Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gear Review: Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus vs Topo MT

Compares to the NB Minimus MT10
The Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus came out in the summer of 2013 and I picked up a pair not long after. The shoe is a featherweight, minimalist style shoe with an anatomical last (foot shaped toe box). The Evo Ferus weighs in at 8oz and it is extremely similar in looks to the NB Minimus. I don't like the aforementioned for trail running because you feel too much trail. I figured the Evo Ferus was going to be the same. They are not. This shoe has a memory foam insole that cushions the shoe a bit more than you would expect. The outsole is a bit more substantial as well. It's thicker and a bit less flexible compared to the Minimus which can be crumpled up into ball like a Vibram Shoe. The Evo Ferus has the 0mm drop (heel-to-forefoot difference)  that is characteristic of a minimal shoe. The stack height (total thickness of the outsole and midsole) is 8mm at the heel and at the forefoot. I love this shoe. It fits like a glove. The lightweight upper locks down to the foot. The toe box is anatomical which means roomy but not sloppy. The extra rubber and cushion under foot feels good, protects you (sort of) from rocks & roots and still remains flexible while allowing you to feel the trail and connect with the trail. I love this shoe, but I need more underfoot for the miles I like to do and the frequency I like to do them. I only did a few trail runs on the New Balance Minimus Trail before I knew they wouldn't work for me. I never used them on trails again and loved them as a road shoe. I used these Mizunos ALOT more than the Minimus because the extra rubber & cushioning underfoot made those miles possible. I can do a half on fresh feet or quite a few back to back trail runs in these shoes if the distances are short but I can't go longer than this. My feet start to feel beat up and the legs tire out prematurely when I go over 10 miles in these shoes. This is not a lack of "toughness" in my feet nor is it that I am not accustomed to this type of shoe. I think the best runs I have done in these shoes are combo runs where I run a long route mixed with equal parts road and trail.

Topo MT (Mountain Trainer)
The Topo Mt was my attempt at a solution to this mileage problem. Topo is a new shoe company founded by the former CEO of Vibram, Tony Post. Tony hired on at Vibram as the CEO of US operations in 2001. He brought the Five Fingers to market in 2006 and left Vibram in 2011. Tony then founded Topo Athletics in 2013 and put out a split toe minimalist shoe. The newest design has ditched the split toe but kept the anatomical last. The shoe looks like a "beefier" version of the Evo Ferus. The stats are impressive too! First you get a lot more foam underfoot. 19mm at the heel and 17 mm at the forefoot. That's double the stack height of the Evo Ferus with an acceptable 2 mm drop. All that foam and the shoe is only 8.2oz. That is just barely heavier than the Mizuno.The upper is that same glove like feel that locks the foot down to the shoe. The lacing holes at the collar are offset to accommodate a runners knot when tying your shoe. Great for locking the heel into the shoe. The extra foam underfoot and the rugged outsole both work well at dampening the rocks and roots on the trails. I have done a couple shorter trail runs and a beast of a 17 miler and my feet felt fine on every run. This is the shoe for higher mileage. A couple of features that are added bonuses are the up turned toe that helps you roll off your foot strike and the extra protection at the front and top of the toe box in case you kick a stone or catch a root. I found my pair at Zombie Runner in Palo Alto and the sub $100 price tag was a nice surprise.

If you are interested in the technical details or want a seriously in-depth review of the Topo MT check out this video from TheGearist.