Sunday, January 09, 2022

ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 3 Multi Tester Review: Soft, Stable, and Pleasant Riding (7 Comparisons)

Article by Zack Dunn, Sam Winebaum, and Sally Reiley 

ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 3 ($160)


Sam: The 3d edition of the GEL-Nimbus Lite arrives with a softer midsole, somewhat lighter weight, and a further improved sustainability profile. Intended to be a sleeker and more modern daily trainer with a broad platform for some inherent stability it has 1mm less midsole stack height front and back than its more traditional sibling, the significantly updated GEL-Nimbus 24 (RTR Review).  It weighs 30g /1 oz less than the 24 due to its single density foam formed of organically derived materials with no plastic Trusstic plate as the 24 has and it is also topped with a thinner less structured upper.

Coming in at about 9.15 oz / 259g so about 0.5 oz /15 g less than Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review), with the promise of a softer ride and a lighter weight, and quite frankly the Lite 2 was for sure not firm or heavy, we were very curious to find out how they would ride.



Sam/Sally: strong sustainability component: approx. 70% recycled content upper and with a lower impact dye process , organic materials derived foam forming, lower impact impact sockliner. 

Zack: really great upper fit, and a  comfortable one despite some lockdown issues.

Zack/Sally/Sam: lightweight yet very well cushioned, which makes it more versatile than a standard daily trainer

Zack/Sam: midsole is extremely soft and comfortable while still having slight responsiveness. Ideal easy run and recovery feel (Sam)

Zack: outsole has the perfect amount of grip and traction to ensure durability but still keep weight light.

Sally: clean white on white makes for a great looking shoe that can also be rocked casually


Sam/ Sally: Ride/Midsole requires some break in.  Flat feeling midfoot until about 15 miles. Sam/ Sally/Zack: Upper may not have sufficient mid and forefoot lockdown for very low volume feet. Toe box is a bit baggy and not as secure as it could be (Sam) 

Zack/Sally/Sam: lacks responsiveness and pop, especially up front that would make it a great speed day, faster paces and more complete daily trainer option


Estimated Weight: men's 9.15 oz / 259g (US9)  /  women's 8.3 oz / 236 g US W8 (US8)  

  Samples: men’s  8.92 oz / 252g US8,5

                 women’s 8.3 oz / 236 g US W8

Gel Nimbus Lite 2 weighed 9.61 oz / 271g in US men’s 8.5

Midsole Stack Height: 

men’s 25mm heel / 15 mm forefoot, 10mm drop

women’s 27mm heel / 14mm forefoot, 13mm drop

Measured Full Heel Height (men’s): 35mm

Available February 2022. $160

First Impressions and Fit

Sam: Whitish gray with subtle hints of black and gray via the Tiger logo overlays the look and especially the overlays reminds of trying to peer through fog rolling in from the ocean. 

The fit is true to size and generous. Moderately wide high volume feet should have no fit issues while narrower feet such as mine likely will struggle. Most notable is the unstructured feel of the toe box and the light hold at midfoot from the stretch gusset tongue. Here we do not have the super secure, sometimes over secure and a bit stiff and rigid hold of ASICS of the past. Even the heel counter, while firm is not as rigid and overbuilt as many from ASICS.

The stretch tongue, also found in Nimbus 24 is genius! It not only stretches around the foot with the gusset but up towards the leg. Tie your shoes tug it up into place and there it will stay. Given the volume to take up here I had to lace quite snug which led to some bit through the tongue on my narrower right foot. While wonderful, with this thin less structured upper more tongue substance might be in order. The same tongue works far better in the more substantial stretch mesh Nimbus 24's upper.

Zack: I found the fit of this shoe to be very true to size. I really enjoyed the way that everything set nicely on the foot, especially the knit style tongue. It was very comfortable and even has a gusset style construction which ensures some midfoot lockdown. In the toe box region, there was actually a very generous amount of space in the forefoot in terms of space and volume. 

