Best ASICS Running Shoes: the Definitive Guide 2018

So you want to run in ASICS? With all their different shoes to choose from, how do you know what will work best for you? Here we will break down the ASICS lineup and help you better understand the perfect shoe for you.

ASICS breaks their shoes into a few categories, which we will explain in a minute. All of these shoes will use a lot of the same cushioning components, with the main one being GEL. GEL is an excellent material to absorb energy while still responding back to the foot.


Built for the neutral runner

At one point in time, the three main shoes in this category were called the Stratus, Cumulus, and Nimbus. All of which are names of different clouds, and it’s no mystery why they received these names. All of the Cushioned shoes from ASICS are extremely soft and responsive as if you are walking on clouds. They have since replaced the Stratus with the GEL-Flux as their entry level shoe.

Asics has recently divided their cushioning range into two separate “silos”:

  • Road: here you will find your traditional Asics running shoes, with their very familiar construction and soft cushioning. They are meant for serious training and the logging of lots of miles.
  • Fast: this is a new line for Asics, with shoes that are lighter, more deconstructed and with a snappier, more responsive feel. They are meant for the runner that wants a versatile shoe that can take them from the gym/treadmill to the road and that won’t look bad with a pair of jeans.

Cushioning – Road

Road is their premium, high-mileage minded footwear for daily training.

The GEL-Nimbus is the top dog in the neutral category. They pair up even more GEL in the heel and forefoot, with a combination of ASICS’ most advanced midsole materials, FluidRide and FlyteFoam. ASICS adds additional features to the upper such as Motion Fit to allow for less pressure points on the forefoot, and a ComforDry Sockliner to help keep the foot cool by wicking moisture. ($$$)

The GEL-Cumulus is one of ASICS most popular running shoes. ASICS puts more GEL cushion in the heel and forefoot, which increases durability, as well as the Solyte midsole to keep weight down. Runners will appreciate the extra cushioning for higher mileage runs. ($$)

The Pursue is the entry level of the road cushioning category. It provides good cushioning thanks to the Fluidride midsole and Gel units both in the heel and the forefoot and has a certain stability to it that is meant to help runners during their long runs to maintain their form when fatigue kicks in. ($)

The Asics Gel Flux 5 features reliable cushioning, stability, and responsiveness at an affordable price. They are a neutral running shoe that is best for daily training. The breathable upper will keep your feet well-ventilated while the outsole ensures the shoes are durable. ($)

Asics Gel-Fortitude 7

The fortitude is a entry price, quite heavy shoe made for runners with flat feet or high volume feet to accommodate custom-made orthotics. ($)

Cushioning – Fast

In this category you can find Asics running shoes made for faster training runs or for raceday. They are lighter than their “Road” counterparts and with cushioning that emphasises energy return over shock absorption.

The Dynaflyte was the first regular shoe in the Asics lineup to introduce FlyteFoam. We loved this shoe when tested and recommended it as it combined light weight and great cushioning. This second version improves the upper fit through the use of a softer engineered mesh. ($$)

The RoadHawk FF is a lightweight, comfortable and responsive running shoes that can double for daily training and faster efforts. At this price the Roadhawk FF is almost a no-brainer for a runner who is looking for a versatile, seamless and extremely light shoe. ($)

Structured Cushioning:

Built for the mild to moderate overpronator.

Structured Cushioning – Road

The models in this category all share one thing in common; they all use DuoMax support to provide increased arch stability for those runners that need more arch stability from overpronation. ASICS uses a slightly firmer midsole material, placed under the arch, which compresses at a slower rate to prevent the medial side of the foot (arch) from rolling in and collapsing too far (overpronation).

The main difference between the models in this category is whether they have DuoMax or Dynamic DuoMax support. Dynamic DuoMax puts an additional layer of FluidRide foam on top of that support wedge to allow for a smoother transition and a lighter overall shoe. Moving up the lineup to a higher price points gets you more GEL in the heel and forefoot and adds the Dynamic DuoMax support. All of these shoes are built on a traditional ASICS drop of 10mm, with the exception of the Women’s GEL-Kayano that has a heel-to-toe differential of 13mm to alleviate achilles tension.

The Kayano has been for many years the top of the range for ASICS stability shoes. Large GEL units in the heel in forefoot allow for a lot of shock absorption, especially runners who are a bit heavy footed. The new FluidFit upper provides form-fitting comfort and the FluidRide midsole combined with Dynamic DuoMax support provide a seamless transition from heel to toe. ($$$)

The GT-3000 is the top of the GT line. While the Kayano places emphasis on a cushioned, structured ride, the GT series place emphasis on the support. The GT-3000 sports GEL cushioning pods in both heel and forefoot and the midsole material is ASICS' FluidRide. ($$)

Very similar to the GT-3000 but without the FluidRide foam midsole, the GT-2000 is a great option for runners who need moderate stability - supported by the Dynamic DuoMax dual density posting and all cushioned by rear and forefoot GEL pods. At an excellent price is what ASICS defines their support bread and butter. ($$)

The little brother (or sister) in the GT family, the GT-1000 has constantly received the praise of all the reviewers in our team that tested them. At a very interesting price, this shoe provides great stability - thanks to the traditional DuoMax system and the bouncy spEVA midsole foam material used. The GT-1000 also incorporates GEL units at the heel and forefoot. ($)

Structured Cushioning – Fast

As for the cushioning category, Asics introduced stability shoes that are meant for faster efforts and race day.

