|Rating:||8.7 / 10|
|Comfort||1.6 / 2|
|Durability||1.8 / 2|
|Support-Stability||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||1.8 / 2|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
This was the second pair of Topo Athletic trail running shoes I had a chance t0 try and I deliberately left the Mountain Racers until after first testing the Topo Ultraventures. While these shoes are sold as trail runners, it was not in this capacity that I tested them but rather as hiking shoes.
When you look at the Topo range both the Ultraventure and Mountain Racer models appear to be very similar, at least on paper, so in testing this model I also did a direct comparison to find out the differences. The first thing you notice with these shoes is the bright red coloured material and yellow shoelaces. If colour is important to you then you don’t have much choice particularly if you like darker options. The styling of these shoes also looks a bit more aggressive.
In putting these on there were two immediate differences that were readily noticeable. The first was the thinner tongue which has been stripped back from the more heavily padded version on the Ultraventures. In itself this is not a problem as it’s comfortable but I will talk about this feature later on. The second thing I noticed was that these shoes seem to have a bit more space in them than the Ultraventures so if you have very wide feet, the Mountain Racers win out. Fit wise, these shoes have a medium width at the rear and mid foot and are ‘foot shaped’ at the forefoot. For those used to Altra shoes, the Topos aren’t quite as wide.
While both the Mountain Racers and the Ultraventures have a heel height of 30 mm and a forefoot height of 25 mm (with a 5 mm drop) the composition of the sole is slightly different and provides a different experience. The Mountain Racer has a slightly firmer compound which not only means that they are durable and likely to be longer lasting, but with this there is a less cushioned ride. Along with that the Mountain Racers are a bit more tactile providing better sensitivity on the trail which may or may not be a consideration for you. I must admit as a large guy wearing size 15 shoes and often doing big distances, I appreciate the extra cushioning from the Ultraventures. While we are still talking about the soles, the lugs on these shoes are solid and well positioned so they grip the trail very well in either wet or dry conditions.
I came to these shoes after wearing the Topo Ultraventure shoes for around 400+ km and my initial thoughts were the padding wasn’t enough for me. Having said that after 200 km of wearing the Mountain Racers I have come to greatly appreciate these shoes. These shoes also contain strategically positioned drainage vents that allow the shoes to dry out should they get wet.
From my own personal perspective I am looking at a shoe for my proposed Australian Alps Walking Track trip (680+ km) later this year. I know from personal experience that snakes are a potential issue in some areas so I am after a trail runner that will work well with long heavy duty gaiters. Topo shoes have a section mid foot without lugs and when I wear my Sea to Summit Quagmire Event Gaiters the undershoe strap sits right on the edge of this section. I tested both the Ultraventure and the Mountain Racers side by side with these gaiters and while they both worked, the limited padding on the Mountain Racers means the front hook on the gaiters dug in a bit and wasn’t as comfortable as I would have liked.
Overall I like these shoes and continue to be impressed by the Topo brand. For me providing I wasn’t considering using a heavy duty gaiter, the Topo Mountain Racers are well worth looking considering. If on the other hand you want to use a heavy duty gaiter and like a bit more padding underfoot, then look at the Topo Ultraventures.
Definitely! These are a great trail hiking option for non boot wearing hikers
You can purchase the Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe at Wildfire Sports
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$239.90 AUD RRP
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe, side view in the only colour choice
Topo Mountain Racer side view
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe heel and toe view. Note the gaiter attachment point on the left shoe which is made for Topo specific gaiters. The toe guard on the shoe front provides good protection for when you kick the occasional rock
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe side vent
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe sole, near-new
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe sole, after 250 km of use
View inside of cushioning on the sole
The Topo insert is typical of many shoes on the market
Topo Mountain Racer Trail Running Shoe tongue view. There is minimal padding on the shoe tongue. This works for me unless I’m wearing heavy duty gaiters when the padding isn’t enough to cushion the front gaiter lug
Close up of rip stop nylon upper
As part of the testing process I had trouble differentiating between the Topo Ultraventure and the Topo Mountain Racers so ended up wearing one of each to get a direct comparison
Topo Ultraventure (left of image) and Topo Mountain Racers (right of image) both with heavy duty gaiters
Tongue comparison. The Topo Mountain Racer on the left has a much thinner stripped back tongue. The Topo Ultraventure on the right has a more padded comfortable tongue
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by Australian Hiker