Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 Review: A Surprise In The Making

Helen breaks down these highly capable trail running shoes that handle even the most technical trails, no problem. Read what else she discovered!

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In this review, I cover the key features of the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 trail running shoes, the type of trail running they are designed for, the kind of trail runner who will benefit most from them, and most importantly, how they perform on the trails. These are Topo Athletic‘s latest trail runners, available for sale from May 2024, which I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands (or feet) on for pre-release testing to bring you this in-depth review.

I’ve been out running in these these shoes on our regular routes here in Northern California, which allow me to put shoes to the test over a wide variety of terrain, including both steep and mellow trails, technical singletrack and easy flat rocky fire roads as well as some pavement to arrive at the trail head.

Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 review

The Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 is designed to handle various types of terrain, and most notably its one of those special breeds of trail running shoe billed as being capable even over the more technical terrains and landscapes that other, less rugged trail running shoes tend not to handle as well. With a price tag of $140, these shoes are quite reasonably priced for trail running footwear. Let’s dive into the details and see if they’re worth the investment.

The Key Specifications

  • Price: $140 from Running Warehouse and Topo Athletic directly, from May 2024
  • Sizing and fit: True to size, noting wider than average toe box
  • Weight: 8.8oz (249g) for a size US(W) 7.5 (my pair).
  • Drop: 0mm (Zero drop). Stack height: 28mm (at heel and toe)
  • Toe box width: Wide, allowing for natural toe splay and more space for wider forefeet
  • Stability: Neutral, so there’s no additional stability or support
  • Midsole Cushioning: Medium, responsive
  • Best for: Technical trails, and daily trail running under half marathon distance, or marathon if you value a lower stack height and greater responsiveness over increased cushioning

Notable features of the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2

These Topo Athletic shoes are zero drop, setting them apart from other trail running shoes that typically have a heel-to-toe drop ranging from 5 to 8 mm.

Side view of these zero-drop Topo trail runners, the Pursuit 2
Side view of these zero-drop Topo trail runners, the Pursuit 2

With zero drop, there’s no height difference between the toe and heel, which makes your feet feel much closer to the ground. This design aims to emulate a more natural running posture, almost like running barefoot, yet you benefit from the protection and medium-level cushioning these shoes provide while you’re out on the trails.

A close up of the Topo Pursuit 2's mesh upper, protective toe box and wrapover outsole on the running shoe's toe
A close up of the Topo Pursuit 2’s mesh upper, protective toe box and wrapover outsole on the running shoe’s toe

The mesh upper is quite breathable, featuring plenty of perforation to allow airflow, while doing a good job of keeping debris out of the toebox. The laces are good, chunky with a little stretch, and stay done up.

The tongue is nicely padded, meaning you can’t feel the laces through it, and it comes far enough up the front of your foot that even with the laces using the upper pair of eyelets, the laces do not press onto the front of your ankle.

Unlike many other trail and road shoes, the heel counter here doesn’t kick out at the back, yet it offers enough padding and works well with my no-show tab running socks. There’s also provision for attaching gaiters to your shoes, if you choose to wear them to help keep debris out of your running socks and shoes.

The Topo Athletic Pursuit 2's heels, including eyelets for attaching shoe gaiters
The Topo Athletic Pursuit 2’s heels, including eyelets for attaching shoe gaiters

As you may have noticed in the photos throughout this review toe box is quite unpointed, which is characteristic of a zero drop running shoe. This design isn’t specifically for those with wide feet; rather, Topo has engineered it to allow room for your toes to splay naturally, mimicking the barefoot running experience.

The insole / insert is soft, comfortable, and more cushioning than the typical foam running shoe insert.

The Pursuit 2 are neutral running shoes, without added stability or pronation support, which is typical for trail running shoes. However, curiously, when first slipping these shoes on out the box, I noticed the insole towards the rear of my arches presses up higher than necessary. I thought this could be an issue for running in them, however given my running style and the shoes being zero drop, it’s not noticeable when running because you’re landing on the mid to forefoot rather than the back half of the foot.

So far the midsole has offered plenty of responsiveness while working with the outsole to provide underfoot protection from rocks and trail obstacles. There’s also a small rocker shape, which you can see when looking at a side profile of the shoe; this shoe design helps with forward propulsion as you ‘rock’ onto your forefoot for toe-off when running.

Speaking of protection, looking at the toe area, there is a firm overlay and the outsole lugs wrap over the toe, which not only protects the front of your foot but is especially useful for grip when running and hiking up steep inclines.

