ASICS GEL-Fortitude 8 Review

While not widely known or publicized, the ASICS Fortitude series is a very unique shoe that provides soft neutral trainer that has a surprising amount of inherent stability. It’s a shoe that Phidippides carries to fit what we call a combination foot – a runner who has one foot that needs a stable shoe and another that is neural.  ASICS has updated the Fortitude slightly in the new Fortitude 8! While there aren’t many changes in the new version, it does feel a little different.

GEL-Fortitude 7 vs GEL-Fortitude 8:

ASICS did not change the outsole or midsole in for the 8, but there are a couple of differences in the new model!

  • The GEL-Fortitude 8 might be a little wider than the Fortitude 7, but most of that room is in the depth of the toebox and thanks to the flexibility of the upper
  • Stability is unchanged from the 7, so structurally anyone in the 7 should be okay in the 8
  • The biggest difference is the sock liner! The GEL-Fortitude 8 now has a firmer sock liner, making the shoe feel less soft
  • The firmer sock liner might make the shoe a little more consistent over time (it will loose less “plushness” because it isn’t compressing on each step)
  • But the GEL-Fortitude 8 simply isn’t as soft as the 7 – both in terms of step-in/stand-up feel as well as running

Fit

The ASICS GEL-Fortitude 8 is still a wide-based, soft, neutral trainer. ASICS has added some depth to the toebox and a flexible engineered-mesh upper to create a a little more room overall in the shoe, but the formula from previous generations has carried over to the 8. The new 8 might be very slightly longer than the 7, but fit is pretty much true-to-size.

Feel

While slightly firmer than the GEL-Fortitude 7 and with a slightly better transition, the GEL-Fortitude 8 still feels soft and supportive. You ride pretty high in the Fortitude, and the cushion feels closer to a Hoka than a traditional ASICS trainer. You really get a soft and pillowy ride in the Fortitude 8, but that ride comes at the expense of weight and substance. It’s on the heavy end of neutral shoes, so runners looking for a faster more responsive feel should look elsewhere.

Function

Designed as a wider, softer, neutral shoe, the ASICS GEL-Fortitude 8 can be used by a wide variety of runners. It’s an (unfortunately) well-kept secret that the Fortitude line has a great deal of inherent stability. Its wide base, conforming foam, and structured upper make it able to support a surprising amount of pronation without throwing neutral runners laterally like most stability shoes would. One of the most common uses for the Fortitude here at Phidippides is for “combination” runners – who have feet that require differing amounts of support. With a runner who’s left foot has a tendency to pronate but their right foot is dead neutral, a traditional stability shoe with a plate, bridge, or firmer density midsole might accommodate that runner’s left foot but would pose a problem for their right because it would “overcorrect”- forcing the right foot out to the lateral side of the body. We see these combination runners frequently in the store, and the Fortitude is a go-to shoe for those with more extreme imbalances.

Comparisons:

ASICS GEL-Fortitude vs Brooks Dyad:

Brooks follows a very similar formula with the Dyad. A wide base (although the Dyad 9 has proven to be less accommodating width-wise than previous generations), pretty soft foam, and a surprising amount of inherent stability. The Fortitude is slightly wider than the standard width Dyad, and slightly narrower than the Dyad 4E. Even with the slightly reduced softness, the GEL-Fortitude 8 is softer than the Dyad 9. You ride a little bit higher in the Fortitude, but both are equally as stable for those combination feet or pronating runners who want a softer ride.

 

ASICS GEL-Fortitude vs Hoka Bondi:

With its soft foam and cradling nature, the Hoka Bondi is also similar to the Fortitude in providing a soft ride with some inherent stability built in. As you would expect from a Hoka, The Bondi is much higher than the Fortitude, but the weight is actually about the same. The Fortitude has a little less inherent stability, but not enough to prevent wearers of one from trying the other. The Fortitude is a little wider overall than the Bondi, and much wider in the toebox.

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