Sunday, February 26, 2023

ASICS Trabuco Max 2 Multi Tester Review: 5 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark, Jeff Vallliere and Jeff Beck

ASICS Trabuco Max 2 ($150 )


Jeff V:  The Trabuco Max 2 has been completely reworked with an upper redesign, a new midsole featuring Asics Flytefoam Blast Plus foam and a new outsole with full Asics grip and redesigned directional 4.5 mm lugs. 

Stack height has increased by 1mm for a total stack of 43mm in the heel and 38 in the forefoot.  While that sounds like a crazy stack, the Trabuco Max 2 has a broad platform and is stable.


All day comfort: Renee/Jeff/Jeff B

Smooth forward roll: Renee/Jeff

Great cushion with bounce: Jeff/Jeff B

Excellent all around traction:  Jeff

Improved fit/security: Jeff

Normal laces! :Jeff B

Improved toebox width: Jeff B

Dulls ground feel: Jeff B


A bit heavy: Renee

Limited to smooth, rolling terrain: Renee

Dulls ground feel: Jeff B


Weight: 10.8 oz  / 303 g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)    

Samples: men's11.25 oz  / 318 g (US10), 11.29 oz / 320g (US10.5)   

women’s 9.38oz / 266g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 43 mm heel / 38mm forefoot ( 5 drop spec)

Available now. $150

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: While I tend to prefer a lighter weight shoe, I can’t deny the comfort of a good max cushion trail shoe. The Trabuco Max 2’s weight is fairly on par with other high cushion trail shoes. The upper is a breathable mesh made from 50% recycled materials, and it features gaiter attachments. 

I tested it in mostly freezing temperatures with Merino wool socks. The toebox allows for air to enter. For summer running, the rest of the upper might run hot, but I can’t say for certain until warmer weather arrives. The width and room of the midfoot and toboex are great, and even though I have a low volume foot, I had a good hold and security across the midfoot. 

For rough, uneven terrain, I’d prefer a more narrow heel hold. However, the Trabuco Max 2 is all about comfort, so I can’t complain much about the upper fit, and I think it pairs well with the shoe’s purpose (comfort, not speed). I suggest true-to-size or typical ASICS sizing. 

Jeff V:  I enjoyed the first version of the Trabuco Max, as it was pretty quick for a max cushion shoe with a stiff pop at toe off enhanced by the rockered shape, though for anything technical, ground feel felt quite muted if a bit overly rigid/tippy.  

The Max 2 has been completely reworked from the ground up and it is immediately obvious out of the box that the improvements are significant.  Styling is more modern, the midsole looks beefier, the outsole more sticky and gone are the quick lace and massive tongue from the previous version.

I did not have any trouble with the fit of the first version and it was comfortable, but I found the quicklace to be difficult and noticed lace pressure on downhills, but that has been resolved here by moving to conventional laces and redesigning the tongue. I now find lacing to be one and done, precise and with no more lace pressure. Asics has also added a lace loop to keep the laces in check.

The toe bumper is slightly beefed up over the first version and I find it to be adequately protective (though the shoe rides high enough that I don’t often worry about stubbing rocks.

I have found the Jacquard mesh upper to be very comfortable and supportive, with better structure for improved security, a noticeable improvement in technical terrain.  This is a lot of shoe to keep under control, yet I never feel like I am trying hard to do so.

Like the previous, the Max 2 has gaiter loops velcro traps.

The heel collar is well padded and the heel counter is well structured, secure and stable.

Overall fit is true to size, roomy enough for full days on the trail, yet secure enough to feel completely in control on all but the most technical terrain.

Jeff B: The first Trabuco Max showed up as a big surprise that was great, with some flaws with a speedlace system that wasn’t great and perhaps too much of an aggressive forefoot rocker (Jeff used the phrase “tippy” above, and yeah, that nails it). On first try-on, it became evident that roughly two years later this shoe really built on everything its predecessor did right and corrected the wrongs. Not for nothing, but the 2’s more understated looks are a nice change of pace from the bright blue/orange that the previous shoe screamed.

The upper is much more comfortable, and holds my foot better while also being roomier in the right places. Gone are the thin speed laces and awkward bulky tongue, and in their place standard lacing and a Goldilocks-tier tongue that’s comfortable and borderline plush without being clownishly large. The toebox is a little bit wider than before, and also just a touch taller, and both of those changes are appreciated - especially because they pull it off without losing good foot control. I’m with Jeff, this shoe holds the foot well enough in almost all terrains.

Fit is spot on for the length, and the width is ample. Part of the platform getting ever so wider, there’s plenty of room inside the shoe my slightly-wider-than-normal foot.


