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Road Running Shoes • December 17, 2019

Topo Athletic Zephyr Performance Review

topo athletic zephyr feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.0 oz./255g  for a US M9.0
  • 5 mm heel-to-toe drop
  • The elastomer stability plate isn’t designed for fast running, but feels great after break-in
  • More space in the toe box than Richie Rich’s mansion

JEREMY: I’ve never tried a Topo shoe, but the Zephyr really intrigued me. A shoe designed with a stability plate that is advertised to ‘aid propulsion during plantar flexion’ really stood out to me as a chronic Plantar Fasciitis sufferer.

I’ve been logging 100+ mile weeks in preparation for the California International Marathon, so finding a shoe to help with my PF would go a long way in keeping me ready for race day.

The Zephyr features a Zip Foam midsole compound, an Ortholite footbed designed to be comfortable and anti-microbial, as well as the previously mentioned Elastomer plate for forefoot stabilizing and propulsion during the plantar flexion process.

Overall, this is a very solid shoe that became a close companion of mine in the thick of marathon training.

topo athletic zephyr 1

The Good

JEREMY: I’ll be honest, my first impressions of this shoe were mixed. Immediately I could tell I liked the material of the upper, a light breathable mesh which felt snug on the heel and midfoot but opens up to an incredibly roomy toe box. My feet felt like they were sitting first class splayed out with plenty of room to relax, looking back at the other cramped feet in economy and drinking a mimosa.

The upper is perfect; the engineered mesh is breathable and light while fitting snugly on the entirety of my foot. On rainy days, the grip of the shoe was excellent, with no slippage. The elastomer stability plate works as advertised, making this shoe an excellent choice for easy, everyday running as the miles tick by with your feet feeling supremely comfortable.

My first couple runs I tried to push the pace down to some low 6 miles which should be closer to moderate effort, these efforts felt a little tougher than usual as if I was dragging along a bit.

After a few runs, things shifted for the better. The break-in period made the shoes feel less stiff and the heaviness was not an issue on everyday and recovery runs, even in the thick of 100 miles per week marathon training.

Nowadays, some people see the word ‘plate’ and assume it’s a racing shoe or the next Vaporfly. Personally, I’m just thinking about my next meal. The plate in the Zephyr is designed for neither racing nor meatloaf. Instead, it creates a stabilizing effect that is exactly what I was looking for in an easy day shoe. Perfect for logging those filler miles in comfort.

Oh, and did I mention, I seemed to be having no plantar fasciitis issues while running in these? Whether that was all the toe/foot exercises I’ve been doing or the shoes, I’ll gladly shell out credit to both. If nothing else, it didn’t aggravate my PF.

Shop Topo Athletic Zephyr  – US topo athletic zephyr heel

The Bad

JEREMY: The immediate negatives to me were the weight and stiffness of the shoe. There’s really not much give to them and they felt heavy overall, making it somewhat burdensome when pushing the pace faster.

Coming back to the plate– while it provides some stability, it also makes these shoes feel rigid, especially in the first 15-20 miles when they really had no bend to them at all. That being said, when broken in, this issue was improved.

Shop Topo Athletic Zephyr  – US topo athletic zephyr outsole

Topo Athletic Zephyr Conclusion

JEREMY: I’ve logged over 100 miles in these shoes now, and they’ve quickly become a staple of my shoe rotation during intense training. They sat right by the door next to my HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6; those two shoes were my one-two punch for everyday running.

These are a great pair of shoes to wear on a daily basis. Your feet will feel comfortable and the shoe is less heavy than a lot of everyday/recovery shoes that serve a similar function to me. The elastomer stability plate worked, never once feeling issues or pain in my plantar and providing a slight firmness that I largely enjoyed after the initial break-in period.

At $130, the price point is a touch high overall, but it sits at the low end of stability shoes these days. You can pick it up now at Running Warehouse  (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the link below.

Shop Topo Athletic Zephyr  – US



Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks for the review. Out of interest, what’s your marathon race shoe?

    1. Jeremy says:

      Hi Steve,

      I’ve run my past two marathons in the Nike Next%, and prior to that in the Nike Vaporfly 4% flyknit.

  2. I’m not surprised that once your toes are freed your PF improves. Wide toe boxes (≠ wide shoes) allow for windlass mechanism to engage whereas cramped toe boxes prevent it from happening. The relation between both things has been hypothesized several times by several authors but it’s nearly impossible to prove.

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