ASICS GEL Kayano 21

8.7
8.7 score
[Editors rating (8.5) + Users rating (9.2)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (8.7)/10

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ASICS GEL Kayano 21 Review Facts

Celebrating ASICS popular shoe line’s 21st birthday, the GEL Kayano 21 continues its predecessor’s reputation for comfort and stability–making it an exceptional choice for mid to long distance runners who tend to overpronate.  Featuring a new generation of ASICS FluidRide technology and the Ortholite X40 sockliner, this is one of the lightest, most comfortable iterations of this classic running line.  GEL Kayano 21 is no longer the lightest, or newest version of the shoe, but you’ll be able to find this model is available at lower prices than the upgraded versions.

Pros
  • Extreme comfort and stability
  • Ortholite sockliner is antimicrobial which will prevent odor
  • Reduced muscle fatigue after longer runs due to Gel cushioning located in forefront and heel
  • Lighter than majority of stability and comfort driven designs
  • Guidance systems in place improve gait efficiency and maintain structural integrity
  • Stability greatly improves gait, aiding in injury prevention especially for runners who overpronate
  • FluidRide midsole reduces weight while providing excellent cushioning 
Cons
  • Sizing often runs smaller than expected due to addition of lining in mesh upper
  • Newer versions are lighter and provide better cushioning
  • Cushioning  and support sacrifices responsiveness and flexibility
  • Better options for dedicated trail runners
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

An increase in the size of the heel pad compared with earlier models will create a noticeable difference with each landing. This will help dramatically lower risk of chronic injuries commonly associated with running long distances by providing a solid shock absorber in key areas. This hard rubber extends throughout the outsole providing cushioning everywhere your feet will want to hit the ground. Segmented and textured sections will also give a better sense of traction and flexibility throughout the shoe.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

Kayano 21’s midsole is composed of a tri-density EVA foam and contains GEL cushioning in the rear and forefoot of the shoe. Firmer foam on the inner side of the midsole and a plastic support do their job setting up for a stable ride. The silicone based gel pads in the rear and forefoot are larger than previous versions gel cushions, and the difference will be noticeable in how much more cushioned each stride will feel.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The Kayano 21 features ASICS FluidFit stretch mesh giving the upper a glove-like, breathable feeling to it. An inner lining was introduced into the spacer mesh with this update to the Kayano series which does take away to the flexibility of the upper. This will cause the shoe to fit more snugly which may necessitate purchasing a size up if you have wider feet. Overall it resembles the last version aesthetically, and stays true to designs commonly seen coming from ASICS.
Weight
Weight

Weight

At 9.8 oz. these are very light for a stability shoe. For runners who prefer minimalist style shoes, they may feel slightly clunky. This can be worth it for increased comfort and lowered injury risks, especially if you’re adding on miles. The lightweight feeling is great for lengths up to marathons because it will not lead to increased fatigue from having to lift the same heavy shoes with each step.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The open mesh upper leads to a very breathable ride. The addition of the previously mentioned inner lining is going to lower the breathability of the mesh in addition to the stretch of the shoe. This shouldn’t be terribly noticeable overall though. Use of antimicrobial textiles removes odor, and helps keep feet feeling fresher after getting your miles in.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

These are shoes designed with comfort in mind. Everything from the FluidFit mesh upper, silicone gel inserts in the midsole, and enhanced landing pads made of hard rubber all lead to creating one of the most plush, stable rides you’ll experience. While it’s true that this shoe tends to be recommended mainly for runners who overpronate, any runner who prioritizes comfort will be highly satisfied with this shoe.
Style
Style

Style

Overall the 21st version of the Kayano looks very similar its predecessors. Staying true to the aesthetic of most ASICS shoes the Kayano features the use of synthetic leathers and mesh for the majority of the shoes exterior. In addition this version is available in a large assortment of color combinations allowing for individualized style and preferences--there’s a color for everyone. That being said, the GEL Kayano 21, like many of ASICS other lines, definitely has the look of a shoe that’s meant to only be worn for running and other athletic events. For running shoes that are more versatile in use, consider looking towards Adidas or Nike to find more of an athleisure style design aesthetic.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The hard rubber outsole is going to be very long lasting, and won’t show wear for the first several runs. Mid and long distance runners can expect to get a lot of use out of these shoes before having to retire them. The lining in the upper is going to enhance the strength of that section as well, causing less need to worry when rips and tears inevitably occur. The Ortholite X40 sockliner is going help the shoe be more resistant to bacteria and mildew growth because of its antimicrobial properties--this is going to help keep odor down and your shoes staying fresher, longer. Various densities of foam are fused together in the midsole, in addition to the silicone gel pouches, which will help maintain the structural integrity of the shoe after hundreds of miles of use.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Kayano line is know to for the protective feeling. Shock absorption is high thanks to the silicone gel used in the forefoot and rearfoot of the midsole, which will help ease pain reaching up from the ankle into your hips. This isn’t going to be the most weather proof option on the market either, so be careful about going out into heavier rain conditions. If you prefer lighter colors that tend to stain more easily or live in a wetter climate using some sort of weather or stain resistant spray.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

