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ASICS Fuji Lite 3 Review: A Light and Nimble Trail Crusher
By Chief Editor/Founder Matthew Klein

With the continued popularity of maximalist shoes particularly on the trails, looking for minimal shoes in this category can be challenging. Trail shoes with lower stack heights, more flexibility, and lighter weight for picking up the pace are not common. That makes the ASICS Fuji Lite series unique among the soft surface running footwear category. Version 3 returns with a better fit and slightly softer cushioning while maintaining the nimble, flexible but protective ride that made it a great shoe for those wanting a minimal or racing shoe for the trails. 

Asics Fuji Lite 3
Price: $120

Weight: 9.5 oz, 256 g (men's size 10) Weights Not Provided
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 4mm Drop
Classification: Lightweight Trail Shoe/Racer


The ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is a lightweight trail shoe/racer for those wanting a minimal trail shoe with cushioning or a workout/racing shoe for softer surfaces. A snug mesh upper sits up top, providing a secure but comfortable fit for those with normal to narrow feet. A lower stack, flexible but surprisingly cushioned FLYTEFOAM midsole sits underfoot, providing just enough protection without getting in the way. An ASICSGRIP outsole provides durability and traction for mild to moderately technical trails, making the Fuji Lite 3 a great lightweight trainer and racing option for those who want a lower and faster shoe on trails.

SIMILAR SHOES: Hoka Zinal, Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra


The ASICS Fuji Lite 3 fits me true to size length-wise in my normal men's US size 10. The width is narrow to snug overall. The heel and midfoot are normal to snug while the forefoot is snug to narrow. Fortunately, there is a little extra volume, especially in the midfoot. I had to tighten down the laces to get a solid lockdown but the upper is secure enough I did not have to lace lock the heel. The tongue is moderately thin. It is free-floating with no securing from the laces and did slide a little with longer efforts. Tightening down the laces at the midfoot did help somewhat, but I wish there was a bit more security here. The heel collar is decently padded with a moderately stiff heel counter. The counter did bother my heel initially but seemed to break in with more miles. I would caution those sensitive to heel counters to approach this shoe carefully. While the upper is comfortable, I would recommend using socks. The overlay reinforcements in the forefoot does a solid job of providing protection, but rubbed on my toes when I tried to run sockless. Overall, the fit is on the performance end of things with a snug to narrow fit that remains secure despite some mild movement from the tongue.


The ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is a lower-to-moderate stack height, lightweight trail shoe. The full-length Flytefoam midsole provides a surprising amount of underfoot cushion for how low-to-the-ground the shoe is. It still has a mildly firmer ride, and the lower stack provides decent ground feel. The ASICSGRIP outsole provides additional protection and grip, although there is no rock plate. While I can feel sharp rocks, the midsole is protective for the most part running over a variety of terrain. The only mild issue has been when I have taken this shoe longer distances, which my feet are not used to doing anymore in shoes like these. There is a moderate to high level of flexibility in the forefoot, which combined with the high toe spring makes for a quick transition forward. The high toe spring does require toe extension, but fortunately, the flexible sole offsets this. The lower heel drop (4mm) is noticeable and at times almost feels zero drop due to how much the foam compresses with my hard heel strike.

The lighter weight and lower-to-the-ground ride makes the ASICS Fuji Lite 3 an excellent option for faster and uptempo efforts on the trail. I have done a trail tempo, fartlek and hill repeats in this shoe and it has done extremely well on all of them. The fit and closer to the ground stack make this almost feel like some of the older cross-country flats with a little extra protection. The Fuji Lite 3 feels far lighter than what I measured for my size 10 (9.5 oz) as it is easy to pick up the pace. This does make this shoe better for shorter to moderate distances as the high flexibility, toe spring and lower stack did start to wear on my feet with longer mileage. Thus, those running trail distances or races under 10-13 miles will probably do well in the Fuji Lite 3.

The extensive outsole coverage provides both solid durability and decent grip. I have 30 miles on my pair with only minimal wear on the lugs (have kept these exclusively on trails). The grip is good on mild to moderate trail surfaces. On extremely unstable terrain (mud, sand, etc) the lugs are not big enough to dig in. Thus, the Fuji Lite 3 will do better on decently groomed surfaces or will work well for those experienced on technical terrain knowing where to put their feet.


The ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is a neutral trail shoe. Like previous versions, there are a few things that add mild guidance. The mild sidewalls at the heel are still present, providing gentle guidance to the rearfoot. The midfoot is fairly consistent with the heel width, making for a slightly more stable platform. The softer midsole compared to the previous versions does mute the ground feel a little, but the lower-to-the-ground midsole and nimble feel make up for those. Overall, the ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is not an unstable shoe but is a solid neutral shoe. Those with stability needs will need to transition slowly to allow their body to adapt. Those without stability needs will do just fine.


