Thursday, September 09, 2021

ASICS Fuji Lite 2 Multi Tester Review: Fun and Energetic Trail (& Road) Speedster, 16 comparisons.

Article by Mike Postaski, John Tribbia, Renee Krusemark, Shannon Payne and Sam Winebaum

ASICS Fuji Lite 2 ($120)


Introduction

Sam: The Fuji Lite 2 is a lightweight, flexible trail shoe with in its capabilities mix strong road capabilities. It features a softer and bouncier Flytefoam midsole of the same material as the MetaRacer, Nimbus Lite and Kayano Lite and with at least 10% recycled cellulose nano fibers from sugar cane waste 


The midsole is backed up by a stout, full coverage ASICS Grip outsole with 4mm lugs.

The upper is a light recycled engineered mesh with a trail worthy toe bumper and solid rear hold.

Coming in at 9.3 oz / 264g for a men’s US9 with an approximate 30mm heel / 26mm forefoot full stack height, 4mm drop, there is plenty of cushion and adequate protection (no rock plate but flexible forefoot). 


Just the kind of combination that says to me the Fuji Lite 2 will go anywhere, trail or road, and fast.


Mike P - This is my second Asics shoe, the first being the Trabuco Max.  I really liked that shoe, although for me it was somewhat limited in technical terrain due to its stiffness as well as clunky upper.  The standout features for me were foot protection and traction. I was curious to see what Asics came up with in a sub-max shoe.  Could they package the aforementioned standout features in a lightweight version to create a speedster to compete with the likes of the Torrent 2 or Terraultra G 270?  Well it turns out my ideas about comps based on the spec sheet and pictures were a bit off. So what exactly does this shoe deliver?


Shannon: I’m probably not alone in saying that there was a long span of time where I gave up on Asics. For about a decade if you want to know the truth. But, I’ve been seeing some really great product hit the shelves over the last year or so and have heard great things about many of them. I even gave the newest version of the Cumulus a whirl and was admittedly impressed as it was a far cry from more previous versions now than I care to count. Given I have never tried a trail shoe from Asics, and the Fuji Lite seemed right up my alley, I was excited to put some trail miles in with it.




Pros:

  • Highly versatile-a quite light, flexible and lively almost all terrains (including road) ride Sam, Mike P, Renee

  • Plenty of cushion and bounce: Sam, Mike P, Renee, John

  • Light at 9.3 oz US men’s 9 for its full stack (30mm heel) and 4mm lug outsole: Sam, Mike P, Renee, John

  • Ideal dirt roads, moderate trails, winter snow covered roads option Sam, Mike P, Renee, John

  • A fine, very fine road tempo shoe due to combination of flexibility soft midsole and stout stable and responsive outsole Sam, Renee

  • Good traction on dry, sandy trails Mike P

  • Sticky rubber on rocky surfaces John

  • Simple effective upper for more moderate terrain purposes: Sam, Mike P, Renee, John

  • Great all around training shoe for the high school and college XC runner that will take them into winter as well Sam

Shannon:

  • Lighter weight but still a protective midsole.

  • I’m not picky on drop, but feel I’ve always had success in trail shoes in the 4-8mm range. This one is 4mm.

  • Versatile outsole.

Cons:

  • Could use more ball of foot protection/ stability for rockier  terrain Sam, Shannon

  • A few more millimeters of midsole potentially with a touch less outsole would extend the shoe’s range and versatility Sam

  • Midfoot support could benefit from a gusset type tongue for more technical terrain use: Sam

  • Any decent sized rocks or gravel will be felt through forefoot Mike P

  • Not stable enough for tight and twisty terrain, steep and/or rocky descents Mike P

  • Tongue is not integrated and comes loose, lots of dirt and rocks get inside shoe John


Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 9.3 oz / 264g (US9) women’s 7.82oz / 222g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  9.06 oz / 257g US8.5 , 9.8 oz / 279g (US10) (note- left shoe 284g, right shoe 274g), women’s 7.82oz / 222g (US8)

Midsole Stack Height: 18mm heel / 14mm forefoot

Measured Full Heel Height: 30mm, Spec Drop 4mm, 26mm forefoot

Available now including at our partners below. $120  


Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski Born and raised in New Jersey, recently moved to Boise, ID in 2019, mainly to have better and easier access to outdoor adventure I have no formal running training, have never run on a team at any level, and can count the times I've run on a track on one hand.  Picking up running in my early 30s, starting on roads, progressing to marathons (PR 2:40, Boise 2019), and eventually I discovered trails. I love going fast and running all distances, but I especially love long mountain ultras.  My three 100 milers so far have all been in the 25k vert range. I also enjoy the challenge of looped/timed trail races, and even the backyard ultra format. I am definitely a gear junkie - I have gone through more running vests than I can remember, and my trail running shoe collection currently sits at 38 pairs (all tracked via spreadsheet)!  My wife does not appreciate this


Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon


John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.


