On Top O’ the World in the Topo Runventure 4

Let’s talk trail shoes – namely Topo trail shoes. Especially, let’s take a look at the all new Runventure 4.

For those who know and love the Topo brand, this latest version of the Runventure is a continuation of a solid trail shoe. For those not too familiar with Topo, they are known for their roomy toe box, their secure midfoot and heel, and their low heel to toe drop designs.

For this review I tested the Runventure 4 in Garnet/Black, men’s size 9.5 (US). Fresh out of the box there a number of notable features to mention. First, that open tread design “features Vibram® XS Trek EVO rubber for excellent multi-surface traction and durability on all terrain.” That means it handles rocks and dirt really well. Second, these are zero drop, which means your foot remains flat from toe to heel. Lastly, these are on the lighter side for trail shoes, which can make a real difference on those long runs.

Slipping the shoes on, they are quite comfortable, with a really great tongue that provides more comfort than most trail shoes. They hug your mid foot and heel, as advertised, once you get them laced up – which was a bit of a struggle. The laces run through buckles, instead of eyelets, which did make tightening them a little more difficult the first time.

With that said, it was time to get these shiny new kicks dirty.

I set off for 20 plus miles and 3K feet of vert on a wet PNW day, looking forward to some solid running. I pushed the uphills from the start and the Runventure 4’s never slipped. But it was the downhills that were the nicest, as the roomy toe box really stepped up. Some shoes tend to force your toes into a wedge as you fly down steep descents. The Topo’s have a flatter toe box, which allows the toes to take the force of the impact more equally. As a guy that likes to bomb down every hill, this was a huge plus.

My second run saw a drop in mileage but a gain in elevation, as I wanted to push the Vibram sole on some steeper terrain. The rain has been something else this spring and it made for some sloppy trails. But even so, the Runventure 4 held downhill corners well, and really kicked butt on the uphills. Even with the wet rocks, the open lugs on these shoes are exactly what you want for rocky and technical trails.

After two solid runs it was time to put it together for a run that was both long and hilly. Another 20 mile effort was on tap, but this time with over 5K feet of climbing – all on the same trails as the second run. Naturally, the rain did what the rain does, which is to say it kept falling. The trails were definitely a little soupy in spots, but the Runventure 4’s continued to impress me, on both the ups and the downs. On the flats and even on the small road section I did, these shoes seem to be made for the long haul, and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform on even longer days.

For now, after 51 miles and 11K of gain, I can safely say that I am already looking for my next pair.

8/24/22 Update:
After an additional 40 miles, I want to provide an update on the Topo Runventure 4. Mainly, I want to address the fit, especially the lacing and the upper, as it holds to the middle of the foot.

One issue I noted in the initial review was how the lacing is difficult, mainly in how it is not easy to cinch the shoe to the mid-foot to keep the foot secure. The first few runs weren’t too bad because the shoe was still new and a little stiff. Once the shoes began to wear in, the lacing became an even greater concern.

It is possible to tighten the shoes a little by changing the lacing pattern, as well as stopping mid run to retie the shoes. But after another 30 miles it became difficult to keep them tight to my feet, even with stops to retie.

I traded out the laces at mile 80 for some flatter ones, and worked on looping the top lace to create a slip-stop, and then went out for 10 more. Regardless of the lacing system, the mesh/fabric upper is so soft, once worn in, that it has little rigidity. This translates to your feet being sloppy in the shoes, especially on downhills, where you want your feet to be locked in.

I’ve tested other Topo models and they are not all this way. In fact, Topo makes some amazing shoes. However, this current iteration of the Runventure is in need of another reboot, hopefully one in which the upper and the lacing system see a facelift.

Topo Athletic

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


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Ultra runner with an ice cream addiction.

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