Our verdict

Our experience with the ASICS Trabuco Max 3 reveals a careful update, preserving its plush midsole, high stack height, reliable grip, and wide upper. However, it's worth mentioning that the shoe now offers less ventilation, comes with a slight price hike, and carries a bit more weight. Despite these changes, it still stands out in the max-cushioned trail shoe category for its balanced performance and rockered ride, ready for long runs and any ultra distances.

Pros

  • Enhanced durability
  • Exceptional plush cushioning
  • Ideal for winter runs
  • Ultra distance-ready
  • Surprisingly stable
  • Reliable grip
  • Spacious upper

Cons

  • Reduced breathability
  • Increased weight
  • Slight price increase

Audience verdict

88
Great!

Who should buy

Following extensive testing of the Trabuco Max 3 both in our lab and out on the trails, we confidently recommend it for:

  • Maximalist shoe enthusiasts looking for ultimate leg-saving cushioning on the trails.
  • Previous Trabuco Max fans seeking a warmer upper for colder runs.
  • Fans of the ASICS FF Blast+ midsole, desiring that plush feel off-road.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3

Who should NOT buy

The towering stack of the Trabuco Max 3 might not be everyone's cup of tea—it's a shoe designed for smooth paths and we found that pretty much erases any sensation of the ground beneath your feet.

This makes it a bit of a niche choice, ideal for runners who prioritise cushioning over terrain feel. For those who seek a more grounded and natural-running experience, we suggest considering alternatives like the Nike Wildhorse 8 or Merrell Agility Peak 5.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 parts

Moreover, we wouldn't recommend the Trabuco Max 3 as a door-to-trail shoe. Its comfort on non-trail surfaces leaves much to be desired, falling short of the versatility offered by the Hoka Challenger 7.

Breathability

Given its massive midsole, it's no surprise the Trabuco Max 3 lacks flexibility even being a plateless shoe. Our standardized 90-degree bend test required 36.5N of force—typical for a shoe designed with such features.

This rigidity contributes to the shoe's lack of ground feel, aligning with its design intent for maximum cushioning and protection.

Breathability

In the quest for the perfect trail shoe, breathability often takes a backseat, yet it remains a critical feature for some. Unfortunately, the Trabuco Max 3 marks a step back in this department. Compared to its well-ventilated predecessor, the Trabuco Max 2, this latest iteration only managed to secure a disappointing 2/5 in our smoke test.

Our examination under a light source further highlighted the change. The transition from an engineered mesh in the previous version to a jacquard mesh in the Trabuco Max 3 has significantly reduced airflow.

Unlike before, where light could easily pass through the upper, indicating good ventilation, the new model blocks out light entirely—a clear sign of compromised breathability.

Turning to the microscope for a closer look only confirmed our initial findings. The detailed view revealed a complete absence of the micro-ventilation gaps that characterized the mesh of the previous model.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 micro

However, this reduction in breathability might not pose an issue for runners who stick to cooler climates or avoid running in the peak heat of summer. The new mesh construction could still suffice for such conditions.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 jacquard mesh

For runners prioritizing breathability above all, we suggest securing a pair of the v2 while they're still available, as they clearly outperform their successor in this aspect.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 2
Average 3.3
Compared to 76 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

While we noticed a reduction in ventilation in the new Trabuco Max, it's exciting to see this change has boosted the shoe's durability.

In our Dremel testing, the jacquard mesh of the v3 truly impressed us—elevating its score from a good 3/5 to a great 4/5.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Toebox durability
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel padding retained its familiar comfort, feeling unchanged to us, yet we didn't just rely on our initial impressions and put it to the Dremel test.

The results were consistent with the previous model, earning a solid 4/5 score. Wear and tear in the heel won't be an issue with the Trabuco Max 3.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Heel padding durability
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4
Average 2.9
Compared to 54 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Transitioning to the outsole, we encountered the familiar ASICSGRIP rubber. While it may not carry the Vibram or Continental label, it impressively handled a variety of terrains, including light mud, with ease.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 ASICSGRIP

Our durometer test showed a hardness of 84.0 HC, aligning well with the average for trail shoes, indicating a balanced blend of durability and traction.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Outsole hardness
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 84.0 HC
Average 85.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

So, how did it hold up under our Dremel test? Let's dive in.

