Disclaimer No. 1: I’m not a hardcore trail guy. If that’s an issue for you when reading a shoe review, I invite you to click away now with no hurt feelings.
But in some ways I think that makes me a better candidate to review the new ASICS GEL-FujiRado ($130), because I’m not married to one particular brand or style and have zero preconceived notions.
The FujiRado is a five-year collaboration between ASICS and BOA—the Denver based company known for its dial lacing system. After enjoying success in golf, snowboarding and cycling (among many other categories), this is BOA’s first push into the run space, a process that took half a decade of testing, retesting and then more testing. Additional pairings with ASICS, New Balance and Under Armor are expected in the coming months.
My run with the FujiRado was with the BOA folks at Red Rocks, about a half hour from their offices in Denver. We tackled the Matthews/Winters trail, a 6.9 mile loop that that takes you close to 6,800 feet. I did not complete the full 6.9 miles, which leads us to …
Disclaimer No. 2: I work, live and play at sea level in San Diego. So I’m not ashamed to admit that the Denver altitude crushed me at about a mile (and 8-percent incline) into the run. Rather than feeling like I was stuck in the smoker’s lounge at Denver International Airport for the next 90 minutes, I opted to pace myself with a run-walk combo. Which was fine because I wanted to enjoy my gorgeous surroundings and also get a sense for how the shoe performed at different speeds.
Even if I had trained at altitude for weeks leading up to this run, it’s unlikely I would have done the whole thing at full speed because I was told by seasoned trail runners who joined us that they found the loop surprisingly technical. That said, the shoe performed wonderfully. There were tight cuts, rocks to jump and accelerate off of and just enough zig-zag that ankle stability was put to the test.
The grip was outstanding thanks to ASICS’ mono-sock fit system. Not once did I feel my foot slip within the shoe. The padding is ample and the BOA lacing system easily withstood multiple knocks from rocks and debris. Plus, the dial is designed to detach rather than break, so you can just pop it back on if it becomes dislodged. The guarantee for the lifetime of the shoe is also a nice perk. You can feel that this collaboration was not a rushed process.
Here’s the downside. The gods cursed me with a wide foot. So if you’re like me, you’ve been substituting length for a wider toe box your whole life. You’ll have to do the same with the FujiRado, which has a slim fit en route to the tootsies. The end result was one blister.
Aside from that, I imagine this is a shoe that would equally satisfy the experienced trail runner and amateur runner/hiker. The BOA system doesn’t add much more weight (no more than wet laces) and the reassuring fit easily outweighs a few grams.
I started by saying I’m not a hardcore trail guy. I’m hoping with extra use the toe box will loosen up. Because these shoes make me want to be one.