Two major things that we love to see here at Gearist it’s consistency and versatility. When Asics sent us the FujiAttack 4 trail running shoe to review I was quite excited because the Fuji Racer [LINK] which I reviewed a couple years back was a shoe that could handle multiple types of trail that was also approachable by a lot of people. In this case, this new shoe bearing the FujiTrail series namesake was something out of the box that looked to carry on that tradition (we have not tried previous versions of this shoe so there will be no comparisons).
The outsole of the Asics FujiAttack 4 is the place where the versatility of this shoe first shows up, but before I get into any of that, let’s talk about the technical aspects.
The rubber of the outsole is a pretty close to full-coverage layer of AHAR+ (Asics High Abrasion Rubber) arranged in a sort of starburst pattern of ~4mm deep lugs. Rather than the smaller lugs I saw in the Fuji Racer a while back, these are quite large lugs with flat surfaces rather than more angular lugs that we often see. Apart from the fact that the lugs are quite spaced out there are also a good amount of flex grooves that carry through into the midsole (3 in the forefoot and one in the rear of the heel).
What stood out to me about the outsole of the FujiAttack 4 is, as I mentioned above, those flat lugs. On the one hand, I found them up to the task on most types of trails. The exceptions to that being loose ground, more technical terrain and some wet logs – apart from that, these shoes handled rocks, slabs, groomed trails and everything in between with aplomb. What I found they also worked well on though is pavement. Yep, pavement. For me, this appealed to me as a shoe where the design of the lugs wouldn’t have them wearing particularly quick on paved surfaces and the flat lugs make for a quite stable ride (more on this later). With about 35 trail and 5 road miles on the FujiAttack 4, I see little significant wear to speak of.
The midsole foam on the FujiAttack 4 is made from a single-density layer of Asics’ proprietary Solyte foam which the brand hails as lighter and more durable than their standard foams. For me it did feel very consistent throughout the forefoot in terms of consistent cushion. The rear of the midsole sports an embedded section of Asics’ ubiquitous GEL. I’ve said this before and I’ll mention it again here – more often than not, rearfoot technology is largely lost on me due to the fact that I’m a midfoot/forefoot runner. However, in the case of this shoe I did make a concerted effort to engage the rearfoot on some hilly descents and the cushioning definitely did its thing in softening the impact. Of course, I personally prefer to just use biomechanical cushioning but that’s a topic for another time. On the topic of impact, Asics has also included in this midsole a flexible, yet still quite protective rock plate in the forefoot which I really enjoyed.
The other technology embedded in the midsole is Asics’ Trusstic System. This feature is meant to allow the shoe to be lighter weight with less midsole material without compromising the structural integrity of the shoe. On the one hand, I can definitely say that the structure of the sole unit of the shoe held up very well. On the other hand though, while the forefoot of the FujiAttack 4 is wonderfully flexible, the rear 2/3 of the shoe is quite the opposite. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me but I would like to see more flexibility throughout rather than a very rigid rearfoot.
For my fellow spec-heads in the crowd, the drop on this shoe is 10mm with 27mm of stack in the heel and 17mm of stack in the forefoot. Shaving off some of that rearfoot foam would be a great way to get the drop under that 6mm threshold that I like while at the same time shaving some weight.
The upper of the Gel FujiAttack 4 is something of a puzzle to me. I’ll get into this more in a second but first let’s talk construction and materials. The mesh on the upper comes in two different types of dual-layer construction. The tongue and vamp (over the toes) is a rather open mesh that I found breathes very well while still keeping out fine debris. The tongue is backed by ample padding – probably more than it needs to be honest but it’s comfortable so it’s tough to argue with it other than mentioning that these things add up in the weight department. The top of the tongue features a “lace garage” pocket which appeared in the Fuji Racer a while back and I like that feature a lot as it provides a way to keep laces from catching on things or picking up burrs and the like. The other mesh appear more open externally but it is backed by much of the structural elements of the shoe so it doesn’t really play too much of a role.
The interior of the upper is not seamless, however, it’s very comfortable and if I were a sockless runner I wouldn’t hesitate to go for it in these. The interior also sports a bit of Asics’ Mono-Sock fit system in the front half of the shoe. This elastic, bootie-like aspect keeps the upper in place on the foot and reduces hotspots and irritation. The heel counter is quite rigid and forma a nice heel cup which is topped by a well-cushioned collar that, like the tongue, could save some weight and still be just as comfortable by ditching some excess foam.
Now comes my puzzlement: All the support elements on the upper of the FujiAttack 4 are stitched leather or plastic/vinyl/TPU. Now, for some people this won’t really stand out but if you’re a shoe geek, like myself, it stands out as puzzling because pretty much all brands – including Asics – are moving away from stitched overlays and toward bonded/welded/printed on support overlays. On the one hand, this upper is beefy as all hell and took some real beatings from me and came out basically unscathed. On the other hand, all this material means a lot of unnecessary weight – and for a shoe that tips the scales at 12.3 ounces in my size 11 (11.4 ounces in men’s size 9), some weight savings would be a very good thing. Looking at the layout of the supports (which I’ll get into below), it’s easy to see how almost all of them could be adapted to updated construction so I’m puzzled as to why Asics chose old-school stitched overlays.
The coolest part of the supports on this upper are the side straps that hook into the midsole on the bottoms end and on the top, form an integral part of a unique lacing system. Rather than traditional eyelets for the laces to go through, the eyelets at around the throat hold a single lace that goes from one side to the other by way of the bottom of the throat (the orange lace you see in the image below). The laces themselves then hook around the orange lace between the eyelets. This makes for a fit that cinches in a more broad fashion and allows for a lot of comfort in that area.
First, the sizing of the Asics FujiAttack 4 is was spot on for me and my size 11 feet so going with your normal running shoe size should be no problem.
Starting at the rear of the shoe, the heel cup and collar combo I mentioned above does a nice job of making for a well formed rearfoot that holds the foot nicely. Again, I think some of the foam could easily be removed for a bit of weight savings and things would remain just as comfortable. The midfoot, which takes full advantage of the lacing system I mentioned, is really very nice. I like the aspect of the laces giving your foot a kind of 280° hug. Wider feet may want to try this on before buying but lower volume feet should be ok for the most part. The forefoot on the medial (inside) side felt really good to me but the lateral side – as with many shoes – could stand to have a bit more room for toe splay and movement.
On trails, the ride of the FujiAttack 4 is good. The 10mm drop doesn’t really bug me since trails have such varied terrain you’re quite literally always on your toes. The Trusstic Systemgives a good amount of response though again, I’d like some more rearfoot flexibility as I think would increase proprioception. Also, this is where the weight came into play for me. I think dropping 3-4 ounces would add so much more agility to this package.
Now, on pavement – and yes, I know that this isn’t a road shoe – the general stability and road-like feel is very good. However, the road ride was a bit more sluggish than I would like and I’d chalk that up to weight and some of that upper getting in the way of the foot’s movement.
I do think this would make an excellent hybrid shoe, especially for someone who’s going to be running on pavement to get to their favorite trail or something like that. It’s also a very approachable shoe for those who are getting into trail for the first time and don’t really want to go full out on a $150+ shoe.
One of the biggest reasons I think this is a very approachable shoe for a lot of people is its price tag which comes in at
$110 as low as $80 (check our affiliate links below) which, for a durable trail shoe, is a really good price.
Sure, this shoe has some puzzling aspects to me, but not a single one is something that would turn me away if this were in front of me. Slap on a pair, go get dirty and let us know what you think!