Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review in short: an excellent shoe for runners who like a little support underfoot, with enough versatility for neutral runners, too. A solid option for longer distances and daily training.
The Asics Gel Kayano has seen many variations in its long and illustrious career, but one thing that has remained the same is its ability to offer support for those whose running gait needs a little assistance.
This 30th edition has arguably ushered in some of the starkest changes in the series so far, with the innovative “Litetruss” midsole technology of its predecessor gone in favour of a redesign that sees stability elements embedded in the shoe’s make-up and geometry.
There has been a tangible increase in stack height, while the visible gel of older models has disappeared in favour of new gooey stuff that resides inside the shoe, out of sight.
It’s still highly stable, comfortable to wear and great for those runners who tend to overpronate or land flat-footed. But the revisions Asics has made here should appeal to a wider set of runners and offer the sort of support that comes in handy on longer runs when form tends to break down.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: price and availability
Admittedly, we have been a little slow to get the Asics Gel-Kayano 30 on our feet to test, so they are very much available from a number of outlets. The RRP at Asics’ own website is £180/ $160/ AUS $280.
But we have already seen them heavily discounted at places like SportsShoes.com, where they are on sale for £134.99 (at the time of writing) and even Amazon, where some sizes and colour combos can be picked up for as little as £99.92.
Asics offers a comprehensive range of colours, from stealthy black to bright orange, while female-specific fits are also available.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: what’s new?
As we previously mentioned, this is probably the biggest revision to the Kayano stable in recent years, with a number of updates and technical tweaks that visibly make it look quite different to its predecessor.
The generous amount of midsole foam is likely the first thing to notice, as there is 20 per cent more than the Gel Kayano 29 it replaces. This new FF Blast Plus Eco cushioning brings with it an increased stack height of 4mm, meaning the heel drop is now a not insignificant 10mm.
Eco in the name should give some indication that this cushioning is also slightly more environmentally aware and is essentially the same stuff found in the awesome Asics Gel Nimbus 25. It is fashioned from 20 per cent bio-based material from renewable sources, such as leftover waste from sugar cane processing.
The mesh upper is also new and has been designed to be both more comfortable and more breathable over longer distances, while traditional tools to assist the overpronator - that often braces the foot and restricts movement - have been banished in favour of a new 4D Guidance System. Asics said hours of testing and biomechanics science have gone into this bit, so it hopes you notice.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: fit and comfort
I typically hover between a UK men’s size 8 and an 8.5 in most footwear, but I always opt for a half size up in modern running shoes, as I find many brands come up way too tight for my liking. The Gel Kayano 30 can probably be worn true to size, as there’s a bit more wiggle room in the toebox than in predecessors, but I still enjoyed the additional lateral space around the mid foot afforded by an 8.5..
The 4D Guidance System is built into the shoe’s design, so there are no real visual indicators to give the game away. Instead, the midsole is shaped in such a way that it curves inwards on the outer (or lateral) side of the foot and then curves slightly outwards on the inner (or medial) portion of the foot.
The foam has also been built up in the medial part of the foot to encourage the runner away from overpronating through the running cycle. But Asics claims the foam it has used in this area is softer than in rival shoes and offers more energy return for a livelier ride.
Overall, it is a comfortable shoe, and the generous slab of foam is felt underfoot. There is also the addition of the now-invisible PureGel technology that offers increased shock absorption and smoother transitions. It’s certainly palpable.
The only issue I found was some mild cramping on the lateral edge of my right foot during longer runs, but this is likely because I’m a more neutral runner, and the Asics Gel Kayano 30 was coaxing my foot to supinate slightly. Opting for a slightly larger size certainly helped matters, as I can imagine this would have been worse if I had plumped for an ultra-snug fit. With that in mind, those who like their running shoes to fit like a tight glove might find this new version slightly too roomy.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: performance
Stability shoes aren’t what they used to be, and even Rohan van der Zwet, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Asics, admits they traditionally have a bad reputation. “We know the stereotypes that stability shoes have faced over the years: clunky, ugly, and simply not comfortable,” he said at the launch of Gel Kayano 30.
It is clear Asics has taken a lot of this on board because the Gel Kayano 30 looks fast, even if it isn’t an all-out PB-beater, and the new design means it can be used by more than those who need a little support.
During testing, I put the shoe through its paces on some faster 5K efforts, as well as some much slower and slightly more laboured 7-10K weekend runs. We also spent a fair amount of time on the treadmill, as the weather was so horrific during the time I had these shoes that sometimes an indoor session was the only option.
In all honesty, a stability shoe is never going to be ultra-light, and these definitely feel heavy for anyone who has experienced some more performance-orientated footwear. They tip the scales at 300g for a typical size 8, but there’s a lot going on underneath to make runs more comfortable, at least.
That said, they don’t feel like a dedicated support shoe, and most runners could lace these up and have an enjoyable experience. In fact, Asics believes that this sort of subtle support could actually help the vast majority of runners, seeing as some additional help is often welcome when forms start to break down as tiredness kicks in.
There’s loads of padding at the heel, which again aided comfort over longer runs, while I found the massive slab of foam underfoot definitely felt more energetic than some of the other Asics Gel Kayano shoes I have tested in the past.
What’s more, they feel like they should go the distance, too, with a decent amount of outsole grip that worked even when the conditions outside were suboptimal.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: verdict
For those who enjoyed the very obvious support for overpronators that previous Asics Gel Kayano models offered, this might feel like the company has dumbed things down a little. But in doing so, they’ve made a much more accessible shoe for a wider running audience.
It still offers plenty of support where needed, but it’s just not as obvious and that extra assistance doesn’t get in the way of a lively and enjoyable ride. Personally, I didn’t hugely benefit from the 4D Guidance system, as I’m a neutral runner who tends to avoid big distances if I can.
In that respect, it’s probably not for me, but it just goes to show how well-engineered the Gel Kayano 30 is, seeing as I still managed to use it on multiple occasions and find few things to moan about post-run.
Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review: also consider
There are plenty of stability shoes out there, making it easy to recommend several solid rivals. Hoka’s Arahi 6 is a solid option. It is a little cheaper but offers plenty of assistance to those who need it.
Similarly, the Saucony Tempus is a very similar price and packs an energetic ride thanks to excellent underfoot foam. Again, the outline is slightly curved, offering snappier transitions and generally helping the running gait.
Finally, Puma ForeverRun Nitro offers great value for money and a really versatile running experience. That said, the sole feels a lot narrower, so for those who really need the width for stability, it might be best to stick to our other recommendations.