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Trail Running Shoes • March 25, 2021

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Review


What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10 oz. (284 g) for a US M9.0
  • Zip Foam midsole rolls through your stride over all terrain
  • Improves off the award-winning original
  • Releases April 2021 for $145

TAYLOR: Last time we had the Topo Athletic MTN Racer, Robbe dug deep into his soul and asked a question: to Topo or not to Topo? A couple of years and lots of singletrack miles later we can answer that. 

Yes. Definitely Topo.

For a lesser-known company, Topo Athletic swings hard and often connects. The first iteration of the MTN Racer won our 2019 B.I.G award for best trail shoe of the year. It was a unique offering at the time that combined aggressive design, comfort, and sureness over any terrain.

The MTN Racer 2 steps up to the plate as a seasoned veteran now. In many ways, it’s very similar and yet an almost completely different shoe. The original was my go-to mountain shoe, and the sequel is just as good.

MATT: After its predecessor took home some very high marks from the BITR team in 2019, I was very excited to get my hands on the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2. This shoe was actually my first experience with the Boston-based brand, which I very much enjoyed.


The Good

TAYLOR: It’s hard not to notice the sleekness of the MTN Racer 2. All of the colorways are some of the best-looking Topo trail shoes. With a little less attitude than the original, the new design also sets the stage for the underfoot feel. The MTN Racer 2 retains the same wonderful Topo fit, with a foot-shaped toe box that’s spacious and secure. 

The length of the shoe was disputed in the original MTN Racer. I suffered from the short length in the original during a 100-mile race. The sequel fits true to size. I feel comfortable reaching for this on any technical trail race or ultra. 

The new lightweight mesh upper provides a great wrap of the foot. As a whole, the shape of the upper is slightly more rounded and a hair slimmer than the OG model, and it’s a heck of a lot more breathable. An external molded heel counter keeps the hell locked in. 

Another major change comes in the Zip Foam three-piece midsole. The midsole in the MTN Racer 2 is a new, lighter compound with varying densities. Overall the ride is more of a moderately soft sensation and it really rolls through the stride even when the going gets rough. At a 30-25 mm stack height (5 mm drop), there’s plenty of cushion underfoot to go long. The same 6 mm lugs and full rubber Vibram Megagrip outsole remain. The MTN Racer 2 rounds out to be an almost perfect technical trail shoe with all those ingredients thrown into one pot.

MATT: The MTN Racer 2 maintains the essentials while coming in surprisingly light, with my size 10 coming in sub-10 oz. That’s impressive for a shoe as complete as it is.

The anatomical toe box on the MTN Racer 2 is amazing. During a tune-up run prior to the Mid-Maryland 50K, I swapped out the North Face Flight Vectiv for the MTN Racer 2. The sharp contrast in toe boxes was a lifesaver and probably prevented some pinky toe blisters.

I put the shoes through a number of creek crossings and within a few minutes each time I had shed any water and didn’t have to deal with residual sloshing.

Working our way down the shoe, the Vibram MegaGrip outsole is a winner. It’s sticky enough to latch on in various conditions, and the lug pattern sheds debris for superior traction.

Shop Topo Athletic – Men Shop Topo Athletic – Women topo-mtnracer2-outsole

The Bad

TAYLOR: Nothing.

MATT: Not a lot of complaints with the MTN Racer 2, but I’m lukewarm on the design. It just doesn’t make me swoon like some of the recent eye candy that has come through the trail scene.

I also experienced some slippage on down-hills, maybe due to the upper being so light and airy.

Shop Topo Athletic – Men Shop Topo Athletic – Women topo-mtnracer2-heel

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 Conclusion

TAYLOR: Topo has a solid trail beast in the MTN Racer 2. It’s the whole package for technical, messy trails. The MTN Racer 2 is only an improvement on the award-winning original. Again, this will be up there as one of the best trail shoes of 2021.

MATT: The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 seems to have picked up where version 1 left off. If the first edition was a double to the gap, version 2 is a laser beam over the Green Monster.

You can pick up the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 in April 2021 for $145 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Topo Athletic – Men Shop Topo Athletic – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Todd Wiggins says:

    How would you say this compares to the UltraVenture Pro and UltraVenture 2. I’m running in the UV Pro now and love it, although I wish I had sized down a 1/2 size. I was running in the original MTN Racer and my only complaint was that it was a bit unforgiving and I wish the upper were more comfortable. It sounds like the MTN Racer 2 is a winner. I’m just not sure where it is meant to fit in the lineup as all of these 2021 shoes seem very similar.

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