Shannon is a Colorado native currently residing in Northern California. NorCal is nice, but Colorado has her heart. Having run competitively for around 20 years, she was a 7x All American at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was a 2x member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, 2x winner of the Mt. Washington Road Race, and was 3rd at the 2014 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship. Her favorite shoes currently include the Hoka Torrent, Saucony Kinvara, and Brooks Launch, and her favorite runs include anything that goes uphill.  


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA.


First Impressions and Fit

Mike P First Impression - let me go back and check the spec sheet.. They were listed at 18/14mm midsole stack height, so I was a bit thrown off when they felt so much higher than that. 

I have recently been testing Topo ST-4’s listed at 16mm, and these felt WAY higher.  Sam checked and came up with a heel measurement of 30mm total, which includes outsole, inner board, and insole.  The insole feels very thin to me after a couple of runs, so I’d estimate something in the range of the upper 20’s as far as heel stack.  The main impression is that the midsole feels noticeably soft on step-in - I knew right away it would be a different shoe than what I had anticipated.  The upper feels quite comfortable, wrapping the foot nicely without any pressure points.


John:  Like Mike P, I tested the Asics Trabuco Max and found the Fuji Lite 2 to be a perfect complement to the Asics trail lineup. I am impressed with the light weight, response, agility, decent protection and traction for such a light and fast shoe. After trying the Fuji Lite inside the house, I’m excited to test this shoe for faster days on road, trail, and technical uphill, but not in rocky, technical terrain with significant downhills.  Fit feels true to size and not narrow. I find the tongue to be an afterthought, despite the nice lace box feature. It fits haphazardly over the foot and I can already see gaps between the tongue and upper.


Renee: Bravo, ASICS. Bravo. I really like this shoe. On paper, the Fuji Lite 2 seems like a run-of-the-mill daily trainer. On foot, the Fuji Lite 2 proves to be a quality workout shoe and a versatile daily trainer. The Fuji Lite 2 will remain in my “varsity” shoe line-up until they fall apart. Runners who like lightweight shoes can wear the Fuji Lite 2 for short or long runs. I have 58 total miles in these shoes after five days of running, ranging from 6 mile runs to one 19 mile run, mixing in easy to tempo paces. For sizing, I recommend true-to-size. 


Shannon: My women’s size 8 fit true to size, and I immediately liked the forgiving, sock-like knit upper. I also like that the shoe lacked the plastic trusstic piece that used to be so popular among Asics shoes, making way for a full-ground contact midsole. The shoe is light, flexible, and fits my foot well. The most noticeable aspect when it came to running in the shoe was the pronounced, almost rocker-like feel to the forefoot, which was neither good nor bad, just different. It was my hope to use this shoe to race the  Mt. Baldy Race to the Top on Labor Day in SoCal, but alas the race was postponed until October, so that will have to wait!

Sam: The step in and walk feel is soft and quite bouncy. This changes on the run on hard surfaces as the big outsole makes its presence felt as a stabilizing and responsive at the ground platform.


I would call the true to size fit, road shoe plus as opposed to dedicated trail shoe burly and rugged but with today’s thin very well engineered mesh (such as Hoka Zinal) initial appearances and feel can be decieving. 


The upper while a thin engineered mesh has an array of thin width but fairly thick overlays tying the lace eyelets down to the sole on both sides plus substantial Tiger logo overlays at midfoot.

This saId there is also no gusset to the tongue, sort of surprising me and especially in a trail shoe with a light upper. 

We have an extensive quite rigid toe bumper wrapping quite far around the sides but never interfering with the top of the toes as it also delivers fine height.

Being an ASICS we have as always a solid heel clutch. 


I could tell right away the upper and fit would do just fine on moderate trail terrain and road.


Upper

Mike P The upper integrates nicely with the rest of the shoe.  With quite a soft midsole, it is just supportive enough to stabilize the foot without being overly constricting.  While one might hope for more support over a softer platform, I think it would be a mismatch to the purpose of the shoe.  In comparison to the Trabuco Max - the toebox is definitely wider and the material has a touch more stretch to it.  Also it is less tapered, or “pointy” towards the front, so it should work fine for those with normal to wider feet.  I did use a lace lock tie to get a better heel lockdown, but I did not have to cinch the laces tight.  

