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- Asics FujiEndurance Wear Test Review (Spring 2016)
Asics FujiEndurance Wear Test Review (Spring 2016)
The below is a consumer report. To read official Gear Institute Trail Running Shoe reviews, head to
Asics adds to its relatively small trail running line-up with the brand-new Gel-FujiEndurance, a road/trail hybrid with a new breathable, waterproof PlasmaGuard nano-treatment that's exclusive to Asics. A relatively shallow heel counter and narrow front half mean the fit won't work for everyone, but the SoLyte midsole and moderate 4mm outsole lugs perform well in a variety of conditions.
The brand-new Gel-FujiEndurance joins just a handful of other performance trail running shoes in Asics' line-up, including the traditional Gel-FujiRacer 3, burly Gel-FujiRunnegade, and aggressive FujiAttack 4. Although the new Gel-FujiEndurance has a trail outsole, it's the closest Asics comes to a road/trail hybrid. The 8mm drop is moderate, the fit is relatively snug compared to many trail shoes, and the lugs are relatively shallow and spaced generously far apart.
The standout feature of the new model is a new waterproofing treatment Asics has named PlasmaGuard. It's a hydrophobic nano-treatment that's designed to repel water and mud without negatively affecting breathability or making the shoe insufferably hot, and it performs fantastically. (Reports from the most recent outdoor retailer show say the updated FujiRunnegade will get the new PlasmaGuard treatment as well.)
Overall, while the PlasmaGuard was a winner, the Gel-FujiEndurance felt a bit confused in some ways. The outsole and fit make it seem like a road/trail hybrid, while the forefoot rockplate, aggressive toe bumper, and stiff heel counter are features I'd expect to find on a much more aggressive trail shoe. The Gel-FujiRunnegade's 8mm lugs, bootie construction, and aggressive tread seem like a better match for the PlasmaGuard waterproofing treatment. Asics has put a lot of tech into this shoe (SoLyte midsole, IGS integrated heel, AHAR+ outsole, PlasmaGuard treatment, "lace garage" at the top of the tongue to tuck loops away) but it's not clear what niche it's meant to fill.
SECURITY AND FIT
The Gel-FujiEndurance uppers are not constrictive, but they are snug enough that runners between half-sizes should consider going up. The last is also relatively narrow, particularly through the front half of the shoe. Although the toe box isn't as pointed as something like the New Balance MT110v2, it was noticeably more snug than most trail shoes. Runners who have wider feet or are used to having room for toe splay may find this uncomfortable. Further, the shallow heel counter combined with the stiff sole meant that I could feel my heels lifting out of the back on uphills and under hard effort.
The sockliner is made from soft 6mm-thick molded foam, which is very comfortable underfoot. Although there are a handful of exposed seams inside the shoe, the fabric is soft, particularly under the toe box. Both the heel and tongue have moderate padding, and the fabric lining is soft and non-abrasive.
STABILITY AND TRACTION
The snug uppers and IGS (Integrated Guidance System) heel kept me feeling locked into the shoe, although the moderate outsoles with their sixteen 4mm lugs were best-suited for gravel and tame singletrack. In wet and muddy conditions, the PlasmaGuard uppers shine, but the outsole doesn't quite keep up.
My initial reaction to this shoe was that Salomon had a hand in designing it, as there are a couple features that mimic Salomon shoes that I've worn. Once that wore off it looks as though Asics is slowly entering the trail market, without fully committing a hard-core trail shoe. The FujiEndurance is a shoe that looks like a road shoe in many ways and even performs well on pavement given the relatively toned down sole. Despite the lugged pattern on the sole, they are spaced out enough that the show does well on the black ball.
I started running in Asics because that's what my dad wore, and I've had many pairs of Asics over the years. I found the fit to be consistent with other Asics models over the years, but did notice that the toe box was not as wide as Asics tend to be. This may be due to the incredibly bulky toe guard that is included in this shoe. At any rate, there is some difference in spacing from the mid to fore foot of this shoe. So Asics fans should be aware of this. To me, this fit like a road shoe, and didn't have any unnecessary bells or whistles that other models have had this season.
