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First Impressions of the new Topo Specter

While I have generally average feet that can handle most shoes with relative ease (a good problem to have here at Run Oregon), switching to an entirely new shoe always makes me a little bit nervous. I have run in Topo before, but it has honestly been a while. The Topo Specter is recently released this week and we have been testing them out for the past few.

Looks:

This is one of the more bold running shoe color ways that we have tried out recently. That’s not to say it is a bad day. In fact, we quite like the looks of these.

On first glance, it feels like orange and “seafoam” should not really go together. However, they are pretty close to complementary colors. Being opposite of each other on the color wheel provides a nice contrast of happiness and warmth on one end and ethereal calm on the other. Together, this makes one showstopper of a summer (or really any season) shoe.

Construction:
Upper

For people with wider feet, Topo is one of those brands that is sought out. The Specter stays true to the design, and features an ample toebox with plenty of room – perhaps too much for those with narrower feet. The upper itself is a single layer constructed mesh and fits nicely around the feet..

The tongue is not gusseted, but is held nicely in place by the laces with some small loops embedded on it. The heel padding is not the thickest in the world, but it doesn’t seem like its going to be much of an issue for most people.

Midsole

This is one of those shoes with a relatively maximum stack. Even with a larger height height, the shoes possess a surprisingly lightweight feel.

The external portion of the midsole is constructed from lightweight EVA foam and has an internal construction of PEBAX expanded bead foam and no internal plate. PEBAX is found in many luxury “super shoes” out there. Personally, I had a little bit of a challenge in getting these to feel right on my feet. The non-plated shoe seemed like it needed a week’s worth of runs in order to truly be “broken in” and feel like I was getting as much out of the shoe as I could.

Outer

I haven’t ran much in Topo before, but when thinking about them I generally think of a thick outsole with some sort of lugs. The Specter goes against that, with a wide base and no significant lugs to speak of. It will be interesting to see how they hold up to extended usage as it seems a little thin. Even so, I didn’t have really any issues with gripping.

Function and Fit:

I definitely do not have wide feet, so the toebox sizing is not really a necessity for me. I was a little worried initially, as I have found some shoes with a width variant to lack in the lockdown and security department for those with standard size feet. While there was still maneuvering needed, the lacing and security proved to be little less of an issue that I had anticipated. Even just a few simple knots ties in the laces have kept me locked in pretty well. I will say that the roomy toebox, for people who don’t generally need it, is a little bit of a learning curve. There can be a feeling of not being locked in tight enough when there’s ample wiggle room, even if it is secure.

For me, I immediately felt like this had an aggressive heel. It’s hard to explain, but the heel cup felt deep (even if it ‘s not). I am chalking this up to the PEBAX as, in combination with the forefoot rocker, seems to aid in propelling runners forward. It took a few runs to really get used to it, and it’s still not completely out of mind yet. It’s not uncomfortable, but it just has felt a little different.

I did notice a nice rebound in these shoes – they are really snappy and responsive. They also provide a surprisingly soft ride – considering some Topo-running friends expressed the company’s generally more stiff rides.

Overall:

Even with some detractors from our reviewer, this is a really solid pair of running shoes. They look great and we feel those with wider feet will really like these. They are super light and can function as a daily trainer or a racing shoe with its lower weight. The deeper heel may be something that isn’t preferred in some runners, and may or may not be a deal breaker (it hasn’t necessarily been one for us so far). The price point is also quite nice at $150. Overall, my venture back into a Topo shoe has been a pleasurable one.

Topo Athletic

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Products & Price:
  • Topo Specter | Releasing June 2022 for $150
    • Weight: 8.1oz (M9)
    • Offset: 5mm
    • Stack Height: 35mm / 30mm

Thank you to Topo for providing us with test shoes. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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