Asics Gel Invasion Review

When you pull the Gel Invasions out of the box, you can't help noticing their striking visual appeal. One thing's for sure, you had better move those feet because people will be watching you in these shoes. The first and most obvious stand-out feature of the Gel Invasion is the lace shroud. Wrapping from the inside midfoot, around over the laces and fastening with a plastic clasp, the shroud completely covers the lace system and the mesh instep of the shoe. Fitting snugly over the lower, toe-end laces, the shroud makes replacing the laces in the shoe awkward. However, the shroud is there to protect the lace system, so a replacement should not be needed. Primarily beneficial to clay court players, the lace shroud does a good job of keeping clay dust from entering the shoe throughout the lace area on the mesh part of the uppers. For hard court players, the lace shroud does little but add some weight and keep in some heat. For players who really get low and slide on hard courts, there may be an instance when the shroud protects the lace system, but otherwise it is solely a clay court benefit.

Out on the courts

Comfort

The Gel Invasion is fitted with Asics' Impact Guidance System technology. Designed to cushion and protect the foot at impact, the IGS system offered a stable and comfortable playing experience. However, we found the cushioning in the Gel Invasion to offer a slightly elevated feel. Danny said, "the cushioning of the shoe was outstanding. In the beginning, I thought the shoe gave me too much of an elevated feel, due to its thick midsole. Sometimes my footwork can get clumsy when I'm elevated off of the ground and it took me about a day of tennis to adapt to the feel of the Gel Invasion." Chris agreed, saying, "right out of the box, these shoes were good to go. The uppers felt supple, even around the ankle collar, and I did not have to break the shoes in at all. The level of cushioning is good and is definitely one of the strong points of the shoe. The Gel Invasion does not have that low to the ground feel that some performance tennis shoes offer, but once I became accustomed to the elevated feel, it was not an issue. Although the Gel Invasion fit a little wide for my narrow foot, I was able to get a secure fit by really cinching down the laces. When wearing the shoes casually, I found that my feet became a little hot over time. I put this down to the lace shroud, which seemed to hinder ventilation slightly. Also, after long test sessions my feet seemed to sweat more than usual."


Asics Gel Invasion midsole featuring the IGS cushioning system

Arch Support

The Gel Invasion fits low through the arch and midfoot region. Here, the Gel Invasion is fairly stiff, pushing the flex point of the shoe forward - just where you want it. Chris would have liked a little more support throughout the arch area. "The arch support is a little low," said Chris, adding, "and gives the shoe a kind of flat feel through the midfoot. My ideal arch support is medium-height, but I'll take the lower support of a shoe like the Gel Invasion over one that hits too high. When playing in the Gel Invasion, my arches never felt fatigued, and although the support wasn't ideal, it was sufficient." Danny found a better fit in the Gel Invasion for his feet. "The arch support for the Gel Invasion is low, which is my ideal arch shape," said Danny. "The flex in the midfoot was also just right, and I thought the cushioning through the midfoot was exceptional."

Foot Stability/Support

Our two playtesters, who both rely on foot speed as a key factor to their respective games, found the Gel Invasion to offer a good level of stability. Danny said, "the foot support and stability surrounding the ankle was tight and secure; however, the vamp region (top of the foot) of the shoe was slightly wider then I like. The stability of the shoe was good when I was moving vertically, but with horizontal movement, the fit of the shoe led to some instability, as there was more space in the vamp than I would like." Chris soon found he could trust the stability of the Gel Invasion. He said, "even though the Gel Invasion does not offer a low to the ground feel, the shoe felt very stable during play. I never felt like I was going to roll an ankle in this shoe. Part of the stability of this shoe comes from the wide foot print. The outsole flares out under the ball of the foot and towards the heel area, and this made for secure landings when coming down from overheads or when having to make quick stops or changes of direction. These shoes felt especially stable in the outer forefoot region where the outsole wraps up past the midsole."

Overall Sole Durability

The deep herringbone patterned outsole of the Gel Invasion proved more than tough enough for our team. When asked where the sole wore out first, Chris replied, "it didn't," adding, "this shoe is built to last. The outsole seems to be really tough and could easily handle everything I threw at it. I usually start to see some significant wear on the outsoles under the ball of my foot after putting this many hours (25) on a shoe, but with the Gel Invasion, the only thing I managed to do was make the outsoles look dirty from hitting on some dusty courts." Danny had a similar experience, saying, "after almost a month of playtesting, I didn't notice any wear on the outsole."



