Topo Runventure 3 Review

Believe it or not I never ran until college. When I did start running for real the only shoes I liked were true minimalist shoes – as in so minimalist you could role up TWO pairs and put them in a Nalgene. My mom called them rubber socks). Prior to that you’d only catch me barefoot or in riding boots (and then military boots). I couldn’t run a mile to save my life when I first started, but that’s exactly why I started running – to save my life from an abusive relationship.

Remember these?! Yea I loved them! I could get 1000+ miles per pair. I wish they would make them again.

Anyways, up until a couple years ago all I wore were New Balance Minimalist shoes…..until they quit making them.

Since than finding shoes has been a pain. Eventually I settled on Salomon S/Labs. These are no longer meeting my needs, getting narrower and a wee bit odder every year (this year they added new ‘socks’ to them). My feet were torn apart from them being too narrow on my last run in them. However I really didn’t want to lose the ability to stick to wet slick rock that these shoes provided. So here began my next round of hunting for new trail shoes….again.

I already gave my brief review of the Topo MT-3 (here). I still love the overall fit of Topo so next up came the new Topo Runventure 3.

Specs

Best For: Trail Running

Stack Height: 20mm (0 drop)

Heel to Toe Drop: 0MM

Weight: 7.6 oz (W7) (215 grams – only 10 more than the new S/Lab Sense Pro SG)

I really like these. One thing though is I wear a full size smaller in these compared to my other Topo’s. However – this means that they fit more true to size in comparison to other brands. So Now I wear a W9 in New Balance, Newtons, Altra, Salomon S/Lab, and the Topo Runventure 3.

I had tried Altras early on in my hunt for new trail shoes while trying to stay minimalist. I really don’t like a heel to tow drop greater than 4mm and definitely prefer 0mm. But for me the Altras were too roomy. They weren’t secure in the heel or mid-foot. I also found Altras to be too much cushion and not enough support.

The Runventure’s are a 0mm drop! Woo Hoo! They are a bit more cushion than I’m used to but they have a nice responsive rockplate in the forefoot and are a fairly firm stiff shoe that really gives that support I’m looking for on trails. They fit much narrower in the heel and mid-foot while still allowing plenty of toe space. Running downhill in these was fantastic. I had room to splay my toes but at the same time I had ZERO issues with my foot sliding forward or hitting my toes on the edges of the shoe. There’s ample toe protection too.

The Runventure also boasts an awesome sticky Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole. While it will be a bit before I can really test these in some mountain terrain (thanks COVID), Vibram has a reputation for having amazing sticky outsoles. And fresh out of the box they were sticking to my floor, so I have no doubt they will be fine. The outsole also has a fairly aggressive tread, but not so aggressive that it’s uncomfortable to be on pavement for sort bouts. These will fair well in wet muddy terrain and soft sandy trails and anything in between.

My biggest complaint about the MT-3 was the lack of breathability. These are much more breathable than the MT-3 with a durable coated mesh and drainage ports. They still aren’t as breathable as I’d like but this I will sacrifice for the rest of the shoe.

The laces are standard laces but they aren’t as slick and slippery as the ones on the MT-3 so they stayed laced with no problem. You’ll notice my funky lacing pattern – most shoes (not just Topo’s) that use standard laces put a pressure spot on the top of my instep. By simply changing the lacing pattern and pairing with a heel lock lace, I can alleviate this issue – Yay no numb toes (took me years to figure out this was why).

My funky lacing to relieve pressure on my instep.

Also happy to announce the women’s shoe is not pink or purple. It comes in Black/Grey or Green/Grey (men’s come in Black/Blue and Grey/Red).

These are definitely comfortable too. Fresh out of the box I happily got a solid 11+ miles with no issues. My friend got a solid 10 miles fresh out of the box with his as well.

My friend John’s new pair after their first 10 miles fresh out of the box.

If you’d like to try them for yourself go here. Bonus my friend John is an ambassador and often has options for discounts. Just reach out to him here or here.

Stay tuned – up next will be one of my new packs from UltrAspire (either the Basham or the Astral 3.0)!

Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 4L Review

So the thing that started this spurt of mini review was that my former favorite running pack – the Nathan VaporMag – ripped at a seam substantially enough that I lost my favorite pair of cold weather arm warmer (which I sadly can’t replace).

Busted seam in my Nathan VaporMag

Nathan has awesome customer service and promptly replaced my ripped pack with a new a one. Unfortunately the VaporMag has been discontinued, so they sent me the closest thing – the VaporHowe 2.0 4L.

I’m going to upfront about my overall opinion – I hate it. It will be going to my good friend who loves the VaporHowe line. That being said there were some good things about it too.