Sally: I was initially struck by the clean white lines and aesthetic beauty of this shoe - well done, ASICS! Add to the good looks the impressive sustainability elements with 70% recycled fiber in the upper, and the Nimbus Lite 3 is already getting high marks in my book. The step in feel is awesome - well cushioned and soft. I would call the fit true to size, but the toe box and midfoot are incredibly roomy, actually way too spacious for my narrow foot. I had to cinch the laces tight to try to hold down the midfoot, but then the fabric is all creased. The stretchy gusseted tongue? Like we said for the Nimbus 24, it is genius, and should be copied in all running shoes going forward! Brilliant.


The upper is an engineered mesh made of about  70% recycled content. The dying process is also lower impact than the usual process. Very admirable and along with the organic materials in the foam, lower water and energy processing for the sock liner, and all shoe boxes made of recycled materials the Lite 3 demonstrates ASICS strong and real commitment to sustainability. 

The engineered mesh is relatively thin, pliable but not that soft and with a bit of stretch. As with the Nimbus 24, it incorporates a neat stretch knit tongue that is easy to pull up and stays up. 

The upper is for all intents and purposes quite unstructured with only the gusset knit tongue and thin and cool looking Tiger overlays providing the midfoot hold. 

The heel counter remains stout and with solid hold and is not quite as rigid as Lite 2.

While very comfortable and easy on the foot, the mid foot and toe box hold is not at the level of the Nimbus Lite 2 or Nimbus 24 for my narrower to medium feet and not quite there for me.  Wider higher volume feet should get a better overall hold than I do. I wonder if ASICS went for this wider less structured fit to accommodate wider feet as there is no wide version planned that we know of here as one can get with the Nimbus 24 whose fit is perfect for me in its regular fit with wide also available there. 

I also think that while a fantastic new approach to tongues which works brilliantly in the Nimbus 24 here, with the less structured mid foot upper and those thin more pliableTiger logos overlays that a more padded top pf tongue might have helped the mid foot hold.

Upfront the toe box is for sure roomy and broad. Too broad and unstructured for me to get an excellent hold there with toes tending to rise up a bit on the go particularly on my narrower right foot.

Zack: As I stated in the fit section, I really enjoyed the upper. It provided great lockdown as well as being very comfortable. In terms of the heel area, I enjoyed it. The heel cup was fairly solid but not extremely stiff, as well as there is padding that makes a sort of cup right behind your achilles so the heel stays in a nice pocket. I also really liked the laces as well, they were very soft yet held really well. As I stated previously, I also think that the upper had a nice soft touch to it. Overall I think the upper had a good blend of being comfortable while still maintaining a lightweight feeling.

Sally:  I love the softness and simplicity of the upper, but it needs more structure for those of us with narrower feet. I can imagine it works like a dream for a higher volume foot (and as Sam pointed out, there is no Wide version of this shoe, so this is it). The heel hold is great and the cushioning hits the achilles just right. I had to really snug down the laces to get a secure hold across my forefoot and midfoot, which caused the fabric of the upper to bunch up and buckle on top, and the laces to become way too long. Again, this is mostly a personal fit issue, and only a challenge for those with narrow low volume feet. This upper gets high marks for the sustainability statement using 70% recycled fibers and eco-friendly dyes.


Sam: The Nimbus Lite 3 midsole gets a softer foam with the shape and outsole carryover from the Lite 2 with the foam remaining formed from organically derived materials.  The Nimbus 2 also had organic components in its midsole and as far as we know the foam is the same just softer.  The Lite incorporates hidden GEL units. As with the regular Nimbus the Lite it is intended to be a neutral shoe with some stability elements. 

The stability is entirely achieved via the broad geometry at midfoot and slightly more vertical sidewalls right to ground on the medial side (above) than lateral side (below) and with no dual density foam or Trusstic plate as in the Nimbus 24

The focus on more contact for stability and pronation control can clearly be seen from underneath with the more filled in medial side and a rubber outsole bridge. The women's does not include the central lozenge of rubber and the bars up front appear narrower for more softness and flex.

The midsole feel is soft for sure but never mushy or with a sense of bottoming out or becoming unstable, credit to the geometry. There is plenty of forgiving cushion and friendly well controlled softer rebound but this foam is not to be mistaken for Flytefoam Blast with its more energetic return feel.  The softness is there for sure with a distinct sense that the “bubbles” in the foam are not deforming laterally or even vertically under load in an unbalanced or sloppy way. 