The wear was slightly more than we anticipated, with a 1.1 mm reduction, yet it's not a deal-breaker at all. Nonetheless, we do advise caution with road running in this shoe—not only does it feels weird, but the rubber might also wear down fast.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Outsole durability
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 1.1 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 49 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The outsole thickness, lugs aside, measured 1.9 mm—plenty sufficient for this shoe. Anything more would just add unnecessary weight.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Outsole thickness
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 1.9 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

On the topic of weight, we're facing another disappointment. The Trabuco Max 3 saw a jump from 10.3 oz in its predecessor to 10.9 oz in this edition—an unwelcome increase for us.

While staying under 11 oz is commendable for a shoe with such towering stack height, the shift from a lighter build was a bit of a letdown.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Weight
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 10.86 oz (308g)
Average 10.34 oz (293g)
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

True to its name, the Trabuco Max 3 embodies the essence of maximalist trail running shoes from the ground up. At the heel, our measurements revealed a plush 42.4 mm of cushioning, catapulting it into the top ranks of the most generously cushioned trail shoes on the market.

For those on the lookout for a skyscraper-high trail shoe, we think that your search probably ends with the Trabuco Max 3. Regardless of your weight or how prominently you heel strike, this shoe has got your back.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Heel stack
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 42.4 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot stands impressively stacked at 33.9 mm—significantly taller than most trail running shoes out there.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 stack

Naturally, with such a bold design choice, there are some compromises in stability and agility. However, as we often find in life, not everything can be had at once.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Forefoot stack
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 33.9 mm
Average 24.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

The discrepancy between measurements yields an 8.5-mm heel-to-toe drop, which more accurately reflects our running experience compared to the advertised 5-mm drop.

For those intrigued by these variations, we've explored this subject in a detailed guide.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Drop
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 8.5 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The Trabuco Max 3 retains the same 4.7-mm insole as its predecessor—no changes here, maintaining it as a standard, reliable option.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Insole thickness
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4.7 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Trabuco Max 3's midsole remains a highlight, carrying over the beloved FF Blast+ technology seen in ASICS favorites like the Novablast 4. We measured its softness at 18.6 HA, ensuring a plush ride.

While it may not prioritize energy return—sometimes feeling slightly squishy—our experience was positive, particularly during long runs over two hours, where the EVA+OBC foam blend offered exceptional leg protection.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Midsole softness
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 18.6 HA
Average 23.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 75 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

The Trabuco Max 3, with its poor ventilation, emerges as an ideal candidate for winter runs, although we wanted to prove how the FF Blast+ performs in colder conditions.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 FF Blast

That's FF Blast+. And hey, we just loved the midsole's design, which mimics a topographic map—truly impressive.

We subjected the TM3 to a freezer test for 20 minutes and were delighted to discover a mere 12.1% increase in firmness—a remarkable outcome that underscores its reliability in chilly weather.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 12.1%
Average 26.7%
Compared to 75 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Given its towering stack height of over 40 mm, the Trabuco Max 3 might initially seem to lag in stability compared to more grounded trail shoes like the Hoka Speedgoat 5. Yet, ASICS has cleverly engineered this model to offer a surprising level of support.

For those not tackling the most rugged trails, the stability provided should be enough. And we found that on smoother terrain, the shoe impresses with its robust performance, demonstrating that it can hold its own even with its significant cushioning thanks to the midsole sidewalls.

Torsional rigidity

The exceptional stability we noted in the TM3 can be partially attributed to its remarkable torsional rigidity, which we rated a solid 5/5. The shoe exhibits a stiffness akin to models equipped with carbon plates, and interestingly, it forgoes a even rock plate, a decision justified by its substantial stack height.

