Enter ToPo Athletic – New Boys in the Minimalist Running Space

A Big Rival for Vibram FiveFingers

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. Prepare for a BIG newcomer in the barefoot and minimalist running shoe market. This one could rival Vibram FiveFingers. Let me tell you why.

It was back in 2006 that Vibram released their FiveFingers fitness shoes. We all know them – those funny-looking shoes that look like a glove for your foot. Then, in 2009, following the huge success of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, we saw the Vibram FiveFingers grow in popularity.

 ToPo Athletic

Now – Tony Post, former CEO of Vibram has founded a new company called ToPo Athletic: “a brand created for and by athletes with a mission to develop athletic gear made with humble innovation”.

Similar to Nike’s Rifts, ZEMgear’s ‘Ninja’ range, and B2R’s shoes, ToPo Athletic have developed a Japanese Tabi-style split-toe range of ‘barefoot’ running shoes.

ToPo Athletic reviewed by Feetus.co.uk Barefoot Minimalist Running Shoes

ToPo Athletic reviewed by Feetus.co.uk Barefoot Minimalist Running Shoes

A fusion of Popular Minimalist Styles

To me, the shoes look like a cross between the new New Balance Minimus, an Inov-8 Bare-Grip, and a ZEMgear 360. The range certainly looks geared for performance. They look innovative, appearing to have a very similar lacing system to the ‘Boa’ closure dial on my Specialized road cycling shoes.

Although these shoes seem to be a bit of a secret (Research tells me we haven’t seen a tested review yet), I have tried to weigh up the pros and cons of this range (Labelled: The RT for Running/Training, the RX for Training/Crossfit, and the RR for Running):

ToPo Athletic Review by Feetus.co.uk Barefoot Minimalist Running Shoes

The ToPo Athletic Range

Pros

  • Wide toe box – Essential for your natural running style.
  • Zero drop from heel to toe – Although the soles are a little thick, they are neutral.
  • Seamless uppers – As with the FiveFingers, these look lightweight and I expect them to have a huge focus on comfort, with the intention on running sockless.
  • Two toes (instead of five) – Making this design less difficult to fit your toes in and out of.
  • Boa Closure Dial – How many times have you been out running, and annoyingly have to pull up to tie your laces? I love my cycling shoes’ lacing system. I lock them, and never have to re-lace.  This for me, is a fantastic feature.
  • Attractive Colour Range – Attractive and sensible (Your wife won’t kick you out for wearing these).

Cons

  • Thick sole – Did ToPo need to add such a height to our sole?
  • Unconventional look – While I have no problem with 2-toes, 5-fingers, etc, many are still not convinced.

Conclusion

I expect these to be hugely popular with runners. Fans of FiveFingers will have to give these a try. Gym-goers and Crossfit addicts will also find these split toe shoes to be a perfect match for their training too.

Can’t wait?

Although we have to wait until summer before these beauties are released – Why not give a pair of ZEMgear a try? …Feetus might just surprise the UK market and treat you to their new range. In the meantime, keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter for more information…

ZEMgear-360-barefoot-running-shoes-at-feetus.co.uk

The ZEMgear 360

And if you want to keep up to date with ToPo Athletic, here is their website:

http://www.topoathletic.com/

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