One of the hallmarks of Topo Athletic running shoe has always been their firm and responsive ride. Even in shoes with more stack height than others, the brand’s desire to keep athletes in touch with the ground has come through in shoes that would never be described as “cushy”. Now though, Topo has built a shoe where they’ve aimed to embrace more cushion and bring their durable, efficient and anatomical platform to those who want just a bit more underfoot. Enter the Topo Athletic Magnifly.
The outsole of the Magnifly continues Topo’s drive for making super-durable shoes. In this full-contact setup, the shoe has 4.5mm of durable rubber covering the bottom. Deep flex grooves that we’ve come to expect from Topo adorn the outsole and they, as well as gaps in coverage, are in place to allow the foot to bend and move along the natural lines of movement. I’m alway very impressed by the durability of Topo Athletic’s shoes and the Magnifly is no exception. With about 40 road miles on this shoe there is little to no wear to speak of. The flex grooves in this model do a good job of no hindering the movement in the outsole (more on the flexibility of the Magnifly in the midsole section below) which is a compliment to the relatively poppy/stiffer-than-other-Topo’s midsole. We’ll touch on the price later but suffice it to say that this shoe rates quite hight on the bang-for-your-buck scale.
With the Magnifly being the most cushioned shoe in Topo Athletic’s line, the midsole is where this new direction comes to bear. In the Magnifly, Topo has use a dual-density EVA midsole with a wedge of slightly softer foam on the lateral, rear half of the shoe. In this arrangement this softer foam is there to be a softer landing for both heel and midfoot (as I am) runners.
Stack heights of the midsole are 15.5mm in the heel and 10.5 in the forefoot which, when combined with the outsole, amounts to a total stack height of 25mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 5mm. I’ll be getting into the feel of the midsole a lot more in the RIDE section below but for now I’ll say this; while the Magnifly is certainly more cushioned than other Topo models, they still haven’t gone to what I’d describe as “cushy”. If you’re looking for a hyper-cushioned shoe like the GOrun Ultra Road from Skechers Performance, this is not that by a long shot. In my opinion, this is a good thing because you maintain that very close relationship with what’s going on underfoot – and if you’re wearing Topo then that probably at least part of what you’re looking for.
I’d also mention here that the flexibility of the Magnifly isn’t what it is in other Topo models. It’s not inflexible but there is definitely more resistance when bending it in the hand. On the one hand, that makes this shoe quite responsive and poppy but it also dials back something that is also an endemic aspect of Topo shoes.
One of the things that we like most about Topo Athletic shoes is that the build quality is so solid. Holding the shoe you know that the construction is solid and is going to last. One of the places where this shows most prominently is in the uppers of their shoes and while I’m sure that there have been people out there who’ve somehow managed to beat up their Topos more quickly than they might have liked, we have yet to have such an experience.
With all that said, the quality of the upper of the Magnifly is superb. The mesh is very supple and breathes well (more on this below) and is gentle against the foot on the inside. Foam around the collar and in the tongue is perfect in it’s amount and density – there is enough there to be very comfortable but not too much that it crowds the foot. The support structure on the upper of the Magnifly is clearly made to go a long way. There are a ton of bonded overlays which aim to reinforce any potential structural weak spots. One potential downside of the number of overlays on this shoe is that they close off the mesh in places making it less breathable. I haven’t really noticed this myself because it’s been fairly temperate since I’ve been running in it (and my feet don’t typically get too warm) but, our friend The Ginger Runner mentioned in his review that in his rambling around SoCal and such he was very warm in this shoe.
For some reason – not complaining, just commenting – the toe bumper on this shoe is burly enough that I’d expect to see it on a trail shoe before I would on a road shoe. This does a fantastic job of preventing shoe breakdown if you’re an overstrider and hammer on the front end of shoes (if this is you, we should chat about running form) and it is the beginning of what amounts to a full-encircling rand all the way around the bottom of the upper. The heel counter does a very solid job of forming the heel up and when combined with the security of the upper, holds things in place nicely.
If you’ve ever run in Topo Athletic shoes before then you know that their toe box is a huge part of their entire line and it’s no different with the Magnifly. As you can see in the images, the toe box of this shoe is shaped like a foot when its toes are splayed. This means that right away your foot is allowed to do what it needs to do without having to adjust lacing or cinch down. I love this about Topo’s shoes and it’s just as solid as ever here and still without falling into the trap of being swimmy.
Now, one interesting thing is the amount of vertical wiggle that your toes have in this shoe. Since the toe bumper is so tough, it negates and flex in the mesh over the front and sides of the toes. Sure there’s still some room to wiggle, just not aw much as some other models. Through the midfoot/waist of the Magnifly, the fit is very nice and fitted to the foot. Much of this is to fit the shoe to the foot well with out forcing the runner to have to over-tighten the laces, thus cutting off blood flow to much of the foot, etc. Moving into the rearfoot, again I really like the heel cup in this shoe and with it being fairly rigid I don’t feel any slippage when going around corners. Sizing in this shoe is also spot on with industry standard.
Here’s the conundrum with this shoe: it’s billed as the most cushioned of Topo’s shoes – and it certainly is – however, as I mentioned above, if you’re looking for a “cushy” shoe, this is not it. Topo has done a good job of giving those looking for more cushioning what they want in this shoe without going overboard and having a super soft ride. Personally, I really like what they’ve done here though I also really like their much more minimal options as well (insert soapbox speech about feet being feet here). This shoe has good ground feel and is also very responsive, though again, not as flexible as some of their other shoes. I also think that if you wanted to you could probably take the Magnifly on some trails. It’s not built for that, but, what the hell! It’s outsole is durable and the upper sure seems like it could be on a trail shoe, so why not?
Again, Topo Athletic has rolled out a shoe that holds true to its ethos while adapting to the desires of certain parts of its customer base. Add to that the fact that this shoe – which as we mentioned is very durable – comes in at $110 and you’ve got something that should have wide appeal, especially for those looking for a natural foot shape and function.
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Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).