Saturday, July 07, 2018

Asics Gecko XT Review - Rock Crawler Extraordinaire

by Jeff Valliere

Asics Gecko XT
10.4oz. US Men's size 9 (11 1/4 oz. / 318 grams US Men's size 10)
24mm heel/18mm forefoot (6mm drop)
First Impressions:
I'll admit that the plain black colorway with purple logo initially had me on the defensive.  The materials feel thick and durable, yet perhaps a bit stiff and warm.  The Gecko XT feels a bit on the heavy side and somewhat dense, more so than the advertised 10.4 oz. listed weight would imply.  The outsole looks very interesting, with low profile lugs that look best suited to rocky slabs and has a hint of approach shoe.

The seamless upper with welded overlays is secure and fits true to size, yet a bit narrow and tapered in the toe box.  It does a great job keeping my foot secure on steeper descents, but even my narrow foot feels a touch claustrophobic at times.  I never got blisters up front, but a bit more wiggle room would be nice while still maintaining security.  Fit is true to size in regards to length.
The upper materials, despite somewhat of a cheap look, are thick, durable and can take a beating.  I suspect they will hold up very well over time even if abused in rocky terrain and the moderate toe bumper helps to ward of rock stubs.  With the durability however comes a lack of breathability.  I found my feet to get hotter than average even on moderately warm days.  I think this is due to a combination of the thicker materials and black color.
The rand wraps around most of the shoe making for a protective layer to ward off scrapes and scuffs in rocky terrain.

The heel collar feels a bit high, but especially stiff with a rigid plastic heel counter insert that provides good protection and stability, but I found that it causes my Achilles discomfort and also some heel rub and blistering.
The heel collar is well padded.
The tongue is moderately padded and has a nice lace garage, which is especially fortuitous, as the laces are quite long.
The lacing system is snug and secure and I am able to achieve one and done tightness.

The FlyteFoam midsole is well cushioned and protective, suitable for moderate distances (several hours) and moderate paces, as response is not particularly quick or springy and overall has a bit of a flat feel.

By far the most exciting characteristic of the Gecko XT is the outsole, which features Asics GeckoTrac sticky rubber, delivering amazing grip on rock and in wet conditions, particularly on steep slabby terrain and smooth minimally featured rock.  With a rock plate in the forefoot to add protection, as well as some stiffness for edging on steeper terrain.
The lugs are wide and low profile, which are effective in providing more surface area to adhere to rock, but are not deep or sharp enough to give much confidence on steep, loose slopes and off trail, or mud or snow.  I am really impressed at how well the Gecko XT grabs on steep rocky slabs, scrambling, edging and sidehilling.

I found the Gecko XT to be a bit of a mixed bag.  I was hoping they would be a bit lighter, more nimble, agile and responsive for more lively runs, but instead they feel a bit flat and not particularly quick.  That said, it is a competent adventure shoe, especially if you frequent rocky terrain and like to scramble, as the Gecko XT is reminiscent of an approach shoe that you can run in, reasonably well.  The toe box will be an issue for those with wider feet and the rigid heel counter may or may not be of bother depending on your heel shape, size and sensitivity level.  I'll likely not run in the Gecko XT much beyond this review, but will for sure keep it handy for adventures that require some scrambling or mellow rock climbing with my daughters.

Jeff's Score: 8.8/10
- .2 for narrow toe box
- .3 for rigid heel counter
- .3 for lack of response
- .4 for lack of breathability


Asics Gecko XT vs. La Sportiva Lycan (RTR review here)- Both shoes have a 6mm drop and minimal tread and are close in price.  The Lycan has 1 more millimeter of midsole and feels a little more cushioned and responsive.  The Lycan is lighter, more nimble and responsive, but the Gecko has better grip, particularly on rock.

Asics Gecko XT vs. Salomon XA Elevate - (RTR review here)- Same weight and $10 difference in price, the Elevate and Gecko have similar forefoot protection and traction on wet or dry rock, with the edge going to the Gecko, however the Elevate has far superior fit and overall responsive feel.  Stack is comparable, but the Elevate feels more protective, cushioned and supportive for longer runs and has much better traction in loose terrain, snow and mud.

Reviewer Bio
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 2d Masters in 2015. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the Colorado 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.   

The products reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Jeff Valliere said...


Anonymous said...

that heel counter is tragic, the rest of the boot is great. Got mega blisters on heel and sore heel as well.

kimura said...

Can you confirm that the sole is good at wet rock that normaly is more sleepery than any other condition? Not wet conditions only but in wet rocks. Tks

Jeff Valliere said...

My experience in the wet with this shoe while testing was minimal, given the time of year, trails were very dry. From what I remember though, they seemed to grip well when crossing creeks and such, so am inclined to say yes, but again, did not run in truly wet conditions. Things are wet now though, so will try them again and report back.