitive to counters should be fine until the padding wears out. The inner aspect of the upper is quite comfortable with the exception of the toe guard. For that reason, I would suggest at least thin socks when wearing this shoe. 

Typical Size: Men's US Size 10
Shoes that have fit Matt well: Saucony Guide 17, ASICS Kayano 30, Hoka Gaviota 5, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Nike Ultrafly
Shoes that have fit snug: Hoka Arahi 7, Saucony Kinvara 14
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, Altra Timp 5

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: Yes
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: Somewhat
Is the Forefoot Flexible: Mildly
How Flexible is the Shoe: Mildly
Is This a Good Heel Bevel:
Recommended for Haglunds: No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Above Average


The Topo MTN Racer 3 is a moderate to higher stack height, mildly soft and responsive trail shoe for uptempo efforts. The midsole comes in at a higher stack height than the previous version. It is still not towering but provides plenty of underfoot protection. The revised Zipfoam midsole is slightly soft with a snappy feel that allows quick paces changes. The weight is lighter than previous and the MTN Racer 3 also runs lighter than its listed 9.8 oz (men's size 9). There is a 5mm heel drop and that is exactly how it feels. The large posterior lateral bevel does provide a smooth heel transition regardless of whether you are on road or trail. This transitions into a slightly stiff midfoot thanks to the midfoot post feeling. The forefoot features a large rocker and is moderately stiff. These combine to make a quick and slightly snappy toe-off.

While the Topo MTN Racer 3 certainly feels good at easy paces, it comes most alive at uptempo efforts. I have used this shoe for a trail tempo and fartlek. Combined with the solid grip and nimble feel, it is a great off-road shoe for picking up the pace. The deep lugs and Vibram outsole are both durable and gripping. I have had no issue taking this through wet mud, soft surfaces, firmer dirt or even road. Despite 30 miles of use, I have no wear on the outsole (despite some of those miles being on road).  While now not the lightest or most responsive shoe in the trail market, it makes up for it with a continued nimble feeling that makes quick footwork easy on a variety of surfaces. 


The Topo MTN Racer 3 is a mild stability trail shoe. Despite not being listed as such, there is a clear medial post feeling under the arch, similar to the prior versions. This is not as noticeable walking but becomes apparent quickly while running. Those sensitive to medial posts may not do well in this shoe but those who want them will feel right at home. There are no major sidewalls outside of a small one on the lateral midfoot. I have not felt this but do feel centered and secure in this shoe (which also might be due to the snug heel). There is some mild heel flare that does not get in the way at all thanks to the larger posterior slightly lateral heel bevel. The midfoot does narrow a bit compared to the rest of the shoe but not enough to make it unstable. The forefoot sole is quite wide and combined with the mild stiffeness and solid forefoot rocker creates an easy transition forward. There is moderate torsional rigidity, which combined with the medial post feeling in the midfoot creates a rare mild stability trail shoe for those who need some support in the midfoot. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Finding Stability on the Trail
By Matthew Klein

As stability shoes have evolved and lessened over the years, the trail stability market has almost all but dried up. There were not a ton of options beforehand with the more common ones being trail versions of common road shoes (Saucony Guide TR, ASICS GT 2000 Trail, etc). The few that still exist include the ASICS Trabuco 12, the Salomon Genesis (review soon), Hoka Stinson 7 and the Topo MTN Racer 3. These are shoes that have a true stability system, be it specific guidance in the sole (Trabuco and Stinson), sidewalls specifically designed for stability (Genesis) or a medial post (MTN Racer). I should mention that Topo does not mention the MTN Racer as a stability shoe, but anyone who has worn the series can attest to the obvious feeling of a midfoot post. 

If these do not work for you, the other option is to look for trail shoes that have non-traditional guidance methods. These include sidewalls, wide bases and internal plates/stiffening agents. Fortunately, most trail shoes, especially the maximal ones, tend to have these elements. The Hoka Speedgoat 5 and Challenger ATR 6 are great examples of this, with the wider base and extensive sidewalls that make it work well for someone like me who needs stability. The New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v3 shared these components with the wide base and massive sidewalls. Although not quite as wide, the Brooks Caldera 7 (which we have not tried yet) appears to share the sidewall design. 

While the number of trail stability shoes on the market is far fewer than the ones on the road, there are still a few options out there for those who need this. Trail running can be more challenging for those that need stability given the unstable terrain and additional frontal plane motion. Others may find that trail running actually suits them better as the additional foot motion can be beneficial to adapting to different terrain. Finding what works for you as an individual is key, so don't assume you need stability unless you find it comfortable or have a history of pronation-related injuries. 


While I continue to enjoy the Topo MTN Racer 3 as one of my favorite trail shoes, I was a little disappointed in this update. While the stack height has increased, I expected more from the midsole for a shoe labeled as "racer." At this time, several trail shoes run the same weight or lighter than this. The Salomon Genesis, Altra Timp 5 and a few others sit here, so I would love to see the weight drop quite a bit. This could be achieved by using a PEBAX midsole similar to the Cyclone 2 and other shoes coming in the Topo line up. The would probably require a rock plate or plate of some kind due to the midsole compression. However, given that the "racers" of the trail are also using PEBAX, including the Nike Ultrafly, Saucony Endorphin Edge/Rift, Altra Mont Blanc Carbon and many others soon to enter the market, it is time for Topo to take their trail racer to the next level. Just don't lose the medial post feeling.


The Topo MTN Racer 3 is for those who want an anatomic toe box with mild medial midfoot stability in a lighter package with the versatility to go the distance or pick up the pace. Given that I prefer performance shoes/lightweight trainers, this is a go to trail shoe for me. While not listed as a stability shoe, it certainly feels like it has a mild post, making it one of the rare mild stability trail shoes. I encourage Topo to keep this shoe as is except for a midsole update as it is incredibly rare to have a mild stability shoe with an anatomic toe box. The durability and uniqueness justifies the cost enough that I bought a pair myself! So Topo... be careful with version 4!


Fit: B+/A- (Anatomic toe box with large toe guard and secure heel/midfoot. Wear socks to offset toeguard)
A- (Nimble and quick ride with versatility over a wide range of distances)
Stability: A- [Mild Stability] (A well integrated medial post in the midfoot with a secure upper)
Value: A- ($150 is a solid price in today's trail market, especially for a shoe so unique)
Personal: A- (My go to distance trail shoe thanks to the mild stability and anatomic toe box)
Overall Design: A- 


Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3
Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse

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Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased from eBay with personal funds. 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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Altra Lone Peak 8

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