It’s fascinating how fads and trends in many industries swing from one extreme to the other. Just out of the minimalist running shoe fad, shoemakers are now telling us that the soft, cushy midsole is in again. It’s not a new idea, but these things have a way of going in cycles.
ASICS has jumped into the fray with its new GEL Quantum 360. Purporting to be the first ASICS running shoe that has its midsole built mostly with its synthetic GEL cushioning material, it’s a well-thought out idea that improves on a lot of its competition’s shortcomings.
Now you can argue that the benchmark for cushy looking running shoes of this calibre has long been the Nike Air Max with its full length air ‘mattress’ midsole. It’s spectacular to look at, but the catch is that an air pressurised rubber midsole really can’t flex very well, and this tends to lead to a stiffer platform.
The ASICS GEL Quantum 360 aims to really make its point with a completely visible GEL midsole all around the shoe. It’s tempting to think that it forms the whole centre of the shoe, but that’s not the case. While GEL material has excellent resilience and cushioning properties, it’s also heavy.
As such, the compromise is that there are Solyte foam elements hidden within the centre. We can’t tell what the percentage is though, unless the shoe is cut clean open, and that would ruin any chance of using it after that.
Beneath the shoe, the full-length Trusstic system is visible, with the outsole rubber bonded to it. ASICS claims that the lightweight plate, designed to work like a leaf-spring, collects and releases energy for an explosive, spring-loaded ride.
Designed for neutral and mild under pronators, the shoe keeps your feet in place with the Heel Clutching exoskeletal heel counter, and the Fluidfit upper is the brand’s take on the woven look that is trending on running shoes these days. It does hug the foot well with enough give and flex to not feel cramped though.
In use, they do feel a little on the weighty side, but that’s offset by the very plush and consistent cushioning delivered underfoot. It’ll suit a long, steady paced running session more than a short speed run, and the outsole grips over a wide variety of surfaces. Even rough, lumpy ground doesn’t unsettle it, as the GEL cushioning flexes and forms over uneven surfaces easily.
What we wouldn’t recommend though, is running with them on a running track. The soft surface of the track multiply the cushioning effects of the shoe too much, and then you’ll discover that there is such a thing as too much cushioning as each step sinks into the double plushness of the GEL and tartan track surface.
If there’s one thing to pick on, it’s the fact that the multi-material nature of the shoe makes construction and bonding a difficult process. There is glue spill visible between bonded surfaces, and the large expanse of GEL material does get scuffed if you really cover a lot of distance with the shoes.