As with the Nimbus Lite 2, but less so here,  a break in is required and for me it was about 15 miles. Before that the ride felt flat, somewhat hard to transition and stiffer than the decent front flex would point to. That broad midfoot needing to break in and  get some early before toe off flex what I think I was feeling.

Unlike the Lite 2 which continued to remain somewhat flat feeling and slower than I prefer to transition, the Lite 3 due to the softer foam broke in quicker it seems and is more pleasant and smoother to run.

There is a but though… While very well cushioned and lively in feel the forefoot is for my tastes overly soft lacking in pop and response for faster paces but is oh so fine at slower recovery to easy paces. I think the culprit may be not so much the midsole but the outsole which while more than adequate for traction does not add the pop at toe off seen in shoes such as Saucony’s recent Rides with their big thick front bars of firmer rubber. Additionally the less than ideal forefoot hold for me as often can be the case can affect ride up front by not locking the front of the foot to the platform as well as it might.

Zack: I really enjoyed the midsole. It has such a nice feeling under foot, being that it's lightweight but also for the most part very soft, which makes it somewhat versatile. I agree with what Sam said that in terms of faster paces the shoe does feel a little sloppy because of how soft it is. That being said, I think you could use the Lite 3  for anything slower than tempo paces which means it could be used for moderate runs, long runs and easy runs. Another good thing is that there was really no break in period for me for the midsole, right away it is really fun and great to run in. 

Sally: My first run was meh, which surprised me because I was quite fond of the Nimbus Lite 2. But I also remembered the NL2 required a break-in period, so I persisted. Sure enough, the midsole softened a bit and the shoe felt less stiff after a few more runs. It is a soft midsole, but not necessarily bouncy, and also not bottomless marshmallowy soft. The midsole and the outsole together make for a surprisingly wide platform, almost reminiscent of the Nike Invincible (which I love for daily training). There is no Trussic plate for stability as in the Nimbus 24, so this wide base provides stability. The cushioning makes for a pleasantly smooth ride on easy or recovery runs.


Sam: The outsole plays extremely well with the midsole for a seamless smooth feel on the road. Too well in my opinion as it is too soft and thin for the platform above it at the front, dulling down the front response. Interestingly the heel response is fine. In a soft shoe I like the outsole to provide some response and pop at toe off at faster paces and here there is not enough of that for me. 

Zack: I thought the outsole of this shoe was pretty well engineered. It covers most of the bottom of the shoe and has flex grooves to most likely make the shoe not as stiff and also to keep the weight down. It very much reminds me of the Brooks Ghost 13 outsole, which had a good amount of outsole coverage for durability and traction, but flex grooves to help with forefoot flexion, something  I really enjoyed. I don't have much experience with Asics Lite outsole rubber in terms of durability, but after 50 miles the wear seems just fine with very little wear at all. Overall, I really love the outsole.  

Sally: The outsole works well, in that all that soft rubber makes for a quiet ride and grips well even on wet surfaces. I had a few issues with cornering, but the instability was from the overly spacious upper and not the outsole.


Sam: The Lite 3 has a soft, and very soft for any ASICS ride and a friendly easy and mellow flow yet with an overall feel that, despite the softness, is in no way mushy or unstable. This is not, despite the very light weight for the stack, a speed oriented shoe for me or even what I prefer in a daily trainer- a relatively firm ride with some pop off the forefoot, something by the way despite its greater weight, that the Nimbus 24 delivers better for me. 

That said, with many shoes to test, I keep reaching for the Lite 3 for easier pace to recovery type runs and this despite the less than ideal hold of the mid and front of the upper which for those uses matters less, and especially so here as the platform itself is so stable. 

Sally: I feel as though I am in a never-ending marathon training cycle these days! I have the tendency to want to push the pace too much on daily training runs, so I am working at doing some runs at slower paces, a la Molly Seidel’s philosophy (Molly is #myhero!). This will be an awesome shoe for the easier day training runs , as the ride is soft and smooth at mellow paces. This shoe did not respond well for me at quicker tempo attempts. I also found that despite all the cushioning, my feet were feeling the road after 8 or so miles.  

