Topo Athletic MT3 Shoe Review
The MT has been a long-standing shoe in the Topo Athletic trail line. The MT-2 (review found here) has been around for years, so it was a surprise to see that they were changing it! There have been some major changes done for the MT-3 to replace the MT-2, but a few things have remained true.
If you're looking for a well-draining trail shoe with a little cushion and a lot of breathe-ability, the MT-3 is for you, but it's not without a flaw or two.
9.9oz / 8oz weight (male/female)
Stack height: 25mm heel/ 22mm toe
Total drop: 3mm
Fully gusseted tongue
The upper mesh is the most noticeable difference on the MT-3 from the MT-2. It's a thin, finely woven (almost plastic-feeling) mesh, similar (or maybe identical to?) the Runventure2. I ADORE this upper. It's by far my favorite in the Topo Athletic line. It bounces water off easily, and dries quickly, while adding a feeling of weightlessness. If you are a big toe-wiggler and don't like weight on the tops of your feet, this will be your new favorite as well. If you tend to tear the tops of your shoes around your toe-nails, this mesh will be durable against your claws.
I was surprised that the gaitor attachment was NOT included in this model. I feel it should be in all Topo trail models so that the consumer can get the most out of his or her gaitor attachment. I don't wear mine a HECK of a lot, so it's not a major loss for me; just something to note.
The Midsole (Stability/motion-control)
Topo increased the stack height from the MT-2 to the MT-3 by a couple of mm, but that doesn't change it's heel-to-toe drop of 3mm. I'm guessing the slight adjustment comes with their new Ortholite cushion insert. The MT-3 definitely has some cushion for its weight. YES, it's now heavier (equivalent to the women's Ultraventure), but the cushion is a nice trade-off.
While not midsole, the heel cushion is worth noting here for its motion control. There is extra squish here so that your heel doesn't slide out and around. This may cause some people to want a half size up. I always size up nearly a full size, so that was not necessary for me. I will say that this extra cushion may pull no show cotton socks down (though, I don't recommend you run in a basic cotton sock, either).
The outsole is a great, aggressive lug that has been slightly adjusted from all previous trail models by Topo Athletic.
I am glad to see that it is not a Vibram outsole, as I had worried Topo might go exclusively Vibram after the Ultraventure. Nothing against Vibram; I just think Topo Athletic's outsoles have been historically great and don't need someone else's name.
Lugs seem a bit wider than on previous models, presumably for better traction on slippery surfaces. I have always liked Topo's trail outsoles and this one is no different. It feels great and hasn't shown any signs of wear yet, after about 150 miles put on them.
Despite the new insert addition, the MT-3 has remained true to its predecessors in not containing a rock plate. I haven't been running on overly messy trails lately, so I can't speak to how the lack of rock plate but added stack height works; but on groomed trail and gravel the shoe handles just as well. This is a very comfy runner, that would fair well in endurance trail races.
I was disappointed to see an almost immediate wear around the heel collar of the shoe! That is normally where shoes wear down for me, but this occurred after a couple of initial WALKS in them. On pavement. There was nothing strenuous about my handling to cause damage to the material within a week. Since this initial degradation, I haven't seen anything else and I haven't experienced that area get WORSE; but this is a major flaw by Topo that I was shocked to see.
The MT used to be considered one of the more minimal models in the Topo Athletic trail line, but I would take that title away now. This is a far cry from the Runventure 2 minimalism now, even with the thin mesh upper. It's weight is a bit closer to the Terraventure, but without the front rock plate. To be honest, while I very much like this shoe, particularly its upper, I don't understand the changes Topo Athletic made to the MT-2. It seems to have completely pulled away from the MT-2 and is a bit too similar to others in the trail line now.