ASICS Gel Trabuco 12 Review

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Introduction

The Asics Gel Trabuco 12 is the newest iteration of the brand’s long-distance stability road to trail shoe.

The Trabuco is more trail-focused than the Gel Venture and with less cushioning than the lighter, maximalist Trabuco Max.

At $140, the Gel Trabuco 12 is comparable in price to other premium long-distance all-terrain running shoes made for neutral runners with mid-level cushioning, like the Brooks Cascadia or Hoka Challenger.

The Trabuco 12 is heavier than its mid-cushioning all-terrain competitors at 10.1 oz. (285 g) for women or 11.1 oz. (314 g) for men.

For comparison, the Women’s Cascadia 17 is about 9.8 oz and Challenger 7 is about 7.7 oz. The Trabuco 12 has a mid-drop 8mm heel to toe, which is the same as the Cascadia and more than the Challenger, which has a 5mm drop.

The Gel Trabuco 12 is built for stability and features patented rear foot gel technology that improves impact absorption in the heel and an adaptive guidance system.

The wide basenet shape facilitates a balanced landing after each stride better than some of the Hokas with the same intention. This stability is intended to be most helpful when you need additional stability longer into a run.

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Impressions

While the Gel Trabuco 12 was heavier for a non-maximalist shoe, I found the sacrifice of weight was made up for in stability, reliability, and comfort.

While the first (of many) runs were on snowy and icy terrain, these also performed well on regular roads, dusty desert singletrack, and rocky terrain.

They did best, however, on milder, wider trails and hard packed surfaces where you could open up your stride and pick up the pace. For narrow single track and more technical terrain (trails with debris, rocks, or lots of roots), they can seem cumbersome and less agile.

However, the traction was reliable on all surfaces, so I would not consider trail steepness to be a limiting factor on these shoes.

Their stabilizing features paired with the bouncy responsiveness of the midsole Flytefoam Blast technology foam make for an excellent trainer for logging miles or even longer speedwork.

Further, the Gel Trabuco 12 offers adequate protection and exceptional durability. I would consider these for a longer race where terrain is varied but not significantly technical, especially if I had concerns about stability (say from a prior or lingering injury).

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Protection

The protective features of the Gel Trabuco 12 were sufficient for all testing conditions. The flexible rock plate between the midsole and outsole prevented penetration and impact from rocks and roots underfoot.

The hardened materials on the reinforced toe cap shields the front of the foot from impact from rocks and other hazards on trail. On muddy days, small rocks and debris did get inside the shoe.

This was annoying but did not hamper my runs significantly. The shoes have gaiter attachment points on the tongue and heel if extra protection from debris or snow is needed.

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Durability

After over 50 miles in the Gel Trabuco 12, the only sign of wear is on the toe cap. Other than that, these look exceptionally unaffected by wear in some abrasive and muddy conditions.

In the Blackberry and Light Blue colorway, they also show very little dirt.

Given this durability, I would feel confident on wearing these in a long ultra distance race.

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Responsiveness & speed

In most cases, the Gel Trabuco 12 was fun and fast for a stability trail shoe. The FFBlast technology in the midsole was responsive and bouncy, counteracting the heaviness of these shoes.

While I wouldn’t use these for speedwork because of their heaviness, I could hit close to top speed in them.

Running downhill, they carry momentum and are easy to run quickly in, but the wide basenets make uphill effort feel like more of a slog. Additionally, the wider basenets feel less agile in off-camber terrain.

ASICSGrip Technology rubber on the outsole was exceptionally grippy on all terrain these were tested on. The only time that I felt hampered by the outsoles was in muddy conditions, where the outsoles accumulated mud.

Overall, I would consider wearing the Gel Trabuco 12 for a fast course if it was long and stability later in the run may be a limiting factor.

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Comfort and fit

I size up half a size in all Asics shoes, and the Gel Trabuco 12 was no exception. While I had to pull the laces tight to get sufficient lock down, the length of the shoe required the half size up and ensured the toe box was ample for longer runs.

With optimized lock down, the Trabuco 12 was comfortable over multiple-hour efforts. The Gel Technology and cushioning in the heel cup reduce the force of impact and provide excellent support.

The midsole cushioning was sufficient along the length of the footbed, as I did not notice significant fatigue.

The engineered mesh upper was breathable in all conditions tested. Additionally, when the shoes got wet, they drained and dried out quickly.

Asics Gel Trabuco 12 Conclusions

The Asics Gel Trabuco 12 is an exceptionally stable all terrain running shoe with a variety of use cases.

While a stability shoe had not previously been one I considered a necessary part of my running shoe quiver, I appreciate the comfort and reliability of a stability shoe over maximalist for similar use cases.

For road-to-trail out my house over varied terrain that may include winter conditions, dirt roads, dusty singletrack, and non-technical trails, these are comfortable and reliable for racking up mileage.

After having recently reviewed the Hoka Stinson, which is a maximalist running shoe with a stability focus, the Gel Trabuco 12 made me rethink the need for a higher stack.

Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to test the Gel Trabuco 12 during longer efforts (longer than half a day or high mileage), so I’m unable to compare fatigue and comfort in a stability versus a maximalist at that effort length.

However, I found Asics adaptive stability in the Gel Trabuco 12 to be more stable than Hoka’s H-Frame stability technology. While the Gel Trabuco 12 has a wide basenet, it’s not as cumbersome and frankly, clown-like.

Overall, I consider the Asics Gel Trabuco 12 to be a sleeper in the trail shoe world and was impressed.

While I’d select a faster shoe for races and speedwork, I’m looking forward to continuing to lace on the Gel Trabuco 12 for everyday running and hiking.

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