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Asics Menace 4 Review — The Best Boots Hidden from the Rest of the World

We review Asics’ foot and leg-saving Menace rugby boots.

Jeremy Proome

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Asics has a strange position in the world of football boots. Much like another Japanese brand Mizuno, Asics is one of the most beloved boot-makers in the world, creating some unique, comfortable, and innovative boots on the market that would appeal to a lot of people, especially down here in South Africa. However, you can only get them in Australia and New Zealand, which is perplexing.

Asics has a presence in South Africa (they even sponsored the Springboks), but their flagship football boots, the Menace and Testimonial, are unavailable. Weird, right? There are some floating around re-seller stores and clearance factory shops, but they’re not officially on sale here. Either way, we hunted some down and managed to give the beloved Menace a runaround to see if they’re worth the hype.

First and foremost, what makes the Menace 4 an interesting boot from a purpose perspective is that these are actually built for rugby, touch rugby, rugby league, and AFL (Aussie rules) specifically (again: why were no Springboks wearing them!?). You can, of course, use them for soccer, but these are designed with the needs and actions of the oval ball sports, particularly when it comes to angle-changing, speed, comfort, and running.

From a design point, the Menace 4 is a simple boot: a lightweight synthetic upper, flexible nylon plastic soleplate, and featuring a simple stud-pattern. There aren’t any shiny gimmicks or fancy tech parts here, but what the Menace 4 does in terms of functionality is what makes them so great.

While looking simple, the Menace 4 does have some tricks up its sleeve in the form of a heel drop (something quite rare in the boot market). Asics calls this their HG10mm tech, which is essentially a 10-milimetre heel drop, similar to that on dedicated running shoes. This not only puts your foot in more of a ‘ready to sprint’ position, but it also doubles-up as a way to reduce strain on your Achilles, calf, and knees — the Menace 4 has even been given the thumbs-up from the Sports Medicine Australia and Australian Physiotherapy Association.

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On the underside of the boot, the soleplate features a very simple but effective stud-pattern and layout. A full conical stud configuration makes the boots very safe, allowing you to pivot and twist in the ground without fear of biting in too hard and twisting a knee or ankle, and the studs themselves are actually a fair bit shorter than other FG boots on the market.

While similar boots from other brands will feature 7 studs on the forefoot (3 on each side, and one support-stud in the middle), the Menace 4 also features an extra stud on the lateral side, giving better weight distribution (more contact points with the ground) which helps with stud pressure and blisters.

On-feet, the Asics Menace 4 feels extremely comfortable, with the Japanese Teijin synthetic upper material feeling similar to that of leather on your foot. It’s plush, malleable, and doesn’t create any hotspots or rubbing areas. It must be said though that the sizing of the Menace 4 is smaller than other brands, so it’s definitely recommended to go up a full size when purchasing.

While the heel-raise does put you in a more forward-leaning posture (it’s slight, but noticeable when you switch from normal boots), they feel very stable thanks to the shorter, well-placed studs that also have great traction despite their length and shape.

The Asics Menace 4 don’t do anything too radical in terms of design, but what they do offer is an extremely flexible, well-rounded, and comfortable experience that will appeal to those who want to take a little extra strain off their joints, while still making you feel fast and agile. Those playing on harder, more unforgiving grounds or those returning from lower-leg and knee injuries should definitely consider them.

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