The throat of the shoe (from the heel to the top of tongue) does feel a bit open, so I feel like the lace locking helps keep the rear of the shoe more secure.  That is just a personal preference/adjustment though, not an issue.


Renee: The upper is comfortable and soft with a roomy toe box and well placed toe bumper. The shoelace pocket on the tongue is a nice touch, and I found it useful this time of year when I collect sticker/grass burrs on my shoes when running my usual country roads. I ran one 10-miler on single track trails, getting about 150 feet of elevation per mile across some jaunty twists and decline/inclines. Not a fault of the shoe’s purpose, but the upper isn’t as tight or locked down as needed for moderate technical trails. I’m not running super technical mountain terrain, so it works well for me. The upper lockdown might be the only downfall of the shoes, but only for runners frequenting technical trails. For my usage, I wouldn’t change anything about the upper’s fit. The tongue is not gusseted, but I had no issues with the comfort of the tongue as long as I ensured that it lay flat and even across my foot before tightening the laces. My heel sits fairly low in the shoe, and I had some irritation when running in short/no-show socks. I have a low volume foot, so this is a personal issue. 


John: The upper is very conforming and comfortable on skin. The well placed toe bumper is unnoticeable basically, though I wouldn’t count on it saving you in technical terrain. The tongue is not gusseted, as mentioned, and I found it bunched up and moved out of place when trying to get a more precise fit. I’ve only worn the shoe in summer temperatures but I think it would provide a bit too much ventilation to keep feet warm in snowy cold months. 


Midsole

Mike P Definitely soft, perhaps squishy?  I was expecting something firmer based on my experience with the Trabuco Max, but I guess Asics has different formulations for their FlyteFoam midsole material. Here you basically have a slab of soft FlyteFoam with an outsole strapped to it.  

There are no other layers of firmer foam, stabilizing effects, etc.  I think it is the softest midsole on any trail shoe that I have- I’ll cover performance in the Ride section. The only concern I have would be the midsole packing out over time since it is so soft.  But FlyteFoam does seem to have a different type of compression and rebound than standard EVA, so I’m really not sure- only time will tell. One small note - the midsole is actually a cream color, not white.  I quite like it as it blends in with the sandy dirt in my area. 


Renee: The midsole is soft, comfortable, and somewhat bouncy. As a trail shoe, that might not sound appealing to runners who like a nimble shoe with ground feel, but the midsole (and the shoe overall) strikes a good balance between comfortable/responsive and lightweight/stable. I thought the midsole was comfortable for easy paces and provided good response at tempo paces. I ran two back-to-back longer runs (19 miles one day and then 2.5 hours the next day) and I think the midsole is enough for me to run 20 mile training runs without hesitation. The shoes aren’t a bad choice as a race shoe either because of the light weight. The midsole feels the same after 50 miles as it did with zero miles, and I wouldn’t mind using it for a 50k distance. I’m hoping the midsole maintains its comfort and bounce well past 150 miles, but I’ll have to report back in RTR’s Weekly Quick Strides once I hit that mileage.


John: I agree with Renee that the Fuji Lite midsole offers a nice balance between comfort, response, light weight, and stability. In fact, I find the midsole to be the main appeal for this shoe in my opinion, providing a perfect balance of soft cushion that stays comfortable all day long and predictability + control.  I found the midsole to perform well at a variety of speeds and distances. Whether on roads, trails, extended downhills, the cushion is very effective at absorbing impact and helping the legs stay fresh.


Shannon: I found the midsole to be quite soft, without feeling mushy. Perhaps if there was more volume to the midsole it would feel a bit mushy underfoot for my taste, but given the fact that this is not a shoe with an overabundance of midsole foam, I found it to be a great balance of just enough midsole foam, with just enough cushion.


Sam: Soft and energetic the midsole clearly reminds of the same type of at least 10% cellulose nanofiber Flytefoam found in the MetaRacer and Kayano Lite.  Comparing and to pressing it is softer than the Kayano Lite’s foam.


The actual midsole foam stack is only 18mm heel 14mm forefoot in the men’s version with a full stack (sockliner, board, midsole, and outsole) which I measured at 30mm / 26mm so we are decently stacked but not in the max cushion category.  The advantages of a relatively low stack height, and no rockplate, are front flexibility and agility with the outsole providing both adequate protection and overall stability.  The disadvantages are none for me at the heel as there is plenty of cushion and stability but a somewhat thin feeling forefoot and relatively light protection at the ball of the foot. The tradeoff is worth it as there are plenty of stiffer, higher stack not nearly as energetic trails shoes to choose from for longer days on more technical terrain.


