VJ Shoes Xero 5 Review

 

VJ Shoes exploded on to the OCR scene in early 2019 with their incredibly popular XTRM shoes. With a signature design and color scheme, super grippy butyl rubber (#thebestgripontheplanet isn’t just a hashtag) and athletes with names like Albon, Webster, and Woods wearing them, it’s easy to understand why they because so popular.

VJ Shoes haven’t slowed down yet, though. Next up they brought the MAXx to the masses, with a wider toe box, and cushioned heel. Then it was the iRock 3, with a precision fit on a lighter design.

As we closed in on the winter months, VJ shoes has just released their 4th US design – The Xero 5. The Xero is an all-weather studded shoe with aggressive treads, and 20 carbon-carbide studs for traction in all conditions. The Xero 5 also has enough cushion to make any terrain feel like you’re running on tiny little clouds.

Xero 5 Features

Poron Cushioning  – The first thing I noticed when strapping the Xero’s on was the cushion and padding around my foot. The XTRM and MAXx shoes are definitely more “rigid” and less forgiving than the new Xero 5’s. I felt like my feet were wrapped in thick comfy socks.

20 Carbide Studs – Being know for amazing grip and traction is sort of VJ Shoes’ modus operandi. The Xero 5’s are no different. I took them out in the dead of New England winter on frozen dirt, ice, and snowy trails. I quickly realized that I could trust in the grip, and confidently gazelle my way through the woods focused on speed instead of footing.

FitLock – In the previous two models of VJ Shoes that I’ve worn, a 12.5 fit either perfect, or a bit snug. The Xero’s had some extra space in the toe box and mid-foot. I could probably have sized down without much issue. The Xero’s had a wider width in all 3 parts of the shoe, which is great for winter running. You’ll be able to wear some extra layers without any issue or crowding of your toes.

Xero 5 Usage

As I walked through the parking lot, sounding like a golfer wearing spikes heading to the 19th hole, I was eager to get some miles on these shoes considering the terrain. I went out and put a handful of miles on my Xero’s which included some ice covered fire roads, harder than cement frozen muddy sections, and some fresh snow pack through the woods. The water-repellent membrane in the upper will help keep out any errant water, snow or slush you plow through.

If you’ve never run in a shoe with studs before, they can take some getting used to. I could feel the studs on the bottom of my feet as I landed on the frozen trail. The focus on that quickly shifted to how easily I could run over questionable terrain with confidence, thanks to those same 20 studs on the shoes.

Studded shoes may have a place out on the frozen trails of New England, or the snowy mountains of Colorado but the one place they may not have a place? Your favorite OCR course, as most races will rule out running in studded shoes for its competitors. For training though, no longer do you have to take a day off because the ground is a little too treacherous, unless you would rather just stay inside and enjoy some grilled cheese and tomato soup.

These shoes are a perfect addition to your closet to ensure that you can conquer any terrain and any weather that you come across while getting miles in. But when it comes to race day, keep them in the trunk and opt for VJ’s core models – the XTRM, MAXx, or iRock.

VJ Xero 5 Review
VJ Xero 5 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Incredible cushion and fitting. The most comfortable VJ Shoe model I have worn, by far.
  • 20 carbon-carbide star studs make your grip almost invincible even on the sketchiest terrain.
  • Waterproof membranes protect your feet against moisture while out in the snow and mud

Cons

  • The first obvious con – is an inability to wear these on course. Studded shoes are banned from most races.
  • Landing on studs while running can be uncomfortable to some, or at least take some getting used it.
  • With a 19mm stack in the heel and 11mm in the toe, and 8mm drop is larger than other shoes offered from VJ.