Zack: I really enjoyed the ride. I found that it's great for my easy days or long days, due to it being so soft and comfortable yet still being lightweight. All put together the Lite 3 delivered a really pleasant and enjoyable ride. I definitely think there's a place in everyone's training lineup for this shoe and I think ASICS did a great job of making a lighter-weight Nimbus .

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: The relative lack of versatility affects my ride score but for easy runs the ride is wonderfully light, soft, well cushioned and smooth. I would like to see more pop off the forefoot through either slightly firmer foam or more and firmer rubber so as to make the Lite 3 a better daily trainer option for me. 

Fit could use some work for narrower lower volume feet as it is not as secure and locked down as it could be, but wider feet should be just fine.  While the stretch tongue is a wonderful innovation I don’t think the rest of the mid foot upper is substantial enough (Tiger overlays being thin) to make it work as well as it does on the Nimbus 24 with its stretchier hold and thicker overlays. 

Value is tough given the versatility and fit issues but ASICS is also to be commended for the very strong sustainability focus here and that for sure also adds value for me.

Sam: 8.76 /10

Ride: 8.9 (50%) Fit: 8.5 (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)

Sally: It is hard to fairly evaluate the ride and performance of the Nimbus Lite 3 when the fit was not right for my foot - the generously spacious midsole and forefoot of the upper might be ideal for a higher volume foot, but my narrow feet swam in them. I had a difficult time locking my foot down and keeping my foot from moving around laterally. But the stretchy gusseted tongue is amazing - why didn’t shoe designers think of this before?

Lite 3 has a soft and smooth ride at easy paces, just don’t expect this to be a nimble tempo shoe. The eco-friendly upper and midsole get big marks in my book, and like the stretchy tongue, should be replicated more frequently. Nimbus Lite 3 is an aesthetically pleasing, tremendous easy and recovery day training shoe particularly well-suited to the runner with a higher-volume foot. 

Sally’s score: 8.56/10

Ride: 8.7 (50%)  Fit: 8.2 (30%)  Value: 8.5 (15%)  Style: 9.5 (5%)

Zack: The Lite 3 is very well made and engineered as a lightweight daily trainer. There wasn't very much that I didn't like about it. The only negatives are that at the faster paces, the midsole felt a little too soft and not responsive enough, and there might have been a little too much room in the toe box. Those are very minor things and I don't think the shoe was made to go past tempo paces anyways, so this won't affect my score too much. $160 might be expensive for some, but for a shoe that could accomplish two or three different types of runs in your lineup, I think it's a pretty fair price. 

Zack’s Score: 9.03/10

Ride: 9.25 (50%) Fit: 8.75 (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

GEL-Nimbus Lite 2  (RTR Review)!

Sam: The Lite 3 is lighter, softer, and easier to transition. Its upper is less secure for sure for lower volume feet but will likely be friendlier for higher volume feet. The Lite 3 for me moves from a daily trainer type shoe to an easier days shoe as a result. 

Sally: (W8 in both) I concur with Sam that the Lite 3 is softer and easier to transition, andI was likewise hampered with fit issues for my narrow foot caused by a very roomy upper that did not secure my foot. A great easy/recovery day shoe for the runner with a high volume foot . Given the fit challenges, I would choose the Lite 2 over the 3, but that is strictly because of the wide midfoot.

GEL-Nimbus 24  (RTR Review)

Sam: More complex in construction, more secure, and more traditional in having a narrower mid foot platform with the stability provided by dual density foam and a plastic Trusstic piece.  While heavier, the Nimbus 24 with its energetic new Blast + is a more reliable all around daily trainer than the Lite 3 with some new found energetic fun from the Blast+. It has a considerably more secure upper. If I had to choose it would be Nimbus 24.

Sally: (W8 in both) The changes in the Lite 3 are impressive, but the new Nimbus 24 is even more impressive. ASICS really took that shoe up not just one, but several notches. The Nimbus 24 is now the real deal, more energetic and more secure than the NL3, and not that much heavier. I would happily choose the Nimbus 24. 

Video Comparison Review Nimbus 24 vs. Nimbus Lite 3

GEL Cumulus 23  (RTR Review)

Sam: Also a softer shoe but not as soft as Lite 3 and with more conventional Flytefoam, the Cumulus 23 is more versatile and it has more flex and front pop and response with a slightly lower stack height. It’s upper is more secure. It is a more solid choice as an all around daily trainer while for me as in the Nimbus 24 match up the lighter Nimbus Lite 3 is actually now a better recovery easy days shoe, something the Cumulus 23 previously was for me in the ASICS line up.

