First Look: Topo Athletic MT-3

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Specs:

  • Weight: 9.9oz men’s, 8.0oz women’s
  • Stack height: 25mm rearfoot, 22mm forefoot
  • Heel-toe drop: 3mm
  • Lightweight ripstop mesh upper
  • Medial and lateral midfoot drainage ports
  • Single density injected EVA midsole
  • Ortholite foam footbed
  • High surface area outsole rubber with 3mm lugging
  • MSRP: $110

Men’s (left) and women’s (right) Topo Athletic MT-3

The Topo Athletic’s MT-3 has historically been positioned as a lightweight hybrid shoe with a minimalist ground feel. In the past, it’s been equally comfortable on the road or trail, but updates to the new version shift it more squarely into the trail category. Think of it as a trail-specific shoe that can give you a smooth ride to the trailhead. Two key trail-specific updates are additional cushioning in the midsole, and a redesigned upper with increased durability and drainage capacity.

New uppers on the MT-3 use a lightweight ripstop mesh that we inadvertently put through some pretty severe testing on a 10-mile bush whacking misadventure. After finally emerging from the brush with scratched and bleeding legs, the MT-3s had no perforations or punctures. The new uppers have significantly fewer overlays than the previous model, but they stay anchored to the midsole nicely, even on irregular terrain.

Everything intact after bushwhacking.

Roomy anatomic toe box, new lightweight ripstop mesh upper.

Midfoot drainage ports seem to be the new thing in trail shoes, and Topo joins the club in this regard. The MT-3 positions these ports in the midfoot rather than in the forefoot, to help push water out at the point of maximum landing impact, and help cool or dry the midfoot area more effectively.

Midfoot drainage ports and minimal overlays.

The new midsole of the MT-3 is actually an old standby for Topo, as it uses the same single density EVA that was originally seen on the company’s more robust Terraventure trail shoe. In our experience, this EVA material favors cushioning over responsiveness, but it’s a nice midrange feeling that combines these two properties. A new Ortholite insole also improves the comfort factor, with foam that is more resistant to compression than the regular insole used on the MT-2. Another big change in the midsole platform is the addition of 2mm stack height: where the MT-2 was 23/20mm in the heel and forefoot, the MT-3 is now 25/22mm. This increased stack height creates a smoother ride underfoot, but also adds a bit of weight, as the new version is about a half-ounce heavier than its predecessor.

The outsole of the MT-3 provides full rubber coverage the length of the foot, and 3mm lugs are adequate for light to moderate technical trail use without feeling clunky on asphalt. Durability of the outsole compound appears strong: we’ve put about 150 miles on our test pairs, with about 20% on roads, and the rubber shows minimal signs of wear. Overall it has proven to be a very capable, all-purpose shoe for most everyday training conditions.

The Topo Athletic MT-3 is now available at www.topoathletic.com.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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