First Look: 20-Mile Test Of Asics ‘Gel’ Shoe

It’s the middle of the night, somewhere a bit north of San Diego, and I’m running fast downhill over concrete sidewalk. Tired from a long day of running, traveling in a van and cheering teammates in the SoCal Ragnar, I fight to keep my mid-foot stride flowing.

On my feet are the Asics Gel-Lyte33 3, an updated version of the company’s “natural” running Gel-Lyte series that cuts nearly 2 ounces off its predecessor. That’s a lot.

As a lover of minimally-supportive shoe designs, the Gel-Lyte33 provided a great platform for my 20-mile run. This shoe reminds me of the much-loved Saucony Virratta although with more heel-to-toe drop (6mm vs. 0mm). The shoe responds well to a mid- and fore-foot stride but still has plenty of cushion for the middle-of-the-night heel strikes.

The Gear: Asics Gel-Lyte33 3

Price: $90

Available: Now

Where To Test It: Road runs; training days and races.

Who’s It For: Runners who want light, non-supportive shoes with good cushioning for hard surfaces.

Boring But Important: The “FluidAxis” flex grooves in the sole are aligned to the joints of the foot. Asics claims this construction “enables the shoe to recognize, adapt, and respond to the athlete’s exact load and positional change from first impact to toe-off.” I found the sole of the shoe to be quite pliable.

Ever notice all the sprinklers that turn on in the middle of the night? I did during the Ragnar! The outsole provided good traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

Important Specs: Men’s size nine weighs 6.8oz. The shoe is designed with under and neutral pronators in mind and has 6mm heel-to-toe drop from 17-11mm.

The use of seamless materials “reduces the amount of stitching in the shoe,” according to the company. This ostensibly lessens irritation and friction caused by stitches and seams. I noticed no hot spots, blisters or other friction-related problems in my testing.

Made In: China

Killer! Comfortable out of the box. I ran about 22 miles in three stages during the Ragnar SoCal relay with almost no break-in and my feet were fine.

Flaw: Those looking for a shoe with lots of arch support, form correction or a narrow fit should look elsewhere. The wide toe-box (which I like) and moderately high volume may be a tough fit for very narrow feet.

First Impressions: Comfortable, light, fast with plenty of soft cushion.

Who Should Buy It: Runners looking for a fast, light and non-corrective training shoe for lots of road miles.

Contact Brand/More Beta: Asics Gel-Lyte33 3

—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at Photos © Monopoint Media LLC

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.