The Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 is an ideal trail running shoe for women seeking a wide and voluminous toe box with lots of underfoot protection. It features a 5mm drop, which adds a little extra protection for both forefoot and heel strikers. It touts a durable design that doesn't pack out easily, with a sticky outsole designed for all trails and distances. Topo has a similar structure to Altra shoes in regards to the wide toe box, but the differences might be preferable for some. If you seek a shoe designed to take on the distances with extra cushioning in the heel and through the midsole, this is a wonderful choice.Editor's Note: The Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 review was updated on March 6, 2022, with more information on which shoe we would buy and more details to help compare products.
Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Sticky and confidence inspiring traction, stable, protective, wide toe box, good for forefoot and heel strikers
Cons: No rock plate, tapers at the toe, outsole holds mud
Manufacturer: Topo Athletic
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Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2 - Women's
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|Pros||Sticky and confidence inspiring traction, stable, protective, wide toe box, good for forefoot and heel strikers||Light, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stable||Well-cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high value||Great traction, streamlined profile, encourages speed||Affordable, comfortable, good crossover shoe, great for beginning trail runners|
|Cons||No rock plate, tapers at the toe, outsole holds mud||Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-in||Stack height takes some getting used to, less customizable lacebed||Less protective, runs narrow||Not rugged enough for technical trails, less sensitive|
|Bottom Line||A protective and comfortable ride, touting a wide toe box and a little extra cushioning in the heel, making it a great choice for all trails and distances||Stable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alike||With a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mile||When you are looking to ratchet up the speed on technical trails, this is the lightweight and snug-fitting shoe you'll reach for||If you are looking for an affordable shoe to run light trails and fire roads, look no further because this is the perfect shoe for you|
|Rating Categories||Topo Athletic Ultra...||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Saucony Peregrine 12||Brooks Divide 2 - W...|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Comfort and Fit (15%)|
|Specs||Topo Athletic Ultra...||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Saucony Peregrine 12||Brooks Divide 2 - W...|
|Measured Weight (per shoe)||9.4 oz (size 9)||9.45 oz (size 7)
9.8 oz (size 9)
|7.41 oz (size 7)
8.6 oz (size 9)
|7.76 oz (size 7)||8.0 oz (size 7)|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||5 mm||8 mm||5 mm||4 mm||8 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||30 mm, 25 mm||Not disclosed||31 mm||26.5 mm, 22.5 mm||20 mm, 12 mm|
|Upper||Engineered mesh||Mesh, continuous nylon||Engineered mesh||Recycled polyester Air-mesh||Synthetic mesh|
|Midsole||3-piece injected EVA||Feline SL midsole||EVA||PWRRUN||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram XS Trek EVO||Sticky Pomoco Outer||Rubber||PWRTRAC rubber||Rubber|
|Rock Plate?||None||Not disclosed||None||Yes||Yes|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||6 - 11||5 - 11||6 - 11||5 - 12||5 - 12|
Our Analysis and Test Results
What's New With the Topo Ultraventure 2?
The Ultraventure 2 has seen just a few updates from the original version.
- The midsole feels a little firmer and taller (but no reported increases in stack height)
- Added microfiber belt connecting the upper to the heel for a better fit
- Updated lacing eyelets with wider spacing for better cinching
- New gaiter adapt eyelet
The Ultraventure 2 stands out for its wide toe box and 5mm drop with lots of underfoot cushioning. It's designed for longer distances as a protective trail shoe that will bite down on any surface. It is best for those seeking protective comfort with the freedom to spread their toes in a voluminous toe box. The extra cushion in the heel offers a little additional support for heel and forefoot strikers. These shoes are just begging you to put on your running shorts, sports bra, lace-up, and head out.
Loaded with underfoot cushioning that is responsive and compact, this shoe will protect you from underfoot hazards. The thick midsole is pronounced, with 25mm at the forefoot and 30mm at the heel. It does not have a rock plate, but we didn't notice any performance differences when running on technical terrain compared to those that do. The lack of a rock plate makes it a bit more flexible than those that have one.
The upper mesh is multilayered, offering protection from fine particulates like sand, making it a good shoe for running in desert environments. The newest iteration comes with a gaiter eyelet, allowing you to use a gaiter for sandy or dusty conditions. The mesh is quick to dry, and after tromping through a few streams, it managed to dry out in about 20 minutes in temperatures around 60 degrees. It doesn't have a dedicated drainage system at the toe, but the mesh does a fine job releasing water. Overall, this is a protective shoe that we would trust on rugged, rocky terrain where your foot might need a little extra armor.
