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Hands-on Gear Review
Asolo Agent GV Review
Cons: Low comfort, below-average support and traction
Bottom line: This pricey shoe will outlast the others and has a low profile for an unassuming look.
The full-leather Asolo Agent GV is a fine trail shoe of quality construction we expect from this manufacturer. It's the most durable shoe in our review, lightweight, and its low profile won't raise eyebrows at a post-hike happy hour. This shoe is designed for light day hikes and doesn't hold up well when carrying a load or on difficult terrain. It doesn't have much cushioning in the footbed, but some hikers appreciate that. But there's no use beating around the bush. This shoe is expensive without specializing in any specific use or performance area.
Most of the competition scored higher overall. The HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit WP provides incredible comfort and support in a profile that is almost an exact opposite of the Agent GV. If you stick to day hiking, check out the Merrell Moab 2, which offers better traction and comfort.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Hiking Shoes of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Asolo Agent GV is a durable day hiker with a $185 price tag. The upper is suede leather with a mesh tongue and an internal Gore-Tex Extended Comfort waterproof lining.The sole consists of an EVA midsole, polyurethane inserts, and an Asolo/Vibram Natural Shape rubber outsole.
Out of the box, these shoes feel narrow and stiff. The stiffness loosens over time, but wide-footed hikers probably need a wider shoe. Pointed rocks are felt through the modest soles, and we prefer more arch support for long-distance hikes. The toe box isn't roomy, and other models like the Keen Targhee II are much better equipped for downhill segments of hikes. The large rubber rand covering the front of the toe box is robust and removes the worry of stubbed toes.
If you find these shoes at a retailer near you, try before buying, due to their narrow nature. Alternatively, purchase from a retailer with an excellent return policy, such as Zappos.
The lacing system has a total of six sets of eyelets, yet presented an unfortunate problem. This shoe is easy to over-tighten. On several occasions, we laced up and started hiking, only to find our feet numb after ten minutes. It's difficult to find the sweet-spot when tying these shoes, either being too loose to keep our feet from sliding or too tight for proper circulation. Our heels often slid within the heel box also. For the best overall comfort, check out the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit.
The thickness of the sole increases this shoe's ability to absorb shock but still fell to the middle of the pack in this aspect. They are quite breathable, though. Our treadmill test didn't produce sweaty feet or even damp socks. The shoes do fine on warm, sunny hikes.
The Agent GV features the lowest profile of any shoe in this review, yet weighs in the middle of the pack at 2 lb. 0.5 oz. Its small size and average weight are made possible by its thick leather construction in the upper and dense rubber in part of the outsole. For a solid build, we think this weight is also a solid achievement. Check out the Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX if you're seeking lighter and faster.
The TU inserts add some stiffness in the midfoot, but the Agent GV still provided below-average support. On rough terrain, we preferred shoes with torsional rigidity, like the Tor Summit or Targhee II. Going downhill, we wished this model was more stable. The low collar height left our ankles feeling more exposed to potential rolls. For such an expensive shoe, we were also disappointed by the uninspiring insole, which is a single piece of foam.
If you plan on using your hiking shoes for backpacking trips with medium loads, other models provide more support.
The outsole of the Agent GV is a collaborative effort from Asolo and Vibram. The sole is split in half by a curved line. The instep has dense rubber and the outstep is softer. This approach worked well on dry rock of any hikeable grade, where this model performed on par with the best. In all other traction tests, however, this model provided below-average purchase. Fortunately, the outsole showed no signs of wear at the end of the three-month testing period. If you want more traction from a low-profile model, have a look at the Vasque Juxt.
The Agent GV is not the most versatile shoe in the bunch. Its home is on flatter, moderate terrain and rock scrambling, where this model excels. On rough terrain, the foot and ankle support is lacking. For this same reason and its lack of cushioning, we preferred other shoes for extended backpacking trips, such as the Targhee II or Merrell Moab 2. The non-rockered shoe isn't designed well for running, either. This is a discreet shoe, and will not shout "Hiker over here!" when you stop at the waterhole after a day on the trails, which we appreciate.
Of the nine waterproof models, the Agent GV has the lowest flood height, measuring 3.5 inches from outsole bottoms to the junction of the tongue gusset and the ankle collar. Not creek-stomping height, these shoes will still keep you dry through thin layers of snow and mud, as well as wet grass from morning dew. The upper repels water well, with some water being absorbed in the mesh tongue, which dries quickly. This Asolo model has no problem keeping our feet bone dry in our five-minute stream test. The La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX and Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX are superior models in terms of water resistance.
Besides the mesh tongue and padding along the top line, the upper of the Agent GV consists of suede leather in multiple layers, as well as rubber. The toe protection is excellent, with two layers of leather under a large rubber rand. Toe boxes wear out in hiking shoes, but Asolo has done a good job at preventing that from occurring. It even rivals that of the Targhee II, a shoe known for its burly toes. The seams are double-stitched, the PU insert between midsole and outsole has a great reputation in durability, and the stiff heel maintains its shape over time. All in all, this shoe represents the quality and longevity we have come to expect from this manufacturer, earning the highest score of all models in this metric.
If you want a day hiker to last you more seasons than the other contenders, this shoe is for you. Folks who prefer sensitivity over a cushioned footbed appreciate wearing this shoe on the trails as well.
At $185, the Agent GV ties for the most expensive shoe reviewed, yet doesn't perform on par with the more affordable models.
We like our shoes to last, and the Asolo Agent GV will. Its durability and quality construction is unmatched in this review. This longevity comes at a high price, though, and there are several models that perform higher in the majority of other metrics at a much lower cost.
— Ross Robinson
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