The RW Takeaway: The MT-4 has the essentials and affordability new trail runners need, while also catering to technical trail junkies who want a comfy, uncomplicated shoe.

  • Rock plate-free, a two-layer midsole provides protection and support
  • Vibram rubber outsole and drainage ports for wet terrain and stream crossings
  • 3mm heel-toe offset felt like zero drop to some runners

Type: Trail
Price: $125
Drop: 3 mm
Weight: 10.3 oz (M), 8.6 oz (W)

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Topo Athletic MT-4
MT-4
Topo Athletic MT-4
$125 at Zappos$120 at Moose Jaw
Pros
  • Supportive two-layer foam cushioning
  • 3mm offset for entry-level zero-drop newbs
  • Grippy Vibram tread
Cons
  • No rock plate

If you’re new to trail running or want to try a lower-drop shoe without fully committing to 0mm, the MT-4 is your entry point. Two layers of foam provide all the comfort and protection you’ll need for most off-road excursions. It features a dual-density midsole with a top layer that’s 10 percent softer than the bottom layer. Instead of a rock plate, this denser foam acts as a buffer against hard ground. Still, the overall tester consensus was that the shoe lacked enough cushioning for long runs. As a runner who mostly sticks to groomed paths, I found the MT-4 had nice ground feel with good protection from stray rocks and roots over shorter distances.

topo athletic mt4More Photos
The MT-4 has a 3mm offset.
Trevor Raab

If you want to take it onto gnarly terrain, the shoe has the technical chops to excel. The Vibram tread is grippy on loose mud and rakes through dry sand, while drainage ports on the medial side pump out water after stream crossings. A tester new to Topo wore the shoes on his usual rocky seven-miler. “The MT-4 was a pleasure to wear after a day of working,” he said. “It did great on the rocky sections, protecting my feet, and the traction was excellent. But on the open singletrack, the shoes were a little clunky.”

Even though it has a 3mm offset, the MT-4 felt like a zero-drop shoe to our wear-testers. One admitted that he was apprehensive about testing zero-drop shoes. “For the road, I’m wearing Hoka’s Rincon 3, which has a 5mm drop,” he said. Whether you’re running on 0mm or 3, it’s best to err on the side of caution by doing short stints of very easy-paced mileage initially. Rule of thumb: Start slow if you go low.

topo athletic mt4More Photos
With drainage ports and gaiter attachment points, the MT-4 is decked out for the trail.
Trevor Raab

A Wide-Footed Tester’s Take

Jeff M. | East Greenville, PA | Tester since 2018
Miles per week: 45 | Average training pace: 7:15

“The first thing that struck me after putting on the MT-4s is the room in the toebox. I have a wider foot and I am used to having my foot snug in a shoe. When I put on the MT-4, I had [ample] toe room. This, combined with the cushioning of the insole and the padding on the tongue, made the shoes so comfortable to wear. When I took the MT-4 out in training, I discovered that they are a really stable shoe that goes over the rocky trail surfaces of this section of PA really well. These shoes are great for a mid-week recovery run because of their balanced ride and stability. However, this is not a fast shoe. In my experience, the Topo MT-4 is a great cruising trail trainer that is awesome to pull out on easy days—just not race day, unless you are running an ultra.”

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