Renee: The new FF Blast PLUS midsole is soft and according to ASICS has a “responsive toe off.” The shoe itself is too heavy and high stack for me to get a  “responsive” ride, but the roll forward is smooth and it does propel forward movement. I can’t agree with ASICS' adjectives that the shoe is “dynamic” or “lightweight,” but it does run lighter than the weight suggests. 

Jeff V: The Flyte Foam Blast Plus is a big improvement for me over the previous version.  While there is a bit more stack, it is significantly softer without losing any stability or control and just feels much more friendly and better cushioned.  It also has a bit more bounce to it and while I would not categorize the Max 2 as a speedster by any means, I think it runs lighter than the weight would imply and is reasonably energetic for a max cushioned shoe in this category.  If I were out on the trails having a banner day, I do not feel as though the Max 2 would really slow me down, especially averaging out the max cushion benefit over a long day/ultra distance.

Jeff B: The updated midsole is a big win over the previous shoe. I was impressed by how comfortable the FF Blast+ midsole was for hours on end - and by how well they merged soft comfort with stability. There are few big trail shoes that are this soft but still inspire confidence on the trail. There’s a great bounce to the shoe that made me want to push pace more than I should - though I’m much slower than either of my colleagues so their easy pace and my “pushing it” are still different categories. That said, even my lumbering easiest paces felt great.


Renee: For the review, I ran in winter on snow, ice, mud, and gravel. The shoe has no ground feel, so on steep downhill on gravel, I wasn’t sure about my footing and had to rely on the outsole to find some grip, which it did. 

Jeff V:  Again a significant improvement here.  With full length Asics grip and retooled 4.5mm directional lugs, I found the Max 2 to provide good grip on a wide variety of terrain, be it in wet conditions, snow, reasonable icy/granular snow, mud, off trail, rocky technical, rock slab, loose dirt.  

This is a versatile outsole that performs very much in line with the intent of this shoe.

Jeff B: I was surprised by how much grip the previous version and this version has even more to it. I didn’t have great grip in the nastiest/goopiest mud you can find, and ice traction wasn’t great - but any outsole that doesn’t have metal protruding out will have that experience. In more tame mud, dry dirt, and even some sand I was impressed by how much grip every step had. I’m not ready to put their ASICSGRIP compound in the same rarified air as Puma’s PUMAGRIP, but it’s really close.


Renee: Despite the weight of the shoe, the forward roll from a midfoot landing is smooth, especially on rolling terrain. For running hills, even in the winter, the shoe offers great cushion and comfort for easy paces. I had a few moments of unsure footing on snow and ice, and while the outsole is sufficient, the stack height offers no ground feel. And that’s okay because the shoe’s purpose is for comfort at easy efforts. 

Given its stack height and upper security, I prefer the Max 2’s ride on smooth, rolling surfaces over single track steep terrain. 

Jeff V:  I found the ride of the Max 2 to be smooth, efficient and enhanced by the rockered GuideSole design.  Cushioning, comfort and a generally responsive bounce allow me to feel as though I could easily run all day in this shoe with relatively fresh legs.

Jeff B: I appreciated the blend of soft and bouncy midsole and the rockered geometry - they work well together instead of being more midsole or geometry-centric. For a slow runner like me, they work at all paces; I’m much slower than the shoes are. There’s a very fun ride with all day comfort that I think many slower runners are going to fawn over - and faster runners for their easy days .

Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The Trabuco Max 2 is an all-day cruiser for me. The ride is smooth with a gentle roll forward from a midfoot landing. The Max 2 will work best for those who need cushion and comfort for easier efforts. The high stack height, rolling ride, and comfortable upper make the Max 2 a mellow terrain shoe for me, which is great because I run a lot on gravel roads. I can’t say it would be my first choice for single track trails where I like a more traditional ride and lightweight shoe

Renee’s Score: 9.0/10 (-.30 weight, -.70 limited to smooth terrain/landings)


Jeff V:  I find the Max 2 to be a fine choice for an everyday, all around trainer, suitable for about any distance and would consider it for all day efforts or ultra distance events where cushion, comfort and efficiency are top priorities.  

Despite its weight, I find the Max 2 to run lighter and have plenty of bounce and response for quick, smooth and efficient running over long distances.  While not designed for technical terrain, and best suited for moderate to less technical terrain, I had no trouble maneuvering them and despite the high stack, found them to be remarkably stable, aided in great part by the broad platform, predictable midsole and secure upper.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.3/10


Ride: 9.5 - very smooth, cushioned and efficient

Fit: 9 - Comfortable and secure

Value: 9 - $150 is not cheap, but you are getting a lot here and durability is good so far.

Style: 9 - I find the colorways here to be sharp

Traction: 9 - excellent for intended purpose, versatile all around

Rock Protection: 10 - bomber, nothing is penetrating this beast

Jeff B: From the moment I put these on, I was really impressed with virtually every element of the shoe. It isn’t the fastest thing on dirt, but it is easily one of the best do-it-all trail shoes that gives tons of comfort and protection with subtle stability, has outstanding and durable traction, and brings a very comfortable yet supportive upper. The midsole is well cushioned in every facet, so heel masher, midfoot strikers, or even light-on-their-feet forefoot strikers will all be rewarded with a great ride.

