I preface this review by stating emphatically that I am not a shoe guru, nor am I a running expert. However, I do run and I wear running shoes, so I feel somewhat justified in sharing my two cents’ worth.
If there was one positive thing to come out of 2020, it was that I ran more. When everything else is canceled, you’re left with more time on your hands. And, although I much prefer running on trails, that’s not always possible. I found myself spending more time on pavement, which put me in pursuit of better road shoes.
I discovered Topo quite by accident, as I was Googling options to Altra trail shoes. I wanted to love my Altras, but could never quite adjust to a completely zero drop. I also felt my feet needed more structure (i.e. they felt like running in clown shoes). Enter Topo. I fell in love with the Ultraventure, a plush feeling, wide toe box shoe with only a 5 mm drop (much improved from the narrow, large drop Brooks I used to run in before my feet rebelled – another story). These bad boys kept my feet feeling great throughout the Screaming Monkey 50K in November. So, when it came time to consider new pavement kicks, I chose to try the Topo Phantom.
Phantom is the most plush road shoe offered by Topo, with a 30mm x 25mm stack height and 5mm drop. According to Topo, “these extra cushion running shoes feature strategically placed rubber adds traction and durability where needed; Zipfoam™, a proprietary new midsole compound that delivers more cushioning and long-term resilience than traditional EVA.” I personally can’t tell you what Zipfoam and EVA are, but I can tell you that my feet felt good. The Phantom provided me with good support for my very high arches, and ample room for my toes to spread without feeling like they were flopping around. The cushioning makes for a very comfortable ride, yet the shoe is super lightweight, and there is enough firm structure to give good stability and energy return. My one and only (easily correctable) criticism of the Phantom thus far – I wish the laces were longer.
If you’re searching for a low-drop, cushioned road or trail shoe, I highly recommend giving Topo a try. Added benefit – they have great customer service, having helped me with sizing, shoe recommendations and returns.