Quick Review: Topo Men's RR Running Shoes
Up for Quick Review today, the Topo Men's RR (running + racing) shoe. This is the highest-end model from the new Topo Athletic, and it comes with a whole bevy of trick features. The first thing you'll probably notice (depending on which picture you look at first) is that these shoes are split-toed! There's been much talk among different companies about what your toes "want" to do when they hit the ground, and what kind of shoe geometry is best-suited to accommodate them. Personally, I've been doing a lot of running in Altra kicks, which let your toes splay a bit by virtue of a wide (Altra says "foot-shaped") toebox. Topo takes a different route, separating your big toe from the other four, but still keeping those four relatively contained. Keep in mind that Topo's solution will require you to either run sockless or buy special toed socks. Topo makes them with just the big toe separate (to mirror the construction of the shoes), or you can get five-toed socks from Injinji.
The other very trick, very snazzy feature about these shoes is that they feature a Boa closure! This is certainly the first time I've seen this tech applied to a running shoe, although I doubt it will be the last. BOA does a great job keeping the Topo shoe closed firmly, and the ability to micromanage your lace tension is actually rather nice. As far as shoe construction goes, the Topo RR is a zero-drop shoe built up in a very light weight package. So there you have it: the RR is an ultra-light, boa-closed, zero-drop, split-toed running shoe, and it sells for $130 retail.
So how did I like it? Well, as much as I enjoy the exploration of new concepts and technology, I have to admit that the RR didn't really work for me. However, it's not any of its particular features that caused me grief; it's just that the shoe doesn't happen to agree with my particular feet. Such are the perils of shoe-shopping: if the shoe doesn't fit, you can't wear it. It wasn't an issue of width or hot spots, but rather that my arches were very unhappy after even a short run. For me, this wasn't a result of the zero drop or low padding, because I regularly run in shoes with those characteristics. It was just something about the shape. If you want to try a pair of these bad boys, I recommend going to a shop where you can try them on and give them a go. Or order from somewhere like Zappos which has a fairly liberal return policy.