Recently I received a pair of Pursuits in a men’s size 9.5, in the Olive/Clay color. Having worn several models from Topo, I was excited to test their first cushioned option in hopes of finding a new long range shoe. Topo has long been known as a great option for zero drop shoes, and while the Pursuit has a medium platform (not minimalist), I tend to wear zero drop exclusively.
Out of the box, the Pursuit is fairly lightweight (11 oz as tested), even with added stack height in the platform. The upper is attractive, but more importantly it is constructed of a tightly woven mesh that is both breathable and also durable. The tongue has a nice built in pad for top of foot comfort, and the lacing system locks the laces in at the top to avoid a loose fit.
The toe box construction offers support across the face of the shoe, as well as the sides, while the lugs feature the Vibram Megagrip, which is about as good as it gets for handling the toughest of terrain. For those that use gaiters, Topo has a nice built in feature for their own Performance Gaiters.
Jumping into the first run, the Pursuit does not need a break in period, and in fact was very comfortable from the moment I put them on. I decided to run to the trail for this first outing, which adds 2 miles of pavement in front of when I touch dirt. As a fairly lightweight and well-cushioned shoe, the Pursuit was surprisingly nice on the road. Once I got to the trail, the Megagrip kicked in as I climbed immediately. After nearly 1,500 feet and 6 miles, I headed back to the road and finished up. My feet remained well locked in for the entire run, with little to no slippage or rolling in corners, even with the medium platform.
My second run was just over 11 miles with 2,800 feet of gain. I love this loop because it offers a little of everything, from steep climbs/descents, heavy rock, roots, gravel, road, flowing single track and even stairs. Shoes that are worth anything show off their abilities here, where sloppiness often leads to things being broken. The Pursuit did very well, but overall it really shone in the area of grip, especially on the uphills, while also being super comfortable on the downs and on the flowing single track. I did notice a bit of looseness toward the end, as the shoe relaxed a little. I anticipate exploring this on the next run.
My third run was short, just under 7 miles, but featured the usual single track with a bit of gravel. Nominal elevation (less than 900 feet) meant I could focus on the rolling terrain and how these shoes handle in the corners. Much like a sports car, it’s important that your trail shoes stay tight in the corners. Soft suspension leads to overcorrecting, which leads to injuries.
If you think I’m talking about cars, you’re right…but I’m also talking about shoes. It is critical that a good pair of trail shoes not be loose on your feet. This isn’t referring to how tightly you lace them (although that can be a different problem), but instead refers to how the shoe is constructed between the sole and the upper, as well as how it locks in your heel, how it allows your toes to grip, how the midsole connects front to back of foot, and even how your ankle responds. Good trail shoes should excel at all of these points, and when they don’t, we end up focusing energy to places we’d rather not.
After my second run where I felt the Pursuit was perhaps a little loose on the downhills, I made a subtle lacing adjustment and noticed the shoe now locked onto my foot better than ever. The last few miles of this run were flowy single track, with more down than up, with lots of good corners. I exaggerated some of my turns by speeding up quickly into some, while braking hard in others.
The dramatic effect did nothing but strengthen my view of the Pursuit, which is to say that after 28 miles these are a very worthy trail shoe. I have yet to put them to the distance test, but that will come soon. For now, you can feel confident in knowing the Pursuit is a trail shoe worth chasing after.
50 mile update: The long run came and went, bringing the mileage total to 52 on the Pursuits. At the moment I’m having a hard time coming up with any negatives about this shoe. If I had to find something I would say the lacing isn’t perfect, but it works. The lace holes (eyelets) are loose, meaning that tightening the laces takes a little more work. However, that’s the only thing I can manufacture, which leads me to ponder, just how many miles can I make these last before I am buying my next pair?