This characteristic, however, might deter those who favor a more flexible, natural feel during runs, particularly on technical trails that demand agility and adaptability.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 93 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

We discovered the heel counter incorporates a robust insert, resulting in notable stiffness.

This rigidity is essential for enhancing stability—as we've previously discussed—earned a 4/5 in our evaluation. However, it comes again at the price of comfort, especially for those with Haglund's deformity.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 91 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The broad footprint of this shoe plays a crucial role in ensuring stability, especially considering its significant cushioning.

In our analysis, the forefoot's width stretched to 116.0 mm—beyond what we usually encounter for trail footwear.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 116.0 mm
Average 111.9 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel's width measures a more standard 91.7 mm compared to the broad forefoot—yet this doesn't detract from its suitability for those who strike at the rear. Coupled with the shoe's robust torsional rigidity and the solid support from the heel counter, it also brings some of it to the rear.

That said, due to these characteristics, we advise that this shoe is best suited for neutral runners.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 91.7 mm
Average 89.6 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Rocker

The Trabuco Max 3's toe rocker provides an additional stability boost, enhancing forward transitions and aiding in maintaining a straight running path. However, it's worth noting that this feature might not offer much advantage on technical or twisty trails, but actually the opposite.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Rocker

Flexibility

Stiffness

Given its massive midsole, it's no surprise the Trabuco Max 3 lacks flexibility even being a plateless shoe. Our standardized 90-degree bend test required 36.5N of force—typical for a shoe designed with such features.

This rigidity contributes to the shoe's lack of ground feel, aligning with its design intent for maximum cushioning and protection.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 33.7N
Average 28.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After 20 minutes in the freezer we did again the test and the TM3 excelled, hardening by a mere 3%—an outstanding performance that solidifies its reputation as a winter running delight.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 19.7%
Average 35.7%
Compared to 96 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The 4-mm lugs on the shoe strike a balance, making it versatile for a variety of terrains, though it slightly favors pure trail use with only very occasional road sections.

Additionally, we see potential for sporadic use in snowy conditions. While deeper lugs would enhance its snow capabilities, the shoe's cozy upper and stellar cold-weather midsole performance open up possibilities for some snow runs here and there.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Lug depth
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4.0 mm
Average 3.5 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The toebox, measuring a super-spacious 100.1 mm, positions the Trabuco Max 3 as a dream for runners with wider feet or those who favor a roomier fit. For trail aficionados who seek a snug, locked-in feel, we believe the Brooks Caldera 6 is a more suitable choice.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 100.1 mm
Average 98.7 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

This shoe shines for ultra events, especially due to its toe cap design.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 toe cap

Unlike others that narrow significantly, the Trabuco Max 3 boasts a broad, Altra-like roundness at 83.8 mm. It's an ideal setup for those valuing ample toe splay—a critical feature for the long hauls of ultras.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 83.8 mm
Average 78.9 mm
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue is attached to the shoe with a partial gusset—a detail we find quite satisfactory. While our preference leans towards a fully gusseted tongue for complete debris blockage, this also meets our needs!

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue is crafted with two thin foam layers, totaling 4.9mm in thickness—not overly plush, but we discovered it to be quite sufficient during our long runs in the trails.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 tongue

Yet, for those seeking an ultra-cushioned instep experience, this model might fall short. We suggest considering the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 instead.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Tongue padding
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 4.9 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

The heel boasts a sleek, horizontal finger-loop tab—always a plus in our book and, in our opinion, adds a cool touch, right?

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Heel tab
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 Finger loop

Tongue band

We also discovered a handy elastic loop on the tongue, a cool feature that was already present in the v2 and allows you to securely fasten your laces, ensuring they stay put throughout your entire journey.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Tongue tab

Removable insole

You can easily take out the insole if you want to, as its not glued down.

Also, because it's shaped in a very standard way, it's simple to switch it out with ones from different brands like Ortholite.

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Removable insole
Test results
Trabuco Max 3 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

A proper trail running shoe should have reflective features, and the Trabuco Max 3 ticks that box.

Test results
Trabuco Max 3 Yes