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ASICS Gel Kayano 21 Running Shoe Review

Updated on November 20, 2016
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


In this ASICS Gel Kayano 21 running shoe review, we’ll look at the pros and cons of this running shoe. This ASICS Gel Kayano 21 running shoe review includes a few observations that are not clear points for or against the product but could affect the decision of some shoppers to buy it. What are the pros and cons of these running shoes?

History of the Kayano 21 Running Shoe by Asics

Kayano shoes by Asic have a number indicating the generation of the running shoe. The Kayano 21 has a fit similar to the Kayano 19 shoe. They have more cushioning than the Kayano #19 but weigh a little less than the Kayano 20 running shoes. The Kayano 21 running shoes are tighter across the top of the foot and mid-foot, ostensibly to improve the snugness of the fit. These shoes lack the heel counter that Kayano shoes had through the 18th generation.

Pros of the ASICS Gel Kayano 21 Running Shoe

They have a list price of around $160 but can often be found for around a hundred dollars on sale. These shoes are similarly priced as the ASICS GEL Kayano 22 shoes.

These shoes are found in a wide range of sizes, regularly found from sizes 5 to 12, widths from AA to D. They are made in sizes 5 through 16. If you are at the upper or lower end of the size range, it is hard to find the very narrow or widest widths.

These shoes do a better job than other Asics shoes at keeping your feet dry as they wick away sweat.

These shoes do a decent job of holding onto your heel as you run.

The Kayano 22 shoes have good support for conditions like plantar fasciitis. They can also work with a number of orthotics. However, you won’t be able to wear them comfortably if you have bunions.

These shoes are lightweight.

These shoes have decent stability. Note, though, that they aren’t good for trail running.

The Kayano 21 running shoe has good arch support, but not as good as some other Asic running shoes. The manufacturer says these shoes are good for mild to moderate overpronators. If you need excellent arch support, these shoes won’t work for you.

These shoes have built in reflective materials that improve your visibility to bikers and drivers in low light conditions, whether you’re running in the evening or at night. These shoes are designed especially for night runners, since they have glowing gel on the bottom of the shoes to ensure people can see you from behind.

These shoes let your feet breathe. Conversely, they are somewhat water resistant if you step in a puddle.

The Kayano 21 shoes are relatively resistant to bacterial growth, though it doesn’t preclude the need to let them air out periodically to prevent mold and bacterial growth. Do not put them in the dryer, since this can warp the plastic inside the shoe. You can take the sock liner or insole out to wash them. Never wash the shoes by throwing them in the clothes washer.

If you want a wide selection of color schemes, these running shoes are a great choice. There are 18 different color combinations for the women’s running shoe. There are a dozen color combinations for the men’s Kayano 21 running shoes.

The cushioning for these shoes are tailored to gender differences, so women don’t stress their knees and hips wearing these shoes.

These shoes have good shock absorption. They aren’t as spongy as the Asics Cumulus shoes.

You can take the insoles out to put orthotics in. There isn’t room for both orthotics and extra padding, though, in these shoes.

Tennis shoes work well for short walks and jaunts, but runners have other needs.
Tennis shoes work well for short walks and jaunts, but runners have other needs. | Source

Cons of the ASICS Gel Kayano 21 Running Shoe

The extra cushioning in the heels can actually push your feel forward, squishing your toes. This design issue can lead to decreased circulation in the toes on long runs. This is partially offset by buying shoes half a size larger. If the shoes feel close to the toes, you need the next half size up or you risk blisters or pressure on the toes that cuts of circulation and causes pain.

The bright neon colors are a matter of taste, but these shoes have problems with the color in the heel bleeding into the wearer’s socks, especially when the socks are sweaty. This is partially mitigated by buying the almost solid black shoes or white ones.

This generation of Kayano shoes has a shorter running life than those made a few years ago. This is in part due to the DuoMax system that is supposed to improve platform support and stability, which falls apart after a few months of heavy running. There are also issues with the soles coming off after two or three months of heavy use.

Observations about the Kayano 21

These shoes have a hard, flat ride. If you need cushioning to comfortably run long distances or offset joint conditions, these are not the right shoes for you.

Some of the women’s shoes come in a garish pink.

These shoes run narrow. And these shoes won’t stretch if you put on thick socks or stretch your feet. If you wear thick socks for support, diabetic circulation problems or warmth, buy shoes half a size wider than you otherwise would.

This Kayano shoe is not as widely available as others by the same manufacturer.

The FluidRide system is supposed to cushion the feet while capturing the energy of the footfall to harness it for the next bounce back, reducing the energy needed to move forward. This feature is great in theory but not as good in practice.

These shoes are not a good choice for those who need a lot of support, a lot of cushioning or stand all day. Even thought they have good heel support when they come out of the box, this is lost as the shoes wear out.


These shoes are a good choice if you need orthotics when you walk or run short distances. When you get the right size, these shoes are a decent choice for those who run moderate distances on flat surfaces like concrete. In general, you want to buy the Kayano 21 running shoe half a size up from your normal size to ensure enough room for your toes and an otherwise perfect fit.


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