Article by Bryan Lim
ASICS GEL-Trabuco 10 ($130)
Bryan: The GEL-Trabuco line of shoes is an understated trail shoe that sits as Asics’ flagship trail option (as opposed to the maximal rocker based Trabuco Max (RTR Review) and lightweight more door to trail Fuji Lite 2 (RTR Review)) but yet does not receive any marketing attention, at least in Australia. There’s even a Gore-Tex variant.
I thought of giving the Trabuco 10 a try after enjoying runs in the Fuji Trabuco Lyte, the predecessor of the Fuji Lite 2 . The Lyte and Lite 2 are limited to less technical trails with shallow lugs and lack of a rock plate although still very versatile being lightweight and flexible.
Having previously tried on the Trabuco 9 in store, I thought to give the 10 a try and take it out training for and racing a sky-marathon out in the Victorian high country. It’s what any runner would expect in a standard trail shoe; moderate stack height, accommodating toe box, rock plate and deep lugs.
Pros: Durable, 5mm lugs and full Asics Grip outsole coverage, dual density midsole for medial support, sufficient protection through sufficient stack, smooth ride.
Cons: Slippage on steep and technical descents due to a very accommodating toe box, upper is water-absorbent.
Bryan is a road and trail runner living in Melbourne, Australia. He is a consistent sub 1:25 half marathoner and is presently chasing a sub 3-hour marathon. He is 176cm/ 5’9″ tall and weighs about 69kg / 143lbs.
Sample Weight: men’s 11.08oz / 314g (US9)
Stack Height: 34mm heel / 26mm forefoot (8mm drop)
Available now at ASICS $130, $200 AUD
First Impressions and Fit
Bryan: The Trabuco 10 felt good upon wearing them for the first time out of the box. Having tried the Trabuco 9 in store, I was expecting a roomy toe box which was the case. I was very impressed at the flexibility of the shoe, especially one with a rock plate. Walking around, they felt comfortable and right, although I personally would prefer if there was less volume in the toe box. However, note that I fit into narrow Salomons well, so this is definitely a shoe that will accommodate folks with regular to slightly wider feet or those concerned about splay and swelling associated with prolonged wear.
The fit is true to size length and width wise for me in a US9 as with all other Asics shoes. As mentioned the toe box is voluminous both in terms of width and across the top. Some may find this beneficial for longer distance runs / races. The toebox volume remains similar to that of the Trabuco 9, which fellow reviewer Mike found to be a standout feature.
Bryan: Personally, the upper is what lets the shoe down fit-wise due to its voluminous toe box, although as mentioned, this would likely be appreciated by many. I’ve had the benefit of putting some serious miles in the shoe on various trails of different technical difficulties, including a 42% 650m long ascent and -30% 2.5km rocky descent and in varying weather conditions.
I would first like to address the fit. Whilst mostly satisfactory and generally comfortable, my feet suffered from some slippage up in front during steep descents due to the voluminous toe box, which was slightly mitigated through the upper offering solid midfoot lockdown.
Fit aside, I felt that the materials used are great for durability, but less so for performance. The upper is largely constructed from generic-ish mesh, which is water-absorbent. This seems to be a change to the cloud-mesh material that was used in the Trabuco 9. This is an issue when racing long distances in inclement conditions. Having raced in them in constant rain over a few hours, the added weight to the shoe was immense. Breathability is not an issue too, having tested them in 28 degrees C conditions (82.5 F).
Asides from material, another major change to the upper is the toe bumper. The Trabuco 9 utilized an external toe number that was stitched on top of the cloud mesh. In the Trabuco 10, it has been redesigned to be sleeker and more integrated with the main upper through the use of overlays in varying densities, starting with it being dense and structured where the upper meets to midsole before reducing in density and increasing in pliability. These overlays are also used throughout the midfoot on both medial and lateral sides, offering sufficient structure there.
Redesigned toe box featuring a series of overlays that form the toe bumper.
I found there to be no issues with the gusseted tongue, laces and traditional heel cup, which both served their purpose in providing sufficient lockdown in the midfoot and rearfoot respectively.
A standout feature of the upper is a little pouch situated at the top of the tongue that offers storage for the lace knot. This instills some confidence in preventing dust that may serve to loosen a tied lace, and guarantees no flopping around of laces.
Lace pouch works a treat at hiding the lace knot and ends
Single piece superimposed heel cup provides sufficient ]rear foot lockdown
Bryan: It seems that Asics has retained the Flytefoam midsole with a 34mm stack and 8mm drop that was featured in the Trabuco 9. The geometry and construction looks largely the same. This seems to be a formula that works, as there is sufficient cushioning but is not maximalist like the Trabuco Max. It is dense but not too firm. The Trabuco 10 will be friendly to a wide audience, featuring Asics’ signature Duomax midsole, a firmer density foam found along the medial side for support. On foot, the Duomax works well with Flytefoam and is not noticeable.
Denser Duomax midsole on the medial side blend in well with Flytefoam
As mentioned, there is significant flex afforded by the midsole which I personally love. It is surprising that there actually is a rock-plate embedded within the midsole. Whilst not noticeable, the protection offered is. This results in a rather pleasant ride in technical and rocky terrain. There is also sufficient cushioning for heel landings with a 34mm stack in the heel. I personally prefer a 0-4mm drop with trail shoes, and found the 8mm drop in the Trabuco 10 to be acceptable and not overly noticeable.
