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10.1 oz. (286 g) for a US M9,
8.6 oz. (243 g) for a US W7
25 mm in heel, 22 mm in forefoot (3 mm drop)
Almost anything, especially on trails
Vibram Megagrip outsole, EVA midsole, light mesh upper
Mid-August for $135
MICHAEL: Gusteau’s voice broadcasts from TVs all across France, declaring, “What I say is true — anyone can cook! But only the fearless can be great.” Of course, Remy is a rat and he’s never met Gusteau (and also just got struck by lightning?), but he takes the time to soak up every word as if Gusteau were speaking directly to him. It’s a heartwarming little scene before, of course, the whole colony is forced to evacuate the old lady’s attic in the pouring rain and Remy has to use his stolen cookbook to escape.
Perhaps you’ve desired, as I have, to purchase Gusteau’s book yourself for some inspo in the kitchen. Topo Athletic definitely has, or maybe it purchased something like the performance running shoe equivalent because, despite its small size, Topo has created quite a stir in the trail and ultra scene in the last few years. This relatively tiny company is clearly undaunted by the goliaths of the industry like Salomon, Hoka, and especially Altra as it works towards its mission of making great kicks with a foot-shaped toe box, secure midfoot, and a high-quality choice of materials. No matter the size of Topo’s R&D department or budget, the brand is making the late Gusteau proud. Anyone can make a great shoe!
The Terraventure 4 came as my first foray into the Topo Athletic lineup, and despite the shoe’s (very) understated appearance, I was properly excited. I have a soft spot in my heart for do-it-all trail daily trainers like the Brooks Cascadia, Altra Lone Peak, and Saucony Peregrine, and the Terraventure looked like it fit right in that group. Without spoiling too much, if you’re considering any of these aforementioned kicks for daily runs or thru-hiking, the Terraventure 4 deserves a serious look. Read on to find out why.
SAM: We’re big fans of Topo Athletic’s trail line here at Believe in the Run. Several of its shoes — like last year’s Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, which is an all-time favorite of mine — have won at our year-end Best In Gear awards. New Topo trail drops feel like a special occasion at this point. Will they change the outsole? Probably not. Is the fit going to be epically on-point? Probably so. Whatever the case, chances are we’re really going to enjoy the miles we spend in the new shoe.
Still, some shoes generate less buzz than others, and when we found out we would possibly be getting the new Mtn Racer (a shoe that won our Best Trail Shoe in 2019 and that we loved again in 2021) and the new Terraventure, the excitement was stronger for the former, while the Terraventure 4 was the kid brother begging to play along too.
Now, with miles in on both, we should have hopped the Terraventure 4 up onto our bike pegs and brought it along for the ride because it’s the kind of shoe that knows how to have a good time. The Mtn Racer 3 is there too, don’t worry. It’s posted up on our back pegs and we’re cruising right along to get slushies at the 7-11 down the street.
And, since I’ve stretched this already tenuous metaphor much farther than it should have gone, let’s just move on to the review and leave my introduction behind us.
MICHAEL: The first thing that struck me about the Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 was simply the overall build quality of the shoe. For a model marketed for ‘general trail use’, I quickly began to appreciate almost every detail of the shoe’s construction, and although I only put 30 miles in before writing this review, I have no doubts about the Terraventure 4’s durability and craftsmanship for everyday training or backpacking.
From the solid toe bumper to the dedicated gaiter attachments, the shoe screams quality and delivers a well-thought-out design. There were no signs of delamination or stretch in the upper and no accelerated aging of the midsole or outsole. If the Terraventure 4 were a soup, it would be a hearty one. (probably not my best analogy, but you get it.)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the specific ingredients of this shoe, starting from the bottom. Topo kicks things off with a bang, going with a rugged Vibram Megagrip outsole. If you’ve hung around the trail page here at the BITR for very long, you’ve probably heard some of our standard adjectives for Megagrip: stellar, fantastic, the GOAT. You get the point, Vibram is awesome.
However, Topo does an especially great job here with the lug configuration. The 6mm jaws on this shoe are not only deep, but the sharp leading edges of each lug provide some SERIOUS bite yet somehow don’t feel too cumbersome or awkward on fire roads. On one 13-mile run in the Terraventure 4, my friend and I decided we were going to seek out the most technical terrain that our park had to offer, and this outsole didn’t flinch. Personally, for a daily trainer, I love erring on the side of aggression when it comes to the outsole choice. With the extremely diverse terrain in the southeast, I like the confidence that comes with a shoe that can handle pretty much any terrain at any pace.
The outsole isn’t the only part of this shoe that’s suited for technical terrain. Like Brooks with its Cascadia, Topo opted for a TPU rock plate in the forefoot of the Terraventure 4 to boost protection in an otherwise thin midsole. It had been a while since I’d run in a shoe with a rock plate; my experience was reminiscent of Anton Ego rekindling fond childhood memories at the first taste of a forgotten dish. Folks, I LOVE ROCK PLATES. And before you dismiss me as old-school, hear me out.
The best technical shoes aren’t typically very high stack, and with just 22mm in the forefoot (including the midsole and lugs), the Terraventure 4 is no exception. Enter the rock plate, and what was previously a shoe that could have beaten me up your feet after 6 miles of rough singletrack left my feet feeling fresh after 13. All that is to say, rock plates just work really well on certain shoes, offering a great boost to versatility. The Terraventure 4 is one of those models.