The outsole on this shoe is absolutely bomber. The Vibram XS Trek EVO rubber is sticky yet durable. The lugs are 6mm in depth with nice spacing. It excels on traditional trails and paths, sticking well to slickrock and other surfaces. The lug tops are flat and smooth, which offer a nice ride, even on hard pavement and roads. You can say this is a versatile shoe because of the outsole construction. It earns a middle-of-the-road score because it still slips on some surfaces and tends to collect sticky mud.
When heading down the Old Horsethief trail in Ouray (a training route), we noticed the shoe slipping out on kitty litter over dirt. On the same path, we encountered snow when kicking in steps. While we trusted this shoe to hold during these tests, we weren't as confident in it as other contenders with longer, more tapered lugs that act like teeth to hold tight to such slippery surfaces. While the rubber is sticky, it's not as soft as other contenders, so when it rains outside, slippery rocks are a bit of a hazard (as is true for most trail runners).
While Ultraventure 2 has thicker cushioning, it lacks a rock plate, which helps with sensitivity. We could still sense trail undulations underfoot, but the stack of 3-piece injected EVA foam is dense. The translation to the foot is a smooth ride, even on uneven terrain. While this is a huge plus for some, those looking for an intimate experience should look at a shoe with a little less cushioning.
While the stack height feels a little taller than most, the stable construction and broader toe box offer more balance and, thus, confidence on the trail. The new upper uses a microfiber belt that connects the midfoot to the heel, wrapping it together for a better fitting heel. The TPU overlays also add a little structure, keeping the shoe flexible but structured.
We tested the Ultraventure 2 on several runs in Colorado's San Juan mountains, right when the snow was melting. The spring season means muddy, rocky, and uneven transitions. The platform always felt flat upon each landing, offering just enough sensitivity to adjust the body as needed. The height is high, but the wider landing pad in the forefoot and heel makes it a stable ride. That said, the tipping point on this shoe is more pronounced. The outsole is about the same width as the upper, meaning that if you do go over, it will be a hard turn on the ankle since the wall height is high and steep. However, our main tester is a chronic ankle roller and didn't roll her ankle in this shoe after 60+ miles of use. After all these miles on uneven terrain, she likes the stability and trusts it on uneven surfaces.
Comfort and Fit
We can't boast enough about the excellent comfort and enhanced fit on the newest iteration of this shoe. With a load of underfoot cushioning that is responsive and protective, our foot continued to stay fresh on the trail. The wider toe box allows a bit of splay, while the redesigned upper is more flexible and quick to dry.
This shoe is neutral with a 5mm drop from heel to toe, offering a little extra cushion. It is an excellent alternative for those who have tried zero-drop shoes like Altra but couldn't do them because of the lack of support in the heel. Zero-drop shoes favor midfoot strikers, but the added cushioning in the heel for the Ultraventure will also accommodate a heel striker. The toe box is similar but tapers more to the front of the toes, so your foot feels a little more squished than in Altra shoes, which have a wide forefoot to the end of the toe. As a result, you still have width and room to wiggle, but it's a little tighter. The lacing system is also redesigned, so there is more space between the width of the eyelets, allowing you to cinch it down for a precise fit.
On the trails, our feet stayed in place. The heel cup enveloped our foot, and there was a secure wrap around the midfoot. We experienced toe bang at the top of the shoe on steeper trails when going downhill, but this was easily fixed by tightening the laces. The underfoot cushioning is more rigid than an Altra model, so it doesn't feel as plush. Still, it's more responsive and energetic, making it a comfortable choice for both short and long distances, providing you have the right socks to match.
We weighed one size 9 shoe at just 9.4 oz, which is lightweight for the level of protection and comfort the Ultraventure 2 offers. We would feel confident wearing it during training runs and races, especially for distances into the ultras.
Should You Buy the Topo Athletic Ultraventure 2?
The Topo Ultraventure 2 is best for folks seeking a wide forefoot with extra underfoot cushioning in the heel. The Vibram outsole is moderately aggressive, with the ability to go anywhere. This versatile shoe presents a great value and is a wonderful alternative to the Altra brand. It has more protection cushion and is more durable overall. The previous version we tested is still going strong after 400+ miles and has turned into the shoe we wear for chores because of its excellent comfort and durability. After 60+ miles on the new pair, it still looks new, with just a tiny bit of wear on the collar, because of our main testers' cadence. It is a good choice for heel and forefoot strikers ready to log the miles in comfort.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
This trail shoe offers excellent value and is best for those seeking a side and roomy toe box with excellent underfoot cushioning. It will be most appreciated by those who like a sticky and moderately aggressive outsole with nice stability elements. If you have a more narrow foot, you may prefer the fit of the Dynafit Feline SL. If you have the budget for it, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 is one of our favorites and an all-around crowd-pleaser.
— Amber King
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