The Asics Gel Venture 7 is an affordable trail runner best for less technical terrain. It's a great cross-over shoe and an excellent option for those wanting to get into trail running. While it's not the most technical performer, we were surprised at how well it did amongst much more expensive options that represent the best on the market.
The Asics Venture takes us over snowy trails during the first snowfall of winter. This ultra-affordable shoe is best for flatter, rockier terrain, but it can still do it on sloppier surfaces. Looking for a deal? Here it is!
Foot protection in this shoe comes primarily in the form of its rigid and well-cushioned midsole. We wore this shoe while running out sandy trails in the Gunnison Gorge and on jaunts in cool fall weather during the first real snowfall of the year. The upper is composed of a synthetic leather harness with a breathable mesh built underneath it; the mesh repels sandy particulates well, while the leather upper does the same to keep out nasty stuff from getting inside the shoe.
A look at the protective synthetic outer and mesh that keeps pesky trail debris out of the shoe.
Underfoot, the primary protection comes in the form of EVA foam in the midsole (the amount is not advertised). The foam feels plentiful, offering some protection from most underfoot hazards, while the heel has more cushion than the forefoot. When running over some super sharp rocks and roots, we could feel both poking up through the bottom of the sole (good sensitivity) without feeling any pain. There is no integrated rock guard built-in, so for super sharp rocks and a hard impact, you might feel a little pain. However, on the 60 miles of running we did in the mountains, we had no issues. The upper does get wet when in snow, but we didn't notice it too much when wearing merino wool socks.
We can feel the undulations of the trail, but are protected by the ample EVA foam underfoot. Even though it was snowy, our feet didn't feel cold either. Score!
Sensitivity is also good; for such a stable shoe, we are surprised at how much we can feel underfoot. When taking on these trails, feeling underfoot hazards gave us time to readjust body positioning when coming down on hazards on the trail. Know that you'll be feeling the trail intimately in these shoes. It's far from a barefoot shoe, but isn't ultraprotective either, which is something we appreciate.
The sensitivity of the forefoot lets us know how much we need to bear down to get the traction we want without slipping out. For this shoe, it does a pretty darn good job.
The outsole on this shoe offers great traction on dry surfaces that aren't too technical. The rubber composite used in its construction is harder and doesn't mold to the surrounding environment as well as more flexible types of rubbers. It still holds tight to dry rocks and slabs, but when the rocks are wet, traction is minimal.
A look at the non-aggressive outsole that can do it on the trails, even in sloppy weather. However, it doesn't perform as well as other contenders.
When testing on snowy roads and slopes, this shoe did okay, providing decent traction - until we encountered mud. The mud stuck to the bottom of the shoe, building up like a big ol' mud pie. With this on our foot, it continued to accumulate snow, which meant we were glissading down slopes with little to no traction until we took the time to knock it off the shoe. The lesson? They don't shed mud well.
While it does well on most surfaces, unfortunately, it doesn't shed mud or snow very well, as depicted by this picture right here.
While you can certainly take it into some messy situations, it's not the highest performer in this type of terrain. The even outsole is instead, better built for smooth surfaces littered with stray rocks and pine needles. That said, it does really well on dirt roads and even pavement. As a less technical performer, it's excellent as a cross-over shoe or on basic trails where you're not going to be trudging through the muck for miles and miles.
If you like rigid construction, the stability of this shoe is great. When trying to flex the shoe left to right at the heel and arch, it hardly budges. In the forefoot, there's good flexion and movement. When the traction was holding well on the trail, we felt incredibly stable flying overtop rock piles, roots, and sticks. This is surprising as we thought the more traditional heel-to-toe drop (10 mm) was going to limit the stability. However, the wide toe box allows great balance while zooming headfirst down the trail.
Fairly stable over tough terrain, it offers good protection on less-technical trails.
Comfort and Fit
The rigid nature of the upper and outsole isn't the most comfortable for us, but you might find it comfortable if you love stability and a wide forefoot. The uppers are rather stiff, but do a great job wrapping the entire foot with nice arch and lateral support. The underfoot cushioning is not super squishy and feels more supportive, which some ladies might prefer. The Achilles also has nice support with a high collar that is quite supportive. The tongue is a little rigid to the touch, but we didn't notice any problems with it on the run.
The collar and uppers are thin but stiffer. They are still comfortable for all-day wear.
We love that it comes in two different width options - regular and wide. We tested the regular version; they have enough room in the laces to pull super tight or loosen up, depending on your foot shape.
Take a nice rest under a tree after running into a gorge about 1000 feet. The wide toe box offers great splay and a no-slip run that keeps us comfortable from the bottom of the canyon, back to the top.
Weighing in at 9.9 ounces, it is far from heavy, but it doesn't feel ultralight either. One thing to keep in mind is that when it does get wet, the synthetic leather upper takes time to dry. The mesh is also fairly absorbent and has a hard time drying out if it's not super warm out. Other than that, it's a light shoe, as most trail shoes are.
A look at the weight of one size nine shoe.
The Asics Venture 7 is one of the most inexpensive shoes in this review and has decent performance on the trail. While it isn't the best, it's a great option to consider if you simply want some protection and want to get out on the trail at a great price. For an even bigger discount, you may be able to find the previous season's colors on sale.
Run out roads or get on less technical trails with the Asics Venture 7, our Best Buy award winner.
If you just want to get out on the trail, and you don't have the cash to fork over for the best performance out there, the Asics Venture 7 is a great way to go. As the most affordable option tested, it does just okay in most of the metrics, with an exceptional in the area of stability. Built as a rigid shoe, the fit is versatile, as it has two options for width. The less aggressive outsole is best used on hard-packed surfaces that are less technical. Though, if you want to get out when it's snowing or muddy, this shoe will take you through it all; just not as efficiently as some.
A look at the traditional ASICS Venture 7 that offers nice protection underfoot and a solid ride on the trail.