- Outstanding value
- Ideal for heel strikers
- Provides a stable run
- Tough outsole
- Versatile, suited for hiking and walking
- Features GEL technology
- Concerns with upper durability
- Limited energy return
Who should buy
This ASICS trail shoe is just the ticket for runners looking for:
- A versatile shoe that's great for trail runs, hiking, and even short road runs.
- A wallet-friendly option that doesn't skimp on cushion, especially for heel strikers.
- A breathable choice for summer mountain adventures.
Who should NOT buy
The ASICS Gel Venture 8 is a solid trail shoe, though it could use more cushioning in the forefoot and a springier foam. If you're hunting for a shoe with a better midsole and less heel-to-toe drop, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 might be your jam.
Also, if you've got wide feet, this might not be your best choice. In that case, check the Nike Wildhorse 8.
If you're searching for a breathable trail running shoe for summer mountain runs, you're in the right place.
In our lab, when we tested the ASICS Gel Venture 8 with our smoke-pumping machine in the lab, we couldn't believe our eyes. Most affordable trail shoes typically score average on this test. However, the Gel Venture 8 earned a flawless 5/5!
What's even more impressive is that in this test, the shoe doesn't let light pass through. This trait is uncommon, though it does occasionally appear in trail shoes due to the internal protective layers of the upper.
Under the microscope, we discovered that ASICS employs an engineered mesh. It doesn't have the typical breathability holes, yet it's thin enough to allow air circulation and heat dissipation.
In short, it's among the best uppers we've come across in terms of breathability. All this is available at a MSRP of £80, which is incredible.
Moreover, it ranks as one of the most cushioned uppers we've ever analyzed, ensuring comfort on long runs.
|Gel Venture 8||5|
After seeing its outstanding performance in the breathability test, we expected the Gel Venture 8 might not fare as well in the durability department. It's uncommon for shoes to excel in both areas.
The Gel Venture 8 managed a score of 2/5 in the durability test—not the best, but certainly not the worst. Its engineered mesh doesn't hold up as well against abrasion. However, on a brighter note, the shoe boasts a substantial protective layer around the toe box.
|Gel Venture 8||2|
Heel padding durability
When we tested the heel with the Dremel, we noted the same 2-out-of-5 score. This makes it a well-suited shoe for the vast majority of runners.
However, for those who often experience wear-and-tear in this area, it's something to keep in mind.
|Gel Venture 8||2|
ASICS took a conservative approach with the outsole.
We found that they used an average rubber compound, measuring at 84.6 HC, which aligns closely with the trail industry standards.
|Gel Venture 8||84.6 HC|
For the durability test, we used the Dremel one final time in our lab.
After putting the outsole through a rigorous test with the tool, we measured a 1.0 mm dent. Not bad!
|Gel Venture 8||1.0 mm|
In our tests, we measured the outsole's thickness at 2.5 mm. This measurement is pretty similar to the average and is more than sufficient for this type of shoe—even for heavier runners.
|Gel Venture 8||2.5 mm|
A common drawback of budget-friendly shoes is their weight—often because brands might not invest in lighter but more expensive materials. Surprisingly, the Gel Venture 8 weighs in at 10.4 oz or 295g. This is an impressive result!
|Gel Venture 8||10.41 oz (295g)|
|Average||10.44 oz (296g)|
Being really affordable, this shoe primarily targets beginners or entry-level runners, especially in the trail running category. Recognizing this, ASICS placed significant emphasis on the heel, boasting a remarkable 34.2 mm stack height in that area.
|Gel Venture 8||34.2 mm|
The forefoot boasts a mere 21.0 mm thickness. So, for you forefoot strikers out there, once you deduct the outsole and insole, it's a pretty underwhelming amount of foam...
|Gel Venture 8||21.0 mm|
This gives us a 13.2-mm heel-to-toe drop, making the shoe perfect for heel and midfoot strikers. However, it's less ideal for forefoot strikers.
