Asics Gel Kayano 26 Intro
Last year ASICS released the 25th edition of their flagship stability shoe, the Kayano. It came with some major changes made to the construction of the sole unit along with new materials for the upper.
You wouldn’t fault ASICS for “taking a victory lap” and essentially releasing the same shoe for the 26th edition considering how popular the Kayano still is.
Instead of talking the victory lap, ASICS made some small but crucial changes to improve an already solid stability trainer.
The Kayano is the cornerstone and top tier offering of the Asics stability line.
It is a max cushion stability trainer which competes with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS, Saucony Hurricane, Hoka One One Gaviota, Mizuno Wave Horizon and New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo in terms of stability and price.
Asics Gel Kayano 26 First Impressions
Last year the Kayano 25 had a disappointing colorway that lacked visual interest. Upon opening the box I was impressed with the change in the colorway.
The accents of red and yellow, especially the yellow in the heel, added a pop to an otherwise plain shoe. The sole unit looked different from last years’ model.
It almost seemed like they took the shape of the sole unit of the GT-2000 and added and adapted it to the Kayano. Additionally, it had a more defined arch than last years’ model.
I was pleasantly surprised by the balanced cushioning I felt when I slipped them on for the first time. It was like Goldilocks trying on a shoe, not too firm, not too squishy, but just right.
There was a familiar snugness provided by the exoskeletal heel counter which hugged my heel and continued through the midfoot.
I got them the day before a long run, so I took them straight out of the box and did 8 miles on them the next day. They were stable, light and responsive with a great fit from the first step out the door.
Asics Gel Kayano 26 Sole Unit
Success with a running shoe can sometimes lead to complacency which results in releasing the same shoe over and over with different colorways. This is not the case with the ASICS Kayano 26.
They have made some small changes which have resulted in a much different experience from the 25s. I found the Kayano 25s sole to be bulky.
They also felt heavy and wide in multiple areas of my feet. For these reasons I didn’t add them to my regular rotation of trainers after reviewing them.
The most evident change made to the sole unit was the increased amount of Gel in the heel and forefoot. This was added to improve the impact absorption of the shoe along with softening the feel of the shoe.
With the new design of the midsole the gel is prominent in the heel because they made it a different color than the rest of the sole unit.
Adding this gel has achieved what it set out to. I feel better impact absorption on my runs along with an extra energy return in my stride provided by the gel.
Flytefoam Lyte and Propel made their debut in the 25s and appear again with some additional technologies to compliment this cushioning in the 26s.
The Flytefoam Lyte cushioning has been scaled down to accommodate the gel cushioning in the heel of the shoes. The Flytefoam Propel cushioning is located in the forefront of the shoes.
This cushioning is both flexible and durable while giving you more bounce on your toe offs.
This cushioning along with making the forefront part of the sole deeper, than the 25s, made this a strength of the sole unit because of the springiness provided, which allowed me to dial up the speed when I wanted to.
The Kayano 26 contains basically every latest technology ASICS offers in their stability line. The stability of the Kayano is primarily provided by their DuoMax support system.
This is a duo density, similar to a medial post, midsole system. It runs from the beginning of the external heel counter down to the front of the arch. It has been around for quite some time and for good reason.
It provided my feet with the natural stability I needed, so much so, I almost forgot I was wearing a stability shoe multiple times.
This blended in nicely with all the other features of the sole unit like the Guidance Trusstic System and Guidance Line.
The toebox has been narrowed from the 25s to the 26s. In fact, the 26s are overall a narrower shoe all the way through.
This provided my foot with a more tailored fit, It may be a drawback for some runners who have wide feet or prefer a wider shoe.
They worked to make the traction of the outsole slightly more aggressive. To do this they use AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) for the outsole which makes the shoe durable.
I have run about 100 miles in them and they show minimum signs of wear. The outsole was an improvement from the 25s. It handled well, whatever the surface or weather.
Asics Gel Kayano 26 Upper Unit
There weren’t many changes made to the upper between the 25th and 26th edition. Jacquard mesh and FluidFit mesh work together again to give you an adaptable and flexible fit.
Like the sole unit, the upper is built with durable materials ready to handle some serious mileage. I would have liked a little more of a molded feel similar to the ISOFit technology from Saucony with the Kayanos.
It is breathable allowing my feet to remain cool while running in them in the summer.
ASICS has continued using the MetaClutch exoskeleton heel system in the upper part of the 26s. The heel area of the upper stands out because of the fit and feel of it.
The exoskeleton along with the Personal Heel Fit (PHF), a memory foam lining in heel collar, provide an ideal fit.
It cradles your foot and holds it in place while you run, which results in added stability. This fit compliments the DuoMax support system under your feet.
The upper is seamless which prevents any areas of irritation. They fit true to size and aren’t as wide as the previous edition.
I found the upper dries quickly because I ran in the rain and by the next day the shoes had dried out completely.
Asics Gel Kayano 26 Conclusion
The ASICS Kayano 25 were the first pair of running shoes I reviewed. Overall, I was disappointed with how they performed.
I said they felt bulky and heavy for many of the runs I took them on. I can honestly say the 26s are a better version of the ASICS Kayano line.
From the moment you slip them on you notice a slimmer more tailored fit from heel to toe. This may bother some runners, but for me it provided a better fit. It hugged the contours of my feet without being restricting.
The heel counter through the midsole locked in my feet which added stability and complemented the DuoMax support system of the midsole.
This combined with the cushioning made for a smooth transition from heel/midfoot to toe off.
ASICS has a way of developing solid no frills technologies like the FlyteFoam cushioning for the midsole. The FlyteFoam Propel located in the forefoot of the shoe is the star of the midsole.
It gives your foot a reliable platform for toe offs and also puts some bounce in your stride.
One drawback I noticed running in these was the firmness of cushioning the longer the distance was.
The soles of my feet felt the effects of running double distance miles more in these shoes over other max stability trainers, like the Saucony Hurricane Iso or Hoka One Gaviota.
My feet would feel tired and need more time to recover.
The ASICS Kayano is an extremely durable shoe built for miles at many different paces. They show minimal wear even after putting close to 100 miles on them.
In the last year I have reviewed many of the max stability offerings out there like the Saucony Hurricane Iso 2, Hoka One One Gaviota 2, and Mizuno Wave Horizon 3.
I would put the Kayano 26 right in the middle of the pack. They do provide an excellent amount of stability, but they don’t provide as much cushioning as other brands offer.
They also are firmer than the other max stability offerings I have reviewed.
The ASICS Kayano retail for 160 dollars which places them in the middle of a crowded field in terms of price of a max stability trainer. The problem with that is I am not sure they are worth 160 dollars.
The reason for this is because the line is blurring between the GT-2000 and the Kayano. The latest edition of the GT-2000 shares many of the same technologies as the Kayano.
If I were out buying a new stability trainer from ASICS I would save 40 dollars and go with the GT-2000
Overall, the ASICS Kayano 26 is solid max stability trainer. I enjoyed running in them and found myself coming back to them even after my review mileage was logged.
The combination of technologies provide you with a smooth run every time you slip them on and head out, but I am not sure the high price tag is justified by what the Kayano offers.
We purchased a pair of Asics Gel Kayano 26 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.
Asics Gel Kayano 26 Price Comparison
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