By Brian Metzler
It’s springtime and no matter where you live or what your fitness goals are, it’s definitely running season. Even if you weren’t one of the ambitious runners who started the season early and ran in the NYC Half Marathon, Los Angeles Marathon or Boston Marathon, there’s still plenty of time to ramp up your fitness before summer arrives. You’ve just got to start logging some miles consistently in a good pair of trainers. One of the shoes I’d recommend is the just-released ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25, an everyday trainer that’s been completely revamped. It’s one of the most improved shoes of 2023, so if you ignored or didn’t like the Cumulus 24, I’d recommend giving the Cumulus 25 a try. It’s a good fit for runners looking for a versatile everyday training shoe.
What’s New: ASICS gave this shoe a major overhaul by stripping down a lot of the unnecessary features that added weight. The biggest updates to the Cumulus 25 are the addition of the full-length soft and lively FF BLAST+ midsole with a segment of new PureGEL technology embedded in the heel of the midsole (but no longer visible) for buttery soft landings and a smoother and more energized ride. It maintains the same 8mm heel-toe offset as the previous version, but it is 2mm higher off the ground than last year’s version. (For perspective, however, it’s still 4mm lower than its maximally cushioned cousin, the GEL-Nimbus 25.) The Cumulus 25 has a new soft and stretchy jacquard mesh upper without any overlays or added technology features and a new outsole configuration with small segments of rubber. Both of these upgrades are aimed at improving fit and keeping the shoe as light as possible. Oh, there’s also a $10 price bump from last year, but that’s more tied to the rising cost of shoes across the board than it is to any new features of this shoe.
Fit/Feel/Ride: The GEL-Cumulus 25 fits true to size with a medium-volume interior and a normal (not narrow, not wide) toe box. It has smartly placed pull tabs on the heel and tongue to help it slide onto your foot easier, and the step-in feel is soft and plush – thanks to a premium footbed, padded collar and thick gusseted tongue. Combined with the new upper, it provides secure heel lock-down and creates a comfortable enveloping feeling as you lace it up. (The new upper is great, though it’s not as breathable as models with a more airy mesh upper.) The ride is soft and cushy as its name suggests, while still being responsive with a lot more feel for the ground than max-cushioned shoes. Some runners might see that as a negative, but it actually gives the Cumulus 25 a bit more agility and the ability to run at faster paces. It’s not marshmallowy soft like the GEL-Nimbus 25 (which is difficult to run in at faster paces) or other max-cushioned shoes, but it’s not remotely firm, either. While it’s not the most energetic midsole, I found the GEL-Cumulus a joy to lace up and run 10 miles in.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because ASICS revitalized what was once a strong daily training shoe in the long-ago era of EVA foam midsoles into a modern everyday trainer. Back then, what made the Cumulus great was that it was a reliable midweight shoe that offered cushion, protection and durability without completely sacrificing weight and a smooth ride. But recent versions had dual-density midsoles plus heavier GEL packets in the heel and forefoot that made the Cumulus less compelling as an everyday trainer. The new GEL-Cumulus 25 has a loftier midsole, but it’s an ounce lighter – which is very noticeable and appreciated – and just a better running shoe than its most recent predecessors.
ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25, $140
Weights: 8.0 oz. (women’s size 8), 9.3 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (37.5mm in the heel, 29.5mm in the forefoot)
Why You’ll Love It: It’s a reliable bread-and-butter daily trainer. It’s not quite a do-everything trainer – like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 – because it’s not exceptionally fast. But it is light and cushy enough to do long training runs, short recovery runs and some peppier workouts like tempo runs or spontaneous fartlek sessions.
Pro: If you’re not into running in maximally cushioned running shoes every day and want to feel the ground a bit more, the GEL-Cumulus 25 is a good option to consider. The revised midsole design gives this shoe better cushioning in a lighter, lower-to-the-ground and more nimble package, and the wider footprint means you don’t have to sacrifice inherent stability.
Con: There is an awful lot of exposed foam on the outsole of the GEL-Cumulus 25. I like the notion that limited rubber segments in appropriate places helps keep the weight of a shoe down, but the small segments of durable rubber are dwarfed by the massive sea of exposed foam. I don’t expect the foam to wear out to the point of being detrimental, but after 62 miles of running in it, it’s already showing a bit of wear and tear.