First Look: Topo Athletic Phantom Running Shoe


By Shelby Johnson

Last year, Topo Athletic filled out the max-cushioned end of their trail shoe lineup with the Ultraventure, which sported stack heights of 30mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot. This fall, they fill the same slot in their road lineup with the Phantom, a new maximum cushion shoe that has the same stack heights and geometry as the Ultraventure, with a lighter and more breathable upper that is well-suited for road running. We’ve tested the men’s and women’s styles for most of the summer, and found them durable enough to be used on non-technical trails in addition to asphalt, providing a comfortable ride for both long road and trail runs. The Phantom’s ideal user is anyone who prefers max cushioned shoes from other brands, but also desires the anatomic last and wider toe box that Topo is best known for.

The most noteworthy feature of the Phantom is the debut of Topo’s new Zipfoam midsole compound, which is a TPU/EVA based foam that provides full length, lightweight cushioning and added resilience to the cushion in the shoe. We found this to be true with the shoe retaining its cushioned feel even after many miles (150+), and the energy return of the Zipfoam feels more pronounced than Topo’s previous EVA midsoles. The Zipfoam extends to the bottom of the shoe, along with a moderate amount of selectively placed outsole rubber for slip resistance. There’s just enough rubber to provide decent traction on non-technical trails, and the tall cushioning provides comfort underfoot.

Zipfoam TPU-EVA compound

Selective outsole rubber

External TPU heel counters

Breathable engineered mesh

Fit of the Phantom is consistent with other styles, with a roomy toe box that allows the forefoot to splay upon foot strike. One deviation from traditional Topo lasts is that the Phantom is slightly wider in the heel and midfoot than other road models, to provide additional stability. Despite this, we found the Phantom comfortably snug through the heel, and the lacing system effectively holds the foot in place even on irregular terrain. During our summer test period, the lightweight uppers proved to breathe quite well, even in humid Midwest conditions, and they have also proven pleasantly durable on our periodic off-road excursions. Most impressive of all, the comfort level of these shoes from the uppers through the midsole doesn’t noticeably diminish over the course of long (20+ mile) training runs.

The Topo Athletic Phantom is now available at


  • Weight: 10 oz men’s, 8.0 oz women’s
  • Stack height: 30mm rearfoot, 25mm forefoot
  • Heel-toe drop: 5mm
  • Upper: Lightweight engineered mesh upper with printed overlays
  • Midsole: Zipfoam TPU/EVA blend
  • 5mm Ortholite antimicrobial foam footbed
  • External TPU heel counter
  • MSRP: $130

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