Shoe Review: ASICS GEL-Kayano 26

Two runners wear the ASICS GEL-Kayano 26

Death, taxes, Kayano.

The ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 continues the line’s long history of gobbling up miles and stabilizing overpronation. The team at ASICS gave the iconic Kayano a refresh for its 26th year, but it’s still the same reliable stability shoe it has always been.

This year’s iteration has a redesigned GEL pad in the heel, retooled mesh upper and updated outsole pattern. But it still sports the same profile, fit and straightforward lacing system.

Fleet Feet testers put the new ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 through the paces to see if the updated version lives up to its reputation. In this review, we’ll tell you how the Kayano fits, how it rides and it’s different from the ASICS GEL-Kayano 25.

Tech specs

Price: $160

Drop: 10 mm

Category: Support

Use: Everyday trainer

Surface: Road, track

ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 Materials and Fit

From the top down, ASICS designed the Kayano for cruising.

ASICS built the Kayano 26 with a wide toe box and stable foundation, so most runners will find it to be comfortable and accommodating. Plus, the engineered mesh upper molds around the widest parts of your foot without squeezing or constricting your movement.

One of our testers who has wider-than-average feet didn’t have any problems running in a regular-width pair of Kayanos.

“Some shoes make my toes go numb after a few miles, but I didn’t ever feel like my feet were getting crushed in these,” he says.

While the width worked for bigger feet, one Fleet Feet runners who has average-width feet had to thread the laces through the extra eyelet to really get a lockdown fit in the heel. Once fully laced, though, she says she didn’t experience any heel slippage.

Premium materials also give the shoe a plush step-in feel. The ankle collar is stuffed with soft cushion, and designers draped it in a silky fabric that gives it a smooth feel against the skin. Despite the cushy collar, the ankle is unobtrusive and didn’t cause any chafing or blisters.

ASICS doesn’t use any fancy tricks with the Kayano’s lacing. Flat laces and a classic pattern give you the fit and feel you're used to without any guesswork. ASICS also included an empty eyelet at the top of the shoe so you can change up the lacing if you need extra security.

A man runs in the ASICS GEL-Kayano 26

ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 Ride

The Kayano is a support shoe, and it excels at preventing excess pronation.

Part of the support that makes the Kayano one of the best running shoes for overpronators comes from the cushioning. Where many neutral running shoes use consistent foam densities across the entire midsole, ASICS built the Kayano with two different densities of cushion depending on location.

The outside part of the shoe (called the lateral side) employs a healthy dose of ASICS’ popular GEL cushioning in the heel. ASICS says they redesigned the GEL technology in this version (read: added more GEL) to increase how much shock it can absorb.

On the inside (medial side) of the shoe, ASICS used an extra firm foam that starts around the middle of the heel and runs forward through the midfoot. That firmer compound doesn’t compress as much as the GEL when you land on it, which helps prevent your foot from rolling too far inward.

The system works as advertised. One of our testers says you can feel the support on the medial side of the shoe, but it doesn’t feel harsh or unnatural. Instead, the support blends into the background when you start running.

“I overpronate slightly but typically wear neutral shoes,” one runner says. “The stability in this shoe didn’t feel excessive to me, and it was comfortable for a road run on days when I was feeling tired.”

ASICS also gave the Kayano 26 a stiff external heel counter that gives the shoe excellent structure.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 vs. ASICS GEL-Kayano 26

A comparison of the ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 and the ASICS GEL-Kayano 26

The biggest difference between the outgoing Kayano 25 and the new Kayano 26 is the amount of GEL in the heel.

Comparing the two Kayanos side by side, there’s an obvious difference between the two GEL pads. While the 25 used a wedge of GEL in the heel, ASICS packed the Kayano 26 with a wavy (and more generous) portion that extends forward closer to the midfoot.

Designers redistributed the vent holes on the engineered mesh upper, but they still congregate in high-heat areas, like the toebox and midfoot, to allow your feet to breathe.

Underneath the shoe, ASICS shortened their Guidance Trussic Line that runs vertically from heel to toe. The Line ran from the middle of the heel through the toe in the Kayano 24, but ASICS truncated the Line in the 25, cutting it off under the forefoot.

(ASICS says the Guidance Trussic Line works to stabilize the shoe by concentrating impact in the center of the shoe, instead of across a uniform slab of cushioning. We didn’t notice the Line working on its own because of the bevy of stability features, but we do believe it contributes to the Kayano’s overall stability.)

A side-by-side comparison of the Guidance Trussic Line on the ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 and GEL-Kayano 26

Conclusion

ASICS has been doing stability right for a long time with the Kayano, and the GEL-Kayano 26 is no exception.

Built with burly stability features from heel to toe, the Kayano 26 is still one of the best running shoes for overpronators. Even our test runners who don’t overpronate liked the comfortable fit and easy ride of the new Kayano.


Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

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