Asics touts its GEL-FujiRacer as a minimal shoe. But with an 8mm drop and modest stack-height, the runner hits a middle ground between barefoot and beefy. It’s the lightest Asics trail model at under 9oz. per shoe, and its hard outsole, rock plate, and namesake GEL cushioning do a good job of deadening impact on rocks and roots. We had two editors test the shoe for three weeks for this first-look review. —Sean McCoy
The Gear: Asics GEL-FujiRacer (available now, $110)
Where To Test It: Off-road running, singletrack trails and gravel roads.
Who’s It For: Trail runners who want a light shoe with a mid-thickness sole and moderate drop.
Boring But Important: The sole is moderately flexible to allow for natural foot motion but it accommodates heel-strike runners with cushioning.
Important Specs: Weighed in at 8.7 ounces per shoe (men’s size 9). Moderate 8mm drop, from 15mm in the heel to 7mm in the forefoot. There’s a “lace garage” pocket on the tongue to tuck loose ends away (see image at bottom). Drain ports in the sole let water flow out faster if you step in a stream.
Killer! On a few test runs and a hike up a 14er in Colorado, the shoe really absorbed shock from sharp edges leaving my foot fresh after hours of hiking and running.
Flaw: Even with some hefty lugs, the outsole is a little slippery on wet pavement. Its hard rubber does not grip well when wet. Keep it on the trail in a rainstorm and tread cautiously on wet rock after stepping out of a stream. It dried off in two steps back on the trail and gripped like a champ.
First Impressions If you’re looking for a trail shoe that is somewhere between minimal and traditional, this is a good choice. For the minimal runner, it will feel thick under the heel.
Who Should Buy It: This is a shoe for the runner looking for a compromise between minimal and traditional designs for off-road running. It also looks pretty nice (albeit techy) with jeans and is a great hiking shoe. The price ($110) is fair for a quality build that feels like it’ll last many miles on the rough trail.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Asics – FujiRacer page
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC.