Asics Gel Venture 9 Review (2023): Top Budget Trail Pick?
Published on: 10/10/2023
A budget all-arounder from road to trail.
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
One of the most reliable brands in road and trail running, Asics provides a wide range of shoe series, each with their dedicated uses. The Gel-Venture family is an entry-level trail shoe, with the new Gel Venture 9 hitting an interesting balance between road and trail running.
Improvements in the midsole, featuring the brand’s AMPLIFOAM cushioning that provides extra comfort to runners, mark a departure from the Gel Venture 8. Asics has also added lateral stability features and improved the foot lockdown with a redesigned upper.
The Gel Venture 9 behaves well as an all-around workhorse and provides excellent value for money at just $80. However, it is on the heavy side, its grip isn’t great on wet and muddy terrain, and the upper lacks breathability and durability. For the price, it’s a good choice for beginner trail runners or for those who want a versatile shoe for walking, short runs, and hiking, from road to trail.
Please read our full review of the Asics Gel Venture 9 for more information.
- Excellent value
- Great shock absorption thanks to GEL technology
- Big toe box
- Good protection
- Poor breathability
Generally a dependable, versatile workhorse for beginner trail runners and for those with less specific requirements, the Asics Gel Venture series has long been a very good buy. Without hitting the high-quality combination of grip and cushioning that some of the brand’s other trail shoes have, the Gel Venture can be seen as a gateway shoe for road runners moving to the trails.
In this latest iteration, Asics has brought in better shock absorption and a heightened stack. Combined with the brand’s proprietary GEL technology and AMPLIFOAM midsole, the Asics Gel Venture 9 seem to be those very comfortable shoes that can be taken from road to trail and introduce non-trail runners to off-road surfaces. But, do the new materials and redesign justify an upgrade? Should you just get a great deal on the version 8 for the moment? Read our in-depth review to find out.
For a very good-value, entry-level trail shoe, the Asics Gel Venture 9 offers good support and solid grip on various surfaces. The outsole features what Asics calls an “advanced traction pattern” – but grip leaves a little to be desired in challenging conditions.
From various trail surfaces to the city streets, the Asics Gel Venture 9 promises to work on any terrain. It’s designed to be taken running or hiking, which is why it’s a little heavier than other trail running shoes. However, it features quite shallow lugs, only 3 mm deep. So, this is not a shoe to use on muddy, wet days.
If you plan on wearing the Gel Venture 9 mostly on the road, grip is absolutely sufficient. It fares ok on easier trails, too – just nothing too technical or slippery.
The Asics Gel Venture 9 features Amplifoam cushioning, present in some other Asics Gel series shoes like the Gel Excite, among others. Despite its lower density (especially compared to some highly cushioned road models like the Asics Gel Nimbus 25), the Amplifoam retains shape and flexibility for moderate length runs and absorbs shocks relatively well.
The Gel Venture 9 feels noticeably more cushioned all around, from heel collar to tongue and including the midsole. The higher stack height doesn’t affect its stability, so investing in this increase seems to have been the right decision for Asics. Combined with the rearfoot GEL technology these features provide a more comfortable feel underfoot than version 8.
At the same time, the added weight makes the shoe less responsive than its predecessor. But, for short to medium outings on moderate trails, the comfort will probably be more important than the light weight of other models.
As for the stack, the Gel Venture 9 measures 33 mm under the heel and 23 mm under the forefoot. This gives it a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is extremely comfortable and approachable for most neutral runners. Also, it’s worth noticing that the heel stack is higher than average, and the forefoot stack is lower than average. This makes the Gel Venture 9 very attractive for heel strikers.
Weighing in at 296 g/10.4 oz for women’s size 40 and 318 g/11.2 oz for men’s size 42, these shoes careen into the heavy category. It’s not the perfect situation for a trail running pair, which should be more nimble and lightweight. However, the comfort features make up for the weight, to an extent.
While the Gel Venture 9 shoe has been modified to provide better cushioning than previous versions, this hasn’t made it more dynamic. There is a definite lack of bounce and toe-off propulsion. Rather, these shoes seem most at home hiking and doing slower runs.
