Asics has such a strong presence in the road running world that I sometimes overlook their contributions to mountain running and trail running. The Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 ($140) has been a most excellent addition to my quiver, particularly as I slowly ramp up miles for adventures on the rocky, dusty, and sometimes muddy Front Range and high-country trails of Colorado where I live.
If you relish highly cushioned, smooth riding, and grippy shoes to carry you over rocks, roots, hardpack dirt, medium spicy jeep roads, some mud, occasional snow, and up and down the mountains and molehills, the Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 is a near perfect option.
What I also really appreciate about this 8-millimeter drop shoe from the outset is that it feels like a shoe that can please a wide range of runners’ feet, bodies, and preferences, especially for those of us with wider feet and a not- exactly-gazelle style of running.
The actual weight for a men’s size 9 is a hefty 11.1 ounces (315 grams) and this model has a stack height of 35.5 millimeters at the heel and 27.5 millimeters at the toe.
While there are better options for significant mud/snow/ice, fell racing, and speed, it’s a most-terrain trail running and mountain running shoe and very versatile if you’re traveling or want to keep your running quiver pared down.
A sizing note, I’m finding my optimal size to be a half size smaller than most of the shoes I wear, including La Sportiva, New Balance, Brooks, and Saucony, but a half size bigger than Salomon.
Shop the Women’s Asics Gel-Trabuco 11Shop the Men’s Asics Gel-Trabuco 11
Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 Upper
The mid-plus-volume upper of the Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 is constructed from a highly breathable, quick-drying, and flexible mesh (50% recycled materials) with thin TPU overlays in the traditional Asics design, providing structure. The protective rand is on the more substantial end and runs from the toe through the midfoot-forefoot junction. The outsole extends up into the middle one-third of the toe area as well, creating strong protection against toe stubs, branches, and cacti. I would very much appreciate this shoe for runs in Arizona and Utah.
Thin overlays support the lacing system and promote a snug fit through the midfoot, creating more stability and control with off-camber running. I find the laces to stay secure with a double knot, and I’m able to adjust the fit via the laces through the midfoot and have it stay as I prefer.
The mildly padded tongue is gusseted about three quarters of the way and protects the top of the foot from the laces and dries relatively efficiently after submersion. One added detail is the elastic loop that acts as lace garage or routing to keep laces secure. I’ve not found this to be necessary.
The heel cup is quite firm near the midsole but increases in flexibility toward the Achilles, which enhances comfort without sacrificing confidence and control. Soft padding through the ankle collar adds leveled up comfort around my ankle bones, which adds to the ease of wearing the shoes over long miles. A stout webbing loop at the back of the heel counter makes it easy to get them on/off or secure them to a gym bag.
Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 Midsole
My distinctly middle-aged feet appreciate responsive cushioning and protection, but my body still doesn’t love maximalist shoes, significant rocker bottoms, and the lower drop of many of the shoes out there. The Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 hits the sweet spot of protection and cushion while still allowing me to push the pace on flats and rocky downhills thanks, in part, to the midsole technology.
A simple, removable Asics insole offers just enough support for my high-arched feet, but I certainly wouldn’t object to more substantial arch support here like the OrthoLite insoles often found in other shoes from a few years ago. This is the only aspect I’d improve in this area of the shoe.
This version features 2 millimeters more foam than prior versions with the change to Asics’s very responsive FF BLAST foam in the midsole. This coupled with the gel in the rearfoot improves the impact absorption and smoothness of the roll from heel strike to toeoff. As a heel striker, I love the feel of this ride. A thin, flexible rock plate is very effective at warding off any intrusions through the outsole, which makes it a shoe you can easily wear for 50 kilometers in a wide variety of terrain.
So much of my running has been on dry, rubbly, and hilly trails that I’ve really put the midsole to the test. With over 175 miles in the shoe, there are no signs of compression lines or change in comfort. These are easily my current shoe of choice when my training plan involves big hill repeats with long, poundy downhills, and they’ll be with me once our higher mountains open up as well.
Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 Outsole
The Asics Gel-Trabuco 11’s improved ASICSGRIP compound is proving to be one of the more grippy and durable outsoles of my current trail shoes, perhaps on par with Vibram’s compound at least at this point in my testing. Despite all the rocks they’ve been subjected to, I have zero signs of wear and there remains some pliability to the tread with finger pressure. One might think that this level of durability would make the shoe stiff or unyielding underfoot, but that has not been my experience. The outsole flexibility is enhanced with small cutouts throughout the sole, which also serves to reduce the overall weight.
The other update to the outsole in this version is a slightly wider platform across the base of the shoe. I find this promotes stability without creating awkward or sudden tipping points if I find myself stepping off a chunky trail or rock edge. This base integrated with Asics’s adaptive guidance system allows the Gel-Trabuco 11 to adapt to the terrain better than what I find with maximally cushioned shoes. It provides just the right amount of torsional control for my foot to quickly accommodate to camber, rocks and roots, and otherwise wonky terrain, which gives me more confidence particularly on downhills.
The grip and traction provided by the 4-ish-millimeter tri-blade and chevron-shaped lugs is excellent for most of what I run on including hardpack singletrack, rocks, rubble, roots, some mud, and short stretches of snow. I’ll certainly take them on the sections of the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail as well as my usual 13er and 14er training mountains this summer.
Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 Overall Impressions
Overall, I really appreciate the Asics Gel-Trabuco 11 for longer days with more miles and smiles. The comfort and smooth, rolling ride, to me, draws from Asics’s road heritage — but the grippy, high-traction outsole and rock plate make this is a worthy trail shoe for mountain and ultramarathon experiences, particularly for those of us who value cushioning and protection.
It’s not quite an all-mountain, super burly rock hopper like you might desire for primarily off-trail travel in super rocky terrain, but most of what I do doesn’t require significantly more structure. I do find them to be more responsive and easier to run my version of fast in than shoes like the New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v7 — read our New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v7 review — but slightly less nimble and speedy than something like the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 — and here’s our Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 review, too.
I also prefer the more traditional shape of the Gel-Trabuco 11 over the rocker style featuring heavily in many newer trail shoes on the market currently.
I often wax poetic about the Montrail Vitesse line from my early ultrarunning days, but it feels like this could be a more cushioned, slightly-less-burly cousin to that shoe. Without a doubt, I’ll be buying myself another pair of these once they’re retired.
Shop the Women’s Asics Gel-Trabuco 11Shop the Men’s Asics Gel-Trabuco 11
Call for Comments
- Are you running in the Asics Gel-Trabuco 11? What do you think?
- If you’ve been running in the Gel-Trabuco line, how does this model compare to prior versions?
- What would be your maximum distance or time comfortably wearing these shoes?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]