Topo Athletic Hydroventure Review – Waterproof Shoes for Trail and OCR

Topo Athletic Hydroventure
4 / 5 Overall
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Water Draining
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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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Kayla Coons

Editor and Race Relations Liaison at ORM
Kayla is the content editor and race relations liaison for ORM. Fancy ways of saying that she gets runners to the races and then cleans up their typos when they write a recap.

Her first race was the Georgia Warrior Dash in 2011 and she still enjoys racing local events and meeting the awesome runners who stop by the ORM tent when she's working.
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Spartan and Craft with Joe DeSena and Eric Schenker

 


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Spartan CEO Joe DeSena and Craft North American CEO discuss their new partnership to make OCR shoes and obstacle racing gear and apparel.

Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Wetsuit Wearhouse – Save 15% using coupon code ORM15 on all purchases.

Show Notes:

Video announcement from earlier this week.Spartan Craft Sponsorship

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

Fit Four Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves

OCR Neo Grip Gloves
3.5 / 5 Overall
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Inevitably the question of whether you should wear gloves to an OCR event will come up in your circle of friends. Official Spartan Race glove provider, Fit Four offered me the option to try some of their newly introduced OCR Neo Grip Gloves. Unlike tradition full coverage mitts, the Neo Grips are minimalist in design, geared towards protecting you from painful callouses while allowing you a wider range of motion throughout your race.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Features

Added cushion and anti-slip grip protection for OCR races  – The added grip these gloves provided really proved useful on obstacles like the rope climb, Hercules hoist, and plate drags. They provided a cushioned barrier for my hands, while not sacrificing the grip strength I’ve built up.

Original patented 4-finger minimalist gloves design – Can gloves without straps stay in place? How effective can such a small gloves be? The gloves hold tight around your hands without the need of straps or velcro. Their compression fit keeps them in place while navigating obstacles, running, trudging through mud or swimming. Having your fingers and palms free allows me to keep these on through the race if necessary but they’re also easy enough to slide off, should I want to tuck them in my pack when not in use.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Usage

Admittedly, I have only worn gloves to more easily navigate mud crawls. I’d slip them on to keep my hands protected as I rolled under barbed wire, etc. I had never considered gloves for the obstacles themselves. I’ve spent a few weeks using Fit Four’s OCR Neo Grip Gloves and there’s definitely a place in my gear box for these going forward.

I found the gloves to be both comfortable and durable. Their four-finger compression fitting wrapped the most vulnerable parts of my hands, like a tiny neoprene wetsuit. The gloves were well built and tough, but their minimalist design ensured I lost no effectiveness in my grip, even bolstering it during certain obstacles. They’re easily removed while running, should you rather attack the next obstacle with bare palms – but I’ll warn you – after wearing these, you’ll wonder why you have gone this long without them.

I’ve taken them to multiple OCR events as well as my local obstacle training gym, and I’ve found them to be helpful in both race and training situations.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Durability

Fit Four has developed these gloves using double-stitching to ensure durability and effectiveness during a Spartan Race. The compression fitting holds well while in use, and the neoprene design ensures that your hands can still “breathe” while wearing them. Small pieces of the foam lining have started to fall apart after repeated use, but this is mostly in spots where there is excess material and I have seen no change in the usability of the gloves because of this.

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Simple, minimalist design
  • Superior callous protection
  • Form fitting without the need for velcro or straps
  • Open design allows for a good balance of protection as well as freedom of movement

Cons

  • Underside of gloves can bunch up and fold over during obstacles like Rigs and Monkey Bars
  • Open design can allow mud and rocks to gather easier than traditional gloves
  • Small pieces of material have pulled away, though no impact to usage

Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves Conclusion

While any pair of gloves will not replace the need to continue to work on grip strength training for obstacle races, Fit Four has found the sweet spot with the Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves for users who trust their grip but want to protect their hands and callouses during a race. These gloves are small enough to tuck into your pocket during a race and easy to put on and pull off without having to stop, which makes them a great addition to any race day supply list.

 

 



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Kayla Coons

Editor and Race Relations Liaison at ORM
Kayla is the content editor and race relations liaison for ORM. Fancy ways of saying that she gets runners to the races and then cleans up their typos when they write a recap.

Her first race was the Georgia Warrior Dash in 2011 and she still enjoys racing local events and meeting the awesome runners who stop by the ORM tent when she's working.
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Garmin 225 In-Depth Review

Garmin 225
4.3 / 5 Overall
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Features
Durability
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GPS Accuracy
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The Garmin 225 is the best GPS watch I have ever owned to date. I say this because it is more than a standard GPS watch with its built in optical heart rate sensor. For my day to day needs and races under 10 hours it has served me perfectly. With that said I do wish Garmin would unlock things like UltraTrac Mode that it reserves for other watches in their line like the Fenix. After testing this watch for many months, since July 15′ as you can see on my Garmin Connect profile, I am very satisfied with it.

Garmin 225 Features

Optical Heart Rate Monitor – No longer will you see people wearing chest straps to measure their heart rate; Your heart rate is now measured with light and an optical sensor on the back of the watch(read more here, pdf warning). With this ever improving technology I have had heart rate data on ever run since I started using it. This is a huge advantage, more data is better data for optimizing training and seeing what works. The optical heart rate sensor is also always within 1-2 beats when tested against Garmin’s traditional heart rate chest straps.

garmin-225-review-2

GPS –  This is a Garmin GPS watch in 2015, it works perfect and fast. The only issues you will have with the GPS are the same issues any GPS will give you because it’s pretty much all the same these days. Fret not, this feature is still perfect.

