ASICS GEL Kayano 21

As part of a celebration of Asics’ 21st birthday, the GEL Kayano 21 is a continuation of its predecessors, offering superior comfort and stability. This makes these shoes an excellent pick for mid to long distance runners and individuals with overpronation tendencies. A new generation of ASICS FluidRide technology coupled with the reliable Ortholite X40 sock liner makes these shoes some of the lightest and most comfortable iterations of the Asics line. Although the Gel Kayano 21 is not the lightest or newest iteration of this footwear line, there’s still a lot to love about these runners.

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Where to Buy
Road Runner Sports Link
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Where to Buy
Road Runner Sports Link
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Pros & Cons
  • Highly comfortable and stable
  • Antimicrobial sock liner prevents odor
  • Lessened muscle fatigue from long runs
  • Lighter than most similar shoes
  • High structural integrity
  • Cons
    • Sizes run smaller than usual
    • Obsolete when compared to newer models
    • Disappointing responsiveness and flexibility
    • Poor traction with moisture
    • Better options available for serious trail runners
    • Key Features
      An increase in the Gel Kayano’s outsole heel pad creates a significant difference with each foot strike. This helps to drastically lower the frequency of chronic injuries from long distance running by providing targeted shock absorption. In addition, hard rubber extends throughout the entirety of the shoe’s outsole. This results in supportive cushioning in all key areas of the foot, which also helps to reduce the likelihood of injury. Segmented sections with highly detailed texture provide a combination of traction and flexibility, although the flexibility is still lackluster. The key takeaway from this analysis is that Asics designed a multifaceted outsole with many positive benefits for runners.
      The Asics Gel Kayano 21 features a midsole composed of tri-density EVA foam with gel cushioning in both the rear and forefoot. Firmer foam has been implemented on the medial sides of the midsole, which work in conjunction with a plastic support shank to facilitate a stable ride. The silicone-based gel pads in the rear and forefoot are larger than those found in previous iterations, making a noticeable difference in regards to how much more cushioned is felt in each stride. The result is a midsole supportive enough to even offer some orthotic benefits to runners suffering from injuries such as turf toe.
      ASICS FluidFit stretch mesh was implemented in the design of the Gel Kayano 21’s upper, giving it a glove-like feeling while still retaining a high measure of breathability. An inner lining was introduced into the spacer mesh, adding some extra heat insulation and comfort at the expense of its flexibility. Because of this additional feature to the upper, it may be a good idea to purchase a half size larger than your actual foot size in order to ensure a comfortable fit. Despite this change, the upper portion of these Asics shoes looks remarkably similar to previous versions.
      At just under 10 ounces, these are very light for a stability shoe but around the average weight for most generic running shoes. They will definitely feel burdensome to runners who are acclimated to minimalist style barefoot running shoes, but runners experienced in more casual sneakers and basic runners won’t feel the weight. This average weight can be considered a boon when considering the higher than average comfort offered by the Gel Kayano 21, not to mention the diminished risk of injury. These benefits are most apparent when running longer distances, making these excellent marathon shoes.
      The open mesh upper leads to a very breathable ride. The aforementioned inner lining does have a consequence of lowering the total upper breathability, in addition to some of the pliability and flexibility. This shouldn’t be too terribly noticeable, however, since the overall breathability of the shoe is still exceptional. Furthermore, the clever use of antimicrobial textiles helps to remove odor and the chance of bacterial infection, keeping your feet feeling fresh for mile after mile. Finally, the fact that these shoes are lightweight, especially around the upper portion, helps to reduce some of the need for ventilation in the first place. Sweat will be less likely to accumulate as a result of this design element.
      Comfort was a clear goal when designing the Gel Kayano 21. Every aspect of its construction, from the FluidFit mesh upper to the silicone gel-infused midsole and enhanced hard rubber landing pads all create one of the plushest and most stable rides you can experience. The fact remains that this shoe is mainly intended for runners who overpronate, but any runner who prioritizes comfort above all else can find something to love about these shoes.
      This 21st iteration of the Gel Kayano looks remarkably similar to previous models. Staying true to the Asics aesthetic, the Kayano 21 features predominate use of synthetic leather for most of its exterior. This version of the Kayano is also available in a wide assortment of color schemes, accommodating a more personalized style preference. Thanks to the wide array of options, it’s safe to say that there’s a color option for everyone. That said, like many other ASICS shoes, these definitely have the look of a shoe that’s meant only to be worn for training and competing. The style here is utilitarian, to put it mildly; for running shoes that are more fashionable, consider something from Adidas or Nike to find more of an athleisure offering.
      With these Asics running shoes, the hard rubber outsole, in particular, is going to be very long lasting. This particular element won’t show any significant indication of wear for the first several runs at least. As a result of just this one aspect of the Gel Kayano 21’s durability, mid-to-long distance runners can expect a lot of use out of these shoes before they need to replace them. The lining of the upper enhances the strength of the shoe as well and drastically reduces the risk of a tear in that section of the shoe. The Ortholite X40 sock liner helps improve product longevity by preventing bacteria and mildew growth thanks to its antimicrobial properties. While this isn’t necessarily related to durability since it doesn’t increase physical resistance, this helps to prevent shoe and foot odor: a common cause for replacing shoes. Various densities of foam are used in the construction of these shoes’ midsole, which helps maintain structural integrity with the addition of silicone gel pouches. These factors all combine to form a highly durable running shoe that can withstand hundreds of miles.