Similar Products

Reebok All Terrain Super 2.0Reebok All Terrain SuperSalomon Speedcross 3Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Weight234 g229 g310g280 g
Heel Drop5mm5mm9mm6mm
Grip3/16"3/16"3/16"1/4"
Metal StudsNoNoNoNo
Price$100.00$75.00$80.00$120.00
ORM ReviewYesYesYesYes
BuyAmazonAmazonAmazonAmazon

VJ Xero 5 Conclusion

I’m slowly acquiring a small arsenal of shoes in my closet. Much like machines at the gym, each has a function. The Xero 5’s have a spot in my training regimen – these winter months when I am trying to avoid running outside due to weather or temperatures, the Xero’s give me a little bit more courage to get out on the trails. Just because they may not be allowed on every course, doesn’t mean they won’t have a spot in your lineup as well.

While I wouldn’t normally go out and hunt down a pair of studded shoes, now that I have them, I’ve noticed my runs in inclement weather have gotten better just due to the fact that I’m not worried about footing as much as I would with my more worn down trail shoes.

If you need a shoe that won’t relent on the most atrocious of conditions, offers a cushioned landing, and can survive the elements, the Xero 5 is for you and your feet.



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Josh Chace

Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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Other VJ Shoe Comparison Video

VJ Sport XTRM Shoe Review

VJ Xtrm
4.1 / 5 Overall
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The VJsport “Xtrm” is the second model from the Finland based shoe company to find its way into the USA landing on many OCR courses in the coming months. After many saw OCR World Champion, Jon Albon, climbing wall, ropes, mountains and podiums in the VJsport Irock2’s, Jon and VJsport went back to the drawing board together in an attempt to create the perfect OCR shoe covering all necessary aspects including speed, grip and comfort. Did they accomplish this with the XTRM or fall short in designing the best shoe in the sport? I couldn’t wait to lace up this pair of XTRM’s, compliments of the Official USA VJsport distributors and see if I felt as good about them as they do.

VJ XTRM Features

Fitlock – I touched base on this feature in my Irock2 review and my stance hasn’t changed from then to now. This feature should be on all shoes, OCR and all other uses. The design of this lacing system allows the shoe to provide a secure midfoot feel without being too snug or loose. Very glad to see they carried this over to the XTRM.

Full Length Rockplate in Midsole – This feature wasn’t utilized in the Irock2 limiting the distance you could comfortably wear them for. Utilizing this in the XTRM allows minimal discomfort on varying terrains regardless of underfoot debris and surfaces.

Strengthened Rubber Toe-Cap – This may not be the first feature you look for in an OCR shoe but often overlooked. We’ve seen in models known for breaking down too quickly (All-Terrains) that durability in this area can be cause for concern in the sport with the excess pressure put on the toe-cap during downhill sprints, and quick stop movements. The look and feel of this feature instills confidence of durability over time.


Cushioning Units In Front and Heel – This feature is another upgrade on the Irock2 model that provides added comfort over longer periods of time which is practically a necessity no shame with more multi-lap and endurance options available in the sport than ever before.

VJ XTRM Usage

After a few short runs I could’ve easily concluded my review and provided all the necessary info you’d be looking for. But I wanted to be 100% sure I did everything possible to make sure this shoe was gonna live up the hype it would certainly get with the Albon name recognition. I’m sure Matthew Bardolph Davis would’ve liked to have this completed review weeks ago but I couldn’t resist testing them in the crazy Pennsylvania weather that was forecasted.


I was able to put in roughly 50 accumulated miles during rain storms, snow storms, ice storms, the aftermath of all listed conditions and then 60 degree perfection.


Uphill, downhill, mud, ice, streams, rocks and even wooden bridges were utilized to beat these shoes down and see where they stood after.

VJ XTRM Durability

Being a targeted area when creating this shoe, VJsport implemented varying failsafes to ensure durability and longevity. Between the added toe box space, strengthened toe-cap, Kevlar and polyester blend and added cushioning, they effectively made a shoe that won’t breakdown over time in typical harsh OCR conditions (Trust me, I tried).
VJSport-Xtrm-1
The medium last provides more room than the IROCK2 and combination of Kevlar and Polyester ensures increased durability im usual ocr shoe trouble spots.

