Topo Athletic’s Terraventure 3 Trail Runners are moderately cushioned trail runners designed for use on rugged trails. They have a 3mm drop and wide toe box that provides plenty of room for your toes to splay out naturally. Vibram Megagrip outsoles with generously spaced lugs deliver excellent grip on wet and dry surfaces, while the shoe’s mesh uppers drain and dry quickly when they get wet.
Specs at a Glance
- Heel-to-toe drop: 3mm
- Heel stack height: 25mm
- Forefoot stack height: 22mm
- Outsole: Vibram Megagrip rubber
- Rock plate: Yes
- Sizing: True to size
- Wide sizes: No
- Weight Tested: men’s, size 10.5; (1 lb 8.6 oz/pair)
- Gender: Men’s and Women’s available
Trail Runners for Hiking and Backpacking
I wear trail runners for hiking and backpacking in warm weather because they provide excellent traction on the mountain trails that I frequent. I prefer non-waterproof trail runners because they drain and dry quickly after water crossings and because they’re cooler, my feet sweat less, and they require no break-in time, so my feet are less prone to blistering than in a more rigid and unyielding hiking boot or trail shoe.
I’ve been going through a lot of different trail runners this year, trying to find ones that give my toes plenty of space to spread out to mitigate the effects of Morton’s Neuroma, an inflammation of the nerves between my little shoes caused by wearing tight shoes for several decades. While I’ve tried zero drop shoes, including Altra Lone Peaks, I find that I prefer shoes that have a low drop in the 3-4mm range because they cause less stress on the Achilles tendon in my feet.
The forefoot room in these Topo shoes is good, with plenty of room to spread out my toes in addition to adequate height in the toe box to accommodate a thin third-party insole to prevent pronation and plantar fasciitis. There’s slightly less forefoot width in the Terraventure 3 than the Altra Lone Peaks, but they’re also far less sloppy so I have better proprioception with a more assertive and confident foot placement in the Topos.
Vibram Megagrip Sole
The Terraventure 3 haw a Vibram Megagrip rubber sole with widely spaced lugs. I’ve found that they provide good traction in mud, on dirt, and rock, both wet and dry. The soles are flat which together with the low drop height, provides good stability and prevents ankle turns.
However, the flat sole works best with the use of a strapless gaiter. Unfortunately, Topo does not provide a velcro gaiter trap like other brands, but insists on using a proprietary bayonet-style gaiter attachment system which I don’t care for (on principle). It’s not a showstopper, but I prefer using the gaiters I already own which have straps that run under through a distinct arch.
Drainage and Dry Time
The Terraventure 3 has mesh uppers that are not waterproof and drain water rapidly. However, the pores in the mesh are fine enough that they block sand and sediment from getting into the shoes during water crossings or when I’m fly fishing and wading along stream beds. That is a big win because sand and sediment tears through wool socks and causes them to wear out quickly.
I’ve also been very impressed by how quickly the Terraventure 3 dries after it gets wet. I can do a stream crossing and the shoes will be completely dry within a few hours and even faster when I put them on my boot drier after fly fishing in them all day. The uppers will also be dry the next morning when I camp out at night, which is a lot nicer than putting on cold wet shoes first thing in the morning!
The Terraventure 3 also has a rock plate, something I look for in trail runners to provide protection from roots and rocks, because we have them in abundance in New Hampshire, and because they trigger metatarsal pain in my left foot.
But I’ve found that there’s not enough toe kick protection on the Terraventure 3 for my taste. While the outsole curves up in the front of the shoe to protect the middle toes, there isn’t sufficient protection for my big toe, resulting in a cracked toenail on my last backpacking trip. That’s is really my only complaint with these trail runners, and why I don’t intend to use them going forward. That’s really too bad because, in all other respects, they’re definitely a pair of trail runners that I could like for long-term use.
Topo Athletic’s Terraventure 3 Trail Runners are stable, low-drop shoes that have a wide toe box that lets your toes splay out naturally and relax. They have a soft Vibram rubber outsole that provides excellent grip on wet and dry surfaces and the shoes dry very quickly when they get wet. I think they’d be awesome for use on gentler hiking trails, but they don’t have enough front toe protection for the mountainous terrain we have in New Hampshire. I plan to try other trail runners from Topo because I think I prefer a low drop to a zero drop trail runner, as long as it has a wide toebox for my toes to spread out.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
I switched to the Terraventure 3 this past Spring, and am a big fan. I prefer them slightly to the original Ultraventure.
The Topo Ultraventure Pro has a more substantial toe, a stiffer rock plate and 5mm drop. It gets mixed reviews, because I believe it was designed with hiking and backpacking in mind rather than trail running. It seems like it has all the things you would like to see improved on the TV3.
I agree on UV Pro. My favorite shoe for backpacking. I’ve made several comments on YouTube to all the trail running guys that don’t like the shoe and they don’t seem to get it for us backpackers.
I just started using trail shoes last year and the issues you had with these are the same issue I’ve had with my Asolo’s and Altras. Very little toe protection resulting in a cracked toe nail. I’ve had more toe nail issues these past two seasons than i have in the last 38 years of hiking. Any suggestions outside of Merrill that come to mind with better toe protection? Or is this something I’m just going to have to live with? These Topos were on my short list…
IMO the Solomon Raptor’s Have a more protective toe-cap/heel cup but still retain the trail runner specification. It’s not as robust as other “Hiking shoes”. They are fairly narrow though so YMMV when it comes to fit.
Do you mean La Sportiva? I was unable to find a Salomon Raptor
That’s what he meant.
Yes, sorry… goes to show that when you multi-task you usually do multiple things poorly.
You know, you’d get a lot more done if you turned the sound on those zoom meetings off….
I have a pair based on a salesperson recommendation at REI. I like them for the trail but off trail, I found the lateral support lacking when rock hopping talus and creek boulders..
I feel ya on needing toe protection, cracked nails suck.
After losing a toenail on the AT, adequate toe protection has become a requirement for me on trail shoes. The shoes in this post have what I had when I lost my toenail. It would be a deal breaker for me.
I love these shoes. 3 mm is perfect drop for me. I also broke a toenail. Never figured why until now. Will continue to be my summer shoe though.
I was so excited when I got my first pair of Terraventure Pro 3 , I love Altras but kind of slippery on anything damp , went with Terraventure 3 because of the foot shape and the Vibram soles , so much better on wet surface but after 50 miles on the Cohos Trail they started to come apat I had to bring them back and fortunately able to swap them and add $20 or so for a pair of Altra Olympus (vibram soles), hoping for the best of both worlds , time to hit the trails
It looks like the Topo Ultraventure Pro has a beefier rock plate up front. Any experience with yhose?
Yes, but they have the same wimpy toe kick. I’m just about to return a pair to REI.
Just got back from a 3-day backpacking trip doing 40 miles in these shoes and they worked pretty well, until I tripped on a rock first and then my trekking pole (end of of a long day and just got clumsy) and went down on the ground, stubbing my 2nd toe on a different rock.
That one is now black and blue and I will likely lose the toenail so I am definitely interested in a shoe with a little more protection, I’ll checkout the La Sportiva Jackal.