Outsole

Mike P AsicsGrip outsole is the real deal.  I have experienced great traction as well as durability with my Trabuco Max.  The rubber itself as well as the arrangement of the lugs seems to provide a claw-like effect.  The rubber on these Fuji Lyte’s does seem to be a bit softer than the version used in the Trabuco Max. It works well with the soft midsole since it is quite flexible, contouring over the terrain and having a similar “grabbing” effect as the Trabuco Max. The outsole/midsole flexes quite well together, which allows the shoe to work a bit better on moderately technical terrain than expected.  If they had gone with a stiffer outsole/rubber compound I think it would have had a de-stabilizing effect, so kudos to Asics for that choice. 

I would expect good durability based on my experience with the Trabuco Max. 


Renee: Mike’s right: ASICSGRIP is the real deal. The shoes aren’t as nimble as I would like for jaunty trails, but I actually had a lot of fun on my 10-mile single track run, and the surface was slightly muddy. The outsole did great in providing grip and traction to run faster on the declines and turns. The outsole is great on loose dirt and gravel too. 


John: Not to sound like a broken record, but the AsicsGrip is outstanding. In addition to the comments above, I took these on my standard Bear Peak via Fern Canyon route that has a mix of groomed and highly technical trails and has inclines upwards of 60+ percent. The outsole did really well providing grip and traction on everything, including rocky scrambling surfaces and  loose footing steep inclines.


Shannon: This particular outsole was ideal for the dry, hard-packed, sometimes gravelly trails of Northern California. It’s certainly not an overly aggressive tread, so I cannot speak to how it might perform on softer ground and more wet surfaces, but for dry terrain common to climates. 


Sam: Plenty of outsole and rubber for when you need it, not really in the way if a bit noisy and less lugs are noticed when you don’t, say when you take the Fuji Lite to the roads. I think the outsole on firm hard surfaces delivers snap and response plus stability that blends well with the soft and bouncy midsole. In fact the faster I went the more the outsole manifested itself almost plate like in effect in delivering spring and snappy get up and go  to this flexible shoe. 


Ride

Mike P My first test run was on an easy day on flattish trails after hill intervals the previous day. I thought it would be a good day to test how well the soft midsole felt after a hard day on the feet. I was quite surprised at how bouncy and responsive they felt right away.  I didn’t feel bogged down at all by the softness and tired legs.  I had to check my pace and realized I was going a bit quicker than intended, but my RPE was low.  I would say my one-word description of the run was “fun” - I had a great time on a day where typically I would be just getting it done. 

For my next run, I was a bit fresher and planned more of a free form Fartlek with pickups on uphills as well as descents.  


I wanted to see how the shoe would handle pushing the pace. Typically I would do this run in either Torrents or Terraultras - both are low to the ground and stable for faster running.  Again I was surprised at how responsive the Fuji’s felt, especially on uphill “sprints”. I expected them to be squishy and difficult to accelerate, but in fact they seemed to compress just a little, then firm up the more I put pressure into the ground.  On the descents they also felt more secure than expected.   I tried to hit some turns and rocky sections- they performed quite well as long as I could spot my footfalls and it wasn’t too off-camber.  I did feel some rocks and gravel get through to my foot - especially in the forefoot.  Again, there is no rock plate, and the midsole is quite soft, so high levels of protection are not to be expected.


Renee: I love the ride and agree with Mike. The shoe is lightweight for the amount of comfort underfoot, and when I want to, I can run tempo paces. The roll forward from the forefoot is natural and fast, and coupled with the outsole, I was able to run strong/steady uphill on gravel and fast downhill (on rolling hills, averaging 100 feet of elevation per miles). The ride was fun on a slightly muddy single trail run (150 foot gain per mile), although maybe not as nimble as needed for more technical trails. 


John: I also agree with Mike P and Renee. The ride is smooth, fast, responsive and well cushioned. These are the type of shoes that have you feeling and running fast, even on recovery days. There’s an efficient bounce to the Fuji Lite that is perfect for uptempo training runs, race efforts, or FKT attempts on most trails and even roads uptempo training or race efforts on most trails, dirt roads and even on pavement.


Shannon: I will echo that this is a smooth and responsive ride, but it doesn’t sacrifice a feeling of protection beneath the foot in order to be so. This shoe could double as a longer-tempo type effort shoe, or a race shoe. I also found it to feel quite nimble on slightly more technical sections as the upper has a glove-like fit, and the amount of midsole material doesn’t compromise proprioception.


