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Don’t Be Afraid to Get Dirty in the Runventure 3

With grippy treads, a rock plate, and a durable upper, Topo’s shoe provides the bare minimal for proficient trail trekking.

topo athletic runventure 3
Lakota Gambill

The RW Takeaway: The Runventure 3 is a lightweight shoe that’s agile on the trails.

  • A forefoot rock plate for protection on jagged terrain
  • Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole holds its own on muddy surfaces
  • The zero-drop shoe offers little support in the arch

    Price: $120
    9.5 oz (M), 7.6 oz (W)

    Buy Men’s Buy Women’s More Images

    Minimal but aggressive: These are the words that define Topo Athletic’s Runventure 3. The upper creases and pinches your foot the first couple of miles (one tester noted the crinkly sound the upper makes), but after this initial break-in period, you get a flexible trail shoe that’s versatile enough for some change of pace on the road.

    Topo Athletic
    Runventure 3
    Topo Athletic

    • Lightweight
    • Forefoot rock plate

    • Very little cushioning

    The Runventure’s multidirectional tread is grippy on slippery, loose surfaces, yet not too toothy, allowing this hybrid to handle multi-terrain almost seamlessly. The midsole may have a forefoot rock plate, but there’s still that ground feel that allows you to register the stones beneath your feet without getting punctured.

    Still, this lack of cushioning wasn’t favored by all testers, especially those who prefer the max-plushness of a Hoka One One trail shoe.

    “I normally wear a really cushioned shoe; this didn’t have very much cushioning, especially for the trails,” said a runner who previously tested Hoka’s EVO Speedgoats.

    Those in search of a more minimalistic shoe, however, will relish the Runventure’s lightness. Its formfitting water-repellent upper, flexible forefoot plate, and sticky Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole provide the features you need for smooth running on hairy treks.

    topo athletic runventure 4
    The Runventure has a flexible Vibram outsole and multidirectional treads (men’s shown).
    Lakota Gambill

    An Upper and Outsole Made for Mud Running

    Caught in a rainstorm, the mesh upper’s drainage ports served well during eight saturating miles. My socks were wet, but sloshing or sliding was neither a distraction nor a problem. When a usually sandy path became a mud-splattered obstacle course, I discovered where the Runventure truly shined; if you can’t skip over it, you have to run threw it, and the outsole’s traction establishes a steady grip that allows you to press on.

    “The traction was my favorite part of this shoe,” said a tester. “It held the surface really well and gave me confidence to run on surfaces that I may otherwise have been apprehensive to run on.”

    The outsole is Vibram’s XS Trek, which is made of a flexible compound that’s tractionable on wet surfaces and used in nautical activities. It’s no mystery, then, why the Runventure can take on waterlogged trails.

    topo athletic runventure 4
    The shoe has a flexible rock plate in the forefoot (women’s shown).
    Lakota Gambill

    Lightly Cushioned

    The deciding factor with the Runventure is if you’re willing to sacrifice support for lightness. Though the shoe has the flexible forefoot rock plate to shield the pad of your foot when it oversteps on a root or rock, the lack of cushioning can be jarring for runners who prefer to barrel down technical trails with the thicker midsole of a Hoka Speedgoat or Altra Olympus.

    However, this crowd can still reap the shoe’s responsive ride on a well-groomed path. I’ve hit hard tempos on cinder paths for logging in speedwork in this trainer. For those who can’t stand laps around the oval, the Runventure is like a racing flat for those who prefer the company of trees and softer ground.

    topo athletic runventure 4
    The toe box provides ample room (men’s shown).
    Lakota Gambill

    Wear Tester Feedback

    Lisa K., tester since 2017
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “Overall I liked this shoe. I liked that it was lightweight, quick, responsive, and I always like the fit of the Topos with the fitted midfoot and heel but wide toe box. Having said that, I didn’t love feeling rocks underfoot, and since it’s a trail shoe, I would have expected a little more protection from basic stones. They most remind me of the waterproof Altra Lone Peaks, which are also a zero-drop trail shoe. However, I like the fit and ride of the Topo better because it seems more stable and the fit is less sloppy in the heel and midfoot.”

    Dave A., tester since 2012
    Arch: High | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
    “I think Topo has a winning formula when it comes to creating zero-drop shoes that are both practical and functional. The Runventure, although looking heavy on first sight due to the thicker tread pattern to handle the rougher-than-road trails, is actually quite light. In addition, and this is definitely an assumption but not a negative one, I thought there would be a little more support in the middle of a ‘trail’ shoe, but that never detracted from the overall comfort of the shoe. I would not wear the shoe on a track or on the roads for something faster, but an interval workout on trails the shoe worked quite well and was comfortable.”

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