Asics Gel Kayano Lite 2

We sent Billy, a member of our running community, RunnerClick Pro, a pair of Asics Gel Kayano Lite 2 to test their performance through challenging winter weather. Read more to see how these stability running shoes held up to several miles in the elements.

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Our Conclusion
Due to the weight and low energy feel, I would recommend Asics' Gel-Kayano Lite 2 as a training shoe but would not recommend it for racing. I typically race in either a Saucony Freedom or Nike Pegasus, which feel more energetic and not as flat as these shoes. With the amount of cushioning in the shoes, they will be an excellent all-around trainer getting ready for race day.
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Key Features
Fit & Comfort
The shoe fit great right out of the box. The shoe runs like a neutral shoe when running, although it is a stability shoe. The shoe has a wide sole that is very grippy, offering a high degree of traction when running on slippery surfaces. No matter the road conditions, I felt very sure-footed and didn't need to adjust my stride due to the conditions.

I didn't have any sizing issues. I traditionally run a size 8.5, and these fit great right out of the box. It was very comfortable right out of the box with just the right amount of room to not be overly constricting, yet they weren't sloppy either.

The only thing that I found during my runs is after several miles, the upper part of my foot became irritated due to the unforgiving upper of the shoe.

I have been adjusting the laces to see if I can adjust them out to the point of heel slip. The area is sensitive now with these shoes, so I will take a break and continue to see if they can be adjusted or if it just takes time to become a little more forgiving in the upper.

With the first run starting at 20'F, I quickly wasn't thinking of my new shoes and focused more on warming back up. After running a bit, I remembered that my shoes were brand new but felt like I had miles on them already.

As previously mentioned, I did develop a sore upper foot due to the very rigid upper of the shoe; 33 miles wasn't enough to loosen the shoe up, and due to the soreness, I wasn't able to put more miles on these shoes in the allocated time for this review.

I plan to continue using them onshore runs and see if the upper becomes more forgiving over time. The break-in seems unusually long based on most shoes being good to go right out of the box, and after 33 miles, these are still too rigid on the top.
Upper
The upper of this design is composed of 80 percent recycled materials that you can feel good about. It is composed of a lightweight layer of mesh that contours to the shape of your feet and provides excellent breathability. It also boasts an Ortholite insert that helps to move sweat up and away from your feet to keep them cool and dry when running in hot temperatures.

Upper

The upper on these shoes is very structured and unforgiving, which irritated the top portion of my foot. I attempted to adjust laces to the point of heel slip to eliminate the irritation. The upper portion is very restrictive, and I still haven't gotten out of the break-in period, which is the first shoe I experienced taking this long to break in.
Midsole
The Asics Gel Kayano Lite 2 is unique because the midsole is light and responsive yet built for those needing stability. Stability shoes are often clunky and made with carbon plates and guide rails to adjust your gait to take pressure off your joints.

This shoe utilizes a modest layer of Asics’ FLYTEFOAM Propel technology that runs the entire length of the midsole. This foam cushioning is lightweight and responsive and perfect for long distances or shorter, snappier runs. I also love that this design boasts a small dot of gel cushioning on the ball of the big toe for effortless toe-offs and supportive landings.

What makes this stability shoe stand out from the pack is the addition of the Guidance Line Technology built right into the midsole. Instead of utilizing stiff guidance plates, the cut of the midsole is designed to move with the shape of your foot and give you extra support where your unique stride needs it most.
Outsole
They have a very sure grip and stable feel that gave me a sure-footed grip when on slippery surfaces. Best shoe I have for road running on fresh or hard-packed snow surfaces. Seriously, on wet surfaces, These are superior to any other shoes in my running rotation. These will be my go-to shoe during potentially slippery runs.

The outsole of this Asics shoe is lightweight but boasts the overall durability that can withstand hundreds of miles together. It is composed of Asics proprietary AHAR rubber that runs the entire shoe length and offers a light and bouncy finish that is ideal for running on hard surfaces.

Outsole

What makes this design a little bit different is that it provides a boost of durability with an AHAR heel plug. The additional rubber in the heel is excellent for heavy heel strikers or heavier runners that need a little extra boost of durability in the heel.

The lugs on the outsole of this design are designed for road running but provide just enough traction for modest trail running. The strategically placed grooves in the rubber grips slick surfaces, making it an excellent option for slippery sidewalks or other slick surfaces.
Performance
I ran the Kayano Lite 2 on the road, trail, and treadmill. If it weren't affecting my upper foot, this shoe would be a good training shoe for both long and short distances.

The Kayano Lite 2 comes in approximately 2oz heavier than my race day shoes and about 1.5oz heavier than my speed work shoes. These will be in the rotation primarily used when putting on mileage at a slightly slower pace. When running faster, the shoe was underwhelming; I'm not sure if it was just the increased weight or just less of a spring at the back of the stride.
Stability & Support
I typically run a neutral shoe, which is my first stability shoe. The step is a natural feeling and doesn't feel like it is correcting my step. The Nimbus 22, a neutral shoe land, feels very mechanical compared to the Kayano Lite 2's.

The shoe weighs 10.1 oz with a 10mm heel drop. This is slightly heavier than the majority of my trainers, but the cushion in the sole provides excellent energy, so I didn't notice the extra weight.
Durability
The material in these shoes is similar to other Asics shoes and provides excellent durability. The soles will look the same after 250 miles on day one.

In the mileage so far, the tread is holding up very well. I see the tread holding up very well based on its construction, even with higher mileage.
Our Verdict
I am primarily a road runner that averages over 100 miles a month. I currently have five shoes in my training rotation and was excited to add this to the long-distance runs with the high amount of cushioning provided.

I hope I can finally get through the break-in with these shoes to allow that, but unfortunately, they irritate the foot almost immediately. If I run the next day in any other shoe, I don't have that tenderness that the Kayano Lite 2 creates.

Once that break-in is achieved, I can see this as an excellent high mileage training shoe that will absorb the impact, but for my ultramarathon, I will stay with the Saucony Shift 2 just for that extra spring coming out of the stride.

If you want a pair of running shoes that offer unique stability features that still give you the freedom to switch up your workouts as needed, I highly suggest giving the Asics Gel Kayano Lite 2 a look.
Comparison to Previous Models

The closest shoe I could compare the Kayano Lite 2 to is the Saucony Shift 2. The Shift 2 offers a similar amount of cushion with a comparable weight. The Shift 2 does provide a sense of more spring coming out of the stride than the Kayano Lite 2 does.

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Last updated:
Brian Price
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Best offer on: Sep. 26. 2022