The Terraventure is a neutral trail running shoe from Topo Athletic with a foot shaped anatomical last, breathable upper, and a dynamic underfoot ride. The Terraventure strikes the right balance of providing a lightweight shoe with just enough underfoot protection. As a light hiker, the Terraventure is a pure joy to wear and has become one of my favorite pairs of shoes in my rotation. I’ve put the this shoe to the test on a variety of trails, and will detail my experience in this review.
To many of you, the Topo Athletic brand may be new. Founder Tony Post (To-Po) started the company in 2013 with a desire to make a “natural” running shoe that maintained the benefits of traditional running shoes. You may not know Tony Post by name, but you probably have heard of the company Vibram USA, where he was CEO for 11 years. Tony helped oversee the explosion of barefoot running with the Vibram Five Finger shoes. When he left Vibram, he launched Topo with a mission to create shoes that “amplify the body’s natural and intuitive abilities”.
Buy the Terraventure: Amazon | REI | Backcountry
Fit and Feel:
Sizing and Weight: The best part about wearing a shoe with a foot shaped last is that I don’t have to size up or play any strange lacing games to get a proper fit. I wear a ‘true-to-size’ 12 in the Terraventure, and that size 12 comes in at a very respectable 12.52 ounces.
Toebox: The toe box has a wide foot shaped last, but doesn’t feel sloppy. There is a welded overlay making up the rand and toe guard that provides good structure and protection without causing any discomfort. There is an average amount of volume in the toe area, which works well with this shoe’s slight toe spring.
In use, I don’t think I could ask for a better toebox shape for my foot. On longer hikes, there is plenty of room for my toes to splay and feet to swell. Even on long steep downhills, this shoe just refuses to cause any hotspots. I can see the Terraventure catching on with the thru-hiking crowd for this reason especially. Altra has been completely dominating that market of late with the wide toe boxes on their Lone Peak, Olympus, and Superior models. I find the midfoot and heel of the Altra models a little off for my foot shape, and their lasts seem to change in every update to a model. The Terraventure will be a great thru-hiking option for the lightweight hiker.
Midfoot: From past experience, I’m conditioned to assume a shoe with a foot shaped or anatomical last will also have a loose fitting midfoot and heel. Not so with the Terraventure. The toebox has substantial width and a relaxed fit, but things dial in very nicely as you move into the midfoot. The lacing system wraps the midfoot nicely without causing any unwanted pressure points.
Heel: When I first tried on the Terraventure, the heel felt a little off due to the padding. There are two pods of cushion that sit on either side of each achilles and my heel couldn’t sit firmly into the heel cup. After a few miles the cushion started to pack down, and now the heel feels like it’s custom fit. The heel has a flexible counter that doesn’t get in the way of your foot, but provides a nice amount of lateral support on uneven trails.
The upper of the Terraventure utilizes a flexible heel-to-toe polyurethane overlay on top of a layer of nylon mesh. Despite the full coverage overlay, the Terraventure runs cool and breathes well. There’s an additional overlay on the forefoot for an adequate toe guard. I’ve kicked a few rocks with this shoe, and my toes were well protected.
The tongue on the Terraventure is fully gusseted, and stitched in a way that keeps the seem away from your foot. I haven’t had any issue with dirt or debris finding it’s way into these shoes. The one thing about the upper that is a little off for my taste is the short tongue. The tongue barely goes up past the laces and could use a little length.
Topo uses a Ghillie lacing system with offset loops that work with the shape of each person’s foot. This design is top notch and allows me to get things dialed in perfectly.
The Topo Athletic Terraventure is built on a 3mm drop, with 25mm in the heel and 22mm in the forefoot. The level platform provides a lot of stability on the trail, and the 3mm drop is a little more forgiving on my calves and achilles than a 0mm drop shoe.
It feels like the Terraventure uses a dual density EVA midsole, with the black top layer a little more dense than the lower green layer. I haven’t been able to find any information online to corroborate that though. The midsole has a wide flared heel with a chamfered lateral edge, which helps provide smooth and easy downhill miles.
The on-trail ride and feel of the Terraventure is on the firm side which is what I prefer in a trail shoe. The midsole has a responsive and stable platform that has worked for fast day hikes and with a light pack. The Terraventure can handle any distances you want to throw at them.
In the forefoot of the midsole, the Terraventure uses a flexible ESS rock plate for protection from stones and sharp objects. This stone guard is definitely on the light weight side in regards to protection. It does the job when called upon, but leaves me wanting a little more protection on rough and rocky trails. The midsole has enough cushioning to soften the impact on most trails, but on longer days that flexible stone guard lets a little too much push-through make it to my feet. I think the flex grooves and exposed EVA on the outsole could contribute to this as well. By trading a little protection, the Terraventure does maintain the natural feel and and uninhibited flex. That’s a trade-off shoe designers have to make.
The outsole on the Terraventure uses a series of multi-directional 6mm carbon rubber lugs. As I mentioned above, this outsole is not full coverage. There are sections of EVA in the midfoot and on flex grooves in the forefoot. These exposed sections help maintain shoe flexibility and also keep the overall weight down, as outsole rubber is heavy. On my first few hikes and runs, the exposed EVA appeared to start wearing down quickly. That rate seemed to asymptote rather quickly though, and the shoe is no worse for the wear. The black carbon rubber has been holding up very well.
On the performance end of things, these outsoles provide great traction on rocky trails and single track. They also hold their own when the outings call for a little scrambling. The low profile lugs are built more like a traditional running shoe’s outsole, which means they handle flat surfaces and hard pack like champs. On muddy trails or trails with loose earth, they left me wanting something a little more aggressive though. The lugs are wide and pretty tightly clustered, meaning they don’t shed well or bite into softer surfaces. Most of the trails I hike are dry and rocky though, so this outsole pattern works very well for my usage.
The Topo Terraventure comes in at a very affordable $110.00, making it one of the most high value trail shoes available at the moment. With many shoe manufacturers pushing shoes above $150, it’s refreshing to see an appropriately prices piece of footwear. This is another reason I can see the Terraventure catching on with thru-hikers. For those going through 5-6 pairs of shoes on a thru-hike, a savings of $20-$50 a pair ads up quickly.
The Topo Terraventure is a shoe I find myself reaching for on my weekday short hikes and weekend long hikes because of how comfortable they are. The fit of the upper, the ride of the midsole, and the performance of the outsole is just about perfect my daily use. My only complaint is that I wish the midsole and outsole provided a little more protection. I understand that this would limit the overall flexibility of the shoe, but that’s a trade off I’d be willing to make.
Disclosure: The Topo Athletic Terraventure was provided to me at no cost for this review. The product links provided in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made using these affiliate links go to support the content created here at Trail to Peak at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!