The Asics Gecko XT was a surprise hit! This shoe is best for longer all day runs with its comfortable upper, excellent grip and responsive, smooth ride. Although heavier than most others, the comfort and cushion more than makes up for the weight.
The Asics Gecko XT was a big step forward for Asics in the trail running world. For this shoe, Asics incorporated their FlyteFoam which has proved popular in their road shoes for its smooth and responsive ride. Those attributes carry over to the Gecko XT where the FlyteFoam provides enough cushioning for long days, but still retains a nice smooth ride. However, this is not a fast shoe, mainly do to its weight, but it can also feel overly stiff. Dropping the rock plate would do wonders for decreasing the weight, and making the shoe more flexible.
One of the highlights of the Gecko is its impressive grip. It really shines on dry hard pack, but also excels on sandy and rocky trails. The lugs are shallow and this had a negative impact on wet and muddy trails were it did struggle. Since this shoe is so comfortable on the trails and does not have an overly aggressive outsole, you might think it was a good door to trail shoe. But, this shoe struggles on the roads, which doesn’t detract from this review but something to note if using it on roads regularly.
The upper generally was considered very comfortable and worked well with the rest of the shoe. It was secure enough without being too tight and for people used to a normal width shoe, it fit very well. If you are used to a wider toe box shoe, you may find it a little restrictive in the forefoot. The heel is stiff with an external heel counter, and some reviewers found the heel to fit too wide. The tongue has a convenient lace garage, but seems a little thin which made it difficult to really get the laces tight. But, once we got the lacing down (which might take a couple tries) the shoe fit very comfortably.
As you will see in the review, the Gecko XT does everything well, but nothing outstanding. It is a very well rounded shoe that is one of the better ones for everyday use.
Generally, this shoe is considered very comfortable. If you prefer a “normal” width shoe usually associated with major shoe brands, then you will find the fit and feel of the shoe to be exactly what you are looking for. If you are used to a shoe with a wider toe box that has a more accommodating fit, you will the Gecko XT too snug and uncomfortable. That being said, the seamless upper is well padded, which makes it a little warm, but also provides a lot of comfort. The ride is firm but thanks to Asics FlyteFoam, the firm cushion lasts all day.
This shoe performs much better than it initially feels. When you put it on, it is comfortable but does not “feel” fast. Neverthless, it is a fairly fast shoe. It isn’t fast in how you traditionally think of a fast shoe, and it is not fast for short races. This shoe shines in longer distances where comfort, cushion, and speed are all important. It easily accelerates when needed and feels at home when the pace is being pushed.
Most of our testers found the Gecko XT to be adequately agile. The traction is good, the fit is fine and the shoe can handle most any established trail you can throw at it. It is not a mountain shoe and does not have an overly aggressive tread pattern but it is able to dance around rocks and handles steep switchbacks. The biggest complaint seemed to be the loose heel and the inability to comfortably get the laces tight enough to lock your heel in.
Security of Fit
The quality of fit for the Gecko XT really varies depending on what type of shoe you are used to, as previously mentioned. The lacing system lacked the ability to properly lock in the heel and when laced to the back eye or when using the “Runner’s lock” it was too tight. That being said, once you get the lacing right, the shoe fits very securely. The overlays help hold the foot from sliding side to side and provides adequate security even on rough terrain.
The Gecko XT is the first trail shoe from Asics to incorporate their FlyteFoam midsole. This has a lot of pros and a few cons. It is very responsive and decently cushioned but is also stiff and heavy. Asics claims that the organic fibers in the FlyteFoam midsole respond quicker and retain their shape (increasing durability) better than standard midsoles. This shoe is fairly responsive but with its weight it just doesn’t feel like it. However, when you do push it, it is able to keep up and is surprisingly quick.
With its flexible rock plate, firm midsole, and full rubber outsole it is very protective underfoot. Where it struggles is its breathable upper that does not provide a lot of lateral protection. However, it does a better job than most in the lightweight category here because it does have a more padded upper. The toe bumper is adequate to protect against some minor bumps.
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HOW WE TESTED
Out testing spans the course of several months. Our testers spend a few weeks running at least 50 miles (typically much more) in each shoe. They live all over the country so each shoe can be put through our testing protocol in a variety of terrains and conditions. Each tester is encouraged—to the best of their ability—to test the shoes in as many different terrain environments as possible: in the mountains, on dirt roads, buffed single track, technical terrain, etc. In addition to varying terrain, our testers have to test each shoe at different efforts including a long run, easy running and fast running. As mentioned above we test for six different criteria: comfort, speed, security of fit, agility, responsiveness and protection.