Bryan: Again, there seems to be no change in the outsole from the Trabuco 9, with a full coverage, 5mm lugged Asics Grip. There is also no change to the lug pattern. Traction is absolutely superb and durability is definitely not an issue. It is probably also worth noting that the Trabuco Lyte and its successor the Fuji Lite 2 use a softer and tackier compound.
Full Asics Grip coverage with aggressive 5mm lug pattern
The deep lugs and its strategic layout complement the rock plate in providing ample protection. They protected my feet from a constant battering of rocky terrain underfoot during a trail marathon. Hard to fault, but my only gripe with the outsole was its ability to retain and cake mud due to the depth and close placement of the lugs.
Bryan: Notwithstanding my issue with the upper, the midsole and outsole work in sync to provide a balanced and cushioned ride. The flexibility afforded is appreciated on technical terrain. As mentioned, it does not ride like a 8mm drop shoe.
The shoe is somewhat a jack of all trades, even when it comes to the ride. It does not feel particularly fast or nimble like Asics Fujitrabuco Pro and Saucony Peregrine, which are both marathon capable shoes, on technical and less technical terrain. It also does not hold speed like the two mentioned shoes on flat compact gravel trails. Overall this shoe makes for a great ultra trail shuffler. Also as mentioned earlier on, due to the fit, the ride quality was impeded on descents.
To finish, while I found the ride to be cushioned, it is all relative where there are a multitude of cushier trail options out there by Salomon and Hoka for example.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Bryan: The Trabuco 10 is an underrated, underexposed and under-the-radar all purpose trail workhorse. I personally found the toe-box to be the main let down of the shoe for me, although Mike in his review of the Trabuco 9 (RTR Review), where there is virtually no difference in terms of volume and fit, but a difference in toe bumper construction, found the toebox to offer a superior all-day experience.
It may not be a racing option for some, including myself, but the Trabuco 10 has definitely found its place as a staple in my trail shoe rotation as a great shuffler that is also capable of holding good pace on technical climbs and non-technical undulating trails. Its weakness is on descents due to foot slippage, fit-wise for me. Its flexibility, protection and phenomenal traction are its greatest strengths.
Bryan’s score: (8.70/10)
Ride: 9.0 Fit: 8.0 Value: 9.0 Style: 9.0 Traction: 10.0 Rock Protection: 10.0
Asics Fuji Trabuco Lyte
Bryan: The predecessor to the Fuji Lite 2, the Lyte is a more ‘minimal’ version of the Trabuco 10, with shallower lugs, lower stack and no rock-plate. It offers the same firm but cushioned ride with good flex. The fit is more snug and race ready for shorter distances and I would pick the Lyte for all distances in less technical terrain under the marathon distance. For general use I much prefer the Lyte over the Trabuco 10.
Asics Gel-Fuji Trabuco Pro
Bryan: The not-so popular Pro is one of my favourites as I love a good racing flat-styled shoe, even on trails.The Flyte-Foam used in the Pro is slightly firmer than that in the Lyte and Trabuco 10 but it works extremely well with the deep and aggressive lug pattern delivering an aggressive ride. Both shoes include a rock place. The upper is on the less breathable side as compared to the Trabuco 10 but I found it to be a non-issue even in warmer conditions (up to 75 F / 23 C). Perhaps my impractical triple white Pro was somewhat heat-reflective. I would pick the Trabuco 10 for ultras but for technical but for non-technical marathons and below, the Pro runs superior.
Saucony Peregrine 6
Bryan: I’m including the Peregrine 6 for the record as my favourite trail shoe of all time, capable of a quick 10, a technical marathon and possibly ultra distances as well. The Peregrine offers a firmer ride and uses a woven rockplate and full rubber coverage, and with an equally aggressive lug pattern provides very good protection. The Saucony rock plate is much more evident than that of the Asics but still offers good flex. The Peregrine and the Trabuco are somewhat similar, but I found the Peregrine to be a little more aggressive, lighter in weight and more snug in the toe box with a better lockdown fit. That said, there is sufficient room in the Peregrine for splay and swelling on long days out. It remains my go to shoe for all trail runs and races.
On Cloud Ultra (RTR Review)
Bryan: In the same class of shoes as the Trabuco as its name suggests, the Cloud Ultra looks more bespoke as On shoes do. However, its shallow lugs and dull and hard ride is a no-compete with the Trabuco 10. Fit wise, I find the Trabuco to be superior as more volume is definitely better than the overly snug fit in the Cloud Ultra for trail runs of all distances.
Adidas Terrex Agravic Boa
Bryan: The Agravic Boa is another shoe with a voluminous toe box, but also too voluminous for its range. That said, the Agravic Boa is a fast shoe, capable of holding road racing paces on less technical gravel trails. The Boa lace system is fantastic too. However, there is a lack of rock protection with a relatively low stack height of 22mm at the rear and 15mm up front. Its relatively sparse lug pattern means that it is not suited to overly technical nor wet terrain. With minimal stack, I personally found it to be suitable for distances shorter than the marathon, which meant that my feet never swelled up to the shoe’s potential volume. The Agravic Boa is suitable for general trails and racing over shorter distances, whilst the Trabuco 10, which is a very different shoe, is definitely the more versatile option of the two.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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