      The Kayano line well known for its excellent foot protection. Shock absorption is a huge strength of this shoe’s design, thanks to the silicone gel used in the forefoot and rearfoot of the midsole. This small feature which is where the shoe derives its namesake helps to protect your body against pain and injury from as low as the ankle to as high as your hip. One aspect where these shoes aren’t very protective, however, is in regards to weather resistance. You’ll want to avoid wearing these during heavy rain. This final point is admittedly minor, but the brighter colors tend to fade unless you use some sort of protective spray on them.
      The primary goals Asics set out to accomplish with the design of these shoes is to improve the efficiency of each stride and correct gait abnormalities. While these design decisions are excellent for supportive shoes, they don’t lead to very responsive shoes. The excellent cushioning and shock absorption may help to mitigate some of the disappointment you may feel in this regard. Running mile after mile will feel a bit more of a chore in these shoes than it may feel in other products. However, the Gel Kayano 21 is still perfectly adequate for longer, slower runs.
      In case you haven’t noticed, here’s a news flash; the Asics Gel Kayano 21 was designed for the explicit purpose of maximizing support. Ankle stability is very high as a side effect and the general structure of this footwear will be attractive for runners with a tendency to overpronate. This shoe is also a terrific choice for aging runners who may be at a greater risk of joint pain or tendon injury. These are some of the most comfortable and supportive shoes on the market, making them an excellent selection for runners seeking luxurious levels of support and stability during their runs.
      The highly protective segmented rubber outsole works to provide treading needed for running on either trails or roads. The comfort and cushion present in the midsole and insole will support your legs, in turn supporting your body. This makes the Gel Kayano 21 a great choice for runners who like switching between locales during runs. A few caveats are worth mentioning, however; first is that these shoes are more suitable for drier terrain and won’t function well in moisture, and second is that the durability won’t hold up as well if you use these shoes exclusively for trail running. Because of these two facts, better options are available for runners looking to exclusively run off-road.
      Like most ASICS, the Kayano 21 tend to be a bit on the pricey side, costing above the average cost of other running shoes. However, upon the release of newer Asics models, it becomes much easier to find these shoes at more reasonable rates. If you’ve been considering trying out a pair of Asics running shoes, this is a terrific time to invest in the Gel Kayano 21. It may not be as lightweight when compared to other models but Asics is not known for releasing flawed products. Because of this, even an older model running shoe still has a plethora of appealing features for passionate runners.
      Thanks to a very competently designed and manufactured outsole, your feet will feel steady and stable with each stride, ensuring confidence throughout the duration of your run. Dry pavement or trails are the surfaces best suited for this shoe. The outsole’s treading helps to provide grip and traction on pavement and trails but is not suitable for heavy weather or slick surfaces. Caution should be exercised when running on even the mildest of moisture.
      A split down the middle of the outsole’s rearfoot provides a significant increase in the flexibility of the Gel Kayano 21 when compared to previous models. However, thanks to the additional upper lining in this version, the net result is a greater amount of stiffness in the upper when compared to these exact same earlier models. It makes sense that this tradeoff exists since the primary goal of these shoes’ design was to ensure stability over flexibility. However, this can dissuade some runners who expect a generous amount of giving in their athletic footwear.
      This is quite possibly one of the best stability-oriented shoes on the market. Asics did a terrific job placing gel cushioning, hard rubber, and EVA foam into key areas of the design, enhance your stride and ensuring a highly stable running experience. A noticeable difference can be felt with each stride, and it is why the Gel Kayano 21 is frequently recommended for overpronators, those with plantar fasciitis, aging runners, and heavier runners.
      The heel-to-forefoot drop is 7.9 mm. This is a bit less than you would normally see for running shoes but is still high enough to avoid any awkward transition for runners used to something steeper. Due to the heel elevation discrepancy, heel strikes are accommodated in a manner that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in trail shoes or minimalist road shoes; something that can turn off some runners who are accustomed to those styles of footwear.
      Key Features

      • Enhanced structural integrity

      • Design centered around needs of overpronators

      • Cushioning provides injury prevention

      • Upper lining ensures a more secure fit than past models

      • Lightweight in order to reduce fatigue on longer runs

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

      Bottom Line
      The Asics Gel Kayano 21 make for an impressive addition to the Kayano family. While it is not the most lightweight model in the line due to newer releases, it is still a highly competent and effective shoe that is now available at a lower price point. These shoes are terrific for runners who overpronate or are concerned about developing chronic injuries from their running habits. It’s true that there are better options in the world of running shoes than these humble Asics, but that doesn’t mean that the Gel Kayano 21 should be written off entirely.
      Where to Buy
      Road Runner Sports Link
      See Deal
      By Brian Price
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 03. 2021

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