ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Review: Super Comfort Cruiser

Max stack has taken over the running world. From ever growing road shoes and racers we reach the mountain topping trail shoes. ASICS' Trabuco Max 3 have a stack height to dwarf an Alphafly. Did Theo and Silke's ankles survive the test?

ASICS Trabuco Max 3: Higher Than The Alps

ASICS’ Trabuco Max series takes super thick cushion to the trails. As is the trend with shoes at the moment, it pumps everything to the extreme in search of comfort. Now in its third iteration, the Trabuco Max 3 pushes things to the limit with 43mm of stack height in the heel. Silke and Theo have taken to the trails to put them through their paces. Here’s what they thought:

 

Silke: This is my first experience of the Trabuco Max series and from the outset, it is clear that it lives up to its name. Out of the box, it seems that every part of this trail trainer is maximised.

 

Theo: Out of the two ASICS trail shoes which I have tried recently, I have a preference for this. In fact, it might be one of the best shoes I have tried this year.

Trabuco Max 3

Specs: 

Stack Height: 43mm in the heel and 39mm in the toe

Drop: 5mm

Weight: 298g | 10.5oz

Price: $160 | €180

Trabuco Max 3

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Upper: As Thick As The Midsole!

Silke: The first thing I noticed about the Trabuco Max 3 was the tremendously comfortable step in feel. At the rear of the shoe, there is an oversized pull tab to help get in even more quickly. Secondly, there is a very easily tied lacing system. Once in the Trabuco Max 3, the gusseted tongue and well padded heel collar help keep you locked in place on the trails. As far as size goes, I find that the Tabuco Max 3 is true to size and it has given me no hot spots or blisters. 

 

The upper is a very thick mesh material which is lined and reminiscent of a winter boot. For me, it is ideally suited to winter running. At the front of the shoe, the toe box is roomy enough to accommodate thick socks if the weather is really hostile. All along the upper, there are synthetic, rubberised overlays and a stiff heel counter which all add to the feeling of security.

 

My biggest gripe with the upper of the Trabuco Max 3 are the thin laces. These have kept coming untied as I run, especially when I forget to use the Smart Lace Loop Holder. On the other hand, the biggest plus points are the toe protection and overall feel of fit.

Like A Slipper

Silke: As with Silke, I found the Trabuco Max 3 true to size and I concur that the upper gives an almost slipper-like level of comfort. As I found with the Trabuco 12, my feet felt like they were in a cocoon of comfort. The material on the upper of the Trabuco Max 3 has a more plastic feel to it than in the Trabuco 12 and is therefore less breathable. Once the summer sets in, I will probably find myself reaching for the Trabuco Max 3 less. 

 

On the negative side, I agree with Silke about the laces. I found that they had come untied and therefore tightened them further. However, when I took a roughly 5 hour long run in them for my MIUT preparation, I found that this actually cut off some circulation to my feet and left them numb. Finding a balance with the laces has been tricky which is a shame as the rest of the upper is excellent. 

Trabuco Max 3

Midsole: Massive!

Silke: Obviously, the Trabuco Max 3 is a big shoe with over 40mm of foam in the heel. With the stated 5mm drop, this level of cushion continues under the forefoot. It’s quite impressive what ASICS have managed to do with the weight when considering the size of the cushion. A difference between this and the Trabuco 12, other than the obvious stack height, is the geometry. Here, we find the rocker creating a lightweight rolling feel to the ride. When out in the Trabuco Max 3, the cushion and rocker makes me feel like I could run for hours. 

For me, the FFBlast + compound offers me so much bounce that I enjoy picking up the pace when the trails allow. Max comfort and soft landings. Just like ASICS promised!

Weightless Rocker

Theo: If you have read my review of the Trabuco 12, I feel that the Trabuco Max 3 offers the same sensations but with even more cushion. These are my dream shoes for long and easy runs especially when my legs are exhausted from training. As with Silke, I am impressed by the lack of heavy feel to the Trabuco Max 3. They are also very easy to pick up the pace in. That said, they are less precise on technical trails than the Trabuco 12. They would not be my trail racing shoes of choice unless they came at the end of a 100 mile race when my legs needed some relief.

Trabuco Max 3

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Outsole: No Fear

Silke: The ASICS grip on the outsole of the Trabuco Max 3 offers very good traction and the lug depth of 4.5mm works in those conditions where you would wear a high stacked trail shoe. I did not have any feelings of insecurity with the high stack on lighter trails. That said, I  would always be careful while running over roots to avoid a twisted ankle. 

 

Silke: Here I agree with Silke, I have no issues with the grip on offer. That said, I would probably avoid too muddy conditions in it as the lugs don’t shed the mud too easily.

Max 3

ASICS Trabuco Max 3 Conclusion: Not For Technical Trails

Silke: What I have enjoyed the most about the Trabuco Max 3 is the ease of use which has made it my go to trail shoe. From door to trail, the FFBlast + foam and rocker gives me that all day rolling feeling. For me, midsole comfort is relative to the conditions I am running in. High stack doesn’t make a big difference when the ground is super soft. Therefore, what is the advantage of the Trabuco Max 3? For me, it is the effortless long running on light trails where the rocker geometry helps you through the gait cycle. 

 

That said, when I am picking up the pace on uphills and downhills, I want a very secure feeling shoe. I don’t always get that from the high stack here. Furthermore, now that the temperature has risen in summer, I find myself not reaching for them as much as I did in winter. 

 

However, if you are searching for a well cushioned shoe for cruising on less technical terrain, the Trabuco Max 3 could be the one for you. It is also worth considering the Nimbus TR and Novablast TR for similar use cases. All of them are a delight in the right conditions.

A Delightful Surprise

Theo: I have had a marvellous surprise with the Trabuco Max 3. The comfort is almost without equal on the market and they are a must have in your trail rotation. Without being ultra responsive, these are great shoes for 99% of the people on the trails. Whilst you may not be looking to take victories in races, these are shoes which will help you through every long distance adventure.

Theo

31 years old

178cm (5’8″) – 63kg (139lbs)

Midfoot striker – Stride runner

@theo_lothode

Silke 

50 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 

@schlossstadtlaeuferin

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