The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Topo Athletic Ultraventure - Women's Review

A wide shoe with a little extra cushioning in the heel.
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Wide toe box, great lateral stability, all-terrain traction, cushioned midsole
Cons:  No rock plate, loose fit in the mid-foot
Manufacturer:   Topo Athletic
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 19
  • Foot protection - 20% 7
  • Sensitivity - 20% 8
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Stability - 15% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Is a wide toe box what you seek? The Topo Athletic Ultraventure is designed to let your toes wiggle free with great cushioning throughout the midsole. If you've tried Altra shoes but can't get behind the zero-drop, the 5mm of extra cushioning in the heel of this shoe will leave you quite happy. We tested it from the summer through the fall, putting just over 80 miles on it. We love the Vibram sole, which sticks to slabs and steep switchbacks. While the fit is a little 'boaty' in the midfoot, you can cinch down the shoe with a creative lacing pattern. For a tall stack height, we are surprised by its stability, even when running or hiking over talus fields and the like. This shoe is best for those who want something they can run and hike in with a little extra cushioning underfoot. Race your next ultra or go on a backpacking trip with this Top Pick for Wide Feet.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $129.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$106.54 at Amazon$129.74 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$89.93 at REI$109.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
77
100
0
87
100
0
79
100
0
79
100
0
76
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Wide toe box, great lateral stability, all-terrain traction, cushioned midsoleWonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex designExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleComfortable, versatile fit, great responsiveness, fantastic value, durableInexpensive, super lightweight, light cushioning, comfortable, zero-drop, wide toe box yet narrow profile
Cons No rock plate, loose fit in the mid-footLaces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybodyHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementDoesn't shed mud well, some midsole compaction over timePotential durability issues, less aggressive outsole not meant for muddy surfaces
Bottom Line A wide shoe with a little extra cushioning in the heel.A unisex trail runner that offers amazing all-around performance on all surfaces.An aggressive trail shoe that is built for the steepest and most technical trails out there.A superior performer that offers exceptional value on all types of terrain.A zero-drop shoe boasting lightweight cushioning and a super wide toe box.
Rating Categories Ultraventure Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0 - Women's
Foot Protection (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
5
Stability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
10
Specs Ultraventure Inov-8 TerraUltra... Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0...
Measured Weight 9.3 oz 8.45 oz 10.7 oz 9.8 oz 7.9 oz
Ideal Terrain All terrain All terrain Soft surfaces, technical terrain All terrain All terrain
Width Options Regular Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 5mm 0 mm 10 mm 4 mm 0 mm
Stack Height from toe to heel (mm) 25/30 9/9 10/20 18.5/22.5 21/21
Upper Nylon mesh Kevlar Mesh Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays IsoFit Engineered knit
Midsole Multi-density EVA EXTERFLOW Injected EVA PWRFOAM Altra Quantic
Outsole Vibram XS Trek rubber Graphene Grip Contragrip PWRTRAC MaxTrac/TrailClaw
Rock Plate? None Yes Yes None Yes
Sizes Available 6 - 11 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12 6 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ultraventure wins our Top Pick for wide feet for its great versatility. Designed as a cushioned shoe with a 5mm drop, it offers full toe freedom. While it doesn't have a rockplate, the underfoot cushioning is sufficient for most forms of terrain, keeping you stable and protected for any distance you wish to run. From 5Ks to Ultramarathons, this comfortable and high performer will keep your feet happy.

Performance Comparison


We love the Topo Athletic Ultraventure. They are built with a wide forefoot and a well-cushioned midsole. With a little extra support in the heel  you'll be comfortable  whatever your mission.
We love the Topo Athletic Ultraventure. They are built with a wide forefoot and a well-cushioned midsole. With a little extra support in the heel, you'll be comfortable, whatever your mission.

Foot Protection


Fantastically cushioned, this shoe offers great protection over rocky and sandy terrain. You can feel rocks through the cushioned midsole, but it offers enough protection to ensure you won't get hurt over most surfaces.