High Toe Springs in Lower Stacked Shoes

Like the ASICS Fuji Lite 2 (REVIEW), my attention was immediately drawn to the high toe spring in the Fuji Lite 3. As mentioned above, many of my issues with the previous version were addressed. The fit was modified to adapt to the upward curve that can often leave shoes shorter than their listed length. The flexibility was also increased in the forefoot, which reduced the aggressiveness of the toe spring. Toe spring refers to the upward curve the toes are held in at the front of the shoe. Previously, this referred to the entire upward curve at the forefoot, but upon clarification from some companies, that is a forefoot rocker. The forefoot rocker in the foot refers to the efficient mechanism that facilitates forward progression at the toes. Specifically, this refers to the ability of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints (main toe joints) to normally extend to a large amount to allow the rest of the foot and body to roll forward. With high stack, stiff shoes, a large artificial shoe forefoot rocker, referring to the upward curve at the front of the shoe, is necessary to allow that forward progression. These shoes, which often feature tall heights, plates and other stiffening mechanisms, require this to allow the body to transition over the front of the shoe adequately.

In lower stack height shoes, large amounts of toe spring are often rare because the flexibility of the front of the shoe is usually enough to allow the toes to move naturally. It is difficult to put in an artificial forefoot rocker without toe spring since there is not enough midsole material to place it correctly. Some shoes, like the ASICS Fuji Lite 3, have a large amount of toe spring and are highly flexible. This still requires adequate toe extension. Fortunately, it will create less stress than a stiff toe spring because at least the toes can still move somewhat into a degree of less extension. Will this amount of toe spring truly benefit someone with limited toe mobility? The answer is likely no. Most people who have limited MTP joint extension cannot even get a few degrees of this motion. The angle the Fuji Lite 3's toe spring is at feels close to 40-60 degrees (60 degrees is the minimum amount of MTP extension you need for normal gait without an artificially rockered shoe). This puts the powerful toe flexors on stretch constantly. Muscles tend to work best in their mid-range. Fortunately, the flexibility of the midsole allows you to come out of this. Those interested in this shoe still need to be aware of the toe spring amount if they are not used to this feature. It will still require adequate toe extension and flexibility of the toe flexors for long-term use. If you have those things, you will be fine and will quickly forget about this as you pick up the pace in this shoe.


The recommendations I made from the last version were integrated well into the third version of this line. While there is still toe spring, the fit has been adjusted so it no longer makes the shoe fit short. It clearly fits true to size now and there is a little more flexibility upfront that offsets how aggressive the toe spring looks. My major suggestion now is to work on the security of the tongue. This could easily be fixed with mild gusseting or better integration with the laces. Especially with a shoe meant for unstable terrain, security of all parts of the shoe are important. The only things I would still like to see is making the heel counter a little less aggressive and still reducing the amount of toe spring. Increasing the height of the sidewalls around the heel would improve rearfoot guidance and decrease the need for such a stiff heel counter. This would maintain, if not improve, rearfoot security while making it easier on the calcaneus (heel bone). Finally, with the higher level of flexibility, I don't see the need for such an aggressive toe spring. A less aggressive toe spring with a small flexible rock plate may be better for protection and longer efforts.


The ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is for those who want a minimal/lighter trail shoe or those wanting a moderate distance trail racing shoe. The new upper fits true to size, providing a secure/snug fit and a solid performance lockdown. The ride is well-cushioned but still low to the ground and slightly firmer. This provides a responsive, snappy and quick ride for those who want to be nimble and fast on their feet. The traction is good for mild to moderately technical terrain and the flexible ride is best for those who have excellent footwork and land lightly. A solid update that fixes most of the issues from the previous version, the ASICS Fuji Lite 3 is for those wanting a rare lower stack trail shoe with decent ground feel and/or for picking up the pace. 


Fit: B+ (Snug/narrow performance fit that is secure except for the tongue)
A- (Snappy underfoot ride that feels more cushioned than expected for a flexible and lower shoe. Excellent for picking up the pace and trail racing)
Stability: B [Neutral] (Neutral shoe with some mild sidewalls at heel)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Better flexibility and integration of toe spring. Still a bit aggressive)
Personal: B+ (One of my top shoes for faster efforts on shorter trail runs. Fast, nimble, and fun. Lower drop and more minimal ride takes me longer to adapt to than previous, but still a shoe I enjoy. Toe spring still a little aggressive and wish the tongue was better secured. )
Overall: B+ 


Asics Fuji Lite 3
Price: $120

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at ASICS USA for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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