The Gel Venture 9 features a mix of mesh and synthetic materials hugging the foot. Asics has focused on improving foot lockdown and protection in the latest shoe, having strategically designed a higher mudguard at the front, which increased the size of the toe box in the process. This will be a welcome change for wide footed runners.
Additionally, there are wider synthetic side overlays that cover more of the shoe than the previous pattern did. This also improves the fit overall. The new design is also more stable on uneven terrain, specifically during sideways movements.
At the same time, the new mesh upper is thicker and more padded than with version 8. This makes the version 9 less breathable than other shoes – one of the few negative comments on these shoes. On the other hand, the extra padding around the heel area is welcome and makes the Gel Venture 9 particularly comfortable shoes for road and trail surfaces alike.
Fit and sizing
Asics shoes often feel narrow for their size, so it’s generally a good idea to buy one half size up. Additionally, many reviews mention that the Gel Venture 9 feels tight compared to the previous iteration, possibly because of the extra lockdown elements that have been added in.
The toe box is relatively wide, but still in keeping with classic Asics fit which won’t be ideal for runners with wide feet. Once the shoe is on, the combination of heel collar, thin but cushioned mesh, and a wider heel area help create a softer, more comfortable experience than you’d first expect when seeing it.
A final important point to make on the upper is the lack of a gusseted tongue. This presents the risk of debris entering the shoe during a run – something to consider if you plan to take it to the trails.
Thanks to its increased stack and comfortable midsole foam, the Gel Venture 9 allows those either hitting the trails for the first time or – conversely – shifting from the outdoors towards more city streets and the gym, to find a happy medium at a decent price point. The Amplifoam midsole and rearfoot GEL technology make it comfortable for most terrains, while the generous 10 mm heel drop makes the shoe just as at home on the road as in the forest.
With a trail specific outsole pattern that is also pretty versatile, the Asics Gel Venture 9 can be taken out pretty much everywhere and at any pace, from short runs to long hikes.
Avoid hot days, however: the new mesh upper just isn’t ventilated enough for slightly longer distances in the heat.
Value and Sustainability
As a budget shoe for Asics, retailing at only $80, there isn’t much we can expect in terms of durability from the Gel Venture 9. Unfortunately, several tests have found the toebox not to last too long, especially because of a very thin mesh and lack of toe protection. The heel collar also looks quite flimsy.
The redesigned tread pattern on the outsole does give hope for longer life, however. If you balance wearing these shoes between trail and road, then they could last for over 500 miles/805 km.
Carbon footprint and animal welfare
As a brand, Asics has committed to more sustainable means of production. For the Gel Venture 9, they’ve used various environmentally friendly processes, including a solution dyeing process that reduces water consumption by approximately 33% and carbon emissions by approximately 45% compared to traditional methods.
The Gel Venture is vegan, like all Asics running shoes.
Not the best trail running shoes, while not as dynamic and bouncy as other road runners, the Asics Gel Venture 9 strike a balance for low-budget athletes looking for a versatile do-it-all. Thanks to some improvements in comfort and foot protection, the new model is definitely a step up from the predecessor. It’s not a super shoe or one you’ll see reviewers raving about. However, if you’re looking for good value, relative durability, and a bit of all-terrain versatility, it’s a solid bet.
|Heel height||33 mm|
|Forefoot height||23 mm|
|Weight (men)||318 g/11.2 oz|
|Weight (women)||296 g/10.4 oz|
|Outsole||Advanced Traction Pattern|
|Midsole||AMPLIFOAM cushioning, Rearfoot GEL|
Comparisons – Asics Gel Venture 9 vs.:
Asics Gel Venture 8
Overall, the Gel Venture 9 brings significant improvements in midsole cushioning and comfort levels for an entry-level trail shoe. However, it falls short in terms of breathability compared to the 8th version. Most users also find it to be tighter fitting. With a very low price tag of $80, upgrading is not going to set you back too much, so it’s worth doing for the improved comfort if you liked the Gel Venture 8.