Sam: As others have said: smooth, responsive, fun to run and a great climber due to its flexibility and full solid outsole acting as a platform to push off. On smoother terrain of any kind at faster paces, the Fuji Lite delivers a well if not overly cushioned ride as the outsole starts to dominate the softish foam delivering increasing response. I most often find response to be defined by the outsole rubber and its thickness, firmness and design, that characteristic pop off the road. At slower paces character changes with a more mellow softer feel as the midsole foam’s energetic softness  is more dominant.  Kind of special and neat.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P The Fuji Lites ended up being something much different than what I thought they would be.  But in testing them and writing this review, I’ve come to realize that they seemed to have found a hole in my trail shoe quiver.  I typically tend to look for shoes that are suited for either super fast running (think intervals, Strava segments), or ultra distances (i.e. something to get me through or close to 100M). Any consideration for something in between seems to get lost in the shuffle.  I end up using my “ultra” shoes that I don’t quite like for one reason or another on my “easy” days.  I think this is where Fuji Lite will slot in for me.  Not every day is an all-out workout, or a super duper mountain ultra day.  In fact, the majority are not.  Why not pick a shoe to make those days as fun as possible?  The Fuji Lite’s are well suited to fill that role - a fun ride, while still having the assets to push just a little bit into those other ends of the spectrum.

Mike P (8.95/10)

Ride: 9.5 Fit: 9.0 Value: 9.0 Style: 9.0 Traction: 9.0 Rock Protection: 7.0

Standout feature is Ride, points off for Protection - although this is not necessarily a drawback as expectations should be set that this is not a shoe for rocky terrain 


Shannon: This is a versatile shoe for your trail-shoe-quiver. It’s enough shoe to be able to cover lots of ground without beating up the legs/feet, and also light, fast, and responsive race shoe. The outsole handled with ease the dry, often loose terrain that I frequent. The shoe’s best asset in my opinion, is its versatility both in the type of running it can handle, and the terrain it can handle. As an aside, again I did not get to test it on wet, muddy terrain. Overall, this is a solid trail shoe that could double as a trainer if you like a lighter weight shoe for longer miles, and certainly as a fast-workout/race shoe, which is its intention. Perhaps the only point at which it falls a little bit short in my opinion is the pronounced forefoot rocker-feel, which I found to be a bit awkward on flatter terrain and descents, but on the other hand felt quite good on climbs.

Shannon: 9/10


Sam: Take a softer and bouncier midsole foam, back it up with a stout full outsole, keep it flexible and top it off with essentially a reinforced road shoe upper, price it right at $120 and you get the Fuji Lite 2, a most versatile fun to run all arounder for trail and road.  I think you will get more than your money’s worth out of this shoe.  


It easily transitions from pavement where it has a great combination of softer midsole and snappy, firmer, and responsive outsole (even if the lugs are noticed as trail worthy 4mm).  It can serve as a nice tempo type shoe or daily trainer on road and then off  to the trails where it can handle most terrain but is a bit too thin feeling at the front and its upper a bit light (a gusset in the tongue would help) for the more technical.  Clearly it will be a top pick for me come winter on snow covered roads and also trails. I like a light flexible well lugged shoe on snow.


The Fuji Lite 2 would make an excellent choice for the high school or college runner seeking a multi purpose fall trails and roads  into winter snows and muddy roads option. 


I might wish for another version or a new model with a few millimeters more midsole stack of the same lively flavor of Flytefoam at the heel (6mm drop vs 4mm), a touch lower lugs, and very light rock protection (or more front midsole) to provide a yet more versatile shoe.

Sam’s Score  9.30 /10

Ride: 9.7(30%) Fit: 9.2(30%) Value: 9.8(10%) Style: 9(5%) Traction: 9(15%) Rock Prot.: 8.5(10%)


Renee: The Fuji Lite 2 is a win for me and a shoe I recommend for runners who like lightweight shoes. The shoes are a versatile daily trainer: good for easy/short miles or long/quality runs. The shoes have potential to be a race shoe on non-technical trail surfaces. They are not heavy and roll forward fast off the forefoot. For their use and purpose, I would not change anything about the shoes. Runners who frequent moderate to technical trails might need a shoe with more protection underfoot, a firmer midsole, and a better lockdown on the upper. Otherwise, the Fuji Lite 2 is a must-try, especially at the reasonable price of $120. 