The overblow toe guard caused some comfort issues for me, especially on longer runs with long uphill sections. The toe guard is very beefy and causes some different folding in the toe. With a thicker Darn Tough wool sock I was able to mitigate the rubbing in the toes, and the issue melted away. The low profile sole does a decent job at protecting from rocks, roots, and other debris, while maintaining comfort on paved sections. The sole isn't in the max cushion category, nor do I think it was designed to be, but it provides adequate protection when needed.
So Asics really did go all out with making this a shoe that could be used on rugged trail environments. Like Salomon, they included a lace pouch on the tongue to keep the laces in one spot. It worked fine and served its purpose, especially when the shoe was run through water. Speaking of water, the PlasmaGuard was a winner for me. Running through shallow spring seeps means my shoes don't get soaked, but rather just wet enough to become irritating. I appreciated the PlasmaGuard as it kept the foot dry without making it feel like I was wearing bags on my feet during long, dry runs.
The FujiEndurance is a good transition shoe for those looking to go from pavement to trail. Its sole is rugged enough for trails, but minimalist enough that running to the trail won't be an issue. The uppers are comfortable and simplistic despite all the bonus features. The only thing I wasn't fond of was the bulky toe guard, but a thick sock did wonders there. If you're running from door to summit these would be great shoes to try, or if you're a newbie to trail running give these a shot. They're a smooth transition from road shoe to trail.
Overall, I was impressed with this shoe, although on a scale of A to F it was in the B range. It is certainly not the thick, spongy trail runner I’m used to seeing from ASICS. It’s a low, fast, firm (responsive), nicely fitting shoe with a low-drop and a lot of kick. There is a little bit of slip forward on downhills, owing to a slightly higher volume last and a slightly slippery feel to the insole and underside of the tongue (depending on what socks you wear), but the overall fit is quite nice. There’s a nicely protective foot bumper and stout, full rubber outsole, which helps offsets the thin foam midsole to deflect sharp points underfoot The low, widely spaced lugs were terrible in mud and slush -- best for hardpack -- and the firmness of the heel lent itself to slower speed descents on steep declines. Best for flat, fast, dry courses, midfoot strikers, and faster runners with a midfoot striking gait.
Security of Fit: 5
I agree with all previous reviews. I thought the Fuji Endurance ran more like a road shoe disguised as a trail shoe. I thought the Plasma Guard worked pretty well for slushy, snowy trails for keeping my feet "relatively" dry. I'd be curious to see how breathable these shoes would be for summer races where excessive sweating would be detrimental. I didn't mind the toe guard at all. It's actually one thing I would love to see on more trail shoes. Then again, maybe that's just because I'm sloppy and kick every rock that sticks up higher than a 1/2 inch? Similar to Justin, I did find quite a bit (a lot) of forward slippage in the shoe as well as a lot of heel slip and I wasn't even on super steep terrain. I was also less impressed with the traction of the outsole. Like I mentioned previously, the Fuji Endurance runs more like a road shoe. It didn't inspire me at all on technical terrain. All of this was remedied by running on less technical and flatter gravel/2-track roads. The Fuji Endurance does stray from what I believe is a standard Asics trail running shoe in that it has a lower stack height and faster feel to them. The midsole is firm and responsive for speedier efforts. However, in the end, the narrow last of the shoe did me in. I couldn't get a good enough fit in the shoe to feel comfortable for longer efforts in the mountains.
Security of fit: 6
Overall: This could be a great "hybrid" trail runner for newer trail runners or for shorter races on less technical courses. The Plasma Guard could be a great alternative to shelling out ($) for a Gore Tex model. I would just caution against the narrower forefoot and shallow heel counter to make sure you get a proper fit.
Asics Fuji Endurance shoe felt like a half-hearted attempt at a true trail shoe to me. The road/trail hybrid is fine for crushed gravel surfaces and relatively comfortable when pounding out miles but the Fuji lacked solid traction and good stability when the trails turned rough. Thankfully I was in Santa Monica on slightly manicured trails, which were just right for the shoe. Taking them to my daily run up Sanitas in Boulder turned out to be too much for the Fuji.
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- Trail Running Shoe Reviews
- Asics FujiEndurance Wear Test Review (Spring 2016)