Jeff B’s Score: 9.73/10

Ride: 9.5 (30%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (10%) Style: 9 (5%)Traction 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Zegama Trail (RTR Review)

Renee: I wore a women’s 7.5 in the Zegama and a size 8 in the Trabuco Max 2. Even in the same size, the Zegama is lighter (doesn’t feel like it by much though). Both are high cushion trail shoes. The ride of the Zegama is more traditional as compared to the Max 2’s forward roll from its GuideSole. I found the security of the upper on the Zegama better and it had a better forefoot flex for steep inclines. For rolling terrain, I’d choose the Max 2 and for single track, I’d choose the Zegama. The Zegama has a notch on the forefoot for that flex, which might create comfort issues for wide footed runners. 

Jeff V:  Renee brings up some good points in her comparison and I agree with much of it.  Even with narrow feet, I found the forefoot flex notch to be somewhat bothersome.  I also for some reason never really took to the Zegama, as I found it to be somewhat of a lumbering and dull ride, where the Max 2 has more response and promotes easier forward motion with the rockered design.

New Balance More Trail v2 (RTR Review)

Renee: I wore a women’s size 8 in both shoes. The More Trail v2 is heavier runs heavier. The Trail v2 has a more traditional ride, which works better for me on single track while the Max 2’s roll forward is more comfortable on rolling terrain. 

Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)

Renee: For reference, I have only the GTX version of the SG5. In the regular version, the Speedgoat 5 is lighter, and generally it’s a different shoe. The SG has better ground feel while still offering protection (without a plate). For comfort on rolling terrain, I’d choose the Max 2 and the SG5 for anything on single track trail, especially technical terrain. I wear a women’s size 7.5 in the SG5 as compared to a size 8 in the Max 2. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with Renee. Speedgoat is better hands down for faster, more technical running with superior performance, lighter weight, better traction and agility.  That said, if I were to run longer distances (which would presumably be slower and maybe less technical), I would opt for the Max 2 for an overall more relaxed and roomy upper and more cushion.

Jeff B: I agree with my colleagues, but definitely favor the TM2 for its extra cushioning and toebox room. For my preferred style of trails, the Trabuco Max 2 checks every box, while the SG5 leaves me with more traction and foot security than I need and wanting just a little more squish underneath.

Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)

Jeff V: This to me was the most obvious comparison, with similar stats, intent and overall leaders in the clubhouse maximalness.  While the Brooks is 11g heavier, it feels lighter on the foot to me and the supercritical DNA Loft v3 cushion feels bottomless without feeling mushy and is quite responsive.  I think the Max 2 has an edge in traction, but both shoes are excellent for long distances and I would have a tough choice deciding between the two.

Topo Ultraventure 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: The first of the UV line to really inspire confidence to go true ultra distance, the Topo’s cushioning feels similar, but its overall stack and protection is less than the TM2, and while it has a wider toebox (not a huge surprise with Topo) it only boasts ample traction versus the TM2’s substantial traction. On relatively smooth trails I could flip a coin between the two, probably slightly favoring the TM2, but as traction or protection needs go up, the ASICS’ strengths just become greater.

Tester Profiles

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.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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Anonymous said...

I recommend sizing up half a size. My big toe has a bit less space up front than in the Novablast 3 TR and a lot less than in the Gel Trabuco 10. It's a bit snug, I can wear it with thin socks, but should really have sized up a bit. This said, despite the ton of foam, it's not as soft and cushioned as the Caldera 6 or other shoes with lots of foam. I found the guidesole to be strange, it just doesn't feel right to me. I would like to love the shoe, but would rather run in the normal Trabuco 10 and possibly the new 11, too.

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks for your comments. I did not experience the same fit concerns, but everyones foot is a bit different and I have even observed fit differences in production runs. As always, try on first if you can or shop from a vendor with a good return/exchange policy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, could you compare to the Mafate Speed 4?

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, the Trabuco has a wider, more relaxed fit, is wider/more stable and perhaps a little better traction overall. The Mafate Speed 4 is a bit quicker and performance oriented and responsive.

Chad Payne said...

Thank you, Jeff!

Anonymous said...

If you have tried them, how does the midsole and toe box compare with the inov-8 Trailfly G280? Thanks

Jeff Valliere said...

I personally could not compare, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Wondering how this shoe compares to the Saucony Xodus Ultra

geometry dash lite said...

I also bought a ASICS Trabuco Max 2. It is really cool.

dinosaur game said...

I found the guidesole to be strange, it just doesn't feel right to me.