The Asics Gel Venture 8 is a solid trail runner with a modest price tag. The high-traction sole combined with just enough cushion and a comfortable upper make this shoe a good choice for the trail running aspirate.
Who should buy the Venture 8
The Asics Venture 8 is for runners who are looking for:
The responsiveness of the shoe is great, and I was pleasantly surprised by how nimble the shoe felt on the trails that I tested it on.
The cushion is noticeable, but it is not over the top. It does not give that spongy feeling that some more maximal shoes give. It's just enough to ease the impact and smooth out your ride.
What strikes you right off about the Asics Venture 8 is how unbelievably comfortable the shoe is. The sidewall of the upper is cushioned appropriately and wraps the top of the foot snuggly.
True to size
The shoe sizing is true to fit. I wear a medium, size 9.5.
The flat laces secure the tongue. The lockdown of the lace cage and the comfortable upper, make cornering a dream.
Not for wide feet
The shoe has a narrow toe box. I only noticed this after a few miles of running in the Gel Venture 8. If you have wide feet, or simply like a lot of splay room for your forefoot, this might not be the choice for you.
On shorter trail outings, which this shoe is definitely best suited for, the narrow toe box is a non-issue, but on a long day, it might get annoying.
Not for ultra running
While not the choice for those tackling 50K and longer ultra-distance runs, this would be a good choice for someone who´s tackling their first trail 10K or half marathon. The cushion is enough to save your newly adapting joints, and forgive the occasional errant rock or root, but not enough to survive hours and hours of intense use.
The Asics Venture 8 requires little to no break-in period
The Asics Venture 8 felt ready to go out of the box. Comfortable and loose, with a light airy feeling, the Gel Venture 8 really did not feel like it needed to be broken in much. The heel collar is very ergonomic and comfortable. I did notice that the foam in the heel area began to feel a bit more pliable and less stiff after 25 miles or so.
Impressive grip on varied surfaces
Living in western Montana, I had the opportunity to run this shoe on everything, from pea gravel pedestrian trails to semi-technical single track trails in mountainous terrain. The shoe handled equally well on all of them, with the grip being its strong suit. The sole is burly and delivers a solid grip on wet and muddy trails as well as loose and grave slopes.
The Asics Gel Venture 8 is a burly shoe that boasts durability far beyond its price point. While the shoe is still young to me, it appears to be withstanding the abuse I'm putting it through rather well. Its construction is solid and the shoe is surviving on the western Montana trails I am punishing them on. I expect that the Venture 8 will far outlast the 400-450 miles I usually put on a shoe before retiring it.
The Venture 8 feels light
The shoe weighs 355g and compared to some brands like Salomon, Brooks, and New Balance, it is right where it should be regarding weight. I have, however, been spoiled a bit by the influx of super light trail runners from Hoka (290g) and Altra (294g), and in respect to those and other brands, the Gel Venture 8 comes in pretty average. That being said, the shoe feels light and is by no means a clunky trail shoe meant for hiking.
The Venture 8 doesn't feel bulky and would be comfortable transitioning from an easy trail run to coffee with friends, or a casual day at work.
Not for warm weather
While the Venture 8 gains comfort tremendously as a result of the padding on the heel collar and sidewalls, it does sacrifice breathability because of this. On hot days, this resulted in warmer feet than I would normally like.
While it wasn’t that big an issue it was noticeable. Given that the shoe is intended for shorter duration runs, I doubt that most users will find it troublesome. However, the added warmth might prove to be a boon in the shoulder season’s cooler running days.
Good value for money
In summary, I really liked this shoe. It has a really nice comfortable feel to it. The traction of the Asics Venture 8 is hard to beat. The solid construction coupled with a trusted brand name makes for a reliable purchase.
Furthermore, the price is super affordable. If you are searching for an entry-level trail running shoe that won't set you back too much, this is one to seriously consider. Built for shorter to medium trail outings, the Asics Venture 8 will not disappoint.
My name is Sean Kiffe. I live with my wife and three daughters in Missoula, MT where I teach middle school science. I am primarily a trail runner but also dabble in road events occasionally. Currently, I am working my way into ultra distances and will be doing my first 50K and 100K trail races this season.