- Fantastic value
- Summer-ready mesh upper
- Enough stack height
- Stable ride
- Good for heel strikers
- Ready for hiking
- GEL technology for amazing impact protection
- Durability could be better
- Lacks energy return
Who should buy
We believe this ASICS trail shoe is an ideal choice for runners seeking:
- A wallet-friendly, cushioned trail running shoe
- A versatile all-rounder that handles trail running, hiking, and even road running when necessary
- A shoe with a classic design that doesn't draw undue attention.
Who should NOT buy
If you're looking for a durable shoe that offers great value for your money, we still recommend going with an ASICS option, specifically the Trail Scout 2.
Breathability is a major concern for many trail runners, since it's difficult to come across trail shoes with a well-ventilated upper. We performed our jaw-dropping smoke test, and we were astounded by how fantastic this shoe performs in this aspect.
Even when the trails felt like embers, our feet remained well ventilated!
It performs admirably due to its mesh upper. The mesh is sufficiently dense to prevent light from passing through—as seen in the video below—yet it's thin enough to allow for proper airflow. It's a winning combination.
However, how can we determine why it breathes so well? We conducted a examination of the Gel Venture 9 under our microscope.
It is the aforementioned thin mesh that takes credit for the impressive 4/5 in the breathability test.
|Gel Venture 9||4|
The Gel Venture 9 took a serious hit in our lab tests, scoring an unfortunate 1 out of 5, the lowest score possible. We had braced ourselves for a low score, anticipating it even before the Dremel test, due to the shoe's thin mesh. However, the result still left us truly disappointed.
Asics Gel Venture 9 (left) - Hoka Challenger 7 (right)
We subjected both shoes to the same test (3.2N @ 10K RPM), and the results were clear as day.
|Gel Venture 9||1|
Heel padding durability
Sometimes, a shoe surprises us with stellar scores in the toebox area, only to underperform in the heel. Or the other way around. Unfortunately, we didn't encounter such luck this time. After conducting our Dremel test on the heel, we handed out a below-average score of 2 out of 5 to the Gel Venture 9.
|Gel Venture 9||2|
As a budget-friendly trail shoe, we anticipated an average score when we used our durometer to test the softness of the outsole. That's exactly what we got: 84.5 HC.
This outsole should easily extend beyond 700 miles, provided that you don't subject it to too many road runs, of course.
|Gel Venture 9||84.5 HC|
The outsole boasts an average thickness. With a robust 2.5 mm—a little behind the average—of rubber beneath the lugs, it's more than capable of assuring an adequate lifespan.
|Gel Venture 9||2.5 mm|
When we first held the shoe in our hands, we could tell it was far from being feather-light. Our suspicion was confirmed upon placing it on our scale—the Gel Venture 9 tipped the scales at a substantial 11.1 oz (314g), hurdling over the famous 10-ounce barrier.
|Gel Venture 9||11.08 oz (314g)|
|Average||10.44 oz (296g)|
We were taken aback when we used our caliper to measure the stack height in the heel. It's not everyday that we stumble upon high-stack shoes boasting an impressive 33.3 mm of foam in the rearfoot!
|Gel Venture 9||33.3 mm|
On the flip side, we were equally taken aback by how thin the forefoot was. With a stack height of 22.9 mm—below the average trail shoe—that includes both the outsole, the insole and the lugs, there's not a lot of cushioning in that area. It's clear to us, this is a shoe built with heel strikers in mind!
|Gel Venture 9||22.9 mm|
The significant 10.4-mm heel-to-toe drop simply reaffirms our earlier observations. Such a high drop caters well to those who hit the trails heel-first. And that's exactly what this shoe delivers.
It's worth noting that budget-friendly trail shoes—often targeted towards beginners or slower-paced runners, like the Gel Venture line—tend to boast a quite-steep drop.
|Gel Venture 9||10.4 mm|
The insole, with its comfortable 4.8 mm of thickness—just a touch above the average—it's just what we wanted.
|Gel Venture 9||4.8 mm|
At 24.6 HA, this isn't your run-of-the-mill midsole softness that was the norm on trail shoes! Amplifoam delivers a soft and gentle touch—but don't expect an over-the-top bounce from the Gel Venture 9, especially considering it's an $80 trail shoe.
|Gel Venture 9||24.6 HA|
Difference in midsole softness in cold
While the Gel Venture 9 may not be the ideal pick for winter trail running due to its outstanding ventilation, it becomes a great choice under cold temperatures when paired with thick socks.
After we checked the midsole softness in cold temperatures, we noticed that the foam might firm up slightly more than we prefer (up to 34.4 HA), but it still maintains a below-average firmness—a remarkable achievement for such a budget-friendly shoe.
While it doesn't turn stone-hard, you'll surely feel the shift as it becomes 39.7% firmer under cold conditions. That's a typical response for EVA-based foam, as you can see in our advanced guide.
