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2018 Asics Kids Cross Training Shoe Comparison Review

by Sportitude
25 Jan 2018

Josh discusses and compares Asics kids' cross training shoes just in time for back to school in 2018, identifying subtle similarities and differences.

He puts the Gel 800XTR, Gel 195TR, Gel Trigger 12 and Gel 540TR under the spotlight to assess which is the most suitable for your active kid so they can excel at their sport this year.

Check out the full review with transcript below.

G'day guys, Josh here from Sportitude today coming at you with a kids' shoe review.

Parents out there are starting to think about what shoes you're going to put on your kid's feet for back to school.

This is going to be a lengthy video talking about some subtle differences between some cross training and running shoes and differences about the cross training family.

I’ll be touching on the Asics cross training family this morning. The reason we’re only going to be doing the Asics family is because they have the deepest range from all the suppliers that Sportitude deal with here in Australia.

Asics 800XTR

First, we’ll talk about the Asics 800XTR. The key feature about this cross trainer is that it’s built on a running shoe base.

For parents or kids out there who are incredibly active, who love a lot of running but have issues with wear with mesh shoes, whether it's breaking through the top or your child happens to play in wet long grass and gets soggy feet, the solid, leather upper of the 800TR is the way to go.

It’s built on a neutral platform so there’s no added arch support inside this shoe, which is probably a good thing for kids because they grow at a rapid rate. Kids feet are still developing for a period of time and girls happen to develop a lot quicker than boys.

Just picture a kid’s foot – it’s always growing so if you put arch support in a specific area sometimes it has a positive effect for children, but you'll often find whether it’d be a running shoe or cross trainer that the brands won’t use an intrusive arch support. It’ll just be gentle guidance support because they don’t want to hinder the kid’s natural gait as they run.

Getting back to the shoe, we’ve got a cross trainer with a running base. It’s got a Trusstic system through the midfoot. Splitting the forefoot and heel, we’ve got two flex grooves through the forefoot under that first metatarsal joint, then you’ve got two a half flex grooves on that lateral side. For a cross trainer it has lots of flexibility which is great.  

Underneath the heel we’ve got a Gel cushioning pod and we have a cradled impact zone on the centre of the heel point which is great for walking. On the lateral side the two pods are there to cater for running when you heel strike on that lateral side of your heel. In terms of comfort the 800TR is fantastic.

It’s got a lot of cushioning underneath the foot for very active children. It only comes in grade school sizes so that’s important to know at home.

Underneath this review we'll give a breakdown of preschool sizes versus grade school sizes and there is an overlap between the two.

We’ve got a tiny stitched toe cap at the front. I wouldn’t say it’s the most reinforced stitched toe cap, its very similar to their running shoes.

If your child is quite active and they happen to drag their foot maybe ten times on a court surface that will potentially pop off. It’s unfortunate that’s the case but if you want a more durable shoe we'll touch on some other models in two ticks.  

Asics 195TR

Next, we've got the 195TR. This is probably over the last five years one of their most consistent kids’ cross trainers to talk about and with the 540TR. You’ve got a very traditional cross trainer, this is a happy medium between running and court sports, almost like a 50/50 blend.

We talked about the 800TR being more of a running based cross trainer. If I had to put a number on it, it’s probably 80% running and 20% court. On the other hand, we’ll will talk about the 540TR in a tick which is the opposite flip.

This is your 50/50. We’ve got one flex groove through the forefoot to give flexibility on toe off. Underneath the arch there is a very mild bit of Dual Density foam.

As I touched on earlier, I would never put a child who overpronates significantly inside this shoe and say "This is going to solve your overpronating problems," because it won’t. It’s just like a guidance phase through the midstance cycle.

Underneath the heel we’ve got a Gel pod through the back and we’ve got a little cradle impact zone and outsole configuration. It’s for heel strikers when you’re walking and for a little bit of lateral support when you’re running.

We’ve got a leather forefoot and synthetic linings on the medial lateral side around the back. The leather forefoot breathes really well. We’ve got breathe holes through here for those hot days where you need the air to get out.

I like the touch of the mesh tongue too. It provides ventilation on a warm day with the mesh channelling, but if it’s going to rain or your child happens to run through a puddle, guess what? Water will potentially get through the top and they’re going to have soggy feet. This shoe being majority leather isn’t going to stop your child from getting wet feet.

We’ve got a very mild stitched toe at the front as well, a little bit like the 800TR. We’ve also got a double stitch toe cap or toe box region which is great.

It’s synthetic on the front sides of the shoe and leather on the front centre, so it’s a lot softer. The reason they do synthetic on the sides is that it’s a more rigid than leather. Leather stretches and is pliable.

They don’t have a strong Trusstic system, it’s more of a reinforced rubber set up through that midfoot region splitting the heel and forefoot. Yes, its stable enough for kids which is great.