While it does not come with an integrated rockplate, its main form of protection comes in the form of supportive and responsive cushioning. The cushioning itself isn't super springy or plush but is harder with a higher density. When stepping over super sharp rocks, roots, or while running for hours on end, it offers sufficient protection. The forefoot is stacked with 25mm of cushioning while the heel offers 30mm.

Here we hike and run up through choss fields  testing underfoot protection. We think it's pretty awesome  especially on the tops of these 13 000-foot peaks in the Colorado mountains!
Here we hike and run up through choss fields, testing underfoot protection. We think it's pretty awesome, especially on the tops of these 13,000-foot peaks in the Colorado mountains!

We used this shoe on several runs and hikes from the summer through early fall. We encountered dry, rocky chossy terrain that would usually punish an untrained foot. During the first snowfall of the year in October, we also got to test in wet weather. Through all of it, we'd still recommend this shoe.

We appreciate the thicker midsole (seen here) and the upper that offers great water resistance.
We appreciate the thicker midsole (seen here) and the upper that offers great water resistance.

The upper is surprisingly water-resistant and dries very quickly. When dunking it in streams and running through wet grass, we were impressed at how well it did. The drainage holes at the back of the shoe and through the mesh also offer a place for water to leave readily.

Here we compare the Altra Lone Peak 4 (right) with the Topo Ultraventue (left). The Ultraventure did a much better job staving off moisture on this super snowy run in the mountains.
Here we compare the Altra Lone Peak 4 (right) with the Topo Ultraventue (left). The Ultraventure did a much better job staving off moisture on this super snowy run in the mountains.

From desert runs to wet days in the mountains, this shoe is protective enough to be used for all types of distances and terrain. It's an all-terrain warrior that will keep your feet protected.

Sensitivity


While the cushioning is ample, we are surprised at the level of sensitivity.


The midsole is well-cushioned but doesn't have the same level of sensitivity as the thinnest shoes tested. However, for the level of protection and cushioning offered, we are happy to report, you can detect the trail. When running on uneven terrain, these changes in the terrain easily translate to the body; the shoe itself is quite flexible with offers a good level of responsive when adjusting and positioning the body. The flex in the shoe also helps to detect these underfoot hazards, which add to the sensitivity of the shoe. With a higher level of sensitivity with added protection, you can use this shoe for any distance you wish.

Here we test sensitivity over some rocks. We love that we can feel a lot of the trail  but not all of it.
Here we test sensitivity over some rocks. We love that we can feel a lot of the trail, but not all of it.

Traction


We love the traction on these shoes. The outsole is built from Vibram rubber that is sticky on dry rocks, with aggressive enough lugs that do well on most terrain that you'll encounter while trail running.


The body of the shoe is flexible, so it does the best on dry trails littered with rocks, leaves, roots, and all the rest. The lugs are not too long and multi-directional, which grabs the trail on both flat and steep slopes.

A look at the Vibram outsole.
A look at the Vibram outsole.

While running in the mountains of the San Juans, we commonly encountered mega-steep switchbacks littered with rocks over hard-packed dirt. While we didn't trust this shoe as much as we would one with longer lugs, once we leaned into the terrain, we learned that the outsole does indeed stick.

A close-up of the lugs that do a good job on most types of terrain.
A close-up of the lugs that do a good job on most types of terrain.

Lateral traction is also great. When running on a snowy day, this shoe did indeed slip here and there (as all will without microspikes). When wearing another contender on one foot, and this on the other, the Ultraventure did much better holding when the trail sloped off to one side. Where one shoe slipped out, this one stayed the course, offering remarkable lateral traction on these slippery surfaces.

Here we test the Altra and Topos side-by-side. The Topos (on the right foot) offer better traction on these surfaces.
Here we test the Altra and Topos side-by-side. The Topos (on the right foot) offer better traction on these surfaces.

While it does okay in the mud, the lugs aren't long enough to dig in. When running in mud, we had to knock the shoe out or run on hard, dry surfaces before the shoe shed the mud underfoot. While this isn't a big deal, it's important to know it's not the best for this type of terrain, but it'll still get you through it.

