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Trail Running Shoes • March 7, 2024

Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 Review: Go Tell It on the Mountain

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What You Need To Know


10.5 oz. (297 g) for a US M9,

8.7 oz. (246 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

28 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (0 mm drop)

Best For

Tackling trails and racing ultras

Key Features

FKT insole, Zipfoam midsole, Vibram Megagrip outsole, engineered mesh upper

On The Run
Bouncy Zipfoam ride Comfortable, accommodating upper Maybe not as good in mud as its predecessor
Price / Availability

June 2024 for $145

Introduction to the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2

MICHAEL: I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but introductions for Topo Athletic shoes are getting a little redundant. Topo has been on a tear for the past year or so, and at this point, their reputation precedes them. Honestly, we’re just happy to get to enjoy putting miles in another one of their rugged, dependable, trail-ready models.

These days, it’s easy to get all excited about new trail super shoes like The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro 2 or the Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra, but that’s never been Topo’s bag. Instead, Tony Post and crew are much happier to churn out reliable shoe after reliable shoe. But seriously, no one ever complained about settling down to watch the latest Tom Hanks movie, either.

So pop the popcorn, sit back, and enjoy Topo Athletic’s latest update to one of our favorite zero-drop models of all time — the Pursuit 2.

SAM: Look, all of us in the Dirt Division at Believe in the Run are broken records when it comes to Topo Athletic’s trail line. As Michael said above, Topo has been so consistently excellent over the past few years that we’re running out of superlatives to use when talking about their shoes. And yet, here for testing in spring 2024, we have the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2, the latest edition of the zero-drop cornerstone of Topo’s line-up. So, it’s time to load a few more superlatives into the chamber.

This time around, the Pursuit has a new engineered mesh upper, the same hydrophobic TPE insole found in the Topo Athletic Traverse, a 28mm Zipfoam midsole, and Topo’s never-change-it Vibram Megagrip outsole with its 5 mm lugs. This is basically the same recipe they use in shoes like the MTN Racer 3, the aforementioned Traverse, and the Terraventure 4, just with variations on stack height (and the Terraventure has a rock plate). That recipe was a winner for all of those shoes, and it looks to shine again with an even heel-to-toe stack height. The allure of Topo is strong in 2024.

Again and again, we broadcast our praise out onto the internet. Our scripture is written in familiar tread marks on muddy trails and in shoes with near-perfect fits. Hello stranger, have you heard the gospel of Topo Athletic?

MELISSA: The Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 is a zero-drop trail shoe designed for durability and comfort on the trails. I had the pleasure of reviewing the first iteration of the Pursuit, which quickly climbed to the top of our favorite lists.

Now, the Pursuit 2 features an updated woven mesh upper with added texturing, and the midsole is a 28 mm stack of soft, light, and responsive Zipfoam. Like the original Pursuit, the outsole is a rugged bed of Vibram Megagrip rubber.

After reviewing both versions of the Pursuit (so far), it continues to be a solid choice for a zero-drop trail shoe. Let’s discuss why.

What we like about the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2

MICHAEL: Overall, the Pursuit 2 is very similar to several models we’ve recently reviewed, including but not limited to the Traverse, the Mtn Racer 3, and, of course, the OG Pursuit. Outside of a rock plate and a few other features, the common threads running between all these models are a tried and true Zipfoam midsole, a dialed fit through the upper, and the same exact Vibram Megagrip outsole configuration (which basically never disappoints, by the way). With all of those similarities in mind, I want to point out a few distinctive features that make this my favorite Topo shoe to date.

Pretty much all of Topo’s recent uppers have been pretty dialed in in my experience, but the Pursuit feels like the most refined yet. Of course, these very nearly imperceptible differences in models may favor one foot shape over another, but for me, this was pretty much perfect. From the secure heel collar and midfoot to the roomy toe box, this shoe was just dead-on. Great fit covers a multitude of sins in the trail shoe world, and it’s even better when there aren’t many other sins to cover. Such is the case for the Pursuit 2.

While they aren’t necessarily ‘unique’ features, Topo borrows two elements for the Pursuit 2 from the Traverse and Mtn Racer 3 that I really enjoyed, namely the TPU insole and lightweight, responsive Zipfoam midsole. Both work together to provide a ride that’s cushioned and comfortable yet errs on the firm side. The result is a ride that’s perfect for staying protected and fresh over miles on end.

