The Asics Gel FujiTrainer 2 was a new experience for me, having stuck mostly to roads in the past, so I was eagerly anticipating this test
When I opened the box, I was delighted with what I saw. These shoes are fantastic looking trail shoes, however, not for the faint-hearted. When I picked them up, they were surprisingly light, and the toe-guard looks reasonably sturdy. Upon turning over, I didn't really know what to make of the lugs, as they looked a little tamer than I was expecting, but, once I put them on, I could feel that they would be pretty grippy after all. The rest of the shoe felt good; nice and roomy in the front to allow toes to spread, and nice and soft thanks the the gel in the heel and the toughened Solyte foam in the midsole, however the heel felt a little sloppy.
The midsole sits in between a regular road shoe like the Gel Cumulus and a cushioned barefoot shoe like the Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris. It felt slightly lower than I expected, which was a good thing, as it meant I could feel the ground underneath me, yet I was still cushioned, which, as a newbie to trail running, was reassuring. It has a heel-toe differential of 5mm, with a 24mm heel and a 19mm forefoot, which was also a nice feeling having gotten used to running on my forefoot. This also allowed the shoe to remain flexible throughout.
The upper is made of a tight weave mesh which is supposed to prevent as much water getting in as it would in a road shoe. This works, and as it is not supposed to be a waterproof shoe, held up surprisingly well. I was a little confused by the fit; Asics shoes usually fit quite snuggly, however, this one was fairly loose, and with the lack of rear eyelet made the shoe feel a little sloppy around my very 'athletic' ankles. In fact, the only eyelet was found right up by my ankle; the rest were simply stitched onto the shoe. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to note. The laces were also very thin, and to compensate for the lack of rear eyelet, I had to pull them quite tight, which made them a little irritating. The use of a lace garage in the tongue however, was a nice touch; one that meant laces would not snag on brambles or debris. The front end also has a toe bumper to guard against the inevitable stumbles over rocks.
AHAR+ is used on the outsole, and the opposite facing lugs seemed like they would do an excellent job in all but the boggiest of conditions. The lugs were also fairly flexible, but sturdy at the same time, again reassuring me that they'd hold onto the ground and pus it out behind me, but would wear away on the harder areas. The outsole is also one piece, which meant that I was guarded from sharp objects such as brambles and stones. Combined with the toe guard in the upper, and very protected in this shoe.
I have mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, the outsole unit was superbly grippy, and the midsole was very comfortable to run on. Not one thing got through the bottom of the shoe, and I could feel everything underneath my feet, which was nice. On the other hand, its such about the laces! With different laces in them, they felt a little better, but the were really missing that rear eyelet for butterfly lacing, and for people with skinny ankles, this would have been a lifesaver. I hope that in the next one they change that, because otherwise, this would have been an excellent shoe to start (and continue) trail running in.