A review of the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 Trail Shoe
The People’s Champ. A title many strive for but few ever receive. The People’s Champ is someone who always remembers their roots, they always remember those who helped them get to the pinnacle of their sport. The People’s Champ gives back to their people. Whether it is family, friends or a complete stranger the People’s Champ remembers their humble beginnings and helps out wherever they can. Take for example Manny Pacquiao, he came from the slums of the Philippines to the pinnacle of professional boxing. Instead of hiding behind his mansions and fancy cars he remembers where he comes from, he proved this when he built over 1000 homes for poor Phillipinos in his home town. That is a true People’s Champion.
The more we are running in the latest edition of the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack the more we are realising that this shoe is The People’s Champion, of the running shoe industry. A shoe that has come from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of its sport. All throughout its ascent up the popularity polls it has remembered its fans, improved what needed to be improved but essentially staying consistent. Consistently brilliant. The ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is The People’s Champ. There is no doubt about it. Go to any trail event and at least half of the shoes you see will be ASICS. Why is this? Why is one brand so popular? We believe it is because the brand, ASICS, is not afraid to keep giving back to its fans. If you compare how much the average pair of ASICS retails for compared to its competitors you will see what we mean. The Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is available for R1599 at RUN Specialist Store, that is atleast R400 – R600 cheaper than the competitors we would stack this shoe up against. We haven’t called this shoe ‘The People’s Champion’ on price and popularity alone, and we don’t believe it is only popular amongst consumers because of its price. To be the Champ you have to be able to go toe-to-toe with the best. Let’s see how The People’s Champ stacks up against the rest.
ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5
ASICS seem to be one of the only brands who have figured out that multi-directional lugs on the forefoot (and not only on the heel) is a massive advantage on the descents. Not every runner brakes with their heel on a steep descent. Having some lugs facing the other way on the descent gives the shoe a lot more stability than we initially thought it would. Especially landing on rocky surfaces while running downhill, the added grip did wonders for our confidence. The outsole is built for speed, there is no doubt about it. The lugs are built for ‘full ground contact’ meaning the whole outsole is designed so that you have the maximum amount of outsole in contact with as much ground as possible in every stride. This makes the shoe stable on loose rocky terrain, muddy terrain, hard pack and even tar. Granted the lugs aren’t aggressive enough to be an out and out mud slinging machine but it will still keep you upright in the wet stuff. The shoe handled incredibly well for us across various terrain. One of the BBTR testers used the shoe at a recent 3 Day Stage Race, the Cell C AfricanX. There was rain on Day 1, intense heat on Day 2 and more rain on Day 3. On each stage the shoe performed excellently.
Day 2 was a rocky and technical 34km route with around 1100m elevation. The added Rock Protection Plate gave enough protection from sharper rocks popping through the midsole. ASICS have gone with their High Abrasion Rubber in the outsole which we have found to be very durable. Doing a fair bit of running on tar and hard cement sections on the trails has not excessively worn down the shoes. Although these high abrasion materials in the industry are good for durability we sometimes find this negatively affects the grip of the shoe. Thankfully this has not been the case in the Gel-Fuji Attack 5. The rubber compound is hard but still has decent grip. It won’t grip like a Speedcross or something with a softer compound so if total grip is what you are looking for, you might look for something softer. If durability with enough grip to feel confident on the technical stuff is what you are after this shoe is right up there with the best.
The midsole is built around a neutral platform and is split up into two sections, in the forefoot is a molded and contoured compound which does well to keep the shoe stable. It does this by preventing excessive ‘side-ways’ flexing of the shoe which keeps the ankle and the foot straight. This added stability is great on technical terrain but if you prefer a flexible and loose midsole you might find the shoe a little stiff. It is always a fine line between flexibility and stability on the trail but seeing that many first-time trail runners will head out in the Attack models they have done well to ensure the shoe remains stable. As mentioned earlier our tester used the Attack 5 at the Cell C AfricanX 3 Day Stage Race which covers 94km of trail running over 3 days. Before the event he had only run 10km in the shoe so going into the event we were all very interested to see how the shoe treated him after so short a run-in. The amount of cushioning was perfect for the high mileage covered over the 3 days. After covering 36km on Day 1, going into a 34km on Day 2 the shoe remained comfortable and didn’t give any blisters. That in itself is a win! The 10mm heel-to-toe drop is a little high for us but it didn’t pose any problems throughout the event.
The second part of the midsole is a Gel Pod in the heel which is one of the reason the shoe is so comfortable, the Gel Pod did wonders in absorbing some of the impact over the 3 days. This is another feature that makes this shoe so good across varying terrain as it is comfortable not only on the trail but also on tar and harder running surfaces. The midsole is also made up of what ASICS calls its SOLYTE material which is lighter than their standard EVA and SpEVA + materials. The shoe isn’t incredibly light so the lighter midsole material does well to keep the weight down. At 294g (Mens UK9) it isn’t the lightest shoe available so it does fall in the ‘All Round Racer’ category for us. A perfect high mileage trainer for logging those high miles leading up to an event.
We sometimes find a stable midsole is often accompanied by a loose fitting Upper which for us defeats the point of trying to build a stable shoe. This is not the case with the Attack 5. In fact the Upper might be a little too built up as it is not the most breathable shoe we have come across. On Day 2 in some serious heat a more breathable Upper would have been a welcome relief. Having said that the thick Upper does have it’s advantages, most noticeably the shoe stays dry inside. Running through puddles and wet grass socks stay dry which for us is fantastic, especially if you prefer running with dry feet. We thought blisters could be an issue because the thick upper would trap moisture in the shoe but the ‘ComforDRY Sockliner’ works incredibly well to wick sweat off the foot, keeping friction to a minimum. Admittedly it isn’t a shoe we would run through a desert with but training in winter is going to be a whole lot more pleasant with a shoe like this. One of our favourite features of the Upper is the pocket on the tongue that holds the laces securely inside. The possibility of branches pulling your laces loose while running along the trail is no longer a problem as they are tucked away securely.
At almost R600 cheaper than its competitors the Attack 5 is in a league of its own. A R1600 shoe that performs like a R2200 shoe is one of the reasons we have dubbed this shoe, The People’s Champion. The People’s Champion just keeps giving back to its fans. Not only in affordability but also in performance. We have a feeling this shoe will be around for a very, very long time and it most certainly can hold its own against its more expensive competitors. If you are a road runner looking at getting into trail running or even a seasoned trail runner looking for a stable, nuetral high mileage training shoe then the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is for you.