ASICS Gel Trabuco 12 Review: An Almost Perfect Trail Shoe?

ASICS have a wide range of trail shoes available. From the speedy but unstable Fuji Speed 2 to the super thick Trabuco Max 3. The Trabuco 12 sits between these in the range. How well does it work?

ASICS Gel Trabuco 12: 1 Shoe, 2 Uppers

Silke: ASICS have released new iterations of the Gel Trabuco and its bigger sibling, the Gel Trabuco Max. Recently, I have had the chance to put some trail miles into both. In this review, I will focus on the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX. Have the upgrades introduced by ASICS made one of my favourite trail workhorses even better?


When I was training for my trail race in Innsbruck last year, the Trabuco 11 was my go to choice. For runs of over 15km and 1000m of elevation, they were my easy choice of workhorse. I loved them on long, rocky climbs and muddy paths which more resembled rivers. In the Gel Trabuco 11, water drained quickly and they would probably have been my race choice over a longer distance. Now we are back in the muddy months of January and February, I have had the chance to test the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX. Surely this addition will make them even better for the grim weather? Let’s find out!


Theo: I haven’t used any ASICS shoes since last year and, what’s more, I have never used ASICS’ trail shoes. Therefore, I had no idea what to expect from the Gel Trabuco 12. Unlike Silke, I received the regular rather than GTX version. In my mind, ASICS creates shoes which are based more on comfort than performance especially in the trail running scene. When they arrived, they certainly had my curiosity. Moreover, it was almost love at first sight.

Trabuco 12 GTXPXL_20240410_171041847.PORTRAIT
Trabuco 12 GTXPXL_20240410_170914588.PORTRAIT~2


All specs from ASICS 

Stack Height: 36mm heel and 28mm forefoot

Drop: 8mm

Weight in ASICS’ sample size: 309g | 10.9oz

Price: $135 | £130 | €174.95

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Gel Trabuco 12 Upper: GTX Can Be Abrasive 

Silke: Firstly, the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX fits true to size. I received my usual size and found both the length and width to be ideal. ASICS has chosen to make the upper of a double layer of synthetic material which has a pleasant feel on the outside. Sadly, this feeling doesn’t transfer to the inside. As mine are the GTX version, I can only compare them to the previous version and I find them less comfortable. Gore-Tex shoes usually feel a little tighter due to the waterproof membrane so the added closeness of the toe box didn’t surprise me. That being said, it isn’t too tight and getting in is made simpler by the pull tab.


Furthermore, to assist in waterproofing, the tongue is fully gusseted and the lacing is offset to help this. In my mind, this could become a weak spot during the lifecycle of the shoe and lead to leaks. On the positive side, the laces are really secure and can be stashed in a lace holder for security. Furthemore, I found the toe bumper to be very effective. Overall, the upper of the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX is not as overengineered as the Trabuco Max 3 but the lockdown is just as secure.

The Classic Version Brings Plush Comfort

Theo: As I mentioned before, I received the regular version of the Gel Trabuco 12 rather than the GTX. Therefore, my take on the upper may be slightly different. I found the Gel Trabuco 12 to be true to size and have excellent step in comfort. This is enhanced by the amount of padding which ASICS have chosen to add. Overall, it gives the feeling of being in a cocoon with excellent heel hold. 


The Gel Trabuco 12 is built with a classic mesh which is pleasantly breathable even during warmer weather and on longer runs. Whilst the rock protection is not the most robust, it is capable of doing a decent job. Sadly, it is not fully a bed of roses in the Gel Trabuco 12 upper. Unfortunately, during downhill sections of my run, I found the laces didn’t hold my feet entirely securely and I got blisters on my toes. Thankfully, this was only evident on all out downhill blasts which aren’t a regular feature of my long distance training. Overall, they are a wonderfully comfortable upper which is one of the best I have ever put on.

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Midsole: Disapointing

Silke: Despite the 35mm heel, the midsole does not feel super thick. Perhaps this is due to the 8mm drop. My initial miles in the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX felt stiff and unforgiving. Due to this, I would not like to run on roads in it. Certainly, it would not be my first choice as a road to trail shoe. After 25 kilometres, the FF Blast midsole of the shoe started to break in and soften up. However, I would not say that it is as soft or responsive as ASICS claim in their marketing. Sadly, for me, the all day comfort and joy has lessened in this iteration. Overall, for me, the FF Blast and ASICS Gel do not end up creating an improved package.

However, Opinions May Vary

Theo: For me, the FF Blast foam works perfectly in the Gel Trabuco 12. In fact, I found them to more comfortable than the HOKA Tecton X2 and the EVADICT MT Cushion 2. However, this did lead to a lack of dynamism in the ride. When I chose to take them on the road for an interval session to really test what they brought, I felt the weight and density of the foam. That being said, I did find that they offered good return when being pushed on uphill and downhill sections of the run. 


Thankfully, they are also very precise shoes on technical sections of the trail. So much so that I would use them on any trail on which I run. Whilst they do not excel in one particular area, they are a very good all rounder of a shoe. I would use the Gel Trabuco 12 for races over 60 km in length. Overall, I have found the FF Blast foam to be one of the best on the market and the only drawback of the Gel Trabuco 12 is the weight which may be a detriment to those who really prefer a light shoe.

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ASICS Gel Trabuco 12 Outsole: Decent!

Silke: One the base of the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX, I have found that the ASICS Grip just works. Overall, the lug depth has served me well over every type of terrain I have thrown at it. That being said, I believe that the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX holds mud more than the previous version, although the mud could just be stickier this year!


Theo: I have no issue with the outsole on the Gel Trabuco 12 on trials. They have held me fast on every terrain I have used them on. My only complaint is that they give a strange feeling of suction when running on asphalt.

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ASICS Gel Trabuco 12 Conclusion: Perhaps There Is No Perfect?

Silke: Over the last year, I am thankful to have received many pairs of trail running shoes to test. Within these, I have had plenty of really pleasant surprises. Over the past year and 400 kilometres, the ASICS Gel Trabuco 11 has been my workhorse and it only stopped getting my love because I had so many other shoes to test. 


Sadly, the Gel Trabuco 12 GTX will not receive the same distance. This is due to several reasons. Firstly, the weight of 300g in my size seems excessive. A workhorse doesn’t have to be a Clydesdale, it can be a bit more svelte. Personally, I would like to see the ASICS Gel in the heel removed to save some weight. When compared to the HOKA Challenger or the Mafate Speed, it just seems overweight. 


Secondly, I would like a more responsive and bouncy midsole. Perhaps, even a change to the midsole geometry to make the Trabuco a little more playful. In my mind, this iteration of the Trabuco would work better as a Nordic walking shoe during the grimier, colder, winter months. Finally, and always a point to consider when thinking about a Gore-Tex shoe is that they are great when water is on the outside. However, when the water gets inside, it can stay wet for hours!

Maybe there is?

Theo:I really enjoyed the look of these shoes from the outset. Furthermore, I would have no issue wearing these in daily life. I couldn’t wait to get them on foot and out onto the trails. When I did. I wasn’t disappointed with the performance or the comfort. The cushion of the FF Blast midsole foam was also second to none.


31 years old

178cm (5’8″) – 63kg (139lbs)

Midfoot striker – Stride runner



50 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 


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