Interestingly, I found that Topo does an excellent job keeping this zero-drop shoe from feeling flat on the feet. Of course, that probably sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but what I’m referring to here is the tastefully subtle rocker that just helps the shoe move through the toe-off with a little extra help. It’s still a zero-drop shoe, no doubt, but whereas my calf and fascia might be asking me to take a break after running more than an hour in a shoe like the Altra Lone Peak 8, the structure, stack, and this subtle rocker in the Pursuit 2 beckoned me onward for longer excursions.

Lastly, it goes without saying that the Vibram Megagrip outsole that’s featured on nearly all of Topo’s shoes is back and still performing like a champ. At the end of the day, time would fail me to talk about how I love the tongue construction and throat of the shoe, how the heel cup is secure and comfortable, and how the durometer of the midsole is basically perfect (for my tastes). Time would also fail to discuss how this shoe is superior to myriad competitors (that being said, I, unfortunately, didn’t get to try the Timp 5 this year). I really do think Topo has put together what is probably the best zero-drop trainer you could ask for in 2024.

SAM: You could basically copy and paste the “good” section of our Topo Athletic MTR Racer 3 review here and just change the stack heights. The two shoes are surprisingly similar in overall build, although I do think the Pursuit 2 runs just slightly narrower through the midfoot and toebox. While it borders on almost being too narrow in the ball of my foot (I have moderately wide feet that really love a roomy toebox), the shape of the midsole and the midfoot security in the Pursuit 2 are what I would have liked to see in the MTN Racer 3 to make it feel like the technical distance race day shoe it was supposed to be. Underfoot, the Pursuit 2 feels lean and capable while offering just enough protection and stability to serve well at any distance.

The single thing that we might say has lagged in Topo’s output is their shoe designs. However, the MTN Racer 3 and Terraventure 4 showed some signs of aesthetic life, and the Pursuit 2 continues that forward movement. The engineered mesh has woven and colored texture, and while it’s no Nike Pegasus Trail 4, the Pursuit 2 has echoes of Hoka’s trail offerings. It’s a good look for Topo, and I hope they continue to explore their design potential.

Lest we lose ourselves in the aesthetic trappings of the Pursuit 2, I should note that the new mesh is plenty breathable, comfortable, and durable. Really, like all of the Topo shoes we’ve reviewed recently, this upper will last you a long time, and the fit is wonderfully secure while allowing plenty of room for toe splay. The heel on the Pursuit feels and looks very similar to what is found on the Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, and it holds perfectly, with just the right amount of support on the front medial side of your heel.

The 28 mm Zipfoam midsole feels comfortable and almost soft underfoot, but it’s firm enough to encourage aggressive cornering through switchbacks. We’ve (constantly, repeatedly) talked about how well Zipfoam balances protection and energy return, and it’s no different here. The Pursuit 2 isn’t built for speed, but the Zipfoam midsole gives enough back that you can comfortably pick up the pace. Between the midsole and your foot is Topo’s proprietary water-resistant insole that’s meant to shed water and also promote energy return. It feels textured underfoot, but I didn’t mind the feeling, and I’m a huge fan of having something hydrophobic and quick draining right under my sock.

And as the forever afterthought that shouldn’t be, Topo’s Vibram Megagrip outsole is once again the best in class on the Pursuit 2. We’ve said so much about it, anything now is pure repetition. Hardly flashy, but never boring, and always reliable. This outsole has become symbolic of what Topo’s shoes are for trail running.

MELISSA: The Pursuit 2 is a continuation of the straightforward, reliable shoe that makes Topo’s zero-drop line so great.

I really appreciate the change to the upper — the material not only looks better aesthetically, but it ventilates well, too. The anatomical shape continues to give you room in the right places to keep you comfortable. Also, the Pursuit still fits true to size and offers a stable, secure ride.

The Pursuit 2’s midsole is nicely cushioned and responsive thanks to the Zipfoam; however, something feels a bit different when compared to the previous version. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different.

Overall, I think that the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 has the potential to be a shoe I’d toe a start line in at an ultra. It’s sturdy, adequately grippy, and comfortable, which is exactly what I look for in a long-distance shoe.

