Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 Review

Helen takes a look at the Topo Ultrafly 5's key features and their running performance as an everyday trainer. She also shares her tips on sizing and the types of runners this shoe is best suited to.

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In this review I’m going to be going over the key features, performance and sizing tips for the new Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5.

The Ultrafly 5 Topo running shoes are primarily designed for road running but are versatile enough for walking and even suitable for wearing to work for people who spend a lot of time on their feet, as they boast features including a plush Ortholite footbed and light stability features to help keep your footfall in alignment by encouraging a reduction in pronation.

A side view of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 showing off the sleek design, low stack height and, IMO, super-attractive colorway
A side view of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 showing off the sleek design, low stack height and, IMO, super-attractive colorway

The Ultrafly 5 is differentiated from other light stability running shoes in that it has a relatively low stack height and modest 5 mm drop from heel to toe, which offers a closer-to-ground feel. This design promotes a more natural running posture and can help in reducing the strain on your feet over long periods. This shoe also has a notably wide toe box compared to other brands and styles of running shoes.

The Key Specifications

  • Price: $140 from Running Warehouse and Topo Athletic, from May 2024
  • Sizing and fit: True to size if you have wider feet, regular width feet could size down 1/2-size
  • Weight: 7.7oz for a size US(W) 7.5 (my pair).
  • Drop: 5mm. Stack height: 22mm at the back, 17mm at the front
  • Toe box width: Wide
  • Stability: Light stability
  • Midsole Cushioning: Moderate
  • Best for: Using as an everyday trainer, including runs of 5-10k as well as for walking

Notable features of the Topo Ultrafly 5

Before I get on to the other key features of the Ultrafly 5, let’s take a moment to consider the toe box design. While, like me, you may not have particularly wide feet, the benefit of a wide toe box is not just for those with wider feet at the front.

A wide toe box allows all wearers’ toes to splay more naturally, akin to being barefoot. This is especially useful if you’re looking for more breathability within the shoe, which may be due to factors such as living in a hotter climate, or having feet that tend to sweat a lot, because this extra space allows for better air circulation around the toes, which can help in keeping your feet cooler and reducing moisture build-up.

A top-down view of that nice wide toe box on the Topo Ultrafly 5 running shoes
A top-down view of that nice wide toe box on the Topo Ultrafly 5 running shoes

Additionally, if you have ever suffered from blisters or have specific foot conditions like bunions, the roomier toe box helps by reducing the compression and friction that narrower shoes can cause, enhancing overall foot comfort.

The toe box design is one of several thoughtful design choices in this shoe that mean it caters not just to everyday runners with regular feet but also people who may have a variety of foot health considerations, making the Ultrafly 5 not just suitable for running but also for everyday wear if you spend a lot of time on your feet.

The plush heel, collar and tongue on the Topo Ultrafly 5
The plush heel, collar and tongue on the Topo Ultrafly 5

Looking at the upper, on these Topo shoes it’s made using a woven mesh with very fine perforations for breathability. These shoes also have nice straightforward laces, and a luxuriously cushioned tongue.

This cushioning, consistent with other Topo Athletic models I’ve reviewed this season, extends to the collar and heel counter, which ensures that the laces don’t create discomfort on the top of your feet, which can be an issue with other trainers.

Interestingly, unlike many other running shoes released in 2024, the Ultrafly 5 does not include a pull tab on the heel, which contributes to a cleaner aesthetic. While some might prefer a pull tab for easier slipping on, the absence here suggests a design preference for a sleeker look, which may add to its appeal to people looking for a comfortable shoe for walking and wearing all day as your everyday do-everything trainer, rather than exclusively as a running shoe.

The outsole is designed with plenty of road-ready tread from the toe to the heel, which is important not only for running but also for traction while walking or standing. This thoughtful design ensures safety and confidence in the shoe’s performance across various activities.

Weight-wise, 7.7oz for one of these shoes in a US women’s size 7.5 (my size) is pretty light weight for a road running shoe, especially considering the padding around the ankle and tongue, and the level of coverage the rubber outsole provides.