For a shoe that shines in winter, consider the Saucony Peregrine 13 with its TPU-based midsole.
|Gel Venture 9||39.7%|
Lateral stability test
With a stack that's above average and a cushy foam, one wouldn't typically anticipate excellent stability. Yet, these ASICS shoes left us with a great impression. Their Amplifoam midsole was stable in our runs and comfy during long hikes.
The solid stability in the Gel Venture 9 largely comes from its 3/5 torsional rigidity. Like nearly all other trail running shoes, it's not super flexible. That rigidity, however, works in our favor, helping us remain stable on any terrain.
This complements its non-rockered shape, which works well for a shoe of this type.
|Gel Venture 9||3|
Heel counter stiffness
This shoe scores an impressive 4 out of 5 on our heel stiffness test, putting it well above the average trail shoe and providing a guided run. Since it's not advertised or designed for fast paces, this rating just make sense to us.
|Gel Venture 9||4|
Midsole width in the forefoot
The landing platform doesn't hold any surprises. Using our caliper for precise measurements, we found that the midsole width is about average in the forefoot (109.5 mm), just 2 mm less than most trail shoes.
|Gel Venture 9||109.5 mm|
Midsole width in the heel
Like they did with the steep heel-to-toe drop, ASICS pleased the heel strikers again with a midsole width that's wider than most shoes. At 89.5 mm, it will be really stable everywhere!
|Gel Venture 9||89.5 mm|
Using our force gauge tool, it took us only 20.1N to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle. This is 58% less than the average force, making this shoe one of the most flexible trail shoes we've ever put to the test in our lab.
|Gel Venture 9||20.1N|
Difference in stiffness in cold
Thanks to its low-end longitudinal flexibility, it doesn't stiffen excessively in cold temperatures. In fact, after a 20-minute exposure to freezing conditions, it only required 32N to bend it to 90 degrees—nearly the same force needed to flex the average shoe at room temperature.
That said, the Gel Venture 9 does display a notable 59.3% increase in stiffness from its normal state at room temperature. We find this significant as it results in a firmer feel compared to other shoes, largely due to this substantial change.
|Gel Venture 9||59.3%|
Grip / Traction
We enjoyed the versatility of the Gel Venture 9 during both runs and hikes. This is partly due to its below-average-sized lugs—measuring just 3 mm.
These lugs are perfect for quick hikes and a wide range of running speeds. However, we noticed the performance getting worse on more challenging terrain. It's clear that no shoe can excel in every scenario!
|Gel Venture 9||3.0 mm|
Size and fit
Toebox width at the widest part
The toe box doesn't offer much wiggle room at 97 mm of width, but it's sufficient for most foot types. We firmly advise that this shoe is suitable for narrow, medium, and somewhat wide feet.
However, if you've got ultra-wide feet, you should probably steer clear. Brands like Altra might be a better fit for you.
|Gel Venture 9||97.0 mm|
Toebox width at the big toe
At 72.3 mm, the shoe narrows by 34.2% from the widest point to the area of the big toe, being 30% the average.
Based on our tests, we find that it's a better match for those who have a significant size difference between their big toe and the rest—think Greek or Egyptian foot shapes. In contrast, those with Celtic, German, and Roman feet should definitely avoid the Gel Venture 9 and, again, try something from Altra like the Lone Peak 7.
For more information on uppers and foot shapes, check out our guide about uppers, as we really dive into that.
|Gel Venture 9||72.3 mm|
The midfoot area feels absolutely normal. Our tests suggest that even those among us with flat feet should find it comfortable.
|Gel Venture 9||Normal|
Then, there's the heel—it pleasantly surprised us with its slightly-wider-than-average dimension while retaining a fair bit of rigidity. This strikes a fine balance between comfort and stability.
|Gel Venture 9||Normal|
Tongue: gusset type
A common shortfall of budget trail shoes is their lack of a gusseted tongue. Could ASICS have added one? Definitely, but no chance they do that. They need to distinguish budget shoes from high-end ones, and leaving out this feature is a really easy way to do it.
So, predictably, there's no gusset in the Gel Venture 9, opening the door for debris, dust, and small rocks to easily get inside the shoe.
|Gel Venture 9||None|
The Gel Venture 9 offers suitable padding, particularly in the heel area, providing substantial comfort. The only drawback we've noticed in our examination—which is common in trail shoes—is that the mesh can feel a bit rough.
Recently, we've noticed a trend of super-thick tongues on trail running shoes, like in the Salomon Ultra Glide 2. In most cases, this trend proves more of a downside, leading to uncomfortably snug fits and added weight. However, the Japan-based brand has navigated this issue, featuring a comfortable yet light 5-mm tongue. Kudos, ASICS!
|Gel Venture 9||5.0 mm|
In the Gel Venture 9, we were able to switch out the insole for a thicker and thinner one. Swapping your own orthotics is also a possibility.
|Gel Venture 9||Yes|