Shoe Review: ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
On your thirtieth anniversary with your spouse, it’s customary to give a gift made with pearls. On the thirtieth anniversary of your favorite running shoe, it’s only right to take home the latest pair while looking forward to plenty of happy miles together in the future. If you’re not ready to renew your vows with the ASICS GEL-Kayano just yet, we’re here to give you all the details you need before you tie, or lace up, the knot.
The GEL-Kayano has been a staple in the ASICS lineup for thirty years and it’s easy to see why. It offers ample cushioning to absorb impact and innovative technology to stabilize your stride. As stability technology has evolved over the years, the GEL-Kayano has evolved with it, resulting in the revolutionary GEL-Kayano 30.
Made with a lighter midsole foam, an internal GEL cushioning compound and ASICS’ brand-new 4D Guidance System for enhanced stability, the GEL-Kayano 30 looks and feels completely different from its predecessors while still providing the same luxurious comfort and support runners expect from the model. Here’s everything you need to know.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
|Weight||9.2 oz (W), 10.6 oz (M)|
|Stack height (heel/forefoot)||39 mm/29 mm (W), 40 mm/30 mm (M)|
|Heel-to-toe drop||10 mm|
|Comparable to...||New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5, Brooks Glycerin GTS 20|
GEL-Kayano 30 breathes new life into the world of stability shoes
If there were a college course titled “Running Shoes 101,” it would teach us that stability shoes are meant to keep our feet from overpronating, which is the excessive inward rolling of a runner’s feet after impact with the ground. The most common way running shoes limit this motion is by putting a firm posting in the medial side of the shoe to prevent that inward rolling. While this can reduce instability, it’s also not very comfortable. In a world where comfort is king, shoe designers have been looking for new ways to improve stability without limiting the natural motion of a runner’s foot—and ASICS may have found the magic ingredient.
“The GEL-Kayano 30 rolls along with a good balance of soft landings, easy transitions and even just a touch of pace when you’re looking for it,” Nate says. “My feet got some support without feeling restricted or being forced to move in ways it didn’t want to. How did they do this?”
The answer lies in ASICS’ 4D Guidance System, aptly named after the four key traits that make the GEL-Kayano 30 stand out from its competitors. First, the shoe has a midsole that flares out around your foot, providing more stability for landings and toe-offs. Instead of sitting on top of the midsole, your foot feels like it’s surrounded by the cushioning, being hugged by foamy goodness.
Second, the shoe also has a wider base, all the way from the heel to the forefoot. A wider base means more inherent stability. Third, ASICS increased the heel bevel, which is the rounding or angling of the heel, to lessen impact as you land and help you smoothly transition into the toe-off phase.
“The design of the GEL-Kayano 30 keeps this shoe stable on the run without feeling too stiff, which is an ideal combination for a training shoe,” says Kate.
The fourth element to the 4D guidance system is perhaps the most noticeable. It appears to be your typical medial posting, but it’s actually filled with energetic foam that helps you bounce back after landings.
“The best way to describe the GEL-Kayano 30 is smooth like butter,” Mandy says. “This was the only sneaker I brought on vacation and it gave me enough cushion to walk around all day on concrete, but still bounced back and gave me plenty of rebound on the run.”
We credit the GEL-Kayano’s smooth, cushioned and responsive feeling to the additional three and a half millimeters of FF BLAST PLUS ECO foam, ASICS’ softest and most energetic midsole foam made with 24 percent bio-based content.
“I did my first run in the GEL-Kayano 30 at an ASICS Content Summit in Boulder, Colorado, where we ran on historic Magnolia Road, which is one of the steepest paved roads in America,” Max says. “I'm not used to either the elevation or the climb but I ran the full five mile route without walking. Maybe I can credit the new GEL-Kayano for feeling so good on the run!”
Soft, stretchy upper moves with you on the run
The ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 is topped off with an engineered stretch knit upper that wraps comfortably around your midfoot, while a plush and padded heel collar lock in the fit.
“Stepping into the ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 feels like slipping into my favorite house slippers, but with the added bonus that I can run in them,” Mandy says. “The upper feels soft, plush and comfortable.”
The new upper has less overlays than the previous version, creating a seamless feel. A spacious toe box gives your piggies room to breathe, while a padded tongue reduces pressure on the top of your foot.
“The upper feels silky smooth,” Kate says. “It's fairly structured, which adds to the stable feeling of the shoe. The heel collar has nice padding to it, and the tongue has just a bit of cushion to comfort and protect the top of my foot without being too thick. The lacing system is standard and does the job. Nothing fancy there, and no complaints.”
ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 vs GEL-Kayano 29
ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
ASICS GEL-Kayano 29
9.2 oz (W), 10.6 oz (M)
9.5 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot)
39 mm/29 mm (W),
40 mm/30 mm (M)
35.5 mm/25.5 mm
36.5 mm/26.5 mm
As we mentioned before, the GEL-Kayano 30 looks and feels completely different from its predecessor. Not only does it have an additional 3 and a half millimeters of midsole foam underfoot, it offers a softer feel and a smoother ride thanks to its 4D Guidance System.
“I could tell right away that the GEL-Kayano 30 is a huge improvement in my book from the previous version,” says Caroline. “It feels infinitely softer and more plush. While the cushioning still feels relatively firm, it's flexible so it moves with me while I run. When I land, I can feel the cushioning compress under my weight and then expand as I lift off.”
Another noticeable difference between the GEL-Kayano 30 and 29 is the absence of ASICS’ signature GEL cushioning on the lateral edges of the heel. That’s because the GEL cushioning is internal, using a new compound called PureGEL, which ASICS says is 65 percent softer than the previous version.
All in all, the GEL-Kayano 30 is softer, more flexible and more cushioned than the GEL-Kayano 29 while still providing the level of stability runners have come to expect from the model.
How does the ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 compare?
We took a look at some similar models from other brands to see how they stack up against the GEL-Kayano 30. Here’s what we found.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5
Brooks Glycerin GTS 20
9.2 oz (W), 10.6 oz (M)
7.8 oz (W), 9.9 oz (M)
9.4 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)
40 mm/30 mm
34 mm/26 mm
38 mm/28 mm
The ASICS GEL-Kayano 30, the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 and the Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 are all considered to be maximally cushioned stability shoes within their respective brands’ lineup. Reviewers thought the Vongo and the Glycerin GTS both offer a similar fit and feel to the GEL-Kayano 30.
“The Vongo v5 offers the same subtle support as the GEL-Kayano 30,” Caroline says. “Both shoes err on the firm side in terms of cushioning, but the stability features are so gentle as to not feel intrusive in any way.”
“Both the Glycerin GTS and the GEL-Kayano feel plush and comfortable,” says Mandy. “I love how both shoes offer seamless transitions, avoiding the clunkiness that sometimes plagues stability shoes.”
Who is the ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 best for?
The GEL-Kayano 30 is a great choice for runners with flexible arches who need some extra support in their shoes. The shoe’s 4D Guidance System provides stability for your stride without feeling too clunky or intrusive. It’s also a great choice for neutral runners who, while they may not need extra support, prefer a firm underfoot feel.
“If you're looking for a whole lot of softness in combination with stability, this could be your go-to for long runs and marathon training,” Max says.
Reviewers enjoy the GEL-Kayano 30 for long runs and easy efforts, while preferring lighter and more responsive shoes for speedwork and races.
“The GEL-Kayano 30 has lots of cushion to keep you going on a long run or recovery day,” Kate says. “The GEL-Kayano can certainly handle a speed workout, but it's not going to give you any special advantages when you have a need for speed.”