So, your foot strike really matters here.
|Gel Venture 8||13.2 mm|
We found the insole to be 4.1-mm thick. It's a standard thickness that should work for most of us—nothing too special or out of the ordinary here.
|Gel Venture 8||4.1 mm|
Switching our attention to the midsole, ASICS opted for EVA foam that feels comfortable. We measured its softness to be 23.1 HA.
Don't look for a lot of bounce or springiness here, this is a £80 shoe. If you need that, check the PEBAX-based Endorphin Edge instead.
|Gel Venture 8||23.1 HA|
Difference in midsole softness in cold
After a 20-minute chill session in our freezer, we took another look at the softness to see how cold temps shake things up. Turns out, it does get a bit firmer—landing at 30.0 HA.
Surprisingly, there's only a modest 29.8% increase, a performance you'd typically see in pricier trail shoes. For a budget-friendly shoe like this, that's a great result.
|Gel Venture 8||29.8%|
Lateral stability test
Stability in the Gel Venture 8 doesn't have any big concerns. It's even suitable for those dealing with moderate pronation issues.
A big reason it feels so stable is its moderate rigidity. When we gave it a twist, we settled on a 3/5 rating—a smart move for a trail running shoe.
|Gel Venture 8||3|
Heel counter stiffness
The 3/5 rating also goes for the heel counter's stiffness. ASICS really aimed for that sweet spot between stability and comfort.
Since this shoe is designed for heel strikers, it's obvious that a super-flexible heel counter just wouldn't cut it.
|Gel Venture 8||3|
Midsole width in the forefoot
Aiming to maintain a lightweight design, the Japanese designers kept the forefoot width in check. We measured it at 111.6 mm, which aligns with the average shoe.
|Gel Venture 8||111.6 mm|
Midsole width in the heel
While ASICS focused on heel strikers with such a significant heel-to-toe drop in this shoe, we believe they should offer a wider landing platform for better stability. Unfortunately, they missed the mark here as we measured only 87.3 mm, which is below what we expected.
|Gel Venture 8||87.3 mm|
One of the standout features of this ASICS is its versatility—it easily transitions to a comfortable hiking shoe. Why is this so? Its impressive flexibility puts it in the top 5% of shoes, registering at only 14.9N in our 90-degree bend test.
|Gel Venture 8||14.9N|
Difference in stiffness in cold
After giving the shoe a 20-minute stint in the freezer, we tested it again. Impressively, it remains quite flexible, clocking in at 20.5N.
With only a 37.2% increase in stiffness, we find this shoe's performance really interesting. This is especially true considering it's made from EVA foam—a material known to become considerably stiffer in cold temperatures.
|Gel Venture 8||37.2%|
Grip / Traction
ASICS chose 3.1-mm lugs, landing on the shorter-end side.
Given this shoe is tailored mainly for trail running newbies, we believe it's a spot-on choice, offering smooth rides and trail-ready agility.
|Gel Venture 8||3.1 mm|
Size and fit
Toebox width at the widest part
The toebox is average, neither narrow nor wide. It will fit most trail runners for sure. However, if you have exceptionally narrow or wide feet, you might want to explore different widths.
|Gel Venture 8||97.9 mm|
Toebox width at the big toe
The situation is the same for the big toe area. We measured it at 75.2 mm, which is quite average.
|Gel Venture 8||75.2 mm|
Tongue: gusset type
As a value-oriented shoe, we expected it to have a non-gusseted tongue. While this is a drawback in trail shoes—where maximum protection from debris and small rocks is desired—for £80, we're fine with it.
|Gel Venture 8||None|
We've mentioned the exceptional comfort of the Gel Venture 8, and here's another reason why.
With a tongue measuring 8.8 mm thick, there's no chance of lace bite or discomfort on the instep.
|Gel Venture 8||8.8 mm|
The good vibes don't stop! You also get a finger loop heel tab—a total surprise for a budget-friendly shoe.
|Gel Venture 8||Finger loop|
You can easily take out the insole, which lets you swap in different orthotics or insoles from other shoes. Handy!
|Gel Venture 8||Yes|
The Gel Venture 8 doesn't have any reflective parts. We wish it did, especially for those of us who run trails at night.
|Gel Venture 8||No|