Really the only thing I didn’t like about the VaporMag was the lack of a place to store my poles. The VaporHowe has two times the capacity and still NO PLACE FOR POLES. Also, with the added capacity you’d hope at least one back pocket would be reachable while wearing. Instead they are all deep pockets that just layer outward on each other, with the outer most pocket being a vertical zip. To get anything out the whole pack must come off.

The VaporMag upper back pocket is just open (and no nothing ever fell out). The VaporHowe uses velcro closures. The closures are nice but velcro and long hair don’t mix. My hair was constantly catching on the velcro and geting pulled out.

The VaporMag is a super breathable mesh. The VaporHowe is the compressive stretchy material. This material is super soft, but also super hot and not breathable at all.

The fit isn’t great either. While the size was correct and the pack sat appropriately on my body, the straps made it too tight. Full I couldn’t even buckle the bottom strap without inhibiting my breathing and one strap equaled lots of bounce. The new straps aren’t stretchy (in theory the fabric of the whole pack is supposed to stretch with your body’s movements).

Ok so what did I like?

The one thing I really liked about the pack was the big pocket for a phone up front. It is underneath one of the water bottles and more than fit my iPhone X in it’s case. This pocket is rater resistance line ONLY on the water bottle side, not the side against the body, so sweat is still a big issue here.

The bottles are 20 oz (600 mL) each which is double that of the VaporMag. They also have a spine to help them not collapse (all of Nathan’s soft bottles do!). These bottles also have the straight straw. The straight straw is much easier to clean than the angles one. However, with how the pack sits I kept getting hit in the face by them. The water bottle on the side without the phone pocket bounced a lot once it wasn’t completely full, something with the difference in structure failed to fully support the water bottle. These bottles actually fit my VaporMag and really old Solomon Adv Skin 12 Set better than they fit in the VaporHowe, so they will still get used. (Hopefully they work with my new packs I’m testing as well – stay tuned.)

Above Left to Right VaporHowe Bottles and VaporMag Bottles. Note the round bottomed VaporMag bottles actually can stand up full on their own which is pretty awesome. The VaporHowe bottles cannot.

It has a nice little pill pocket with an emergency whistle – unfortunately I lost everything I put in the pocket as is has no closure.

The pack is compatible with a 1.5L hydration bladder and comes with a magnet clip.

The pack comes in colors other than pink. In fact they sent me a blue one. And it has reflective materials/printing on front and back.

If you’d like to try it for yourself you can get it here (or probably your local running store).

Stay tuned for more reviews as I find my new running favorites. Next up the Topo Runventure 3 shoes.

Topo MT-3 Review

Recently I’ve really been struggling with running it seems – not the actual act of but all my gear failing/no longer fitting properly. My pack ripped, most of my running bottoms don’t fit, my trail shoes just ripped my feet apart because they don’t fit right, and so on. So I’ve decided as I start my journey of finding new things I will share my reviews.

So to begin – really I should start with the Nathan VaporHowe2.0 4L but I’ll come back to that one.

For now, the Topo MT-3 trail/road combined surface shoe. (note I wear 1 full size larger in most Topo shoes than other brands)

Specs:

  • Best For: Trail Running
  • Stack Height:25mm (heel) // 22mm (forefoot)
  • Heel to Toe Drop:3MM
  • Weight:8 oz (W7)

These have no rock plate and not too aggressive of a tread.

They are SUPER comfy! Definitely going to give them that. Even running fresh out of the box on beat up blistered feet, I was comfy. They are a lot more cushion than I’m used to on trails but not so much so I couldn’t feel the ground.

They use traditional laces. This is good and bad, I found the lace material to slip a little so over the course of my run my shoes got slightly looser. My heels slip around in these despite having used a heel lock lacing pattern – which I think is because the lacing didn’t remain tight.

About halfway through my run I realized my feet were on fire. It looked like the shoes were retaining my sweat but I wasn’t 100% sure. Afterall, my feet had been pretty hot when I put the shoes on in the first place. I decided I would go stand in the river for a moment – this would both cool my feet off and really give me a better sense of their breatheability.

They took a bit to get wet! Ok Yay they seem to be fairly water resitant. But once they were wet – they never really drained, AT ALL. So I wasn’t crazy that I felt like they were retaining my sweat -they were. I do think this actually would be nice in winter conditions where you don’t want snow to get your feet wet or the wind to make them cold – the rest of the year these are going to be pretty toasty shoes.

I also remember when I first put them on that the upper material seemed really loud and crinkly to me. I just thought it was annoying.

Overall, I think these would be great shoes in the winter. They are definitely comfy, but too hot and not breathable enough for the rest of the year.

If you’d like to try them yourself: https://www.topoathletic.com/womens-mt-3?color=95