Trail Tested: Asics Trabuco Max

Asics make a burly trail statement with the Trabuco Max that grips onto and rolls over rough terrain.

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Asics Trabuco Max Review

Weight: 10.7 oz M; 9.3 oz W

Stack Height: 28mm heel / 23mm forefoot

Offset: 5mm drop

Price: $140

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Asics Trabuco Max
Photo: 101 Degrees West

Top Line

Better suited for long runs over gnarly ground, especially if it is sloppy and uneven, the Trabuco Max is a heavy-duty approach to trail running which holds up well to the elements and long, frequent outings.

What’s New

Asics hadn’t made much of a splash in the trail running space for a while but re-emerges with a stomping reverberation in the form of the Trabuco Max. The brand jumps off-road with the application of Guide Sole technology, its rockered road shoe geometry that reduces ankle flexion, and its Flytfoam midsole cushioning.

This Is the Shoe for You If …

You’re looking for burliness underfoot, with a protective midsole that is plenty stable, a smooth rockered transition, and a grippy, rugged outsole — and you like a padded fit that hugs your whole foot.

First Runs

The combination of Asics’ midsole technologies — which melds the rockered Guide Sole geometry of a stiff forefoot with soft, rebounding Flytfoam for lightweight, energy-returning cushioning — makes for a unique, stable and efficient roll-through. Testers found the Flytfoam to be both protective and shock absorptive while also providing enough rebound to make the Trabuco Max well suited for ultras — particularly as the tuning of the rocker and rebound seems optimum at a slow, long-run pace. “I took them for a few runs on very muddy trails,” said one tester. “While I realize they are designed to be a heavy-duty trail shoe, I couldn’t quite get over their ‘clunky’ feeling.

Asics Trabuco Max sole
Photo: 101 Degrees West

That Asicsgrip outsole, which features an uphill and downhill lug pattern and high-grip rubber for wet and dry surfaces, provided impressive traction and got uniformly positive marks. “The aggressive lug pattern, the design and the Asicsgrip system on the midsole. It’s the best aspect of the shoe,” said one tester, while another proclaimed,“I loved how grippy and durable these were!” One of the test team praised the trail-gripping security that the sole inspired: “I felt confident, and appreciated the solid outsole design and traction, giving me a great feeling on the trail.”

In contrast, however, while the engineered upper is breathable and durable, the speed lace system wasn’t deemed all that functional by some. “The cording (which is beautiful by the way) isn’t really long enough to give you ample room to tighten things up before cinching,” said one tester. “And, unfortunately, the attempt at a ‘lace garage’ fell short, as the excess lacing doesn’t really fit well inside.” Another tester had different problems: “I’m not a huge fan of the lace structure and found I needed to adjust the laces quite a few times on-the-fly and, even then, still couldn’t get a decent fit/level of comfort.”

But more than one of the test team, after having a hard time getting the initial fit right, readjusted the lacing and eventually found the fit superb. One who had this experience even said she felt like they held her feet in a “Cinderella-eque” way.

Fortunately, any lack of enthusiasm for the lace system didn’t detract from the well-padded upper’s fit and security. It does, however, fall enough to the tight side that we recommend trying them on before purchase. “I couldn’t help feeling squashed into the shoe,” said a testers who appreciated the secure ride overall and would have been quite happy had she sized up.

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