There’s a nice internal heel counter so you do get a bit of ankle support. Being a cross trainer you need to have support for running, jumping, landing and lateral movement, hence why they have their internal heel counter at the back. There you have it, the 195TR.

Asics Gel Trigger 12

The next shoe I’d like to talk about is the Gel Trigger. The preschool version comes with an elastic lace setup down the forefoot that can’t be adjusted. You can’t tie it any tighter, it’s fixed in its position. It also has a Velcro strap up the top.

Again, in this video we’ll write their sizes for preschool and grade school below, and there’s that little lap over.

With the Velcro strap and the elastic laces, you can get enough support but obviously if you picture a lacing setup you can really customise support by pulling it from the base right up to the top and tying up the shoe laces. This is designed for your child that is just not keen on doing shoe laces up and isn’t going too aggressive on their feet, not too much high impact lateral movement.

Underneath the shoe here we’ve got almost like a trail outsole. It’s kind of aggressive. It's borderline turf shoe.

You’ve a shoe with plenty of grip for loose terrain like grass, gravel and dirt. It’s going to give your child a little more traction. It has two flex grooves through the forefoot which is great, giving a little bit more flexibility.

It has a tiny stitched toe cap at the front and it’s not guaranteed it won’t pop off. If your child rides bike tracks and drags their toe on court surfaces it tends to rip off, that’s unfortunately how it’s designed. However, being stitched and glued it's well reinforced.

Again, it has a double stitched toe box around the front. We’ve got mesh panelling off the lateral side and obviously a mesh tongue too for a little bit more ventilation.

The internal heel counter is nice and stable at the back which is great. We have a Gel pod for kids requiring a little bit more cushioning underneath the heel.

There you have it, that’s our Trigger story. Good little shoe that one.

Asics 540TR

I’m going to move onto the 540TR which in terms of the cross training family from Asics is their most durable. It comes in both grade school and preschool.

The grade school version has a lacing system. Just like the Trigger, the preschool model has elastic laces through the bottom half of the lacing system then we have the Velcro strap up top for support.

Why is this shoe the most durable out of the Asics cross training family? There’s a few reasons why.

I will concentrate on the grade school model. Underneath the shoe we’ve got a completely reinforced outsole. There’s no flex grooves across the base. It’s OK for a bit of running, however it’s very close to what you'd see from a court shoe. 

When we look at court shoes we see that the outsole wraps up around the midsole ever so slightly. What that does is, if you picture your child dragging their foot on a court surface, because it’s not a 90-degree angle and it’s not split between the EVA foam and the rubber, that won’t peel off or it’ll take some hard wearing to peel that off.

As that wraps around it’s great for kids who might be playing tennis, netball or just are hard on their shoes at recess and lunchtime on the asphalt surfaces at school, and need a little bit more reinforced support around that midsole to outsole setup.

The other shoes I’ve touched on have had a little toe cap. This little guy has a toe box that covers a lot more area and it’s got a bigger stitching reinforcement.

We’ve got a little digit at the first metatarsal joint. It’s a pivot point. Picture kids that play tennis on their forefoot and that twist and turn. This helps them through that phase of their exercise.

Through the back half of the shoe we have a centralised Gel cushioning pad which is great, giving kids a little more support.

Underneath the arch as I’ve touched on earlier is a bit of dual density DuoMax arch support. Again, I would never put a kid who requires lots of pronation support inside this shoe and say "this is going to fix your problems". It’s just guidance support.

The heel counter is a fraction deeper than the other Asics cross trainers we’ve touched on earlier because it’s that 80% court, 20% running spit. With that you need a lot more ankle support for kids for jumping, landing and lateral movement. This will provide more support than the others.

The other thing I’d like to talk about is the leather forefoot. You can see the little breathe holes on the forefoot of the leather setup and then we have synthetic linings around the side. The double stitched toe box area also provides more reinforcement.

One thing I’d like to touch on before we finish is that the cross training family all have non-marking soles. Some schools are quite strict on what kids can where in the classroom or in the gym on floor board surfaces etc. They won’t mark the court even though they’re black because they have a special coating on them that won’t allow them to mark the courts at all.

Any questions about the kids shoes please sing out. We’re also going to do a kid fitting video in conjunction with this tech video which is going to give you at home some tips on how to fit your children so stay tuned for that.

I’d like to say happy running, but happy cross training. We’ll see you next time.    

Asics Kids' Shoe Sizing:

TODDLERS (TS models)

Sizes K4, K5, K6, K7, K8, K9

PRE-SCHOOL (PS models)

Sizes K10, K11, K12, K13, 1, 2, 3

PRIMARY SCHOOL (GS or Grade School models)

Sizes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7