We received two pairs of Kayano 18 to test from Asics (thanks!). Two reviewers (Ruggero and Theo) run some decent mileage on each and this review is a combination of their opinions. The review was not influenced by receiving the test shoes
Asics GEL Kayano 18 First Impressions
If Asics plays it safe with the GT series, then the Kayano series is where they roll the dice. It seems like this shoe gets a major change nearly every year. Off set lacing, giant GEL heel packs, Heel Clutching System, oh my! My test pair arrived in a stunningly sinister silver and black color way. I couldn’t wait to run in them.
Asics GEL Kayano 18 Upper
Theo Comfort was order of the day when Asics built the GEL Kayano 18. All materials found in the GEL Kayano 18 upper are high end. Asics uses very breathable and noticeably soft mesh combined with premium overlay material to provide runners with a truly luxurious upper fit.
The GEL Kayano 18 gets Asics Biomorphic fit materials in the arch and forefoot flex points. This material will not bunch, pinch or grab a runners foot and is only found on Asics top shelf shoes. The lacing pattern is still slightly offset but not to the degree found in earlier versions of the shoe.
Asics has decided to remove the internal heel counter and replace it with an external “exoskeleton” design. As a result, the shoe feels like it has almost no heel counter at all. Inside the heel pocket we find Asics PHF (Personalized Heel Fit) memory foam. Initially, I felt some slippage in the GEL Kayano 18 heel, probably because Asics uses a very slippery heel collar lining that slides when you wear technical socks. At any rate, the slipping feeling didn’t last long.
Ruggero I think “luxury” is a good way to describe the feeling of the Kayano 18 upper. Just picking the shoe up in your hands you can feel the smoothness and softness of the memory foam used in the tongue and the heel collar. The shoe fits great: I didn’t have any problem with the heel slippage and I couldn’t feel any pinch or itch at any point. The upper unit of the Kayano is truly amazing.
I have very flat feet and I felt very comfortable in the Kayano’s upper. I also want to say that my pair came in the white/orange colour in the pictures and I prefer it to the dark colour that Theo run in 😉
Asics GEL Kayano 18 Sole Unit
Theo Asics has implemented a new type of midsole posting called Dynamic Duomax which Asics claims responds better to the needs of the runner. For the first time ever, Duomax Soft Top is in place in both men’s and women’s versions of the shoe. Duomax Soft Top enhances the cushioning properties of the GEL Kayano 18. Asics uses its legendary GEL cushioning system in heel and forefoot areas of the GEL Kayano 18 to provide the plushest running experience ever in the GEL Kayano franchise.
Asics Space Trusstic System shores up the mid foot of the shoe and works to relieve some of the torsional forces that running places on a shoe’s midsole. Lastly, Asics has also included a Guidance Line design which carves a channel on the sole of the shoe to help guide the foot through initial contact to toe off.
Ruggero I was also surprised of the amount of plush cushioning delivered by the Kayano, especially in the forefoot – which is a good thing if like me you tend to land on your midfoot. I was expecting a little more support, though.
Asics GEL Kayano 18 Opinion
Theo The GEL Kayano 18 is certainly a premium shoe but after a couple of runs I knew that it was not for me. Not only that, but I feel that the GEL Kayano 18 is completely miscategorized. To me, the shoe feels a whole lot closer to a neutral shoe than a shoe designed for moderate over pronators. When running in the GEL Kayano 18, my feet literally felt as though they were diving inwards with very little to help slow my pronation. For the record, I’m six feet tall and 160 pounds on a heavy day. The GEL Kayano 18 simply could not keep up with what my feet need from a shoe.
However, The GEL Kayano 18 looks incredible in the silver and black color way I received and it is extremely comfortable and well cushioned. It transitioned reasonably well for a shoe with so much shock absorption.
Kayano series fans will likely be split over the direction the shoe has taken. More neutral runners could very well love it while those of us who need more help from our shoes will be forced to look elsewhere.
In fact, I recently tested the Asics GT 2170 and found it to be much more stable and provide considerably more arch support than found in the GEL Kayano 18. As such, I’m recommending this latest Kayano to neutral to mildly over pronating runners who are looking for a long run shoe with the slightest touch of support.
Ruggero I am a heavier runner than Theo (85kg -> 185 pounds) and while I did feel the support of the Kayano 18, I need to agree that is indeed less than what I was expecting to find. I didn’t find my arches collapsing too much, but what I felt was the super-soft cushioning. After a couple of 7/8km runs and two 12km runs I didn’t feel any ankle pain – which usually means that I overpronated a lot during my run – so there is definitely support, but landing on so much cushion makes the foot a little unstable, or at least it feels like it.
All in all the Kayano is a great shoe and I also would reccomend it to larger runners that are looking for a high-mileage (marathon training) shoe that offers soft soft cushioning and a touch of overpronating control.