Renee’s score: 9.4/10 ( -.30 best for moderate/buffed surfaces, -.30 upper lockdown loosens on rougher/more technical terrain)


John: The Asics Fuji Lite 2 is a lightweight road to trail shoe with a very comfortable upper that provides a secure fit. It is energetic, smooth, plush, and has a consistent ride. This shoe performs well on a variety of surfaces, but due to the softness it struggles in the highly technical downhills when it comes to protection and foot security. If you are someone who enjoys a light and responsive trail shoe who is looking for a fast road-to-trail shoe to take on recovery runs or PR attempts, the Fuji Lite 2 is an ideal go-to option. 

John’s Score:  9/10

Ride: 10 (energetic!)

Fit: 9 

Value: 8.5 

Style:  9 (Like Mike P, the cream colored midsole is a nice touch when getting this shoe dirty) 

Traction:  8 (solid shoe for dry and steep, but not ideal for downhill technical terrain)

Rock Protection: 8 (a softer shoe that has minimal protection)


Watch Sam's Initial Video Review

16 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Asics Trabuco Max (RTR Review)

Mike P (US 10.0)- Not in the same class, Max is higher stack, denser FlyteFoam, much stiffer, more secure although less comfortable upper.  Going short - pick Fuji Lite, Going extra long - pick Trabuco Max (if you like the stiff rocker)

John: Agree with Mike P that the Fuji Lite 2 is a different classification compared to the Trabuco Max. In my opinion though, the Fuji Lite is an overall better shoe with broader use cases compared to the Trabuco Max. With aggressive tread and stiff rocker, the Trabuco Max didn’t appeal to me for long adventures, whereas the Fuji Lite is applicable for short, long, fast, slow, road, trail, and anything in between. 


Asics Gel Trabuco 9

Mike P (10.0)- As the name suggests, T9 is more aligned with Trabuco Max than Fuji Lite.  Also higher stack, denser FlyteFoam, stiffer (but not as much as Max). T9 upper is more similar to Fuji Lyte - T9 toebox is even more roomy.  I will be doing a full review of the Trabuco 9 soon.


Hoka Challenger ATR  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5 EE)- Another cruiser shoe, ATR 6 can certainly handle longer days, but also more at home on moderate terrain.  ATR upper security is about the same, but may be more stable due to wider platform.  ATR has better protection. Fuji Lite- more responsive, and much more fun. If you only use ATR’s for shorter/comfort runs, I would prefer Fuji Lite.


Renee: I tested the ATR 5, and not the 6. The ATR has a firmer, more cushioned midsole which makes it more protective underfoot. Like the Fuji Lite 2, the ATR can be used for short or longer runs, depending on the runner. I prefer the Fuji Lite 2. The ATR felt narrow under my arch, and I stopped running with them, which was a bummer. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in the Hoka as compared to a women’s 8 in the ASICS. Even at the half size longer, the ASICS is slightly lighter in weight. 


Hoka Torrent 2  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5)- Torrents lower to the ground, more stable, similar level of traction. Torrents can handle more technical terrain.  There may be some overlap between the shoes on more moderate terrain, it all depends on type of run and preference.

Renee: I agree with Mike. The Torrent 2 is one of my favorite trail shoes and it’s better-suited for technical or rough terrain because of its ground feel and nimble ride. On moderate terrain, I would prefer the Torrent 2 for short, fast runs; otherwise, the Fuji Lite 2 is my choice for moderate/longer distances (10+ miles). I wear a women’s size 7.5 in the Torrent as compared to the size 8 for the Fuji Lite. The Torrent 2 is slightly lighter weight. 

John: Mike and Renee hit the nail on the head with this comparison. I’m a big Torrent 2 fan because it is a low riding shoe and there’s greater ground feel + control. I like the Fuji for uphill running better, because there’s a more curved rocker and a little more thickness in the midsole to catch your foot earlier in the ground strike. 

Shannon: Maybe I’ve said this before, but I do love the Torrent. While both the Torrent and Fuji Lite are both great lightweight, lower profile trail options that can handle a variety of paces and terrain, I will reiterate that to me the Torrent has a more stable feel with its wider base and broader foundation.


Inov-8 Terraultra G 270  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10)- Similar comparison as to Torrent 2.  Terraultra’s much more all-mountain versatile. For easy days, I would prefer the 4mm drop and bouncy fun of the Fuji Lite.

Renee: Again, I agree with Mike. The G 270 is better for technical trails, but it still works very well on rolling gravel roads and moderate woodland trails. The G 270 is my favorite trail shoe for pretty much any distance or run. I would choose the Fuji Lite 2 for training purposes and save the G 270 for racing. I need to be in top shape to run the 0 drop G 270 for a 20+ mile run, so I have more confidence in the midsole of the Fuji Lite 2 for longer runs, especially on buffed surfaces. The G 270 is slightly heavier in the same size (women’s 8), although it’s not noticeable. 