Stability


The wide toe box and tight heel cup offer nice stability, even though the stack height through the body of the shoe is taller. It's perfect for any trail mission, except ones where you might need to kick steps into a snow slope.


When running through mud and snow and rocky choss, it stayed the course. Even with a lower amount of stack height, it feels close to the ground, offering a deeper sense of stability. The upper is built with a water-resistant upper that offers a little bit of rigidity with more flexibility. The shoe doesn't deform when wet and maintains its shape, even when being contorted into weird positions while running through more technical terrain. The lacking system promotes a versatile fit, allowing you to ensure it fits you appropriately for better stability overall.

Here we run up through super slippery terrain. This shoe proves to offer great stability on these uneven surfaces.
Here we run up through super slippery terrain. This shoe proves to offer great stability on these uneven surfaces.

We also love the super-wide toe box that allows you to spread your toes. This inherently leads to a better balance in the shoe, promoting more stability. It doesn't feel tippy, and the construction doesn't promote rolled ankles. While we would say that this shoe can go anywhere, its structure and traction aren't rigid and bomber enough to be used well for kicking snow steps into a slope. While it can do this, you'll feel uncertain as to whether the shoe will hold. Aside from that, it's excellent.

Comfort and Fit


This shoe is built for comfort for the longest of runs. The uber-cushioned midsole offers great flexibility and cushion (even after 100 miles of use) that beaks in just slightly after a couple of runs.


The uppers are thin, breathable, and flexible. Not only did we use this shoe for running, but it was a top choice for wear around town and on long backpacking trips. This is simply because of the ample cushioning, with a little more in the heel, which makes for a good walking shoe.

The lacing system offers great versatility. We also appreciate the thinner upper that wraps the foot entirely for all-day comfort.
The lacing system offers great versatility. We also appreciate the thinner upper that wraps the foot entirely for all-day comfort.

The fit can easily be adjusted for those with any type of foot. All our testers appreciate the tight-fitting heel cup with a cushioned Achilles that completely wraps the foot, and the lacing structure is wide enough to be cinched down easily. The stand-out feature is the wide toe box that is on par with the Altra brand shoes. While the fit isn't as specific as super tight fit shoes, some people notice that the foot slides forward on the downhill, with a sloppier fit on the midfoot-forefoot. This is all excepted for a shoe with so much room in the forefoot and can be combatted with creative lacing strategies.

Taking some time to chop wood wearing the Ultraventure. In addition to being a great trail runner  we typically wore it while performing chores and walking around town.
Taking some time to chop wood wearing the Ultraventure. In addition to being a great trail runner, we typically wore it while performing chores and walking around town.

Weight


It feels lightweight on the trail but certainly isn't 'racing weight'. Weighing just 9.3 ounces, it doesn't absorb water readily and dries quickly. This makes it a great option for that next race or running adventure where you know you need a shoe that can dry out. That said, it's far from waterproof.


A relatively low weight shoe that offers luxurious comforts all day long.
A relatively low weight shoe that offers luxurious comforts all day long.

Value


The Ultraventure presents an excellent value for an excellent shoe; after about 80 miles of travel on super rocky, steep terrain, it held up well. While the lugs have shown a little bit of wear, the midsole is incredibly responsive, and the shoe has held up its structure. This shoe is best for those that appreciate a super-wide toe box with a little extra cushioning in the heel. Those that can't do the 'zero-drop' but really like toe splay will find lots of value and great performance in this shoe. Just make sure to try it on to see if it works for you.

Wearing the Terraventure on snowy terrain early fall. We love this shoe for its wide profile that offers a comfortable fit for all-day wear.
Wearing the Terraventure on snowy terrain early fall. We love this shoe for its wide profile that offers a comfortable fit for all-day wear.

Conclusion


The Topo Athlete Ultraventure is a high performing shoe that boasts a cushioned midsole, 5mm drop, and a super-wide toe box. It performs well over all types of terrain but isn't waterproof. We do appreciate its great level of breathability and ability to dry out quickly. If you seek a shoe with a wide toe box but can't do 'zero-drop' and wish for a tiny bit of extra cushioning in the heel, this is a great option to consider.


Amber King