Update: We now have a video comparing the 3 latest VJ models.

 

VJ XTRM Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fitlock lacing provides confident feel/fit
  • At 250g(8.8oz to Irock 8.4oz) light yet cushioned.
  • Aggressive 6mm lugs
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • lacking drainage qualities
  • Slick on varying wet wooden surfaces
  • Can’t find a third

VJ Xtrm Conclusion

They totally freakin nailed it with this shoe. The never-ending shoe debate has a new heavy hitter to be listed with Salomon, Merrell, Inov8, Altra, Reebok, Icebug, and Salming. The VJ XTRM may make that convo civil as more people get their feet in these shoes and come to the conclusion I have. They’re durable, grip well, comfortable, wick mud easily and if you can live with a slight drainage deficiency you’ll have your shoe for long or short races that will easily last a full race season and beyond.

If you want to take a peek at the new New Spartan Shoes, click here.

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Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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Top 5 Shoes For Obstacle Racing – 2018

We often get questions like:

What are the best shoes for a Spartan Race?  What shoes are best for a Tough Mudder? What shoes are best for Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash (or insert almost any race name here)?

You want to take a peek at the new New Spartan Shoes, click here. (review pending)

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At some point this is a question 99% of Obstacle Racers have asked. What we have done at ORM is round up the best shoes we have used, and other OCR Pro’s have used, to give you a simple list of the top 5 Obstacle Racing Shoes from our experience. Here they are, not in order of one to five but, just the top 5.

 

Hoka One One Evo Jawz – Hoka’s first foray into creating a mud shoe is an instant success. The Jawz has a flyweight nylon upper, a surprisingly cushioned midsole, and a heavily lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole. To keep the weight down and keep the shoe flexible, Hoka made cutouts in the outsole which, unfortunately, drastically cuts down the durability of the shoe.The forefoot is a little bit wider than a standard trail shoe but once you get used to it you’ll love them. You’ll also get kudos from Steve Hammond, which makes it worth every penny.
The Evo line is Hoka’s Research and Development team in France working in conjunction with their athletes to quietly pump out some of the highest performing shoes out there.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.2 0z)

Salming OT Comp-They are fresh to the OCR world and have come on strong. Savage Race has made them the official shoe for their race series. They made this shoe just for mud runs and wicked terrain.  The Michelin soles and their extreme lugs hold their own to any shoe out there to the metal while maintaining traction through the mud.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 7mm  Weight:  9.0 0z)

Merrell All Out Crush 2–  Merrell really hasn’t pushed it very hard and created a better looking version with BOA. This shoe has decent lugs and it runs pretty well. Honestly it doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally but does everything reasonably well. If I was to get one shoe for training and racing everything between a sprint and a 24 hour race this would be it.
*The BOA version unfortunately has experienced issues with the BOA clogging up and loosening or no longer working altogether.
(Drop:  6mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight: 8.5 0z)

Inov-8 X-Talon 200 –  This shoe was developed for obstacle course racing after inov-8 botched the update to the classic 190. This super heavily lugged shoe excels in shorter races with lots of mud and grass. It probably isn’t enough shoe for most people in races over an hour.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  7.1 0z)

Altra King MT– If you need a really (really) wide forefoot this is the shoe for you. With a velcro strap across the top of the foot this shoe looks a little funky but goes downhill better than the rest of Altra’s lineup. This shoe has a full length Vibram Megagrip outsole which makes it feel pretty firm and a little rigid.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  0mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Honorable Mention

Inov-8 X-Claw 275 – The 275 is the longer distance version of the 200. More cushion, a little more durable, and a little wider toe box. This shoe would be better for someone looking for more of a traditional trail shoe with some OCR grip.
(Drop:  8mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib– Salomon designed this shoe for swim-run races in Scandinavia and accidentally created a phenomenal OCR shoe. A non-removable insole coupled with open mesh drainage ports this shoe drains better than any other shoe on the market. The midsole is on the firmer side and geared for slightly longer races. The outsole is Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contra-grip which is not quite as grippy on wet obstacles as Vibram Megagrip. The fit is a little bit on the snugger side in the forefoot and the shoe sports Kevlar Quick-lace to guarantee your laces won’t come untied. This shoe would hold up great for racing and training.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.8 0z)

How to Sign Up For Tough Mudder 

How to Sign Up For Spartan Race Season Passes:

Open Wave Season Pass Sign Up
$799 (additional $100 off, for the first week of Sept.)