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What we don’t like about the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2

MICHAEL: As far as I’m concerned, there is actually nothing wrong with this shoe. Unless you’re trying to use it for something it’s not meant for, like a VK race, there’s nothing here to keep me from declaring the Pursuit 2 to be zero-drop perfection. Maybe you could argue it’s a little heavy, but it certainly didn’t run heavy for me. I was honestly surprised when my US M9.5 read out at 10.8 oz. on the trusty kitchen scale.

SAM: You might feel personally attacked on Instagram by a @yaboyscottjurek meme if you slot this shoe into your rotation, but there’s nothing wrong with it. The only thing I can note about the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 is that the width of the shoe right in the ball of my foot seems a touch narrower than some other Topo models like I mentioned above.

MELISSA: While I can appreciate the aesthetics of the new upper, I prefer the overall fit and feeling of the previous version. The Pursuit 2 feels a bit tighter and more rigid. It has a longer break-in period until it feels comfortable, too.

Although I love a Vibram Megagrip outsole, this design doesn’t quite hold up as well on the mud as I’d like. This model slips a considerable amount more than other trail outsoles when it’s sloppy. Despite its shortcomings in the mud, the Pursuit 2 performs adequately on all other surfaces.

Finally, proceed with caution if you’re new to zero-drop shoes. If this is your first zero drop, I recommend starting with short runs and then slowly increasing your mileage. Your calves will thank you later.

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Final thoughts on the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2

MICHAEL: We get to try lots of shoes here at Believe in the Run, and one of the interesting metrics that speaks volumes to how much I’ve really enjoyed a shoe is how many times I pick it back up after the review is over. I have no doubt I will easily put 300 miles in the Pursuit 2, even though it’ll probably last much longer than that. This is one of those shoes I feel like I could take anywhere and use for any distance, which is something I never would have said for a zero-drop shoe prior to this review, which brings me to my last point. Typically, for zero-drop reviews, I have to say something like, “This is/isn’t a good shoe… if you’re a fan of zero-drop footwear.” Such is not the case with the Topo Pursuit 2 — it’s just a great shoe.

SAM: As much as loud (and loudly hilarious) online voices like @yaboyscottjurek like to hate on zero-drop shoes, we can’t deny that they work really well for a segment of the trail running community. For those runners, the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 looks like it has the potential to be the new benchmark for zero-drop comfort and performance across daily training and even ultra distances.

If you can’t seem to quit the Altra Lone Peak but want a little more grip, protection, and energy return, the Pursuit 2 is here for you. Conversely, if the Altra Timp is just a little too unwieldy or the upper a bit loose, the Pursuit 2 waits patiently for your call. Come into the light, zero drop runners. The gospel of Topo Athletic is open to you.

MELISSA: Last year, we considered the Topo Pursuit a bit of an underdog that we were all rooting for. It was solid, reliable, and comfortable through many miles, which are qualities I seek in an ultra-distance shoe. Now, I consider Pursuit 2 a nice update and a shoe that I’d love to race my next ultra in.

You can pick up the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 for $145 in June 2024 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Another great review. I have been a big fan of Topo shoes since I found them years ago. Great quality, customer service and overall great shoes. I have many pairs of their shoes, road and trail.
    In reading your review I am a little concerned that Topo might be moving in the wrong direction with the toe-box width.
    I truly hope they don’t go the way of Altra. The toe-box is what makes this brand what it is.
    The Mt Racer 3 is great and I have many miles in this shoe along with the Ultraventrue 3, it is also a go to for the trails. The Phantom 3 and the Atmos are total winners on the road side.
    I look forward to get this shoe and give it a spin, just hoping Topo stays true to its roots and the roomy toe-box.

  2. How in the world do you do this review without a direct Timp 5 comparison?

  3. Stefan Albinsson says:

    I’ve not yet to try a Topo trail shoe but on the road shoe side, their weak spot is for sure the Zip foam. It’s far behind what other brands push out right now, super critical, Pebax etc. Of course Topo have Pebax shoes as well and they are far better then their Zip foam shoes. And again, zip foam might work great on the trails, but I’m afraid of trying their trail shoes because of Zip foam…..

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Sam Edgin
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
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Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone Peak

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Michael Loutzenheiser
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An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

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Melissa Guillen
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East Coast raised and West Coast trained, Melissa truly enjoys running, especially ultra distances. She currently lives on the Southern California coast and can be found exploring Santa Barbara front country on the weekends.

All-time favorite shoes: HOKA Clifton, Nike Vaporfly NEXT %, Altra Lone Peak

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