ASICS GEL Kinsei 4 Review Facts
First released in 2005, the ASICS Gel Kinsei has since become one of ASICS’s most innovative running shoe. Made to appeal to the “average runner”- someone with slightly off-kilter running mechanics that require mild amounts of cushioning and support, but little else, the Gel Kinsei line has found long-time fans in the running community. The tradition of this being one of ASICS’s best running shoes continues with the Kinsei 4, which features an elevated profile and plenty of protection. Ideal for heavy heel strikers looking to transition into a more neutral foot strike, this shoe works naturally to keep the runner comfortable throughout a ride. While it keeps many features of previous editions of the Gel Kinsei, the Kinsei 4 has tweaked its formula to produce an even more efficient running shoe. This includes shaving a whopping 1.4 ounces/40 grams from its overall weight. Despite this weight loss, the Kinsei 4 still provides a great amount of impact protection and a cozy fit. Its soft foam-lined interior makes for a comfortable upper, while its durability remains despite a slimmed-down profile. Made with all types of runners that suffer from under- and over-pronation, the Kinsei 4 features the Impact Guidance System, which links different shoe components to improve natural gait. Vertical flex grooves are also integrated to guide the foot towards a more efficient heel to toe gait. Its Heel Clutching System similarly provides a snug fit, while its Discrete Heel Unit stabilizes the rear foot and—along with the gel cushioning that’s built into the heel and forefoot—absorbs the shock of impact. Recommended for heavy heel strikers, in particular, the Kinsei 4 is an everyday trainer that keeps the foot comfortable, corrects running gait, and offers a smooth ride each time out.
The Kinsei 4 is lower to the ground than the first three editions of the line but still provides the same amount of protection from the ground. This shoe features a modular pod bottom, which offers great traction, while the ASICS Guidance Line System is represented via a carved-out groove that runs the entire length of the outsole. The outsole is made of a rubber material called ASICS AHAR
which stands for High Abrasion Rubber, a durable compound that offers decent grip and good traction while on a run.
The midsole unit of the Kinsei 4 is the renowned, proprietary SOLYTE midsole, which is an improved version of the previous edition’s midsole technologies. SOLYTE is lighter, softer, and more responsive. It also has a longer lifespan than other midsole systems. But the namesake of the shoe—and its most distinct element--can be found in the heel of the midsole: the ASICS GEL
Cushioning system, which provides a great amount of protection and comfort, particularly for heel strikers.
Asics put a well-concerted effort to bring down the weight on this version of the Kinsei. One of the ways they accomplished this was by using less overlaying in the upper. Not only did fewer overlays mean less weight, but it also added flexibility to the upper. The upper also features Cuprothermo mesh, a specialized mesh material that helps to manage interior temperature, keeping the interior of the Kinsei 4 comfortable whether it’s hot or cold outside. The shoe’s elevated profile means there’s noticeable lateral support, including a Personal Heel Fit system, which prevents slippage and helps keep the heel area locked in place.
Previous editions of the Kinsei were put on a weight loss plan, eventually shedding 1.4 ounces/40 grams by the time this edition was produced. As mentioned in the previous section, the use of fewer overlays on the upper, as well as weight reduction in nearly every part of the shoe, resulted in the Kinsei 4 weighing in at 11.9 ounces/337 grams. If that still sounds too heavy, unfortunately, it also seems this may be the slimmest the Kinsei line may ever get: the latest edition of this trainer, the Kinsei 6
, still weighs the same amount.
While its weight may not be ideal, the breathability and overall dynamic construction of the Kinsei 4’s upper may make up for this drawback. Its upper’s Cuprothermo mesh is a soft but strong material that is highly effective at regulating the shoe’s internal temperature. In warm weather, it absorbs heat, to keep your feet cool, while in colder conditions, the Cuprothermo mesh captures the right amount of heat while keeping cold air out, allowing your feet to stay warm and cozy. In essence, Cuprothermo mesh works as a perfect insulation system for your feet while remaining highly breathable.
The Kinsei 4’s interior padding of its upper offers enough cushioning to the foot chamber without feeling obtrusive. The shoe also features a COMFORT SOCK DRY LINER, which is a dual layer insole that combines the support of foam with the recovery of lazy foam. It works to provide a customizable insole insert that adapts to the individual’s foot over time. In addition, the Kinsei 4’s wider toe box means that “big feet” runners
will be especially grateful for a shoe that allows for a comfortable fit. And of course, the ASICS Gel Cushioning System keeps the runner’s heel comfortable and safe from impact with each footfall.
Asics has embraced its Japanese heritage by approaching a bold and vibrant aesthetic. The Kinsei 4 does not display any humble or muted aesthetic sensibilities. Instead, it’s a flashy trainer with multicolored overlays, a bold outsole design, and striking highlights that seek to catch both the eye and the spirit of the kinetic movement. Coming in numerous color combinations—few of which could be considered “toned down”--the Kinsei 4 seeks to stand out among a crowd.