Age Group Season Pass Sign Up
icon$999 (additional $100 off, for the first week of Sept.)

Some of the links that ORM uses are affiliate links. They help pay for our operations. However, all race and product reviews are independent, and our opinions are our own.


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HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz Review

Hoka Evo Jawz
4.3 / 5 Overall
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I first saw these blue beauties on an Instagram picture Ryan Kent. I thought I must get my hands on them. They are gorgeous, have giant lugs, and are made by a name that I trust in, Hoka.  

I have been hearing about ultra runners swear by Hokas for years and had a great experience with the last pair I reviewed in the Hoka Challenger ATR.  I was ready to try my next pair, this time with some that are made for grip, the Hoka Evo Jawz

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz Features

Vibram outsole with multidirectional lugs.  – 6mm, multi directional mega grip outsole. These things are clearly made for some serious trail running and mudding.

Thin upper – This is a “stripped down” Hoka, rather than feeling like the massive bubble of protection like most of the “moon boot” line, these are super light at 7.2 oz (204 grams). It also drains water very fast while being breathable as well.

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz Usage

I first tested them at the Red Bull 400 in Upper Michigan. As soon as my feet hit the long grass at the base of this event, I felt these shoes dig in. I ran around to get my legs warm and a smile was immediately brought to my face. Brand new shoes can feel like driving a brand new car (or even a rental car on the newer side) that you really enjoy. You can’t put your finger on it, but it just feels great. On this day, feeling my feet tear up the grass felt amazing.

While a 400 meter race straight up some grass and ski slope aren’t the ideal test, the trails and an OCR certainly are. Upon returning to my home town, I went out on the Sweetwater Trails, which are some of my favorite local technical running trails, and the shoes performed super well. Next up was the Jailbreak OCR. It has water crossings, various types of muds including some slippery hills, and all of the other accoutrements one needs to test out shoes at an obstacle race. The Evo Jawz performed well in every aspect.

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz Durability

These shoes are brand new to the market, having been rolled out for the Spring 2018 line. So far, I have had no issues, nor have I read of any from other early reviews, or other OCR friends who have been running in them. There is a strange issue that I have encountered and that is bleeding of the blue color after any time in them. One downside is that the blue from the upper material did discolor the socks I was wearing and even all the way through to my feet.

Pros

  • Light weight
  • Killer lugs
  • Drain well

Cons

  • Smurf Feet
  • Very Little cushioning if you looking for that “Hoka feel”
  • non speed laces (which I prefer whenever possible)

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz Conclusion

I love these shoes, easily my 2018 favorite. I give them a slight nod over the 2018 Merrell All Out Crush 2.0 and they definitely overtake the Reebok All Terrain, my previous favorite. I am a huge fan of aggressive lugs when done right, and they certainly did these right. I found these shoes to run true to size, unlike brands like Salomon and Icebug where I have to buy a size up, these worked great for me at an 11, which is my preferred trail shoe size.

People often cut out the toe boxes for Hoka as they run too narrow for them. I get that “hot spot” on the outer part of the right food regardless of shoe brand for any runs in the 20 plus mile range. I will update this article if these shoes become “must cut” above and beyond my normal hot spot.

The Hoka Evo Jawz is certainly a must buy for the 2018 obstacle racer.