Accelerometer – The accelerometer is actually surprisingly accurate when used on a treadmill. It even is self calibrating the more you use it when you do have GPS signal, see here for more on how it works.

Battery Life – It must be witchcraft, the battery with optical heart rate sensor on lasts for 10 hours. Think about it – this little watch on your wrist can track your location and heart rate with extreme accuracy can do it for 10 hours straight without a charge. Try using Google Maps on your cell phone for 10 hours straight without being plugged in (I know it’s not the same thing. it’s still impressive).

Garmin 225 Usage

Having used the watch for the past 5 months of obstacle race training and ultra running I have really learned the ins and outs of the watch. At first when using the Garmin 225 I was instantly saddened that I no longer had the touch screen of my Garmin 620. But it turns out I love not having the touch screen when it comes to my running watch. The ability to scroll through the screens with a guaranteed click of a button is something that is becoming long forgotten in our touch screen world. I remember when I had gotten my first iPhone after having a smart phone with a real keyboard how frustrated I was by not having buttons that I could feel but shortly after I just adjusted. This is similar because I forgot how much I love buttons on a watch so that you don’t have to look at it or hope your swipe worked. I am now converted back to the button world for watches, not for iPhones – I love my iPhone.

My love of buttons on this watch falls into an interesting status because during obstacle races the buttons on the watches are actually a little bit of an issue. During crawls I find that I will accidentally pause the watch when my wrist is bent for crawling. Otherwise this watch has held up through water pits, mud pits, and the water at rope climbs. I haven’t done a swim with it and I suggest you don’t either. This watch is not fully waterproof, see the comparison chart later on for water proof levels.

Other than these thoughts most of my usage has been rather simple in that it’s worked perfectly. I turn it on, I run as far as I want while getting all the information I could need like my average pace, current pace, miles run, heart rate, average hear rate and a bunch more, then I get home and plug the watch back in and sync all of my data. And even after syncing my data I have Tapiriik setup to sync my data from Garmin connect over to Strava so I can be cool and compare data with the service that more people use.

garmin-225-review-1

Ah, I almost forgot, one of the only down sides to the watch is sometimes the heart rate sensor doesn’t play nice for me. I’ve found that if I have particularly dirty sweat on my previous days workout sometimes the sensor is a little dirty. I can tell this because my heart rate seems capped out and not changing much at the beginning of a new workout. To fix it I either needs to sweat enough to re-moisten is and clean it in that way or I wet my finger tip and rub it over sensors on the back of the watch and it is fixed. The other way it doesn’t play nice is more of a personal issue I think. I have very poor blood flow, and on cold days when I’ve been sitting around in my house without much heat on my skin is very cold (this doesn’t bother me but freaks my wife out). When I start running, while in this condition, it doesn’t respond much to my skin until I get some blood flowing and heat up after a few minutes – I’ve found that I can speed this up by pumping my arms a bit.

Garmin 225 Durability

The Garmin 225 looks pretty much like the day I started using it. The face might have a few gentle scratches but otherwise it is unharmed. But the water rating is only 5ATM which means you probably shouldn’t swim in it. I haven’t run an OCR with it where there was any extended water sections but if I am doing a race that has it I will likely swap this out for the Garmin Fenix 3 that is 10ATM and suitable for swimming.

Garmin 225 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small and Lightweight
  • 10 hour battery life
  • Optical Heart Rate Sensor

Cons

  • Only 5ATM water resistance
  • No Touch Screen
  • Only 2 customizable screens

Garmin 225 Competitors

TomTom CardioGarmin 225Microsoft Band 2Garmin Fenix 3
Battery Life8 Hours4 weeks as watch, 10 hours with GPS2 days without GPS, 2-3 Hours with GPS5 weeks as watch, 20 hours with GPS
GPSYesYesYesYes
Heart Rate MonitorOpticalOpticalOpticalYes, with additional chest strap
Waterproof 5 ATM (50 Meters)5 ATM (50 Meters)Water-resistant IPX7, Up to 1 Meter100 Meters
Weight2.22 oz1.91 oz2.1 oz.2.9 oz.
Phone CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS
Price$99.99$239.99249.99$499.99
ORM ReviewYesYesYesYes
BuyAmazon Amazon Amazon

Garmin 225 Verdict

As of writing this Garmin has since released 2 more watches with heart rate monitors built in, updating the Garmin 620 to the Garmin 630, and the Garmin 230 to the Garmin 235. With that in mind I can suggest that you either buy this watch, the Garmin 225 or one of those two. There isn’t a ton of difference in my eyes except the battery life – a quick guide for that is the bigger the number the bigger the watch, and the bigger the watch the bigger the battery (life). In the future I will likely upgrade to the 235 or 630 for battery life so that I can do longer ultra races and still have a built in heart rate monitor. But for now this watch is perfect for me. Final verdict – Buy a Garmin 225 without hesitation.

 


Follow Me:

Kayla Coons

Editor and Race Relations Liaison at ORM
Kayla is the content editor and race relations liaison for ORM. Fancy ways of saying that she gets runners to the races and then cleans up their typos when they write a recap.

Her first race was the Georgia Warrior Dash in 2011 and she still enjoys racing local events and meeting the awesome runners who stop by the ORM tent when she's working.
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