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Topo Ultrafly 5 Review
By Matthew Klein

The Topo Ultrafly series has been a favorite clinical suggestion of mine for years. The wider anatomic toe box, mild medial post, good stability integration and moderate to lower drop fit the bill for many different pathologies, but primarily for walking and standing. The firmer ride made it slightly challenging to suggest as a running shoe except for those who want the additional firmness, which can add to the inherently stable ride. Version 5 fixes this issue with a taller stack height and a slightly softer ride This dramatically improves the shoe on the run, which may make this Ultrafly as popular as it deserves to be. 

Topo Ultrafly 5
Price: $135 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.3 oz, 292 g (measured weight for men's size 10)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 25 mm
Drop: 5mm
Shoe Purpose: Mild/Moderate Stability Daily Training Shoe

Pros: Slightly Softer Ride, Well Integrated Stability, Anatomic Toe Box
Cons: Low Outsole Durability


The Topo Ultrafly 5 is a mild-to-moderate, anatomic stability shoe for those who want the rare combination of anatomic fit and a medial post. An updated Zipfoam midsole makes for a far softer ride than prior versions, dramatically improving comfort. The upper continues to fit wide in the toe box, with plenty of room to splay your toes. A rare shoe for those who want a trainer with a well-integrated medial post and heel clip that provides great heel and midfoot support, the Ultrafly is a well-balanced combination of concepts. 

: Altra Provision 8
PAST MODEL: Topo Ultrafly 4

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

The Topo Ultrafly 5 fits me slightly long in my normal men's US size 10. I would stay true to size unless you are between sizes. The toe box is quite wide with a rounded shape that provides plenty of room for toe splay. The volume is moderate to slightly high with some mild stretch to the comfortable upper. This transitions into a normal to slightly wider width and volume midfoot. The tongue is moderately thick and ungusseted. Thanks to some integration with the laces, the tongue stays in place and I have not had any slippage.

The heel is normal in width with a moderately stiff heel counter and moderate heel collar cushioning. The height of the upper is slightly lower, which was comfortable but required me to lock down the laces a little more for heel security. I did not have to lace lock the shoe as the laces lock things down well once tightened. The heel counter is stiffer but offset by the heel collar padding. Those with sensitivities should be mostly fine, but those with high irritability of the heel may not do as well. The security is fairly good for how much room there is. The moderate volume helps keeps this under control. Those with normal-to-slightly wider feet will do best in this shoe, but the laces do need to be tightened. This shoe is best for running with socks. The inner liner in the upper is comfortable, but the toe guard is a bit scratchy. So except for experienced sockless runners, I would suggest socks for 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: Yes
Is the Forefoot Flexible: Mild to Moderately
How Flexible is the Shoe: Stiff Heel/Midfoot
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Somewhat, Offset by Posterior Flare
Recommended for Haglunds: No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Below Average 


The Topo Ultrafly 5 is a moderate to higher stack height daily training shoe. The full-length Zipfoam midsole in this version has been softened from the firmer rides of the past, making for a mildly soft and pleasant midsole. This is partially from a softer foam and a higher stack height from prior versions (up 2mm). The weight is good for a daily training, sitting around the mid to upper 9 oz range (men's size 9). The 5mm drop is noticeable, so wanting a lower drop shoe will be happy here. It is not zero drop, but the slightly softer sole does compress more than prior versions and can make it feel a little lower if you are a heel striker. The heel features a posterior lateral bevel with a large posterior heel flare. This initially makes for slightly clunky heel transitions, but the foam breaks in, compresses and makes for a fairly smooth heel transition. This moves into a good, stable midfoot. This further transitions into a forefoot that is initially slightly stiff, then softens into a mild to moderately flexible ride. The slightly long fit makes the forefoot a little stiffer, but a decent forefoot rocker smooths this out fairly quickly as the shoe breaks in.

The ride of the shoe works best for daily training, easy and recovery runs. The foam is comfortable but not responsive. I have not enjoyed trying to run faster in this shoe as the wider base, posterior flare and slightly long fit make it feel clunky at faster attempts. This ride is more relaxed and is best for easier efforts. The Ultrafly 5 also easily doubles as a walking and daily shoe as the heel clip and medial post do a great job of providing all day support. With the new sole design also comes a new outsole design. While traction has been fine for road efforts (not the best for trail), the durability has not been great. I am notoriously hard on shoes, but have ripped the posterior lateral heel/midfoot outsole off after 40 miles. This has actually not changed the ride significantly, but I am already starting to create the beginnings of a wedge/asymmetry in the sole. So those that are really hard on shoes or scuff their feet may struggle with this shoe, but those using it for walking or who are light on their foot should do fine. 


