By Brian Metzler
If there’s one thing that modern running shoes have in common, it’s that almost every model has loads of cushy foam. Why? Well, two reasons. First, runners like the comfy and responsive sensation that thick foam midsoles provide. And secondly, modern foams are so much lighter and perform so much better than the standard EVA foams were the predominant midsole cushioning material in most shoes from the mid-1970s until about the mid-2010s. It’s almost unthinkable that the running shoe industry went through a minimalist phase, but perhaps we only got here from experiencing all of that. Hoka started (or reignited) the maximalist cushioning trend a decade ago, but now a few brands are developing super-maximalist models. What’s a super-maximalist shoe? Think Oreo Double Stuf cookies or a fat-tire mountain bike and you start to get the idea. It’s a trend that seems to be growing, and there’s no shoe more indicative of that movement than the new ASICS SuperBlast. With double-duty layers of its premium midsole compounds—soft FF Blast Plus and energetic FF Blast Turbo—in between a runner’s foot and the ground, the SuperBlast is one of the cushiest everyday trainers ever made.
What’s New: This is an entirely new shoe, one that takes design cues from some other ASICS everyday trainers and its souped-up racing models. Its most exceptional feature, obviously, is that it has an almost cartoonish midsole that has enormous stack heights—the height from the bottom of the outsole of a shoe to the top of the interior footbed—of 45.5mm under the heel and 37.5mm under the forefoot. That’s a lot of foam! The idea of a super-max training shoe has been in the works for several years, even though the official World Athletics competition guidelines state that no racing shoes can have a stack height over 40mm. These new super-max models aren’t meant for racing—however, an amateur runner could wear them in a race—but mostly they’ve been designed to offer copious amounts of cushioning, endless comfort and a good amount of energy return on moderate to long training runs. The super-maximal cushioning trend is starting to gain momentum this year as models like the Adidas Adizero Prime X Strung (49.5mm/41mm) have started to shake things up.
Fit/Feel/Ride: The ASICS SuperBlast fits true to size with a medium volume that provides a comfortably snug feeling in the heel and midfoot with just a bit of extra room in the forefoot for your toes to wiggle. The first thing you notice about the SuperBlast shoes when you slide your foot in and lace them up is that they’re very high off the ground. Very, very high off the ground! But the second thing you notice is that they’re extremely light. Very, very light! You’ll also immediately understand that there’s a lot of material laced up on your feet, but the success of this shoe is tied to the super-stuffed midsole and the somewhat minimal upper and outsole that do their job without adding excess weight.
The interior of the SuperBlast is soft and comfortable, but not overly plush. It has a thin, modestly padded and semi-gusseted tongue and adequate cushioning around the heel collar, but it doesn’t have a pillowy step-in feel of ultra-comfy trainers like the Brooks Glycerin. The midsole and the dual-density composition of the high-end foam compounds in the midsole make it extremely effective at absorbing shock and returning energy. Although the ride has a springy sensation, it’s not hyper-bouncy like some modern marathon racing shoes with squishy foams and carbon-fiber plates. Instead it gives off a damping sensation while also being extremely stable. It’s not a fast shoe and it will dull a runner’s proprioceptive feel for the ground, but it is soft, consistent and unflappable.
Why You’ll Love It: It has cushioning for days! Runners who enjoy soft, thickly cushioned shoes will probably like the SuperBlast—especially taller, bigger runners who exert more force into every stride. (To that point, lighter and more petite runners might find it offers “too much shoe” compared to others they’re used to running in.) The stack heights are considerably higher than other maximally cushioned contemporaries like the Hoka Bondi 8 (39/35), On Cloudmonster (33/27) and Altra ViaOlympus (33/33) and, generally speaking, that extra cushioning helps reduce the force of the impact with the ground. Undoubtedly, the SuperBlast is best at running slow to moderate paces, but it could also be a good choice for mid-pack or first-time marathoners who are more interested in finishing comfortably than running up-tempo paces.
ASICS SuperBlast Specs
Weights: 7.5 oz. (women’s size 8), 8.4 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (45.5mm in the heel, 37.5mm in the forefoot)
Why They’re Great: The massive midsoles seem to help protect your feet, lower legs and joints from excess abuse. There’s no way to quantify that or prove that (and nor does ASICS make that claim), but in my two weeks of wear-testing, I found that the day after longer runs (of 8 to 16 miles), I didn’t feel nearly as fatigued or beat up as I have in other everyday training shoes with less foam.
Pro: The SuperBlast is impossibly light. It’s both light for its size and light in general. They’re not only lighter than the ASICS NovaBlast 3 and ASICS GEL-Kayano 29, but they’re lighter than most other everyday trainers from other brands, too.
Con: Unlike the thickly cushioned ASICS MetaSpeed Sky+ and MetasSpeed Edge+ racing models (that also feature FF Blast Turbo foam and have a high-off-the-ground design and carbon-fiber plates), the SuperBlast lacks agility necessary for quick-cadence running and up-tempo running. The sizable mass of the Superblast makes it difficult to replicate quick stride turnover, so you will likely run with a slower cadence in this shoe.