The Kinsei 4 has enough life in them to justify its price tag (which will be addressed in a moment). As is the case with a lot of shoe companies, in terms of durability, most of their effort on the outsole. This is only logical, of course, as this element of any running shoe is most exposed to harsh elements and rough surfaces. The Kinsei 4, however, provides a balanced durability throughout all of its elements to ensure that every part of the shoe--not just the outsole--is made from durable, reliable materials in order to maintain its longevity.
Based on looks alone, specifically, the Kinsei’s elevated profile and all-around solid build are enough to clue a runner into how effectively a pair of these will shelter one’s feet from the elements and other hazards. The ASICS Gel inserts are strategically placed to absorb and protect against hard impact, especially in the heel, where heel strikers are most likely feel the full force of their landings. Several other protective features include a raised heel counter unit and a DRY SOCK LINER which helps to maintain a “microbial-free” environment. While not rugged enough to protect the foot from the hazards of the trail, on traditional running surfaces and for everyday running routes, the Kinsei 4 will keep the runner’s foot safe and comfortable throughout a ride.
The Kinsei 4 features an improved SOLYTE midsole from its predecessors, which translates to an improvement in the shoe’s overall responsiveness. Being lighter in overall weight and softer than previous editions, the SOLYTE midsole produces a better energy return with each step. The shoe also gets help from the GEL Cushioning located in the heel that encourages better responsiveness. However, while SOLYTE is regarded as a much-improved system from other midsole technologies, it may not satisfy some runners that are used to extremely light and foamy midsole platforms.
Support in the Kinsei 4 is achieved through the midsole and the shoe’s elevated enclosures. The outsole’s pods also help to raise the shoe’s profile. But despite the shoe being higher off the ground than some of its competitors, this version of the Kinsei was dropped a few millimeters to improve overall stability. A key protective feature resides on the heel counter, where several specialized components come together to make up a clutch collar that helps keep the rear part of the foot in place. While overall stability has been improved, however, this is not specifically a stability shoe.
The Kinsei 4 serves best as a trainer for everyday runs
for the common runner. While most runners may not have easy access to mountain trails
or other exotic terrains, it’s safe to assume that most are just a few steps away from a flat paved road. As such, the Kinsei 4 is all most runners need. However, it should also perform well on gravel or any other flat even surface with little difficulty. But keep in mind, this shoe is mostly meant for the road
and traditional running surfaces, or simply as a pair of workout shoes.
One major downside of the Kinsei 4 is that it does not come cheap. In fact, many runners may balk at its price point. But it is possible to find it for less than the suggested retail value, considering there are two updates ahead of the Kinsei 4, the Kinsei 5 and 6.
In the Kinsei 4, there isn’t anything special in terms of traction, and you can expect a shoe with average grip abilities as you would find in many other trainers. This shoe is only meant to be used on even surfaces, although it should perform relatively well in wet conditions. But in general, as a shoe intended for everyday use, this is not the shoe to wear for the trails
Weight and temperature control were not the only things that were improved once ASICS replaced the upper mesh of previous editions with Cuprothermo material. On top of being lighter
and better ventilated, Cuprothermo mesh’s elasticity makes it possible for a more improved, non-restrictive movement.
Looks can be deceiving. Despite the Kinsei 4’s elevated profile, it’s actually a mid-stability shoe, perfect for neutral runners and those that suffer from mild over-pronation, which makes up a large component of the running population. Two technologies aid with stability: the IMPACT GUIDANCE SYSTEM (IGS) and the TRUSTIC SYSTEM. IGS works by guiding the foot from heel to toe off while the TRUSTIC SYSTEM links the rear foot with the forefoot to keep a runner’s body aligned. These systems, in conjunction with the shoe’s balanced height difference from heel to toe, make for a perfectly crafted stability shoe
Heel height on the Kinsei 4 measures 35.9 mm and forefoot height measures 25.3 mm. The drop differential is 10.6mm. This measurement allows for a neutral
stability platform that will work great to allow for a more natural mid-foot strike.
• SOLYTE Midsole that is softer, lighter, more durable, and responsive
• Cuprothermo mesh upper encourages more breathability and regulates internal temperature
• DRY SOCK LINER maintains a sanitary interior environment
• IGS & TRUSSTIC SYSTEM aids in running motion and helps stabilize a runner’s body
• Personal Heel Fit System keeps heel safely locked in place
• Asics Gel on forefoot and heel for added protection
Providing a great amount of cushioning and a smooth stable ride, heavy heel strikers and those that suffer from mild overpronation, in particular, will find the Kinsei 4 a great introductory shoe. It offers aggressive heel protection to guard against bad landing habits while the shoe’s drop will reacclimate your feet to develop a healthier mid-foot landing.
In addition, the shoe’s Cuprothermo mesh is a great addition to the line since it both provides a great amount of breathability and works fantastically as a climate control feature. While the suggested price point may seem a little high, since a few editions have come out in this line, finding a Kinsei 4 at a more affordable price is possible. For those that need more stability and comfort in their everyday running shoe, the ASICS
Gel Kinsei 4 is a dynamic trainer with features runners won’t find anywhere else.