At an incredible $250, this shoe is the result of ASICS trying and develop a running shoe without any of the usual limits of material cost and engineering times. Introducing five completely new technologies (FlyteFoam, Adapttruss, Jacquard Mesh, MetaClutch, and X-GEL), it was released in limited edition only. It is a great Kayano alternative for marathon racing. ($$$$)

$160 - The stability counterpart to the Dynaflyte, Dynamis has some seriously cool tech such as the full length FlyteFoam midsole and an innovative BOA lacing system.

The ASICS Gel DS Trainer 23 combines support with performance; thanks to a springy Flytefoam midsole and redesigned upper. It continues to be the sleeper hit from ASICS.

Racing and Triathlon:

Lightweight shoes for maximum performance

All those miles run in training eventually lead to the big event. Be it a local 5k, an Olympic distance triathlon or a full-blown IronMan race – you have trained hard and you want the right tool for the special day.

Racing shoes are usually about their low weight, flat offset (differential between the heel heigth and toe height) and a comfortable, breathable upper to possibly be worn sock-less. Here’s what ASICS has to offer.

Racing version of the GEL-DS Trainer, the Racer is exactly what the name suggests: a lightweight shoe for distances 5k to half marathon, also working well for overpronators thanks to the DuoMax support. Less than 7 oz. of weight. ($$)

Asics Gel-Hyper Speed 7

Even lighter than the DS Racer at only 6oz., the Hyperspeed 7 is a racing shoe with an excellent value for money ratio. ($)

Characterized by a very in your face looks, the Noosa Tri has some triathlon-specific solutions such as an upper that is meant to be worn sock-less, elastic laces and a loop on the heel for fast on-off during transition. ($$)

Easy and Special Editions:

For runners who want to try the latest and greatest improvements in shoe technology

There are some running shoes in the ASICS lineup that could probably fit into other categories, but that we prefer to consider separately. Although good running shoes in their own merit, we believe serve more as a showcase of the most recent advancements in material and geometry engineering.

Some runners dismiss these as “fashion shoes”, but the reality is that each time these shoes are released, they find a nucleus of runners who love them and their feedback allows ASICS to incorporate some of those technologies in the future to the rest of their lineup.

Prices for these shoes are often higher than the rest of the lineup and the market – but they are not aimed at the price-sensitive runner.

Asics Gel-Kinsei 6

The original concept shoe from ASICS, it turned heads when first released 6 years ago for the outrageous price and look. But it managed to gather supporters along its course because it's back for the 6th consecutive year. Seamless upper construction, completely decoupled heel and the use of ASICS most advanced foam materials, it offers a very plush ride. ($$$)

The Quantum 360 derives its name by the 360 degrees application of GEL across the sole unit. The construction of a special, modified trusstic system guarantees the torsional stability of this running shoe. ($$$)

Asics Gel-Quantum 180

Little sister of the Quantum 360, the 180 has a similar sole construction as the 360, only for half the length of the foot instead of the full length. ($$)

The FuzeX is a brand new shoe from ASICS that combines good cushioning with lightweight. The name comes from the fact that ASICS fused the GEL cushioning together with the foam material for the midsole to create an uniform feeling across the shoe. ($)

Asics Running Shoes – Technologies

SpEVA – A lightweight EVA midsole material that increases bounce-back characteristics while decreasing midsole breakdown.  ASICS uses SpEVA in almost all of their models.

Solyte– A lighter weight midsole material that ASICS traditional EVA and SpEVA. Aslo features enhanced cushioning and durability.

Flyte Foam – Introduced late 2016, it’s the newest Asics technology. It’s an improved foam material that weights up to 55% less than the average foam on the market and has special characteristics that make it particularly “springy”.

FluidRide– The latest evolution in ASICS midsole technology, FluidRide provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability. This material will be found in most newer, high end models of both Structured Cushioning and Cushioned models.

FluidAxis– Anatomically correct deep flex grooves have been aligned to the joints of the foot. This innovative construction enables the shoe to recognize, adapt, and respond to the athlete’s exact load and positional change from first impact to toe-off.

DuoMax Support– A dual-density midsole system positioned to increase support and stability. Found in lower end Structured Cushioning models.

Dynamic DuoMax Support– Evolution of the DuoMax support enhances stability and support, with reduced weight and increased comfort. You will find this type of support in higher end models of the structured cushioning line of shoes.

F.A.S.T. Drop– Similar to the geometry seen in racing flats, a low heel-toe differential reduces midsole weight to improve economy and encourage faster running. Heel-toe offset is 6mm.

Trusstic System– Reduces the weight of the sole unit while maintaining the structural integrity of the shoe.

Found this guide useful? Then share it on social media with the buttons below, and don’t forget to check out our other lineup guides:

Don’t forget to check out our selection of the best running shoes, constantly updated.

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