The ASICS Gel-FujiEndurance are Like Bomb-Proof Nimble Trail Assassins

First Impressions Of The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance

Lightweight and minimal; not so much! The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance are a serious set of trail runners. They will enable the adventurous type to tackle just about any terrain and condition mother nature can throw your way. With a solid upper, aggressive tread, and built-in rock plate, your feet will be nicely protected. That said, the insole had a rather soft feel to it my for my first few runs. The outsole did seem a bit stiff, but I took that to be part of the breaking in process.  They quickly conformed to my foot, and provided for a solid ride in no time flat.

Mt. Fuji happens to be a pretty good sushi restaurant nearby. I’m guessing Japan’s highest mountain at 12,389 feet is a more likely inspiration.  The mountain is displayed on the insole, and on the outside heel if you needed some inspiration to tackle your own nearby summit.

 

The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance By The Numbers

The weight comes in at 11.9 oz.  which is actually not too bad, but doesn’t put it in the super lightweight category. That’s obviously not the intention, but keeping a shoe’s weight to a minimum without compromising the structural and performance features is always an ambitious goal. The popular and controversial discussion point of Heel to Toe drop will yield dozens of opinions depending on who you ask.  Zero drop came into play during the minimal era, and hasn’t really gone away even as the trend is now towards the more cushiony shoes.

The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance sports a heel height of 18mm, and a forefoot height of 10mm. This provides a very manageable 8mm heel to toe drop. The 4-8 mm range seems to be a sweet spot that many companies have settled on to provide the touted benefits of lower drop. It promotes a forefoot strike, better form, and ultimately less injuries.  Not everyone agrees with that, and not everyone is ready for that. Hence, the 8mm range of the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance really caters to a wide variety of runners who want all the benefits and support of a shoe like this.

The technology in the shoe is where the durability, price, performance, and support all come together to form one happy family. I don’t expect you to really remember this unless you are a serious shoe geek, or you happen to sling shoes at your local running store.

Upper

The Asics logo is a ‘Safety Yellow Vermillion’ color to make sure you are visible out in the dark. Many of us run in the early morning or evening. Interestingly enough, the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance were made to be seen in these low light hours. The jagged grey accents on both sides are almost like a can opener tearing through the trail.

What I want you to take away from the upper is its highly resistant water feature called PlasmaGuard. Mud, creeks, snow, rain, wet grass, etc., all have a way of infiltrating our shoes. The Ascis Gel-FujiEndurance does its best to eliminate any moisture intrusion, and best of all, they still allow for breathability to not create a foot sweatbox. The sweat from our feet finds its way out, but the outside elements stay out.

Asics really took the little details to the next level. The “discrete” eyelets are placed to disburse lace tension, so that it can adjust to each and every individual runners’ foot. A custom fit with better comfort which is key when you push the limits on the highly technical trails. Now, I do think the naming is a bit much, but the Lace Garage Technology does provide a great pocket to stash the lacing into.  It takes one extra little step before you head out, but can prevent that annoying shoe lace from coming undone. Well worth it in my opinion.

Midsole of The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance

All shoe brands have a certain personality, and Asics is the engineering type of the bunch, in my opinion. Highly technical with great attention to detail. Their Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.) is incorporated into the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe off.  The Rock Plate insertion into the front is also a key component to protect the forefoot from rocks and bruising.

The Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System is in place to act as shock absorbers during each and every landing. Again, this helps in protecting the foot, but also aids in the transition from landing to take off.

The sock liner is a key part of the moisture management system as it is designed to provide a high level of breathability. In addition, it has rebound properties to help propel you forward. Sounds good to me. Not that I necessarily noticed a dramatic propulsion, but I’m sure the subtle rebounds aid in the overall performance.

Outsole

If you couldn’t have guessed, the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance has a trail specific outsole. It is rather aggressive, and can handle some seriously rocky technical terrain. Sticky muddy wet trails are also a favorite. The upper has its water resistant features, and the outsole with its reversed lugs will provide traction on the up and downhill across various types of terrain.

