If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my picture of those funny, split-toed shoes I was wearing last week. They are the RT model from Topo Athletic. What’s the deal with that toe design? According to Topo, it’s based on the Japanese Tabi shoe, and the design keeps the foot securely positioned inside an anatomically shaped toe box. The benefit: inside a roomy fit, you feel more secure, more agile, and ultimately more connected.
Never having run in anything like this other than Vibram 5-fingers, which I didn’t like, I was expecting a very different ride than what I am used to getting from shoes with a “normal” toe box (the founder of Topo, Tony Post, is a former Vibram team member, incidentally). I was surprised, then, to find them feel pretty much like a normal, minimalist running shoe, meaning that I was unaware of the shoe extending in between my first and second toes. That could be because I spend so much time barefoot and have a fairly decent toe splay anyhow, but I’m not sure.
What Topo claims the split-toe design will do for your running is “amplify” your natural gait rather than try to correct it in any way. Not sure if this is what it did for me, but I will say I could definitely feel my form, good, bad or otherwise. I think it made me more aware of how I was landing, which is always a good thing.
The RT model is very lightweight–just over five ounces for the female model and six ounces for the male model. It’s also flexible and has no differentiation from the heel to toe. The stack height is 16 mm across the board, making it nice and close to the ground. As to size, I could have gone down a half size, only because I found my foot slipping around a bit.
The split-toe models like the RT that Topo does have a pair of socks you can purchase that allow you to wear them (regular socks don’t work). I wore mine both with socks and without and probably preferred them without, but that’s not always practical in the winter! Topo also makes other models, including some without the split toe–its latest models will be debuting soon, as a matter of fact.
So–if you’d like a pair of natural running shoes, split toe or otherwise, the good news is that Topo is offering a pair in a giveaway. To enter, chime in on Rafflecopter below. Giveaway will end next Wednesday, Dec. 18. Good luck!