Have you heard? Topo Athletic, the company Tony Post (“Topo”) founded after leaving Vibram USA, is launching two new models in the coming months ? the Topo Athletic ST (hitting imminently and just now available for pre-order) and the Topo Athletic MT. Notably, neither of these new models has the “split-toe” Tabi design of the original three Topo Athletic shoes (See the RR review here and an overview of the original Topo models here). The split-toe, being so distinctive, really set the originals apart from other running shoes. So where did it go? What does it mean? To find out, I talked to Tony about the launch. You can read more (and see the split-toe-less … er … traditional-toe-boxed shoes) after the jump!

What does it mean?

A photo of the Topo Athletic ST.  Note the fabric bar on the top of the instep -- that's where the split is for the original Topos.
A photo of the Topo Athletic ST. Note the fabric bar on the top of the instep — that’s where the split is for the original Topos.
Well, not at lot, really. Hold that thought. Perhaps even more than five-toed shoes (FiveFingers), the Tabi, split-toe design the first three Topos featured was at least a little odd-looking. I know how strange that must be to read on a site about “barefoot shoes” that take “odd-looking” footwear to new heights, but well, it is what it is (do you disagree?). So while Topo got kudos (and attention!) for taking a bold approach to their new shoes, I imagine the sales on round 1 (all 3 of the first shoes being split-toe) were slim. That’s my guess, anyway. I had the chance to chat with the great Tony Post about losing the split-toe for the new ST and MT launch and Tony made note that the split-toe models aren’t going away; the ST and MT are simply being launched for those customers who want all the other aspects of Topo shoes — but would prefer shoes with a traditional toe box. And really, simply focusing on the split-toe of Topos ignores other aspects of the shoes. Remember: Tony launched Topo after heading up Vibram to FiveFingers “barefoot shoe” glory. And there are a lot of qualities to minimalist shoes beyond toe articulation. Of note, Topo Athletic shoes push an anatomically correct last, a “zero drop” platform (level/flat from heel to toe), and a lightweight package overall. These are really important aspects of healthy footwear. Now with the ST and MT, you can get these attributes without the cleft. Frankly, getting all the above without the split-toe is a win in my book as the split-toe look has never sat right in my eye. What’s your take? Since Topo shoes tend to be on the thicker side in total stack height (12- 19mm) as compared to most shoes in the minimalist footwear (4 – 10mm), Topo isn’t pushing their shoes as “minimalist” or “barefoot” per se. Regardless, if you’re after shoes that don’t elevate your heels, cramp your toes, or weigh your feet down, the Topos (split-toe or no) are worth consideration. We’ve yet to review either of these new models, so you’ll have to stay tuned for that. However, for now, you can take a spin around the shoes and learn more about them in the press release and galleries below. You can even pre-order the ST over at Topo’s website (the MT will launch exclusively with REI in 2014). Curious what your take is on all this, so please comment below! The Topo Athletic press release is below!

Topo Athletic Laces Up for Speed and Rugged Trails

New ST and MT footwear models are extraordinarily lightweight and versatile Newton, Mass. ? November 19, 2013 ? Innovative footwear brand Topo Athletic announced today the addition of two new models to its expanding shoe portfolio: the Speed Trainer (ST) and Mountain Trainer (MT). The ST and MT models feature a traditional toe box, providing consumers with a wider selection of style and fit. It is an interesting design twist from a CEO known for marketing some of the most distinctive looking shoes in the business, including Topo Athletic?s debut line that launched in July with a split-toe design. ?Athletes train in both urban and natural environments so it?s important for us to offer lightweight versatile footwear that is rugged enough to be worn on the trail and the road,? said Tony Post, CEO of Topo Athletic. ?Although we are encouraged by the positive reception our split-toe line received, we look forward to launching shoes like the ST and MT while still delivering on our core product values in shape, platform and lightweight construction.? The split-toed ?R series? continues to be Topo Athletic?s deepest expression of amplified natural movement, but for those that prefer a more traditional look and feel, the ST and MT incorporate the trademark features of the original line that make Topo Athletic?s shoes unique:
  • The ?Y? shape fit: follows the natural shape of the foot ? fitting snug and secure through the mid-foot and heel, but roomier in the toe box so the toes can spread and splay
  • Neutral drop and near neutral drop platforms: keep the feet on a level plane, which encourages a more natural body posture during exercise, and a mid-foot strike while running
  • Medium stack height (12-19 mm): provides more protection and shock absorption underfoot than what is found in a typical minimal shoe (4-10 mm), while still allowing the foot to gather feedback from the environment, and move more naturally
  • Weight: lightweight, breathable materials combined with high frequency welding for a seamless interior finish (to minimize chafing and blisters); 3-D printed upper patterns make the shoes light (between 5-8 oz), flexible, and soft on the foot
Features specific to the new ST and MT models include: Speed Trainer (ST, MSRP $90): Specifically designed for speed training, tempo runs and racing:
  • Breathable mesh upper with 3-D polyurethane print detailing for flexibility and weight relief
  • Detachable 3 mm EVA antimicrobial footbed
  • Co-molded 3 mm rubber outsole / 7 mm EVA midsole (13 mm total stack height)
  • 4.9 oz (size W7) / 5.8 oz (size M8)
Mountain Trainer (MT, MSRP $100): Incredibly versatile, the lightweight MT is designed for trail running and light hiking:
  • Rugged high-traction outsole provides stability and multi-directional traction over a variety of surfaces
  • A 2 density EVA midsole keeps athletes insulated from sharp rocks and roots without losing the necessary feedback and ground feel that is so important to balance and agility
  • A detachable 5 mm 2 density EVA footbed works in combination with the 2 density EVA midsole to deliver protection and comfort in a mid-stack 19 / 17 mm platform
  • Breathable mesh and 3-D polyurethane printed detailing for flexibility and weight relief
  • Variable width lacing closure delivers optimal fit for different instep heights
The Speed Trainer (ST) will be available online for preorder starting Tuesday, Nov. 19 ? available for shipping and purchase in select retail stores on Dec. 1. The Mountain Trainer (MT) will launch exclusively with REI January (2014) and then to a wider retail distribution starting Feb. 1. To learn more about the new models or request a holiday ?13 / spring ?14 catalogue, please contact: Linda Battaglia at [email protected] About Topo Athletic Topo Athletic is an athletic gear company created for and by athletes. Topo products are built with humble innovation, an acknowledgement that the most impressive thing that will ever go into our products is the athlete. We are committed to the ongoing study of physiology, environments and emerging technologies that enable athletes to constantly improve their performance. Topo Athletic was founded in 2012, and is based in Newton, Mass. For more information, please visit www.topoathletic.com.

Topo Athletic ST

Topo Athletic MT

Note the MT launches exclusively with REI in 2014! It’s not yet available for pre-sale.