Asics’ Trustic System is designed to maximize the structural integrity of the shoe without adding unnecessary weight. Quite simply, you get to beat those guys into the ground (so to speak), and do so for a long period of time.  I like pushing the mileage on my shoes just to see what they’re made off.  These will probably see years of use as I rotate through my stable of shoes, and it will be interesting to see how they fare over the long haul.

Trail Worthy? – Putting the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance To The Test.

First outing – 1 mile walk.  Yeah, I know, not very exciting, but it’s part of my breaking in process.  Get those puppies to slowly mold without any real resistance or effort. The insole is surprisingly soft and cushiony. Not at the levels of its famous cousin, the Nimbus, but enough to feel quite comfortable. I could feel some heel lift even on a simple walk.  By using that extra loop/lacing hole by the ankle, I was able to cinch and tighten the part around my ankle.  It’s an ingenious lacing system actually, and I use it for all my running shoes.

First step: Go under and up through the top eyelet.

Secondly: Go back down through the bottom eyelet and leave some slack.

Third: cross to the other side.

And lastly: Go through the loop.  Voila.  You can now tighten the area around your ankle to avoid any potential heel lift.

Second outing – 4.5 mile easy run effort. The shoe does feel a little “tight” or stiff.  I consider this normal and part of the breaking in process.  This is after all a rather significant shoe in terms of supportive features, so I’m ok with having to put some miles on to feel like they are “broken in”.

Third outing – 6 mile tempo effort.  Not super fast, but a 4 mile higher paced session started to work the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance to it’s full potential.  I do want to mention that these first few runs have been on relatively easy non technical paths and trails.  I noticed some hollow-like slapping on harder terrain, and a few hard surface sections I encountered.

Subsequent runs have ranged from 5 to 16 miles. The longer runs have proven quite valuable as they provided a solid ride without any rubbing or blisters. The ability to absorb the terrain has allowed my legs to stay relatively fresh as the miles ticked by. The penultimate run was a snow, mud, rock scramble at 10,000 feet near Buena Vista, CO.  I decided to just plow straight it all without much regard for trying to stay day.  My feet did get wet, so waterproof I would not call them.  Water resistant for sure, at least for a little while.  Splashing water and snow crept in from the top, but I also noticed wetness coming in somewhere from the bottom.  Staying dry, and venting are the real challenge.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my run and my shoes. Plenty of support, and the rock guard worked superbly.

The support of these shoes is second to none. The quality also seems to be top notch which I would envision translates into a long lasting shoe with the ability to ramp up some serious mileage over time. We’ve had a fairly mild winter, and the front range running trails have been a great option. Some snow and mud, but for the most part, these Asics Gel-FujiEndurance have experienced numerous dry, rocky, technical runs. In my opinion, this is as good of a test as any, because I can experience the fit, protection, and traction over a wide diversity of terrain all within a few miles. I have not ventured up to the rarified air of the high alpine mountains where rock and scree rule, but that will be a fun testing ground come summer.

Final Thoughts

The Asics Gel-FujiEndurance trail shoes are jamb packed with features to provide solid protection, comfort, and performance out on the trails.  These are some solidly built shoes, but with enough weight saving features to allow for some fast ups and downs. I am highly anticipating my yearly assault on Colorado’s 14ers, and making these my go-to shoe to tackle the highly technical trails.

If you’re a runner, high priced shoes are nothing new, but at $180 these Asics Gel-FujiEndurance will set you back. I used to say that a $100 shoe will most certainly do the job. These days many shoe companies are really starting to pack in the technical extras to make a top of the line shoes. The FujiEndurance deliver pretty much on all fronts. I would really like to see them come down a bit into the $140-150 range. That’s where I would feel I’d be getting my moneys worth to upgrade to all the tank-like features the Asics Gel-FujiEndurance have to offer.  That said, if money is no object, then have at it.  After all, once you have “YOUR” shoe; comfort, performance, endurance will always outweigh a few extra bucks.

For more information and purchase, check them out for yourself: www.asics.com

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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