Asics Gel Invasion Outsole

Toe Durability

As with the overall outsole durability, the toe area of the Gel Invasion is also well protected. Both our playtesters are toe-draggers and the Gel Invasions held up well during the test. Danny said, "the toe guard and outsole of the Asics Invasion is thick, which made the toe durability great. The toe cap was the only visible point of wear. I sometimes drag the toe cap of my tennis shoes when having to bend down for low volleys. The inside of the toe cap is the side that is showing the most wear." Chris found the only visible wear coming when he got the upper and toe bumper to contact the court. He said, "toe durability under the toe on the outsole is excellent. If you drag over the top of the shoe and manage to get the Rhyno Skin covered toe area in contact with the court, you will start to see some scuffing. Toe draggers that drag up high towards the upper will start to wear down the top of the shoe before they see any significant wear to the toe part of the outsole. It's that tough."

Traction

Making an outsole durable can have a negative effect on traction. However, in the Gel Invasion, Asics has created a shoe that lasts and keeps on gripping. Chris found plenty of traction with the Gel Invasion, saying, "the traction of this shoe was as good as I've had from any tennis shoe this year. It has a perfect blend of grip and give. I felt like I could really make aggressive changes of direction when scrambling on the baseline. Likewise, when I was attacking the net, I was able to stop, turn and set off without thinking or worrying about a loss of grip. I really can't ask for more than that." Danny said, "I thought the traction was great, but not exceptional. I never had any problems with slipping or sliding on the court. However, I think the elevated lift that the shoe offers made my speed one step slower. I feel like I get more secure traction with shoes that offer more of a low-to-the-ground feel."

Weight

The Gel Invasion, at 16.8 ounces in size 10.5, is not the lightest of performance shoes. Both our playtesters noticed the weight of the shoe during the test. Chris said, "the shoe is a little heavy. The overall weight of the shoe was not so much the issue, rather, it was more the balance of the shoe. The shoe felt slightly toe heavy, and I couldn't help but wonder if the lace shroud was to blame for this. The more I wore the shoes, the less the balance and weight became noticeable, only coming to mind if I changed from a lighter shoe before play. If I was to time myself doing court sprints, I think the weight and balance of this shoe might have a fractionally negative effect on my times." Danny agreed, saying, "the shoe is slightly heavy and my footwork felt a little clumsy. I think this was due to the combination of the thick outsole (elevated feel) and the heavy weight."


Asics Gel Invasion Shoe featuring the lace shroud.

Overall

Although it has many clay friendly features, the Gel Invasion is also an impressive hard court shoe. The traction and durability of the outsole made the Gel Invasion a top hard court performer. We also found the Gel Invasion to offer a good amount of cushioning, an important feature for hard court players. Although the Gel Invasion may lack the low to the ground feel of some of today's performance shoes, we found it offered a good level of stability for on-court movement. We would recommend the Gel Invasion to hard court and clay court players, looking for a well cushioned, durable shoe. The Gel Invasion is best suited to players with a medium to medium-wide foot width, and a low arch.

Here's what the playtesters had to say:
The "Likes" of the shoe.

Danny - "It was nice playtesting a tennis shoe from Asics. This was my first time playing in Asics and my experience was great. I enjoyed the great cushioning, durability and overall performance of the shoe."

Chris - "Comfort, traction, cushioning are all excellent attributes to this shoe."

The "Dislikes" of the shoe.

Danny - "I didn't like the medium to wide toe box that the shoe offers. Sometimes my foot would slip during horizontal movement. I also had no use for the lace shroud, as my tennis is only hard court oriented."

Chris - "Playing only on hard courts, I had absolutely no need for the lace shroud. Without the lace shroud, I think the Gel Invasion would be a better, lighter, hard court shoe."

Men's Asic Gel Invasion Summary Sheet

The Up SideThe Down SidePlay Test Scores
  • Comfort
  • Cushioning
  • Traction
  • Durability
  • Lace shroud only benefits clay court use
  • Elevated feel
Comfort 4.75
Arch Support 4.3
Foot Support/Stability 4.3
Overall Sole Durability 4.75
Toe Durability 4.4
Traction 4.75
Weight 3.6
Overall 4.6
Scores (1-Horrible 2-Poor 3-Average 4-Good 5-Tremendous)

Playtesters' Foot Types: Danny - medium/medium arch, Chris narrow width/medium arch.

Review date: October, 2003. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2003 Tennis Warehouse.

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