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Josh Chace

Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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Altra King MT 1.5 Shoe Review

Altra King MT 1.5
4.4 / 5 Overall
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The Altra King MT 1.5 is the second edition of the King MT line. When the original King MT first came out many people in the OCR community were excited that an Altra shoe finally had aggressive lugs to complement their signature Foot Shape toe box. Reports of the King MT having some wear issues in the form of upper blow outs kept me from trying the first edition, but when I heard that the 1.5 was boasting a reinforced upper and improved drainage I knew it was time to give the King MT line a shot.

Altra King MT 1.5 Features

Specs

Lugs: 6mm

Drop: Zero Drop. 19mm/19mm

Weight: 8.5 oz. / 241 g

Insole Footbed: 6mm

Vibram Megagrip Outsole- Like it’s predecessor the King MT 1.5 has 6mm aggressive lugs that are made with Vibram’s rubber compound. If you are looking for grip in mud and on obstacle surfaces it’s hard to go wrong with this aggressive lug pattern coupled with the Vibram rubber.

Footlock Strap- This velcro strap allows you to quickly loosen or tighten the midfoot of your shoe as you encounter downhills or unpredictable terrain.

Foot Shape Toe Box- If you don’t already know, Altra makes shoes with a more natural foot shape. This provides a wider fit than most shoes and is a popular choice at longer distance Obstacle Races.

StoneGuard- This rockplate sits in the center of the shoe and protects the foot from rocks while running.

Protective Rip Stop Nylon- The upper material has been updated to a stronger rip stop nylon. The original version of the shoe saw many reviews complain that the upper material had blow outs on very low mileage. This material increases the durability, does not hold water and is lighter than the old material.

Drainage Vents- This shoe was designed for better drainage after water submersions. At the front and the sides of the shoe where the protective layers are sewn on Altra added vents that allow water to leave the shoe very quickly. These were not present on the previous model.

Altra King MT 1.5 Usage

I tested these shoes thoroughly on hilly trail runs, a Mudman Training beach session and at Maryland Savage Race on a very muddy course. The Altra King MT 1.5 handled each of these testing sessions well and allowed me to really get a feel for the versatility of the shoe as well as the Pros and Cons.

OCR Specific Usage Sessions:

Mudman Training on the Beach

The King MT 1.5 was great on the trail runs that I used them on so when the opportunity to test them at an OCR specific beach workout arose I was excited to give them a shot. There really isn’t  a good shoe suited for running or working out in the sand so while the King MT 1.5 grip was certainly overkill for this workout I was curious how much sand would get in my shoe. The workout consisted of a sandy uphill bucket carry (up and down), a bear crawl (up and down), a run up and down the hill, and strength based workouts (snatches, atlas shoulder throws, squats, etc). These exercises were then done for 3 rounds. While I certainly had sand in my shoe I can honestly say I thought there would be more. Had I worn gaiters there would have been much less as most of the sand made it’s way in by my ankles. The only downside I find with wide toe box shoes is that the sand likes the extra space by the toes and can accumulate there. The clean up from this was simple: rinse, drain, air dry with a fan. They looked as good as new.

Savage Race

I was excited that I would get to test these shoes for Obstacle Racing Media at, well, an Obstacle Race! If you don’t test the shoe out in unpredictable situations you may miss some small quirks with the shoe. While Savage Race Maryland is not considered a “hilly” course there are a few climbs that will test the grip of your shoes when it is muddy, and it was muddy this year. The King MT 1.5 really shined on these muddy inclines. As people were crawling and grasping with their hands at anything they could grab I was methodically making my way up the muddy hills without any issue at all. The 6mm lugs dug right in and after the first hill I knew I wouldn’t have any grip issues the rest of the day in the mud.

Thanks to the Vibram rubber compound on the outgsole of the King MT 1.5 my traction was very secure on the man made obstacles such as the A-Frame (muddy wood), Colossus and Twin Peaks. While some folks struggled to get their feet set there weren’t any instances were I struggled with my footing.  I’m not suggesting these shoes couldn’t slip on a muddy and wet wall or a wet tree stump in the forest, but the Vibram compound is above average in these situations.

