Thursday, July 28, 2016

Topo Magnifly Review

I rarely write shoe reviews. This is in part because my taste in shoes has changed greatly over the years and really become quite narrow these days -- mostly down to shoes with generous toe boxes.  I also don't write them because I don't have elaborate "geeky" things to say like many shoe experts. But, once in a while a shoe so great comes along that it deserves my praise. The Topo Magnifly fit that category, easily one of my 2-3 favorite shoes of all time (nearly 20k miles now).
Topo Magnifly
I acquired my Topo Magnifly in the fall of 2015 with high hopes. My thought was to get a shoe similar to the Brooks Pureflow that I once loved so much (until I became fond of wide toe boxes). The shoe has been an instant hit and a regular in my 10-or-so-shoe-rotation. I have worn the shoe on trails, easy days, long days, speed workouts, and a for a PR (3:09:55) marathon. It is quite versatile and always a joy to put on my feet. Here are the things I love about the shoe:


I have been a fan of minimal type shoes for many years -- sans getting sucked into Altra's movement to take on Hoka. Of all the minimal features I enjoy in a shoe, weight is always the key. The Magnifly feels much lighter than the 9 oz rating because the there isn't much wasted elements in the upper. It feels nimble and speedy, despite not even being the most minimal shoe in Topo's line up. It appears most of the weight is in the outsole, which is well done and where a shoe should shine.


For a good part of the last three years, I have been running in zero drop Altras and grown to enjoy that sensation. But, it is nice to have a shoe with a moderate amount of drop for longer and slower effort, which have become a staple for me during my ultra years. The shoe feels efficient and plenty cushioned and supportive for runs of 20+ miles.


For me, the Magnifly fit true to size (11.5). (I wear light weight socks to enhance the feel of both the wide toebox and the ground.) My toes have plenty of room to splay and wiggle without ever feeling "sloppy" like some of Altra's wider toe boxes. The heel is comfortable and snug and the midfoot feels good with standard lacing. And, I can lace the shoe tight even with the relatively light weight tongue.


The one thing besides a wide toe box that Topo consistently does well is their rubber outsole. Their road shoes in particular always feel like they have aggressive traction for gripping the ground. In addition to being useful for running fast and natural, this traction comes in handy in bad weather and on trails. It is quite surprising to me that a shoe at this weight can have such a durable, grippy outsole. Also, I like the bevel in the lateral side of the heel where I sometime rub shoes. Finally, the outsole material has softened up over the miles to have a slight spring/cushion to it, just as I'd hoped when I purchased it. The cushion is subtle, but just enough without sacrificing ground feel or performance.


I am not a fan of a flashy shoe for the sake of flash. I find the Magnifly quite vibrant with a wide variety of color schemes that are catchy without being obnoxious. They have  recently added several new colors as well. Double bonus, they added colors without redesigning an already great shoe -- like many companies are tempted to do these days.


I cannot say enough about the durability of this shoe. At 400 miles, it looks like I have run only about 200 miles in them. The outsole has held up well, even in the heel where I sometimes wear my slow, long running shoes. The outsole on this shoe could easily go another 200 miles, which would make it the longest any shoe has lasted in my rotation by a wide margin. Additionally, there is almost zero wear in the upper: no fraying spots, no broken overlays, and hardly a scratch. I did once have the toe cap collapse on me, but my wife easily fixed that with a hair dryer. The durability of this shoe is quite a treat considering the bad luck I have had with my other shoe company recently.

Close up of the outsole after 400 miles

Close up of upper after 400 miles
I'd be hard pressed to say a negative word about this shoe. If I had to knit-pick, I suppose I'd say that the versatility makes it not quite a "perfect" shoe for any particular type of run such as speed work, trails, or longer races (though I did run a marathon in it). And, I find the sizing just slightly off -- an 11.5 feels good with a nice light sock and a bit too snug with a thicker sock. But both of those are very minor complaints. I've enjoyed this shoe so much that I already have another pair waiting in the wings (maybe for a long time!). And, I acquired a pair of Ultrafly because they appear to have been built on the same last. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can say is that I am enjoying these twilight miles in the shoe when I am typically dying to retire a shoe at 400 miles, dreading each run.

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