The outsole on the Topo Ultrafly 5 provides good coverage for walking and standing, as well as running
The outsole on the Topo Ultrafly 5 provides good coverage for walking and standing, as well as running

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Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 performance review

Now let’s take a look at the performance of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 for both running and walking.

Upon first trying on these shoes, you immediately notice their plush feel, a pleasant surprise given the shoe’s relatively low stack height, because often with road running shoes, a higher stack equals a more plush ride.

This comfort is largely due to the Ortholite footbed, aka the shoe’s insole. Like most running shoe inserts, this is an element that can be removed and replaced, making the shoes compatible with orthotics, but you may not find that necessary as these Ortholite footbeds are renowned for adding significant comfort to trainers, hiking boots and other shoes.

A peek at that plush Ortholite insole in the Topo Ultrafly 5 running shoes
A peek at that plush Ortholite insole in the Topo Ultrafly 5 running shoes

As running shoes, the Ultrafly 5 performs exactly as you would hope. With a 5mm drop and a medium level of cushioning, they encourage a more natural mid to forefoot running style, rather than heel striking – and this tends to result in a more natural overall running form.

I’ve tested these shoes on various runs around local cycle paths and roads here in Northern California and they’ve performed really well – I’d suggest their sweet spot is for any distance up to a half marathon, and for most runners, 5-10k as you may prefer added cushioning for runs that last more than an hour or so.

It’s also worth noting that these shoes incorporate a light stability feature on the inside of the heel arch. This is designed to assist those who slightly pronate, offering a bit of extra support to help prevent your foot from pronating (basically, rolling in) as you run.

While I don’t require this feature personally, and it doesn’t bother me as a runner with a ‘neutral’ gait as opposed to someone who pronates, it’s a thoughtful addition for those who might need it, which may be for when you’re running, but also those who want a trainer for walking, or extended periods of standing, too.

The inside of the midsole contains light stability to help prevent inward foot roll as you run in the Ultrafly 5s.
The inside of the midsole contains light stability to help prevent inward foot roll as you run in the Ultrafly 5s.

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Regarding sizing and fit, I typically wear a US women’s size 7.5, which is the size of these shoes. While the fit is generally good, the roomy toe box provides more space than I need given my regular-width feet. The shoes secure well with the laces, so my feet don’t move around unnecessarily within the shoe, however because I find there’s a bit of extra length overall as well, I’d probably be fine with sizing down a half-size and saving myself a touch of shoe weight.

So, to summarize, if you have wide feet, I suggest you stick with your usual size to make the most of the wide toe box, however, if your feet are more regular in width and you’re drawn to these shoes for their comfort, consider sizing down a half-size for the best overall fit.

Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 Review | Trail & Kale Running Co.
Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 Review | Trail & Kale Running Co.

Lastly, on performance aspects specific to running: although the insole is extremely plush and comfortable, it does somewhat diminish the shoe’s responsiveness. This is because the softness of the insole slightly reduces the force of push-off during a run – it’s basically absorbing some of the energy that goes into your stride. For walking and standing, the plush insole is more beneficial as it provides continuous comfort and support.

However, if your focus is on optimizing performance and speed in your running, the plushness of the insole might slightly hinder responsiveness. This trade-off between comfort and performance is worth considering when evaluating these shoes for running purposes – although the actual effect is probably negligible for most runners.

Is the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 worth buying?

Wrapping up this review of the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5, the shoes are priced at $140, which is a reasonable amount for a daily trainer with this level of cushioning and build quality. Right out of the box, the craftsmanship is evident. The shoes are made with considerable thought and attention to detail, making them likely to be durable and long-lasting, which is exactly what you’d want in a daily trainer.

I really appreciate what Topo is doing with the wider toe box. For anyone who struggles with narrow toe boxes that pinch, the Ultrafly 5 offers a refreshing alternative. If you’re looking for a running shoe or a shoe for everyday wear that allows for natural foot splay, you’re likely to be very pleased with these.

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 video review on YouTube next.

Topo Athletic Ultrafly 5 Review 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

Topo Ultrafly 5 review – more photos

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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