ASICS GEL-Kayano 20 Running Shoes Review

Weight: Men’s: 11.2 oz; Women’s: 9.7 oz
Heel Drop: 10 mm (men’s), 12mm (women’s)
Category: Stability
Retail Price: $160
Available Sizes:
Men’s 6-16, Widths: D, 2E, 4E
Women’s 5-13, Widths 2A, B, D

The Gel Kayano 20 is the newest version of what might be called the “Cadillac” of running shoes – it has everything you would ever want in a shoe. There have not been any dramatic changes to the Kayano lately, but over the past few models it has added extra cushioning with a “FluidRide” system (an extra layer of soft foamon top of the midsole), changed the heel counter from a rigid internal structure to a flexible external structure, moved the laces from an asymmetrical fit offset to the side of the shoe to a more central location, and this year added a new structure system to the upper called FluidFit. The weight of the shoe has also dropped by more than an ounce over the past three or four years.

The fit of the Kayano 20 is magical. The FluidFit upper hugs the foot extremely well, holding everything securely but not constricting at all.

The heel counter is also a great fit – when I first tried a shoe with a flexible, external heel counter I feared that there would be a lot of sliding and rubbing but this is not the case at all. The back half of the shoe molds to your foot and does not let go.

Finally, the lacing did its job well because I have never had to think twice about it. Some shoes require finessing and re-adjusting partway into each run to find the right lace tightness. The Kayano has a comfortable fit around the entire midfoot, and I have never had to stop to re-adjust the laces in the middle of a run.

Underfoot Feel
The cushioning in this shoe is what makes it the Cadillac of running shoes. If you are running any sort of distance the Kayano will take a lot of the beating out of your joints, helping you to feel fresher after the run. I have always used the Kayano for my longer runs because of this.

If you enjoy light, flexible shoes the Asics Gel-Kayano series is not for you. This shoe is a little heavier compared to most standard trainers and it is on the stiffer side. On the other hand it has a plush, consistent ride that feels great.

My only complaint about the feel underfoot is the toes. Some shoes have an upward curve to the toes to give the shoe a little bit of a “pop” as you push off. The Kayano does not have so much of that curve, and I wish it did. Using such a cushioned shoe that is a little stiffer I found that I would sometimes “slap” down my feet, even causing my toes to go numb on occasion. When I focused on rolling through the step from heel to toe this went away. I would simply like this transition to be a little more natural. This is not a deal-breaker for the Kayano though, as I only noticed it on rare occasions.

My main concern with Asics shoes the last couple of years has been the durability of the outsole. I have noticed that the rubber outsole seems to wear down more quickly now than it did just a few years ago, usually lasting me 350-400 miles instead of 450+ miles.

Historically I have always worn down the midsole and the outsole still looked pretty good. Now the outsole is worn down at least as fast as the midsole, if not faster. This might be a good thing, because it helps runners to know when the sole of their shoe is worn down (if they are going by how the shoe looks). It is a little disappointing to see the outsole of the shoe wearing down more quickly than expected, but it has not affected the performance of the rest of the shoe for me. The main benefit to the newer rubber outsoles, I am sure, is that they take a lot of weight off of the shoe even if they wear down faster.

In terms of the midsole and upper of the shoe, I have always had great luck with Asics. The Gel cushioning seems more durable than the cushioning system most brands use. In previous years I had a little trouble with the mesh on the upper of the shoe breaking through or the stitching coming loose, but that has not been an issue at all with the last couple models of all the Asics shoes I have tried.

Overall Thoughts
This is one of my favorite shoes, especially when I am putting in a lot of miles. It has a plush, smooth ride and a fit that will make you forget that you have a shoe on your foot. If you are looking for a lot of cushion and a shoe that fits like a dream you need to take a look at the Asics Gel-Kayano 20.

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