Sometimes simple is better. That’s certainly the case with the new COR training shoes from Topo Athletic. The first thing I noticed when my test pair arrived was that they were all black. The entire shoe is completely black, including the logo on the sides. Topo doesn’t even have a fancy, proprietary name for the color, just “Black/Black”! Okay, there is a small gray logo on the back, and “Logo Athletic” appears in white on the sole, but ironically these shoes emphatically announce their dedication to basic functionality with a total lack of flash. (If Black/Black is just too unassuming for you, the COR also come in Grey/Black, with white midsoles.)
The second thing I noticed was how light, comfortable, and well-fitting the COR shoes are. The upper material is mostly seamless, and very flexible, allowing your feet to settle in and quickly make themselves at home. There is no tongue, and the wide hook and loop closure provides a nicely adjustable fit. The shape of the shoe accommodates my feet comfortably and the toe box is generously wide. A loop at the heel helps pull the shoe on, but as is often the case it could be sewn on a little higher, as the highest point on the heel can still fold in a little when you lower your foot into the shoe.
If you need substantial cushioning you should look elsewhere, as the COR provides only 16mm of no-nonsense midsole and outsole between your foot and the road or gym floor. These shoes are also zero-drop from heel to toe, so you will definitely notice a low center of gravity when you’re running, working out, or just walking around. On the cushioning, support, and pliability spectrums, the COR tends toward less cushioning, neutral, and flexible, respectively.
But the very light weight (6.8 oz in men’s size 9), great fit, and supple, breathable uppers make the Topo Athletic COR an extremely versatile shoe for a wide variety of activities. While I need more cushioning for running, minimalist runners should find these shoes a great choice. The hook and loop closure makes the COR quick and easy to get on and off, as well as easy to adjust for a great fit.
And the lack of flash actually makes them stand out as a solid option for casual uses too.
Matt: About a month ago, I made the decision to join a gym. I have been going pretty strong over the past 5+ years essentially only running, and I recently felt that I needed a little bit of a shake-up in my routine. I also didn’t want to just utilize a gym for running on the treadmill when weather is less than ideal – I actually wanted to get back into some cross-training and weight lifting.
Going to the gym in running shoes is fine, but when I heard out about the COR during Outdoor Retailer this past winter, I was hoping to be able to check out a pair. This was a two-fold idea – I wanted a shoe more designed for a gym setting, and also something I could get in to and out of quickly and comfortably. I realize that “having” to tie and untie shoes is a ridiculous “first world problem”, but since I would be utilizing the gym in time sensitive periods (during a lunch hour, right before work, and right before I need to pick my kids up), the quick and easy hook-and-loop closure system definitely intrigued me.
I can definitely say that the COR have exceeded all my expectations. They have proved to be super comfortable (with their cushioned sole and soft, flexible, and breathable upper, and also very strong and versatile, regardless the setting. I have used them for straight weightlifting, group HIIT classes, and even in a few cycling classes. They have fit snug (yet comfy), and I have had no issues with feeling like they were going to fall out or have any lack of support.
The only recommendation I would have for those interested is to make sure you have low socks and/or black socks available. Wearing higher or white/colored socks obviously is completely fine, but the look definitely works much better if you are wearing short/black pairs.
Overall, these are a fantastic pair of shoes for those of us who are looking to do some cross training in addition to our running.
Company: Topo Athletic
Product: COR Trainers ($90)
“COR is a simple yet innovative 0-drop, multipurpose trainer. It features an elasticized center gore and a secure hook and loop strap for easy on/off. Built on our soft and flexible ST-2 platform, with rubber only where you need it, COR is ideal for multipurpose gym training and natural running enthusiasts.
Everyday, Topo Athletic chooses to rise above the industry’s gimmicks and trends, encouraging a better running and fitness experience through instinctive and natural movement. It is this philosophy that serves as the foundation of Topo Athletic. A brand created for and by athletes, with a mission to develop footwear that honors the shape and biomechanics of the human foot.”
Thank you to Topo for providing us with sample pairs. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.