Sam: Yes zero drop for the Inov-8 vs. 4mm for the Fuji Lite and that is noticed.  The Inov-8 has a more secure upper, similar if slightly firmer midsole feel, and an outstanding outsole.  The Terraultra is more technical terrain capable in the speed shoe class while the Fuji Lite is equally capable but leans more smooth terrain and road. Both are great choices and the choice depends on where you will most often run them.


Nike Pegasus Trail  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10)- I only had V1, but didn’t like them at all.  Somewhat similar softness, but higher drop of the Peg felt borderline dangerous for me.  Peg’s might be more protective, but neither shoe is suited to technical terrain anyway.

Renee: I have not yet run the Peg Trail 2 or 3. The Peg Trail v1 is more of a max/high cushioned shoe and far less versatile than the Fuji Lite 2. I did not have a good lockdown with the upper of the Peg Trail and found it unstable on country roads (I did not attempt to take them on single track). For easy runs on flat, buffed surfaces, some runners might prefer the Peg Trail. I’ll choose the Fuji Lite 2 for any and all runs. The Peg Trail is more than 1 full ounce heavier than Fuji Lite 2 in my size. 


Nike Terra Kiger 7  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10)- TK7 is more geared toward long days on the mountain (aside from traction issues).  Again the overlap would come with shorter runs, more moderate terrain.  Anything 1:30 and under, on moderate terrain, I would pick Fuji Lites.

Shannon: If you prefer a lighter weight, not-quite-minimalist but not-quite-beefy trail shoe with great proprioception that can handle lots of variety, I don’t think you can really go wrong with either of these. Where these two differ more significantly in terms of feel from my standpoint though is that the Terra Kiger did feel more inherently stable underfoot, and had a more even keel feeling in the forefoot, lacking the rocker-type feel of the Fuji Lite.


Saucony Peregrine  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10)- Peregrines are more secure, stable, and protective. Much more suited to technical terrain.

Renee: Everything Mike wrote. The Peregrine is better on technical terrain. I had several 20 mile runs during the winter months with the Peregrine GTX on snow, slush, and uneven surfaces. The Peregrine has a much firmer midsole and is much heavier than the Fuji Lite 2. Two different shoes for two different purposes. 

John: +1 to all of Mike P’s and Renee’s comments above. 

Shannon: While both of these shoes are solid trail options, to me I feel substantially more confident in the Peregrine. The Peregrine’s more aggressive outsole and slightly denser midsole do trump the Fuji Lite in terms of being a do-anything trail shoe. On the other hand though, for a faster day or race, I’d probably lean more towards the Fuji Lite’s softer, springier, swifter feel.


VJ Ultra  (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.5)- VJ’s are all-terrain, short to mid distance racer.  Considerable outsole durability issues aside, they are more secure, stable, and somewhat protective in technical terrain.  VJ toebox is much narrower, especially up front.


Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Speed Ultra is a race-day shoe for any distance. The upper is more secure and breathable. The profile is more nimble and secure on uneven surfaces as compared to the Fuji Lite 2. For races on moderate or technical trails, choose the Speed Ultra. For everything else, I choose the Fuji Lite 2. The Fuji Lite 2 costs less and is lighter in weight. The Speed Ultra would be one of my favorite shoes, but the midsole/arch felt too narrow and I did not feel comfortable taking it past 20 mile runs. I wore a women’s size 8 for both shoes.


Salomon S/Lab Pulsar (RTR Review)

Sam: Considerably lighter with a similarly energetic midsole foam the Pulsar is pure speed pure race on trail and requires it (off the heels due to its very narrow landing) to shine while the Fuji Lite 2 is happy at all paces including slow and all surfaces but can fly as well. I get far more use out of the Fuji Lite 2 but Pulsar for sure is special on the right feet and on the right day.


Saucony Freedom 1-3  (RTR Review)

Sam: For some strange reason the Fuji Lite reminds me of the earlier Freedom, a shoe to have fun fast runs in but in the Fuji with a far superior softer and more energetic midsole, more forgiving cushion, a more secure upper, and do anything outsole. The Freedom 4 is a far stiffer shoe than either but more stable.


