The improved upper’s mesh materials are quickly noted with the trail running shoes. The upper is now more responsive and more durable. But the cushioning system is not bad either. With foam and gel used for shock absorption, the shoes can be a worthy upgrade to the previous Gel-Sonoma release.
The shoes are not class-leading in any department. However, considering their price, they can be among the first options for those new to trail running. Those considering a second shoe option can also find the Gel-Sonoma 4 as an interesting choice. Furthermore, there are plenty of reasons to consider the shoes apart from their price. Their durability is impressive and with a redesigned outsole, there are good reasons to believe that the shoes are truly capable to offer plenty of traction. However, performance on wet surfaces might still need to be improved together with outsole flexibility.
Made with Asics’ AHAR durable rubber, the outsole can tackle multiple types of trails. Rocky surfaces might not be the easiest to handle. But at least runners know that these surfaces will come with diminished wear in time due to the high abrasion rubber. Even more, there are a number of runners who even say that the rubber’s traction is what made them use the shoes for everyday walking. So the reactions to the materials are diverse.
The midsole of the shoes is among the best in its class. Even at this affordable price, it comes with foam cushioning and an Ortholite sockliner. The entire length of the foot is cushioned. Of course, gel insertions play a role as well. The gel is only added to the heel area but Asics did a good job when it comes to offering additional cushioning. There are various materials considered for trail running by shoe brands. Asics has its own gel signature choice and it makes the most sense on trails where runners need to take good care of their feet.
A padded tongue collar feels particularly comfortable on long trail runs. However, the upper side of the midfoot might need some attention with the lacing. Surprisingly, Asics did not make a good choice with the lacing. It can become lose and on trails, this is more dangerous than on any other running surface.
Even so, the upper is breathable with its mesh materials with overlays. Furthermore, there are a few instances where the uppers combination with toe protection overlays can also make the difference while running on trails. In theory, these overlays should protect the feet better as well as provide improved structural support. Many runners can acknowledge that the upper of the Gel-Sonoma 4 jus ticks the boxes, without actually standing out in any way.
Size And Fit
The shoes should fit most runners. However, due to the forefoot design, they can cram the toes together for those with wider feet. It is why they should choose shoes half a size larger, at least. But even so, they might not find the shoes particularly comfortable. However, this is not the biggest issue of fit. It seems that the materials on the ankle area can rub against the Achilles tendon and there needs to be enough attention placed on this crucial area from the first run.