The ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite is a new kid on the block in 2020. Brian Metzler takes a look at this new, innovative twist to the GEL-Kayano family.
There are few runners who haven’t loved the ASICS GEL-Kayano through the years as a smooth-riding stability shoe. What has ASICS done now? They made a dreamy, maximally cushioned version of the Kayano that’s lighter, more energetic, faster and more eco-friendly than the original.
While the GEL-Kayano 27 still exists in the line as a reliably secure stability shoe, the ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite is a lightweight stability model with a softer and livelier vibe that weighs 2.5 ounces less than its legendary predecessor.
A lightweight and very resilient midsole configuration combines a thick amount of luscious FlyteFoam cushioning with ASICS GEL packets embedded inside. Other aspects that differ from the GEL-Kayano 27 include a new engineered mesh upper made from recycled polyester, an overall reduction in componentry and an adaptive stability dual-density foam setup that helps offset pronation.
The new engineered mesh upper helps provide a better, more accommodating fit and noticeable breathability. It’s feathery soft and form-fitting, one of the most comfortable uppers we’ve ever slipped our feet into.
Strategically placed segmented rubber sections on the outsole provides plenty of traction and stability while also helping to keep the overall weight down. The mid-foot cutout sections also allow for greater flexibility and heel-toe transitions while still assuring full-ground contact for inherent stability.
The midsole has a design feature known as 3D Space Construction, which is a grid of hollowed out chambers in the heel and forefoot that allow a runner compress the foam more for an improved cushioning experience. It also allows the cushioning to provide a “tuned” experience for men’s and women’s specific gait qualities.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite fits true to size with a classic, medium-volume fit. It has a snug, secure heel that utilizes the brand’s renown exoskeletal Heel Clutching System that provides a reliable, wrap-like fit around the back of the heel.
The recycled polyester upper provides support in the mid-foot but flexibility in the forefoot and wiggle room for the toes. The step-in feel and soft interior feel luxurious and comfortable the moment you slip them on, but also when you’re out on a run.
The ride is exquisitely soft and smooth with a touch of bounciness, providing sufficient cushioning and energy return for long runs, tempo runs and recovery runs.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who enjoy lightweight shoes with a resilient but stable ride will love this shoe as a versatile everyday trainer.
Whether you over-pronate all the time or you just need stability in the late miles of a long run or race, the ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite could be a great shoe for you. Although it’s not a featherweight racing flat, it could be an ideal choice for racing a 10K to a marathon.
PROS: ASICS KAYANO LITE
ASICS has reimagined how to provide overpronating runners with a stable ride. A slightly firmer section of foam that runs along the inside of the sole helps support the foot as it rolls through the gait cycle.
This shoe inspires you to run better by providing comfort and energy return in every step. It provides subtle stability that isn’t overbearing or awkward. Just lace it up, and it will take your fitness to new heights!
This shoe has an amazing green story. Aside from the upper being made from recycling polyester, the lightweight Flytefoam midsole is made eco-friendly, durability-enhancing Cellulose Nanofiber and the shoe is colored with non-toxic, water-based dyes.
CONS: ASICS KAYANO LITE
There are precious few cons to bring to the table with the new GEL-Kayano Lite. It’s a stability shoe, so not for those who do not need that support. But for those who do, the Kayano Lite is a game-changing addition to the stability category.
TESTER’S FINAL THOUGHTS
ASICS is on the right track with redesigning its classic models. As much as I love the stability of the original GEL-Kayano, I love this shoe even more. The GEL-Kayano Lite offers plenty of stability, but it’s also considerably lighter and much more fun to run in!
SHOP ASICS GEL-KAYANO LITE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.
He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.
As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”