Nike Zoom Pegasus 37-38  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Pegasus is a road shoe with an outsole that works fine on buffed or gravel/dirt surfaces. The Fuji Lite 2 works well on buffed surfaces and some moderate trail, and of the two, it’s my choice. The Pegasus’ high drop and somewhat inflexible ride under the midfoot is a deal breaker for me. The Pegasus 37 and 38 felt chunky underfoot. For runners who want a road shoe that can handle some light trail, consider the Fuji Lite 2 over the Pegasus. 


Saucony Switchback 1 or 2  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Switchback 2 is a fun, nimble, ground-feel shoe. The outsole works great on most surfaces (aside from pavement) and the rock plate adds protection and stability for uneven or rough surfaces. The midsole is a bit too hard for longer runs. For short, rough, fast runs, I might choose the Switchback 2, but otherwise, the Fuji Lite 2 is the winner here. 

John: Renee is right, the Switchback 2 has a very specialized use case and the Fuji Lite 2 simply wins because of the variety of runs for which it can be used.


Hoka Zinal (RTR Review)

Sam: The new Zinal plays in the same class of fast light trail runners. It is an ounce lighter, more stable, firmer and with a yet more simple upper that works somewhat better in terms of foot hold and security.  Its traction profile is a bit less aggressive but still very capable.  It is a stiffer shoe with a bit more rock protection and that is felt as is its relative firmness. Certainly road run-able it is not nearly as much fun there as the Fuji Lite 2 so somewhat less versatile on the smooth and hard surfaces and a touch more versatile on more technical.. 


Salomon Sense Ride 2  (RTR Review)

Sam: Going back a few years this is the closest comparison shoe for me (along with Zinal). A do anything more flexible, trail runner with light rock protection but some that can hit the roads. The Fuji has the advantage of a newer more energetic midsole foam and a more comfortable if not quite as secure upper. 

Mike P: I had a pair of Sense Ride 1’s - As Sam mentions, flexibility was similar but the SR1 foam was much denser.  They felt quick but in a different way - not via responsive midsole foam. I felt the SR1 forefoot was also lacking in forefoot protection. The SR1’s thin rock plate/film probably blunted about as much as the Asics thicker foam.



Skechers Razor TRL  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Razor Trail is the faster and lighter of the two shoes. I’d choose the Razor Trail for faster, shorter, and race-day efforts. I can run 20 milers with the Razor Trail, and would consider it for a 50k depending on the surface. Otherwise, the Fuji Lite 2 has a more comfortable midsole for longer runs. The toe box is more generous and the outsole provides a slightly better grip/traction. The Fuji Lite 2 would make a good training companion to the Razor Trail. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. 

John: For me, these shoes are very similar in how they are used in my day-to-day running needs. I would choose either shoe for a long road run or a steep mountain climb. Ride, midsole cushion, and outsole grip are fairly evenly matched. I choose the Fuji Lite 2 for the fit and durability - it has a wider toe box, sensibly placed overlays on the upper, and the midsole seems more durable (though the latter is yet to be determined). 

Mike P: I have the Skechers Speed TRL (RTR Review) - they are definitely faster, although I find the plastic rock plate to be a bit harsh for longer runs.  Toebox is also pointier- also an issue for longer runs. I only break those out for all-out efforts. Asics outsole is much better - I wore out the Skechers nubs pretty quickly.


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Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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3 comments:

Cash said...

Appreciate the thorough review and the numerous comps, thanks!
Nice to see ASICS back on their game.
Disagree with Sam, we trail runners don’t need another shoe with higher stack, higher drop, and rock protection. There’s already an abundance of those shoes on the market. IMHO, grateful for this shoe and its 4mm drop (perfect for trails), lower midsole stack, no rock plate, fun foam, flexibility, and lightweight. The Zinal is the only other trail shoe with similar specs that comes to mind; however, the toe box is too narrow for me. Previous versions of the TK were close, the TK7 is meh (bulky/heavy & not a fan of the forefoot air pod). My two wishes: a gusseted tongue & a slightly wider toe box for toe/metatarsal splay.
The aesthetics? Yeah…subjectively…not the best looking trail shoe out there.

Luis said...

I have tested the Fuji Lite and the T2 on technical alpine trails on all conditions. The quality of the traction and grip of the Fuji Lite allows for more control and ground feel than the T2. I disagree that the T2 has more stability and ground feel. T2 is softer, more mushy, more pleasant feel but for sure provide less precision. the FL2 has a much superior grip even also on wet conditions. T2 has a broader platform and should be more stable on buffed trails. For technical uphill alps the FL2 is more precise.

Nathan said...

Thank you so much for including me – I'm so honored and excited to see my name on this list! This list is great for finding some new blogs to read also, which I always love :)
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