The rugged, highly capable outsole on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail running shoes means you can wear them with confidence on even the most technical trails.
The rugged, highly capable outsole on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail running shoes means you can wear them with confidence on even the most technical trails.

The outsole uses Vibram Megagrip, which is increasingly popular among trail running brands for its exceptional grip on technical terrain – we are seeing it feature more often on trail running shoes across the board. The lugs on the Pursuit 2 are 6 mm deep, which is quite aggressive, designed specifically for technical trails, and are spaced fairly far apart, which should reduce instances of collecting mud and snow on your shoes when running in those types of conditions.

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Topo Pursuit 2 trail shoes performance review

Looking at the toe box, I find that there’s not only sufficient space for my regular-width feet to have a natural toe splay but there’s also extra wiggle room, which may be particularly beneficial on hot days when your feet tend to swell slightly from the heat and activity, as it gives them more room to breathe. If you have wider feet, or your feet tend to sweat a lot when you run, I think you will appreciate this feature, especially if you find that many running shoes feel restrictive.

The wide toe box on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail runners allows for natural toe splay and room for your feet to breathe.
The wide toe box on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail runners allows for natural toe splay and room for your feet to breathe.

The space in the toe box is more than I need given that I have fairly regular-width feet, so if you’re like me, you’ll need to ensure you tighten the shoelaces sufficiently at the toe end to hold the midfoot in place and prevent your feet from moving around side-to-side inside the toe box area – don’t leave them as looks as they arrive in the box.

For those with wider feet who often find the toe boxes in certain brands too narrow—Salomon comes to mind, though they have improved in recent years—these shoes will likely be a comfortable fit. While the fit is snug in the midfoot, there is ample room in the toe box to accommodate wider feet or simply allow for a more natural foot position. If you have narrower feet, you may find you actually have too much room, in which case, it’s possible you could size down a half-size, as there is a good amount of length to these and that may get you a better all-round fit.

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Next let’s look at the cushioning and running performance of the Pursuit 2. These shoes offer medium cushioning and feature a chunky Vibram Megagrip outsole that provides excellent protection against rocks, you can barely feel them, which is nice on harder, rockier terrain that can be quite punishing when run on in shoes with more minimal midsoles or less chunky outsoles. Because of their relatively low stack height, the shoes also help you maintain good proprioception, which is helpful especially when running over more uneven terrain.

The midsole stack on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail running shoes
The midsole stack on the Topo Pursuit 2 trail running shoes

The Vibram Megagrip outsole truly is best-in-class for grip, and I’ve been really happy with its performance.

Given the combination of the midsole described above, and this outsole, I would comfortably run half-marathon distances in these shoes, and even consider them for 30k races, or potentially even a trail marathon, although for more rugged trail marathons I may opt for something with more cushioning. Aside from those very long marathon-distance runs and races, I prefer having my feet closer to the ground over lots of cushioning, so these shoes strike a nice balance and are quite versatile.

Color options for these shoes are nice, though it’s probably my lowest consideration when choosing trail running shoes. Still, color is a factor, and I appreciate the bright options available.

Is the Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 worth buying?

If you’re struggling with narrow toe boxes in other brands or just looking for a trail shoe that supports a more natural toe spread combined with a zero drop, the Topo Pursuit 2 is definitely worth considering for trail running and hiking.

Their versatility and suitability over a range of terrains and distances means they’re going to appeal to a broad range of runners, especially at this price point of $140. Whether you’re new to trail running or already a seasoned enthusiast seeking your next pair of shoes, these could be an excellent choice. If you’re already a fan of Altra trail running shoes, like the Altra Lone Peak 8, which is another zero drop trail running shoe at the same price point, you may also want to check these out.

It’s also worth noting that I’ve been really impressed with the quality of all the Topo Athletic shoes I’ve reviewed so far on Trail and Kale – they offer great value for money, especially for the budget conscious.

If you have any questions about these shoes, feel free to drop me a comment below, and tap a button below to check sizes and color option availability for the men’s and women’s versions (available from May 2024):

I really hope you found this running shoe review informative and enjoyable. If you did, don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter, so you don’t miss our other in-depth running shoe reviews as they drop.

YouTube Video review

Did you know we also create shoe review videos on our YouTube Channel too? Click the image below to watch our Topo Pursuit 2 video review on YouTube next.

Topo Athletic Pursuit 2 Review: A Surprise In The Making 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

More photos of the Pursuit 2 trail running shoes

Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com/
One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.

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