The ASICS Gel Excite Trail is an affordable everyday trail shoe best for those looking for a durable neutral shoe that can withstand the outdoor elements and equally perform with its higher-priced competitors. The Gel Excite Trail is sure to offer many running rewards while not breaking the money bank.
- True to size
- Nice fit
- Responsive ride
- Great impact protection
- Comfortable cushioning
- Pretty low ankle cut
- Break-in period
- Not for quick-paced runs
- Feels warmer
ASICS Gel Excite Trail review
Based on extensive testing, this shoe is for a do-it-all outdoor seeker who allows themselves to explore the outdoors in a number of ways. Whether it’s on a mild hike or as far as a trail endurance run, the Gel Excite Trail will get the job done.
Someone looking for an entry-level trail shoe to get into the sport of trail running will be well-equipped with the Gel Excite Trail. It’s a trail shoe produced by a top brand in the industry and with all the base parts for proper trail shoe construction.
Shoe elites beware, as the Excite is a stripped-down basic trail shoe. If looking for the latest materials and tech in a shoe you won’t find it here. ASICS keeps the shoe simple and strong with a no-gimmick utilitarian design. Also, runners who want a quick shoe should look elsewhere due to the weight of this shoe. Again, the base materials and tech amount to some added overall weight.
Who should buy it
The Excite Trail is for those:
- who are looking for an affordable, yet functional trail shoe
- intermediate and expert trail runners looking for a do-it-all trail shoe
Who should NOT buy it
Consider other shoes if you are:
- a speed-focused runner (in this case, consider the Venture 8)
- a stability shoe seeker (the ASICS GT 2000 9 Trail is worth checking out)
- someone who prefers a breathable shoe (the Scram 5 is praised for its breathability)
Fit is consistent
This shoe runs very true to size in my men’s 9.5. Overall length was consistent with just enough room in the toe box and no slipping in the heal. Width is moderate from heel to toe without any excess room for slipping. The shoe hugs the foot perfectly while not allowing the shoe to rub anywhere to cause any blistering.
The shoe felt durable all the way around in its construction. Feeling the materials by hand at first, I assumed the firmness would make it feel stiff and hard when landing on the ground. This was not the case, as the combined Gel and Amplifoam midsole offered just enough cushion for supporting impacts all while producing great energy return when pushing off roots, rocks, and other off-road debris.
The Excite Trail is comfortable
A shoe this affordable would not have been expected to be this comfortable, however, the Gel Excite Trail was great without adding any hotspots or excessive stiffness or dullness to the ride. The initial 3-6 miles were a bit stiff feeling, however, once testing allowed for more miles the Excite Trail continued to soften just enough to feel like “responsive clouds” under the foot.
It feels lively and springy
The shoe rides well in its natural habitat on the trails with mixed terrain of loose dirt, rocks, and rooted switchbacks, and steep climbs. The Amlifoam’s midsole stack height allowed a fine balance of ground feel and cushion allowing me to push the shoe more each push-off I would take in the gait cycle. This shoe’s overall feeling was lively and springy as well as responsive.
Grippy enough for steep hillsides and rock beds
The lugs on the outsole are multidirectional and measure an estimate of 2-3mm. Although I wish there would have been a more aggressive lug height to bite into loose terrain, the lug pattern was sufficient enough to prevent my foot from slipping up steep hillsides and rock beds.
Loose rocks and pebbles get inside the shoe
The ankle cutout of the upper is pretty low and allowed some loose rock and pebbles to find their way into the inner part of the shoe.
A little break-in period is needed in the ASICS Excite Trail
Take time to let this shoe soften up for you before judging the way it feels underfoot. Cheaper shoe models can sometimes come with stiffer materials out of the box, and that is not always a negative aspect of it being affordable.
Not a fast shoe
The weight of this shoe is what correlates to its cheaper price point. The shoe just feels slightly slower than what you’d want to wear on a short-distance race day. When pace is slower and distance longer, the Gel Excite Trail found its way to the top of the list in terms of function and performance without the excess weight becoming a real problem.
The ASICS Excite Trail is a tough shoe
Thorough testing left me surprised to find that the upper showed no tears or even wear marks as well as the outsole looking as new as the first day on the dirt and rock single-track. The nylon upper is on the warmer side for the inner foot temps, but the tradeoff is that you get a protective shell that repels the elements especially through mud and creek beds.
Feels warmer than average
The nylon upper used combined with welded overlays make this shoe run warmer than average. The added warmth was only minimal especially on cooler mornings in the Fall season where temps drop into the lower forties and frost has settled on the ground. Because of testing 3-10 miles per run in this season, the added warmth wasn’t that noticeable any issue.
An affordable option
The ASICS Gel Excite trail is a true contender for what I’d consider the best affordable trail shoe in 2021. At $75 retail, I simply cannot believe the amount of value and performance received in this shoe when testing.