Asics Kayano – Features and Competitors Shoes

If you have some friends who are serious runners you may have heard about a certain show called the Asics gel Kayano. Lots of runners rave about this shoe as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. This article is going to break down the shoe and all its features so you can decide if it’s worth buying for yourself.

First Things First - Who is the shoe for?

While it may be touted as the “top of the range running shoe” that statement is really only true for people with feet that pronate (roll in) and have a mild to high arch. Some people recommend this shoe for people with weak ankles, shin splints, people suffering from pain at the ball of their foot and even as the best plantar fasciitis shoes. The simple fact is that this is only that case if it fits YOUR foot properly. Asics and other brands have shoes that provide MORE motion control for overpronators and shoes with MORE EFFECTIVE cushioning  for supinators  ( feet that don’t roll in or only very slightly) and if you have a very high arch. If this confuses you then talk to your podiatrist.

What’s so special about it?

Lets break down the main features one by one marketing jargon aside.

Asics Gel Kayano 16
Asics Gel Kayano 16

GEL

This is the technology that made the brand famous. In the Asics Kayano the shock absorbing gel is placed in both the front and back of the shoe where cushioning is needed the most.  Different types of gel are used throughout the range the more expensive Asics will have a liquid gel which adapts to the impact force while cheaper versions will have a more solid type gel that’s more foam based. Other brands will use foams or an air capsule to do the same thing. In addition more expensive shoes in all brands will usually place their best cushioning gel/air/foam closer to your foot so you can feel it easier as opposed to deeper in the midsole.

Impact Guidance System

This refers to the way the shoe is made and is really a design philosophy. All the parts of the shoe working together will make for a more natural running movement from the moment your feet touch the ground right through to the toe off.

Asics Gel Kayano Features
Asics Gel Kayano Features

DuoMax

This refers to the midsole. If you look at the inner or medial side of the shoe the foam in the midsole will be 2 different colours. The darker foam around the heel and moving towards the middle of the shoe will be firmer and stop your pronating foot from compressing that part of the shoe. A dual density midsole is common in ALL MOTION CONTROL SHOES (some may plastics instead of foam e.g. Mizuno) some even have triple density midsoles like the brooks beast running shoe. Asics shape theirs diagonally to control the motion more smoothly.

Gender Specific Trusstic

The trusstic is the plastic looking part on the underside of the shoe. This acts like scaffolding to keep the shoe from twisting in the wrong way. ALL GOOD RUNNING SHOES should be hard to twist from heel to toe and should only bend easily at the toe.  The scaffolding or webbing in is different in the Asics Kayano women shoe than the Asics Kayano men’s to support their different foot shapes.

P.H.F (Personal Heel Fit System)

The heel counter is the part of the shoe that prevents the shoe from being worn like a pair of slippers. The heel counter helps secure the ankle and minimises some of the pronation.  ALL GOOD RUNNING SHOES WILL HAVE A SOLID HEEL COUNTER. The difference is that the Asics Kayano’s will mould around your heel after a few good wears.

Biomorphic Fit

This refers to the shoes upper. Softer and more flexible material is used where the shoe bends the most and where there are often bony parts of your foot. This means there is less pressure on your feet in these areas and less wear on the shoes. Most brands have something similar using their own names for different materials.

Removable Sockliner

Nothing too special. This is just the removable insole which you can take out of ALL RUNNING SHOES in order to fit an orthotic shoe insert or any other generic shoe insert.  The one in the gel Kayano uses better EVA than cheaper models so will last a little longer and add better cushioning.

ComforDry Sockliner

This is a combination of the removable insole and the inside lining of the shoe. The lining helps wick moisture away from the foot and adds cushioning. The gel Kayano has an added antibacterial and microbial treatment to the sockliner.  Top end running shoes all have different technologies to keep your feet cool and dry some even have trace amounts of Silver (e.g. Adidas) to do the same thing. This feature makes the Kayano and its competitors a suitable diabetic shoe again depending on the individual fit.

Guidance Line

Part of the IGS setup this is a vertical groove in the shoes midsole that helps the shoe support your foot more evenly then you toe-off.  Other brands will manipulate the foot’s movement using their own technology in the midsole.

Solyte

This is a new type of foam used in the midsole. Solyte is lighter, more durable and cushions better than the standard asics EVA and SpEVA (Special EVA). It’s to be expected that the more expensive range of shoes uses better foam and each brand will do this too and other good examples of such foams can be found in trail running shoes like the new balance 790.

AHAR

ASICS High Abrasion Rubber. A stronger more durable rubber on small parts of the outsole that get the most wear i.e. the outer edge of the heel. Other brands have something similar.

Direct Competitors

If the Asics Gel Kayano doesn’t quite work for you there are other alternatives with comparable technologies put into the shoe for a similar price. Any of the following will do the job just as well or even better if it fits you more comfortably;

Adidas – Adistar Control
Brooks – Trance
New Balance – 122X (1-9) e.g. 1221-1229 (same model but updated)


So go do a bit more searching and compare them for yourself, you are never going to know for sure till you try each of them on. Again if in doubt go see your podiatrist for a quick gait analysis and then ask for a recommendation from there.

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