RoadShoe Reviews

ASICS Gel Kayano 26 Performance Review

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the ASICS Gel Kayano. You could call it a gel spot. As I opined in my BITR debut blog post about the difficulties of wearing 2E shoes, the Gel Kayano 22 was my first pair of wide running shoes. At the time, they were magical. I put hundreds of miles on multiple pairs of that model.

When I was assigned the new Gel Kayano 26, it brought back the good memories we had together from version 22. When times were simpler and my shorts went past my knees, like some sort of wild savage.

In between then and now, I also spent some time in the 24. They felt stiff and my feet slapped as I ran. That was the last time I tried on a Gel Kayano. I tried to forget that heartbreak and go into this review neutral.

For those not in the know, the Gel Kayano is ASICS’ flagship stability shoe. Only a few things have changed between the Kayano 25 and 26. ASICS has redesigned the upper, tweaked the outsole, and changed the appearance of the rear gel pad. It’s back to being a zig zag! The Kayano still has that 10mm drop, but has cut some of the weight down. In the 25 last year, Thomas’ 10.5 standard width weighed 12.4oz. In the 26, my 2E wide of the same size weighs 11.7oz.

The midsole and outsole have so much going on. Seriously, there’s more going on below the upper than below the shredded cheddar in your aunt’s seven-layer dip. The 26 has an EVA sockliner, spEVA 45 lasting, FlyteFoam Lyte, FlyteFoam Propel, Duomax, Gel in both the forefoot and rearfoot, and a guidance Trusstic system.

It’s an overwhelming amount of technology in a small space. It’s basically the Long Island Iced Tea of running shoes. The final cocktail is meant to create a ride with good bounce back and responsiveness combined with solid cushion and shock absorption. All while providing maximum stability for overpronators.

Shop Gel Kayano 26

asics gel kayano 26 side

The Good

I’m starting to feel like a broken record when I’m talking about ASICS and their uppers. I felt like the strongest part of the Cumulus 21 and Nimbus 21 were the comfort of the upper. That feeling is the same for the Kayano 26.

On initial step-in, the shoe felt good. You’ve got a super padded heel collar and a thick tongue; I didn’t experience any discomfort or rubbing from these. The jacquard mesh upper allows for multi-directional stretch that essentially molds to your foot without giving too much. The new pattern also provides for better breathability to reduce yucky foot sweat (note: I hate running in wet socks).

For runners who overpronate, the Kayano provides all the stability you could want. Between the plastic external heel counter that wraps all the way around the heel, the firmer Duomax foam on the inside of the shoe, and the Trusstic system across the middle of the outsole, ASICS has every aspect covered. Combined and separated from the shoe, they double as skyscraper construction scaffolding.

The outsole contains ASICS high abrasion rubber which is a common inclusion for their shoes. It looks like the 26 has extended the flex grooves all the way across in the forefoot, which I totally approve of. So much stability is provided in the back of the shoe that flexibility in the front is a must. There’s nothing worse than having a shoe that’s so stiff that the slapping wakes up the neighborhood during your 6 a.m. run.

Shop Gel Kayano 26

asics gel kayano 26 top view

The Bad

Even with the EVA sockliner, FlyteFoam Lyte, and multiple Gel pads, the shoes still felt a bit too firm for me. In a shoe that could easily be a marathon option for some, my feet were starting to hurt at the end of shorter runs. I like some good firmness in a shoe for speedwork, but I’m not going to the track in the Kayano 26.

It’s great that the Kayano 26 has lost some weight, but it’s still a heavy shoe, which tends to be the case with max stability shoes. I’ve been running in some extremely light shoes recently (for wide, anyway) and I’m starting to get spoiled. I would like to see some creativity to decrease the weight. Maybe something like strategically placing the blown rubber on the outsole or reducing the heel counter a bit.

I still stand firm on $160 being too much for running shoes. There are so many options out there between $100-130 that do the same thing. Even a $10 drop would be nice. Where those ASICS coupons at?

Shop Gel Kayano 26

asics gel kayano 26 outsole

ASICS Gel Kayano 26 Conclusion

If you were a fan of the Gel Kayano 25, you should like the 26 solely based on the shoe getting a bit lighter and the tweaks to the outsole to make the forefoot more flexible. Just remember though, not that much has changed between models.

To me, the Kayano has lost some of its magic. I think it’s a bit too expensive and I’ve found a range of shoes to use for different types of runs. But for someone who needs maximum stability in their shoe and wants a one-shoe workhorse, I think the Gel Kayano 26 would be a solid choice that should last a long time. Plus they are comfy to walk around in if you don’t have to wear fancy dress shoes to work.

You can pick up the ASICS Gel Kayano 26 for $159.95 at Running Warehouse by using the shop link below.

Shop Gel Kayano 26

 

As the wide-shoe reviewer for BITR, Jarrett is on a never-ending search for the Cinderella shoe to fit his Yeti feet. He currently lives in Baltimore where he enjoys running roads and trails with November Project and Faster Bastards. He also loves craft beer, donuts, and pretending to be elite in his NormaTec boots.

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