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run  (RTR Review)

Sam: Invincible is bouncier, more energetic and less stable. Both shoes have a soft and fun ride. The Lite 3 toe box is considerably higher volume than Invincible’s while Invincible’s upper, while not the best, has a more secure overall hold and that is needed to tame the very wild Zoom X below. I would not pick the Invincible for easy runs as I do the Lite 3 but would choose Invincible for faster paced daily training but not every day that is for sure.

Sally: (W8 in both) I really enjoy the Invincible, ugly and oversized looking as it is. It has a fun, energetic, bouncy, comfortable, peppy ride, and is a shoe in which one could comfortably stand on their feet all day in. The Invincible is also a surprisingly quick shoe, and one I would choose for any daily training run. The NL3 would be relegated to the shelf for Recovery/Easy/Slow days.

Brooks Ghost 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: Both are soft shoes with not the greatest front lock down for me. The Ghost does have a somewhat better mid foot lock down. Both are soft shoes with not as much pop off the forefoot as I would like although Ghost's more extensive rubber provides more than Lite 3 does. Both are 10mm drop in the men’s with the Lite..considerably lighter and by 0.75 oz. While $30 more for the easy runs purposes I would use both for, the Lite 3 is smoother, somewhat more cushioned in feel up front and gets the nod.

Saucony Ride 14   (RTR Review)

Sam: Firmer for sure with considerably more pop off the front from its thick rubber bars, the Ride is a better choice as a more aggressive pace all around daily trainer while the Lite 3 is a more solid choice if you prefer softer rides, and need a touch of stability. In terms of fit the Ride is considerably more secure and locked down if not quite as easy on the foot.

Mizuno Wave Rider 25 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Wave Rider 25 while not quite as plush, soft and smooth “riding” is a better all around daily trainer choice for me getting a big update from the 24. It’s new foam is energetic and soft, the Wave plate provides nearly similar stability to the Lite 3 on a more agile quicker feeling platform, and its upper is more locked down yet still very comfortable. It is a heavier shoe but not as much as some in the comparisons here coming in at 9.75 oz vs. 9.15 oz for the Lite 3.  The weight comes from its more substantial upper, more outsole coverage  and a bit more heel stack height and about the same and more flexible forefoot stack height. It keeps from being much heavier through a deep central decoupling groove. At 12mm drop vs 10mm in the men’s for Lite 3 the big drop of the Wave Rider is noticed and may not be for everyone whereas the Lite 3 even at 10mm is less noticed. At $135 the Wave Rider 25 it is a better value. 

Skechers Max Road 5  (RTR Review)

Sam: Another soft shoe. The Skechers is a full ounce lighter, has more overall stack and includes a front composite plate to stabilize its forefoot. The Max Road is for me is the polar opposite of the Lite 3 it terms of uses. Its soft heel, not as solid stability at slow paces, 6mm drop, and wonderful front impulse from combination of softer springy columns of outsole and midsole and the plate makes it a faster paces shoe only for this heel striker while the Lite 3 is superb at slower paces and struggles up front in terms of pop and response at faster paces. 

Tester Profiles

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39 and repeated on the 2nd step of the podium at NYC in 2021 with an all time PR of 3:26:54 a few weeks after 5th at Boston in 3:32:24.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 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.

Zack Dunn: I will be a college freshman / runner at Lewis University. I’ve been running for 7 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 40-60 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 2:00 for 800m, 4:25 for 1600m, 9:50 for 3200m, 15:57 for 5K, and 34:10 for 10K. 

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 in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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Anonymous said...

Hello RTR. Any word on when a v2 of the ASICS trabuco max might be coming out? Also will Salomon be releasing some of their new road and trail shoes soon? Perhaps this month or next?

Sam Winebaum said...

Don’t have info on Trabuco Max 2. As far as Salomon Phantasm CF expected Feb. Our full review to post very soon.

Anonymous said...

Thank you RTR for the great review! How does it compare to the Novablast 2? Thanks again!

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