The Topo Ultrafly 5 is a mild-to-moderate stability shoe. It features both a large heel clip that wraps around the heel for guidance and a long medial post. The heel clip works well to provide a centered and guided ride upon heel strike. The medial post runs from the posterior heel to the anterior midfoot. The post is not intrusive given its smaller height but is well integrated throughout the medial length of the shoe. It provides nice slightly firmer pressure in the midfoot and heel that is well distributed. The combination of the heel clip, wider base and the medial post make for a moderately stable heel. The combination of the medial post and wider midfoot make for a mild to moderately stable ride in the middle of the shoe. The forefoot features a mild medial sidewall and a wider shape, making it mildly stable. So while the heel clip sits on both sides of this shoe, the Topo Ultrafly 5 is best for those who need a mild-to-moderate amount of medial stability from a post. 

Thoughts as a DPT: What Does A Medial Post Do and Who Do They Work Best For? 
By Matthew klein

A medial post describes a firmer piece of midsole that is placed on the inner side of the shoe to provide resistance to motion in that direction. This was supposed to reduce how much the foot pronated, although later we learned that it tends to impact the velocity more than the actual amount. Regardless, this firmer piece of material acts in a variety of ways to influence foot motion. The first is providing pressure up against the foot on the medial side, which inherently will provide any resistance to motion in that area. The second mechanism is that due to the material being firmer, the foot's progression will naturally head toward the path of least resistance and away from the stiff post. 

Posts used to be far more common than they are now as the industry has diversified how they are doing stability. This is a good thing as it gives options for more people but the post should not be fully abandoned. Those who do best with medial posts are those who like a mild to large amount of pressure into their medial arch. These methods tend to be a little more aggressive and provides a more rigid feeling. Some people like that, especially while walking and standing as it may give a feeling of "holding" the arch up (whether it is actually doing that is up for debate, but it does make people feel better). Others may be sensitive to that pressure and may feel like they are running into something within the shoe. Those that do not do well with posts but still need stability may do better with sidewalls or other newer/alternative methods of stability. Posts, being a little more aggressive, take some time to break in and for the body to get used to. If you have never experienced one before but have been recommended it, you must give both the shoe and your body some time to adapt. If it does not work, then you may need to consider an alternative stability/guidance method. Fortunately, we have a ton of variety on today's market, so there is usually something for almost anyone. 


The Topo Ultrafly 5 is one of the best in the series for me from a comfort perspective. The softer sole makes for better cushioning, the anatomic fit feels wonderful during long days on your feet or easy longer runs. My only big concerns right now are the below-average outsole durability and the fairly large posterior heel flare. The heel flare I get as there is some ideas that a posterior flare can length the stance time and may change some level of forces. I would argue they just shift them and can be irritating for those sensitive to mechanisms that cause them to land early. The wider shape can be kept but I would round the heel under the foot more than behind it for a smoother transition. The durability is also a challenge, but not unexpected for a softening of the sole. Softer soles tend to break down quicker and often outsoles follow suit. I would rethink the outsole rubber and placement to maximize durability as a daily trainer should last for a decent amount of time. 


The Topo Ultrafly 5 is for the person looking for a daily trainer with an anatomic toe box, slightly softer ride, a stable heel and midfoot with a medial post and that is best for easy miles. Outside of the concerning outsole durability, this version is far more comfortable and runnable than prior versions. This is an important shoe on the market as it provides a unique combination of things that make it both good for runners and many walkers. An anatomic toe box and a medial post are impossible to see elsewhere at this time (and the only other anatomic mild stability shoe is the Altra Provision series). Those with bunions, excessive pronation issues and more may benefit from this shoe, especially since the lower drop also puts the foot in a more natural position. Others wanting a lower drop, daily training shoe with mild stability will also do well here given its personality works best for easier efforts. This does continue to signal forward progression from Topo but some care needs to be taken with transitions to softer soles as sometimes that can compromise durability.


Fit: B+/A- (Comfortable, anatomic fit that is slightly long. Tightening laces effectively secures foot)
Performance: B/
B+ (Best for easy and longer runs. A bit clunky for even uptempo efforts)
Stability: A [Mild to Moderate Stability] (Long medial post, wider base with heel clip provides good stability in the medial midfoot and both sides of the heel)
Value: B- (Early outsole wear concerning, but ride stays similar. Should last longer)
Personal: B+ (Slightly softer ride makes shoe more runnable than prior versions. Stability is integrated extremely well but concerned about outsole durability. )
Overall Design: B+


Topo Ultrafly 5
Price: $135 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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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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