|8.8 / 10
|1.9 / 2
|1.7 / 2
|1.8 / 2
|1.7 / 2
|Value for Money
|1.7 / 2
My last pair of Topo Ultraventure Pro shoes (currently going off the market) died at the end of 2022 and I have struggled to find another pair of size 15US since the local importer stopped bringing my size into the country. Then late in 2023, I realised I was able to source them from Amazon USA (albeit with a postage price premium !). So rather than take the risk of missing out, I splurged and purchased three different models in my size with the Topo Ultraventure 3 being the first off the rank for testing.
I’ll be honest they were a bit of a surprise.
I had previously tried the first version of these shoes in early 2020 and loved them. I hadn’t thought much about that previous review until the first time I wore this new model. The best description when I put them on was that it felt like ‘I was coming home’. I had to revisit my review from the previous version (no longer online) to see what I thought.
I’ve now been using the Topo Ultraventure 3 for six weeks at the time of this review in a variety of conditions and I’ve covered just over 200 km in them. When I pulled them out of the box I didn’t think I would like them as much as I do. Topo, like other companies, produce a range of trail runners with varying features and this model doesn’t have an overly aggressive sole so my assumption was they wouldn’t cope well in greasy wet conditions from a traction perceptive unlike other Topo models that have really aggressive grippy soles.
To make matters worse, I also realised the previous model did have the grippy sole what Topo named ‘mega grip’ but this was one of the features removed. So how did they go under test?
First up the Ultraventure 3 is an attractive shoe that comes in a variety of colours although don’t expect to get the full range from one store, or for that matter, even in Australia. I love lairy shoe colours and would have gladly purchased the orange version but I couldn’t source them in my size, even from the US. I ended up with the ‘Grey-Red’ colour version which was the only option in size 15US at the time of purchase – you will struggle to source this colour in Australia.
As mentioned when I put these on I couldn’t believe just how right that they felt. They were comfortable, provided plenty of cushioning and protection underfoot and even after more than 200 km this comfort didn’t change in any way. They are one of the most comfortable trail runners I have ever worn.A big statement I know!
My biggest concern with these shoes was the removal of the mega grip sole with its aggressive grip and in all honesty I thought this would be a deal breaker. During the first half of January 2024 we had a lot of rain and one of the nearby trails I use for shoe testing had a section with a slope of around 1:7 which includes ruts and lost of small round pebbles that always sorts out the winners from the losers as far as downhill grip goes. I must admit I was very tentative going down hill on this steep section and expected to lose footing but the Ultraventure 3 surprised me holding up well even after 20 mm of rain only a few hours prior. Having said that, I can expect this less aggressive sole to wear out a little bit quicker than its beefier cousins.
Like the rest of the Topo range, the Ultraventure 3 is a wide foot shaped toe box similar to Altra and they also have a brand-specific gaiter attachment point but that’s where the similarities end. Size wise I’m a size 15 US and this model of shoe fits quite well and runs true to size. As a comparison, I’m finding these days that the more recent models from Altra tend to run a bit wider from front to back along the entire length of the shoe. The Topo shoes tend to be more of a medium width from the rear through to the mid point of the shoe and while they broaden out at the front, they aren’t as wide as Altra. While I do have broad feet, I find Topo to be very comfortable even after multiple days on the trail when my feet swell. Just to confuse the issue they are also available in a wide fitting from size 7 to size 13
Unlike Altra most of the Topo shoes aren’t automatically zero drop shoes. In the case of the Topo Ultraventure 3 model, you have 35 mm of rubber under the heel and 30 mm of rubber under the front of the foot giving you a 5 mm drop. In fact, Topo even print the shoe drop on the heel of the shoe which I hadn’t noticed until I took the last couple of photos for this review.
Hikers either love or hate zero drop shoes and the Ultraventure 3 has avoided this feature which makes them more suitable to a wider range of hikers. I’m a large guy weighing over 100 kg and the cushioning on these shoes, which has been increased by 5 mm from earlier models, provides firm but excellent support without feely spongy. In fact, from my perspective, Topo has got the cushioning just right. I felt ‘in touch’ with the ground underneath my feet but didn’t feel any sharp rocks I came across. While this model of shoe is aimed at trail runners, hikers with heavier packs will also appreciate this feature.
The upper on these shoes is classed as ‘breathable’ which is a way of saying that if its raining or you are walking through wet grass then you will get water into them. The reverse of this is that they will dry out equally as quickly.
The Topo website highlights other options such as the Topo Mountain Racer 3, which is has slightly less thickness on the sole and has more rigidity. There is also the new Topo Traverse which supposedly has been created specifically for hikers. In both these cases, the tread is reasonably aggressive so they grip well in both wet and dry conditions. One thing that makes this brand of shoe a great choice from my perspective, is that they have a flat section in the middle of the sole. If you’re using a more robust canvas style gaiter with an underfoot strap, then this shoe is one of the best choices you can make.
A negative specific to me and others who share a size 15 US foot, is availability. Having said that the Topo company is now owned by a larger outdoor company while still keeping their CEO in place and I’m glad to say that availability is a lot better although if you do end up purchasing a pair from the US, you will pay a price premium on freight; in my case I didn’t have much choice. Given that only 2% of males have feet over size 12US, then this won’t be an issue for most people.
A feature that isn’t specific to Topo is the built-in gaiter system and while it’s a feature that Altra also has, in Topo’s case it’s not really transferable to other brand of shoes because of the way they do it. If you’re a Topo fan then this won’t be an issue and if you really don’t want to use the dedicated Topo Performance Gaiter system, you can aways use one the of lycra models such as the Dirty Girl Gaiters that can be adapted to just about any shoe.
Price wise the RRP of these shoes in Australia is around AUD$250 which is very similar to other high quality trail runners and trail shoes. Based on previous models from Topo, I would expect these shoes to have a good lifespan although they may loose grip as they age but I’ll update you as time goes by to see how they go.
From my perspective, the Topo Ultraventure 3 is one of the best trail running shoes I have worn in a while. Topo has increased the cushioning but reduced the sole grip and as a result I have scored this model the same as the previous version but for different reasons.
Given my connection with these shoes as soon as I put them on, I would be very happy to make these my shoe of choice even with two more models of Topo shoes to test. Unless those models ‘wow’ me, the Topo Ultraventure 3 will become my favoured shoe.
Disclosure: We may earn a small commission, at no additional expense to you, if you click through on the above links and make a purchase. Please note that our affiliations do not influence, in any way, the independence of our reviews. If we don’t like a product, you’ll hear about it from us!
AUD $250.00 RRP
Topo Ultraventure 3 Grey-Red
Topo Ultraventure 3 Green-Forest
Topo Ultraventure 3 Blue-Lime
Topo Ultraventure 3 Orange-Navy
Topo Ultraventure 3 Shoe sole
Topo Ultraventure 3 heel and toe view
Topo Ultraventure 3 showing the side views
Topo Ultraventure 3 showing name, shoe drop and the gaiter hook attachment points on the heel
Topo Ultraventure 3 showing the gaiter hook at the front of the shoe
Topo Ultraventure 3 showing the shoe sole after more than 200km. while there is some where its not much
This review was done with product purchased by Australian Hiker from a retail store
24 January 2024