Kit Review: ASICS Gel Fuji Rado
The perfect all round trail shoe?
You know when you see something in a shop and know immediately that you need that in your life? Well that’s exactly what happened when I saw and tried on the ASICS Fuji Rado back in the summer of 2017. It may have taken me 6 months to officially get them in my life, but in the first week of January 2018 I had a pair on my feet ready to head out for my first run.
I think you can tell a lot about a shoe the first time you run in them. Any initial tight areas, any hot spots and generally whether it’s going to become part of your core running shoe collection. I set out the door on a rather overcast, slightly drizzly evening trail run to give them a blast.
If it wasn’t immediately obvious, it’s worth highlighting that this is a trail running shoe. I have personally been a fan of the Fuji Attack which I wore for the majority of my trail running in 2017, so the Fuji Rado is designed to complement the ever expanding range of off-road offerings from ASICS.
The thing you notice first about this shoe is that there is no shoe ‘tongue’ or indeed any traditional laces. This is down to what ASICS refer to as a ‘mono sock’, and the lacing is down to a thing called the ‘BOA system’ which has since had a fair bit of media coverage. Any cyclists reading this are no stranger to a BOA system, but it’s definitely a new addition to running shoes, and I can actually see it featuring much more in future shoe designs (it’s already being used by ASICS, New Balance and Under Armer). For cycling shoes at least, this BOA system has traditionally utilised a steel or nylon lace, whereas I found out in my research that the Fuji Rado uses a lace called a TX4. This not only looks and feels softer, but is obviously lighter also. I was a bit worried that it may feel tighter in specific areas vs. others, but to be fair I found that there weren’t any specific pressure points; partly due (in my opinion at least!) to the fact that there is one continuous lace). General snugness was very good, its quick and easy to use and you can dial in a couple of clicks to tighten up extremely quickly. To loosen off, you have to release the lace and re-tighten, but it’s all very quick.
In terms of fit I would say its definitely narrower than other running shoes I have, especially around the heel cup. This personally works for me as I often find that a shoe can feel tight around the toe box, but still slip off the back of the foot. Other people with a similar issue will be familiar with this debate around having one or the other, or having to use a sole insert. I have read other reviews from people with a wider foot, who have said similar. If you know you have an especially wide foot I would just advise to get down your local store to try a pair on vs. one of the other models. Also just to note, I was a half size to a full size smaller in the Fuji Rado compared to other ASICS shoes I wear.
So, back to my first run. I was 5km in and I found that any initial new shoe stiffness was fading which is great. No hot spots or rubbing, and I had to really try and focus on my feet and whether there was any other feedback. As most runners know if there is an issue with a shoe, it really won’t take long for you to know about it! I stopped to take a photo of my shoes, being passed by a few dog walkers, I am sure wondering why I’m walking around like a barefooted idiot in the woods! 14km soon ticked by and I was left impressed with this shoe, and starting to get excited about a potential shoe for my 2018 trail races and ultras.
Two days later I checked off another run in these shoes, this time a 20km training session incorporating more hard pack trail as well as some off-road trails and grass. Once again I was left impressed with performance over the cross of terrains, which often pure trail shoes can fall short on. This is usually down to their stiffness and/or a rigid plate in the sole to prevent any stones pushing through. The Fuji-Rado felt more like a traditional road shoe in terms of comfort and cushioning, but with the sole and grip of a trail shoe- the best of both worlds.
The final test and third outing for these shoes was the 37th annual Box Hill fell run! 12km and 650m of climbing really put these shoes through their paces. Comfortable, light, surprisingly waterproof and no fuss. I would say not as grippy as some out and out fell shoes, I did find myself struggling a little in the very thick mud, but this was a pretty rare and brutal race. I finished the race in one piece, albeit absolutely covered in mud!
So to sum up the Fuji Rado. I would say a great all round trail shoe. It allowed me to transition from many different types of terrain (bar very extreme off road) with little issues and a surprisingly high level of comfort. Needless to say that this has now replaced my beloved Fuji Attacks’, and will be my shoe of choice for the upcoming Transgrancanaria 125km mountain ultra in February. Bring it on!
Hopefully the above is useful, let me know if you´ve test driven these shoes recently. Don´t forget to subscribe so you don´t miss any future posts!