RYAN: My first thought when unboxing the Topo Athletic ST-4 was “Go Birds!” It’s basically a Philadelphia Eagles green shoe just in time for football season. The Birds might suck on the field, but this zero-drop minimalist runner is a real competitor if you’re into the whole “not much there in a shoe” thing. It’s roomy, lightweight (7.3 oz for a US M9), and it’s a low rider (16 mm stack height). Let’s get into how it all comes together.
RYAN: I love how Topo Athletic shoes fit my feet. If you don’t know, Topo Athletic embraces the “toe splay” design popularized by Altra, in that instead of a narrow toe box, you get some more room for you toes to naturally spread as they hit the ground. In this pair, it works well as it gives me some room to breathe in the engineered mesh upper. The lockdown through the heel and midfoot is just right.
Topo’s minimalist design might be hit or miss for some, but I find it refreshing. I’m used to thicker, more padded shoes (we’ve kind of all been forced into that world at this point), so it’s nice to strip down for a natural experience. The ST-4 rides on a thin EVA midsole that offers just 16 mm of stack, but the Ortholite insole adds just the right amount of softness for your foot. It makes miles a lot more enjoyable as someone who’s not quite ready for the total minimalist experience.
The overlays in the toe box give me the confidence to take the ST-4 out on light trails without much worry. By the way, this isn’t a trail shoe, but I like to leave the road behind now and again.
Let’s talk flex. The ST-4 isn’t quite on the level of a Nike Free, but warrants comparisons to Gumby. You can bend the toe box to touch the laces, and the shoe feels like it melds to your foot once you hit your stride. It’s great around corners thanks to the low, wide base, unlike some of the more popular super shoe monstrosities.Shop ST-4 – Men Shop ST-4 – Women
RYAN: My only real flaw with the Topo Athletic ST-4 is that it’s not ideal for slower paces. It feels a little stompy during warmup miles and doesn’t really feel comfortable until you pick up the pace.
Otherwise, I’d love to see Topo take it up a notch with the design. The overlays are nice, but a little more color would go a long way.Shop ST-4 – Men Shop ST-4 – Women
RYAN: If you’ve got some minimalist running under your belt and you’re looking to add a new shoe to your rotation, the Topo Athletic ST-4 is a solid choice. It’s a road shoe through and through that shines when you pick up the pace. Not to mention that it comes in a delightful green hue that puts the rest of the NFC East to shame.
You can pick up the Topo Athletic ST-4 for $100 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop ST-4 – Men Shop ST-4 – Women
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