The drainage of the shoe was amazing. There are multiple full water submersions at Savage Race and at no point did I even think of my feet after leaving the water and beginning to run. The water drained out quickly and left me taking very few “squishy” sounding running strides.

The only real negative that I encountered with the shoes’ performance was that when the shoe was wet the insole slid to the forefoot on each downhill that I “bombed” down. After the first time that the insole slid I pulled the velcro strap tighter hoping that it would stop, but it did not.  This is a common issue that I have had in the past with the Altra Lone Peak and it continues with the King MT 1.5. It is a minor annoyance, but it certainly would be nice for that to get taken care of in the future.

At the end of the race I took off my shoes as I was curious how much of the mud had stuck to the bottom. There was a bit at the heel of the shoe but nothing that caked on so much that it covered the lugs. The forefoot had almost nothing on it which is a huge positive as I am a forefoot striker and rely heavily on the grip at the front of the shoe. Seeing the lugs relatively clean made sense as I never felt any issues with grip and never had to clean any mud off of my shoes during the race. 

 Altra King MT 1.5 Durability

I ran hard through trails, hills, rocks, roots, sand and man made obstacles with the intention of putting this shoes durability to the test. I heard about the previous model having durability issues with the upper material and I was curious to see if it had actually been corrected. To my delight it was. With the exception of a few stray stitches that were broken this shoe is showing very little signs of wear on the upper and the outsole. If you were burned by the previous model and had a blowout but liked the shoe otherwise I would recommend giving the 1.5 a try.

Altra King MT 1.5 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Incredible grip in messy conditions
  • Great traction on solid surfaces (Thanks Vibram!)
  • Above average drainage
  • Upper material does not hold water
  • Improved durability
  • Wide toe box
  • Sharp looking design

Cons

  • When bombing downhills with wet shoes the insoles shift forward. This is a recurring issue for me in Altra shoes.
  • The Heel does not lock in well which exacerbates the sliding forward insole issue. This is another common complaint of mine with Altra shoes. Some folks suggest alternate lacing patterns to help limit this.
  • Relatively Heavy(ish) if you are an Elite Racer gunning for that top spot.

Altra King MT 1.5 Conclusion

I had high hopes for the Altra King MT 1.5 shoe when I opened the box and it did not disappoint. The aggressive lugs, ability to drain and wide toe box make this a perfect shoe for events like World’s Toughest Mudder, Toughest Mudder, Spartan Beast, Spartan Ultra and the F.I.T. Challenge Ultra where you need performance and long term comfort. Altra heard the feedback on durability and drainage on the original model and delivered a shoe that addressed those concerns. I look forward to strapping these on (literally) and taking on more muddy courses in the future.

 



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Josh Chace

Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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Topo Athletic Hydroventure Review – Waterproof Shoes for Trail and OCR

Topo Athletic Hydroventure
4 / 5 Overall
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We recently got in touch with Topo Athletics to review the Top Athletic Hydroventure shoes. They were rated Gear of the Year by National Geographic Adventure, so we needed to find out if they lived up to the hype! 

They certainly live up to their waterproof claim, as discovered on some wet and muddy trails as winter turned into spring in Georgia! They are also, without a doubt, the lightest pair of trail shoes I’ve had the pleasure of beating to death on Kennesaw Mountain. While more geared toward trail running than OCR, these would certainly be great for certain courses that don’t require the deep lugs.

Topo Hydroventure Features

The Topo Hydroventures boast not only their lightweight waterproof membranes but also a full-length, flexible rock plate to prevent stone bruising. This is extremely important since you expect a shoe that protects your soles from stone-bruising to also be heavy laden. Thankfully, this is not the case with the Hydroventures. I found myself feeling that these were simultaneously delicate (so lightweight and comfortable) and unyielding. It’s much rarer to find applicable shoe reviews geared toward women, so when I found these shoes, I knew I needed to let all of our female readers know about these powerhouse shoes!