Moving on up, we should probably address the midsole foam here because, well, that’s a pretty important part. While this EVA compound isn’t at all flashy or glam, it gets the job done with little to no complaints. It fits perfectly into the personality of the shoe, as does the 3 mm drop. Not too firm, not too soft — the stuff just works. In a world of Pebax and superfoam this and superfoam that, a good ol’ EVA can be kind of refreshing, especially when it fits so well into the character of a shoe.
Lastly, the upper of the Terraventure 4 sings a similar song to the midsole. Another understated design here leaves us nothing to complain about. The fit through the midfoot is totally secure, as is the fit through the heel counter — no slippage, no stretching. The toe box is characteristically roomy for Topo, and the mesh feels strong and durable while staying sufficiently breathable. If you’re a fan of Altra and are looking for some Achilles relief, you’ll find that the Terraventure 4 should suit your needs in the fit department.
In a way, it’s almost hard to talk more about how great this shoe is (although after five paragraphs, you’re probably begging me to move on). There’s not much crazy tech to discuss or nerd out on, just quality ingredients all coming together to create a solid shoe. As long as your intended runs in the Terraventure don’t venture beyond 30 miles, this is an all-rounder that brings both quality and comfort in a low-stack package.
SAM: You could copy and paste much of what Michael said and put it down here in my section. This is a shoe that seems to go far out of its way to avoid any semblance of flash. Our release colorway is flat gray with only green logo ornamentation. The outsole and midsole are black and seemingly nondescript. The stack height is 25 mm in the heel and 22 mm in the toe and is so far out of trend it borders on ironic. Remember, stack height includes the insole and the massive 6mm outsole lugs, so there’s really only 11mm of foam under your forefoot.
I’d practically scoff at any other shoe that offered foam under the ball of my foot only slightly thicker than the radius of a penny. “Too little,” I’d say derisively while reaching for something with a thick, plush cushion that could probably double as a pillow. Here though, in the Topo Athletic Terraventure 4, that low stack height melds with a bulletproof yet flexible upper, a light rock plate, and an industry-leading outsole to make something special.
There’s nothing at all fancy about the Terraventure 4 except for maybe the Vibram Megagrip outsole. Even that is the same exact outsole Topo has put on most of its shoes for years. But even without all the hyped-up, shoe-selling quick-and-nimble tech that seems to be dumped into every trail shoe these days, Topo has produced a shoe that is both very quick and very nimble while also managing to be protective and offer plenty of trail feel. That’s no easy feat.
The upper is very breathable and extremely comfortable. For me, there’s no better fit than a Topo shoe, and the Terraventure 4 is no exception. There’s plenty of room in the toebox, but the midfoot and heel are slim and secure. The lockdown is flawless, and the slight medial arch support makes a sole that could feel harsh and flat more dynamic.
I’m generally the kind of runner who can take or leave a rockplate, but here the light TPU plate directly above the outsole is necessary. It softens the blow of sharp rocks against the slight foam underfoot and adds some structure to that foam so that it’s not overly flexible.
I know that Topo puts this same Vibram Megagrip outsole with 6 mm lugs on almost all of its trail shoes — with maybe the lone exception being the Ultraventure 3 — but I don’t know if I’ve ever resonated so strongly with the maxim, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Topo has no reason to use anything else. The compound and arrangement of lugs are so unbelievably grippy, and they become so easy to consistently rely on that any time I would lose a little traction, I’d find myself blaming the trail before the shoe.Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Men Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Women
MICHAEL: As you probably gathered from the section above, Sam and I are serious fans of this shoe, and I really am struggling to find anything to put down here. One thing I guess is that some people may find the toe to run a bit long. Honestly, it’s totally a preference thing, and if you’re a thru-hiker who wears thicker socks like darn toughs (basically just a thru-hiker), you’ll probably appreciate this. Also, some might complain that this shoe doesn’t have enough cushion for longer races or miles. That’s a fair critique, and for that crowd, Topo makes the Mtn Racer or Ultraventure. So yeah, this shoe basically just rules.
SAM: Not much here, but as much as I love this shoe, the midsole is seriously thin, and I experienced some compression in the foam even over my test miles and a couple of days of casual wear (this is a great everyday shoe too). I can feel the outsole lugs underfoot through the rock plate and midsole on bigger rocks and tarmac. As Michael said, this isn’t sold as a big miles shoe, and there are other great options from Topo if that’s what you’re looking for.Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Men Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Women
MICHAEL: Topo Athletic has a winner on its hands. The Terraventure 4 takes the best flavors of the Lone Peak and Cascadia and blends them like a master chef into one supremely versatile, all-mountain terrain-tackling workhorse. Anyone can cook!
If you’re a fan of wide toe boxes and are looking for a Lone Peak equivalent with a bit more protection and cushion underfoot, look nowhere else. Thru-hikers and trail runners alike who want a do-it-all shoe will no doubt find something to love here. Sure, it looks pretty boring, but it’s not ugly, and at the end of the day, a shoe that executes on practically every fundamental component is going to get some high praise in my book.
SAM: Don’t call it a comeback because the Topo Athletic Terraventure never left. The Terraventure 4 will serve as an everyday training workhorse, a hiker, a casual shoe, or a technical grinder. If you’re looking for a shoe with a wide toebox that still fits well and that can handle any terrain you throw at it, look no further.
You can pick up the Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 for $135 in mid-August 2023 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Men Shop Topo Athletic Terraventure - Women
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 PeakMore from Sam
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.More from Michael