This shoe is designed to improve your gait, and help you improve your stride efficiency. This design philosophy is excellent for supportive shoes, but does not lead to the most responsive feeling of rides. Great cushioning and shock absorption, however, will take the spring out of your step, which can easily make a run turn dull. Miles will definitely feel slower in comparison to most other running shoes, but that also helps make these shoes more suitable for longer, slower runs.
Support
Support

Support

If it isn’t clear yet: the Kayano 21 was designed to be highly supportive and well cushioned running shoe. Ankle stability will be increased, and the structure of the shoe is going to be highly desirable for those who tend to overpronate. This is also an incredible shoe for the aging athlete who is more likely to experience muscle and joint pain naturally from running. This is one of the most plush shoe lines on the market, and is an ideal selection for those seeking luxurious levels of support and stability during their runs.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The protective rubber outsole is segmented and should provide the treading needed for running on either trails or roads. The comfort and cushion will support your legs and body wherever your run will take you, and makes a great choice for runners who like to switch back and forth between settings during runs, or throughout the week. Muddy runs will be slippery, and these shoes are more intended for use on smoother paths or roads. However, if you tend to only run on trails, there are probablybetter choices made for the more difficult terrains you enjoy.
Price
Price

Price

Like most ASICS, the Kayano 21 tend to be a bit spendy, usually costing $150-$160. However, due to newer models being available it is much easier to find this version at prices closer to $100. Now is a great time to take advantage of being able to try to out the Kayano line if you’ve been thinking about, and Kayano 21 is more affordable than the two newer versions. This model might not be as light, but ASICS is known for gradual growth and change within their designs which leads to less dramatic differences between updated versions of each of their shoe lines.
Traction
Traction

Traction

Feet feel steady and stable with each stride, so you can feel confident throughout your run. Dry pavement or trails are most ideal for this shoe which lacks the heavy treading found on trail specific shoes. Treading in the outsole helps grip pavement or trails, but is definitely not suited for running in heavy weather or slick conditions. Even in wet or slick conditions from lighter rains, one should still use caution when running.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The addition of a split down the middle of the rearfoot section on the outsole helps increase the flexibility of this version in comparison to those which came before it. However, with the addition of the lining in the upper section, there is slightly more stiffness than in Kayano 21’s upper than in its predecessors. Keeping in mind that this shoe is meant to provide stability more than flexibility it should be expected that there are many better options for runners looking to find more pliable shoes.
Stability
Stability

Stability

This is one of the best stability shoes on the market. ASICS has done an excellent job in placing gel cushioning, hard rubber, and EVA foam which is going to enhance your stride and create a very stable running experience. You’ll feel a noticeable difference with each stride This shoe is frequently recommended for overpronators, those with plantar fasciitis, aging runners, and heavier runners because of its stabilizing properties.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The heel to forefoot drop is 7.9 mm.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

•Enhanced structural integrity improves gait

•Excellent for improving form and stability in running motion for overpronators

•Cushioning is excellent for injury prevention, but sacrifices springiness

•Addition of lining in upper makes for a snugger fit that past models

•Plush feeling while still being fairly lightweight reduces fatigue on long runs

•Silicone based gel in rearfoot and forefoot gives impressive shock absorption

•Newer models are available making it easier to find the Kayano 21 at a lower price

•Luxury-level comfort is ideal for aging runners, overpronators, heavier runners, and those suffering from plantar fasciitis
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Overall the ASICS Kayano 21 is an impressive addition to the Kayano family. While it is no longer the lightest weight option in the series, it is now available at a lower price point (you will save around $50). It’s a great choice for anyone who overpronates or is concerned about developing chronic injuries from their running habits. Better options, however, are available on the market for those who would rather have more responsiveness and flexibility from lighter, less cushioned shoes.

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