Other notable features are:

  • The Roomy Toe Box: These are noticeably boxier and wider in the toe box than other trail and OCR shoes like the All Out Crushes or Reebok All Terrains. This allows for your feet to freely form their proper strike position during a run.
  • Lug Rubber Outsole: The high-traction outsoles made the transition from sand to gravel to thick mud to puddles seamless with the design that allows the shoe to release the “crud” you would normally pick up from the trail which weighs down the shoes.

Topo Hydroventure Usage

I used the Hydroventures on some pretty technical trails around Georgia. The hills and mountains, covered in mud, sand, and rocks, provided a well-rounded picture of how these shoes hold up on various terrain. They also made their OCR debut during the Atlanta Warrior Dash!

I really enjoyed running in these due to their low drop. While they aren’t zero drop, they do have a low, 3 mm heel to toe drop which is important to me, and many other runners who prefer as minimal of a shoe as possible, while still being protective. The Hydroventures also have the lower stack height of Topo’s other trail shoes and is the only women’s trail shoe from Topo with a full-length rock plate.

These have taken a beating for weeks, being the only shoes I want to wear on the trails due to their extreme comfort. While they are the lowest cushioned of the Topo trail shoes, I can’t imagine needing any more cushion or support than the Hydroventures give. I would wear these around town if I wasn’t worried about wearing down the soles on concrete!

I didn’t have to “break them in” by doing those weird things we all do to break in trail shoes – wearing wet socks or bending them back and forth for hours. They felt extremely comfortable right out of the box, slipped on over thin, synthetic ankle running socks, and taken immediately out to the trails. I found them extremely flexible, and it was easy to forget I was wearing brand new shoes at all.

Topo Hydroventure Durability

Once I’m no longer carrying this extra weight in the front (I’m now far enough along in pregnancy to be front-heavy), I’ll be taking these on the bigger OCR courses to see how they do at races like Spartan, Savage, and Tough Mudder.

I have no doubts about the future durability of the Hydroventures, however, due to how well they’ve held up thus far through my long runs on technical terrain. They’ve already gone about 50 miles and still look brand new, in spite of all that I’ve put them through. Even the laces are holding up well compared to other trail shoes I’ve run in! The uppers feel very durable, and not thin like many of the other shoes on the market, with the waterproof coating helping to seal the durability of the upper material.

Topo Hydroventure Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Roomy toe box
  • Comfort and cushion
  • Mud-release outsole lugs
  • Low heel to toe drop (3 mm)
  • Waterproof
  • Fit true to size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • I could do with more color options!
  • They could be a little more flexible from left to right, straight out of the box, but that will get better as they loosen up during continued use.
  • If only they had deeper lugs to make these the perfectly rounded OCR shoe – allowing for better grip on obstacles!
  • The drainage could be improved, for when you really need to submerge – they are very waterproof, but there are sometimes when the water is just going to get in the shoe, and the drainage took a little longer than I preferred.

 

Topo Hydroventure  Verdict

I will definitely be looking into more Topo shoes and if these ever happen to burn out on me, they will be replaced immediately. I would recommend these to the runners who spend most of their time training and running on trails over recommending using them for obstacle races. The Topo Hydroventures could certainly hold their own on some of the courses I’ve run in past seasons but are more suited for trail running.

The waterproof feature is also going to be appealing to other runners in wet climates such as the northwestern U.S. and our readers across the pond who put in hundreds of miles in the rainy climate of the U.K.

Should you add Topo Hydroventure to your collection of trail shoes? Without a doubt! You will find these to be lightweight, comfortable, and durable, nearly all that we can ask for from a trail/OCR shoe.



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Josh Chace

Josh Chace has been an obstacle and endurance race enthusiast for the last five years. He is a 2017 Team MudGear Athlete and is a co-host of the New England Spahtens Show podcast.
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