Asics GEL-Kinsei 5 First Impressions
Opening the box of the Asics Gel-Kinsei 5s that were delivered to my work I was keen to take them out for a run. The shoes look aggressive – a bright orange and blue. For my taste, not a shoe that I would wear for anything but running. Important to note though is that part of the printed design actually serves a structural purpose of limiting the movement of the foot in directions that are not conducive to proper running.
Asics GEL-Kinsei 5 Sole Unit
As I slipped the shoes on for my first time there was something that I really liked from the start. The uppers. They are soft – a double mesh – seamless and light, but most importantly, they are very accommodating to wide feet. I took these shoes on five runs for this review: 1x 10km, 3x 21km and 1x 30km (103km total). The conditions on which I was running was a mix of paved road, and packed trail.
One day on the 21km the trail was wet and mild, the shoes gripped well, the uppers let my feet get wet quite quickly though. A few days later the weather had changed and it was sub zero (Celsius) and the path was frozen. Here the softness of the landing was very noticeable, as was the grip of the soles that didn’t slide even on icy patches.
However, despite the uppers being a double mesh, they are still quite thin and not an optimal winter shoe. The other thing that I noticed was that the cushioning made the entire sole quite stiff.
Asics GEL-Kinsei 5 Upper
Many reviews of this shoe will tell you that the shoe is ideal for heel strikers, which is true, especially given the open gel construction of the heel. However, being a forefoot runner, I would also say that the uppers led themselves to forefoot runners too, especially since the show allows for toes to spread on impact and allowsfeet to work as natural shock absorbers.
Of course, the double foam sole also helps with the shock absorption. In the rear, the plastic between the gel and the sole means that you need to land quite hard to really activate the gel shock absorption.The Kinsei 5’s plastic heel cradle also means that the shoe fits well in the back and doesn’t allow for sliding. This is especially important on longer runs where the risk of blisters increases.
Asics GEL-Kinsei 5 Overall impression
Having run 100km at longer distances in the Kinsei 5s I was very pleased with them as a shoe. They fit to my stride and allowed for a flowing run, especially on the longer distances. The uppers are amongst the most comfortable that I’ve ever tried. The soles are grippy on icy and muddy surfaces, which makes them great all-round shoes for most runners.
Regarding seasonality, the Kinsei are not an optimal winter shoe, but rather a spring to autumn runner. Personally the shoe is a bit heavy. While distance shoes generally do tend to be heavier for the added cushioning, I think these shoes are better suited to those needing lots of support and perhaps running their first marathon and not aiming for a super fast time, but to finish and feel good. More advanced distance runners will probably like the Kayanos better.
My overall grade for the shoe would score them 7 out of 10. Points for comfort and engineering. Points lost for weight, overly stiff heel (for medium to lighter runners), and color.
We thank the nice people at Asics for sending us a pair of GEL-Kinsei 5 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.