Asics Gel-Kayano 29 Review: No, Really, Stability is Sexy
ALDREN: Reliable, soft, stable, and somewhat pretty — am I describing the new Asics Gel-Kayano 29 or just how I’ve been feeling these last few months? Besides building up my self-esteem and crafting some Tinder copy, the Gel-Kayano 29 has been the biggest compliment to my runs as of late. Like myself, this stability legend has undergone a few changes this past year. (My change is that I have a mullet now, and it’s become my personality.)
The upper retains its narrow structured fit, a top layer of Flytefoam Blast+ in the midsole with a heel section of good ol’ Flytefoam, and LiteTruss replaces the dynamic Duomax/Trusstic System combo. Of course, there’s the ever-present Gel, though, at this point, it’s only there for tradition’s sake.
While there are plenty of anchors to the past, they’re not tied too tightly, and the Gel-Kayano is aimed straight at the future.
MERCER: One of my favorite shoes in recent years was the Asics Gel-Kayano Lite, into which I’ve loaded more than 900 miles. Last year, I had a brief affair with the Gel-Kayano 28, but it felt too firm and clunky to make a full-time switch. Now, I have version 29. Within a minute of tearing open the box, I was out the door and flying on a stripped-down Flytefoam Blast+ midsole. Mix in a generous amount of walking and running in Tracktown USA (Eugene, Oregon), and it’s safe to say this ain’t your dad’s Kayano.
ROBBE: Well, while this may not be your dad’s Kayano, it could be Mercer’s dad’s Kayano because I’m old enough to be his dad. Moving on from that thought before I have an existential crisis…
I’m not a stability runner by choice; however, I try to make fun of them every chance I get because of my insecurities from having horribly weak ankles. The same thing happens to Wide Foot Jarrett, but he takes it well. That said, since I’m a man of the people, I’ll pop my feet into some stable ables every once in a while when the mood is right. That wouldn’t be the case five years ago, but the stability game has changed for the better in recent years.
What used to be a “let’s see how many technologies we can fit into one shoe” approach has now transitioned into a “less is more” strategy. Simply put — wearing stability in 2022 doesn’t make you feel like Dee from Always Sunny during her aluminum monster phase. From the Hoka Arahi to the Asics Gel-Kayano 29, simple seems to be better.
Of course, we can always use a fresh midsole, and the upgrade to Flytefoam Blast+ (15% lighter, 15% softer, and 12% more bounce) is just what this shoe needed to get to the next level. That was one of the many things I enjoyed about this shoe, so let’s see what else is in store.
ALDREN: I’d love to break down everything I love about the Kayano 29, but first, we have to talk about how pretty she is. This deep ocean blue upper with the cherry tomato accents makes the shoe pop. It’s like an OG FC Barcelona kit — a beauty that needs to be worn by a king.
Anyway, the Asics Gel-Kayano 29 offers some solid updates this year. It introduces Flytefoam Blast+, Asics’ softest foam yet, for a squishier landing and a nice toe-off through the gait cycle without making my stride feel unstable. The midsole packs 25mm of stack in the heel and 15mm in the forefoot for a 10 mm offset (note that Asics doesn’t include outsole or insole measurements in its stack heights, so the actual stack is closer to 30mm).
Another update to the midsole is the replacement of the Dynamic Duomax and Trusstic System for LiteTruss. Similar to what’s found in the GT-2000 10, it acts as a medial side posting to keep the foot stable and provide necessary support underneath the arch. I never missed that clunkier plastic shank underneath my midfoot during any of my runs. Instead, the LiteTruss offers just enough support for what’s needed.
The upper has a relatively simple construction described as a stretch-knit, but it stayed somewhat secure. In true Asics fashion, the Kayano kept a very tight hold through the heel and midfoot while keeping the forefoot roomy. I have no complaints with the setup, as Asics shoes tend to fit my foot better than most others.
MERCER: Besides the Saucony Tempus, running in stability shoes has never been fun. The only redeeming quality was staying healthy and not missing out on any part of the season. However, this new generation of stability shoes is giving everyone the chance to have fun while running, which is the goal of this entire sport. Out of the box, I took the Kayano 29 on a 7-mile run (which seems small compared to big man Robbe) through light trails, gravel roads, and cement, and because I couldn’t see two feet in front of me or the shoes, I couldn’t believe I was having fun in the Kayano.
Brands have finally started merging their stability and neutral lines, offering the same lasts with tweaked hardware. Look at Brooks with the Ghost and Adrenaline or Hoka with the Clifton and Arahi. I’m just glad Asics didn’t give us a Nimbus tweaked for stability. It got some bumps but still kept its personality.
I’m not usually a fan of knit uppers, but Asics nailed this one. It hugs in all the right places and loosens up in the toes giving you ample room to wiggle the dogs around.
I’ve been really into F1 lately, and I love the colorway Asics sent over — big-time RB18 vibes, and you’ll feel just as fast in it.
ROBBE: Out of the box, I took this on an 18-mile long run on the most humid of summer days with 1,300 feet of elevation. To say it can handle that distance would be an understatement. There’s plenty of cushion, and the Flytefoam Blast+ midsole feels as comfortable as the Kayano counterparts in the Asics family, namely the Gel-Nimbus 24, which may go down as my favorite daily trainer of 2022. (Note that the Gel-Nimbus has full Flytefoam Blast+ while the Kayano has a heel section of traditional Flytefoam for added stability and durability.) I had zero issues over long miles, and my legs felt surprisingly fresh the next day, even after pounding a long, rolling downhill on the backside of a mountain road. I’ll give partial credit to the shock absorption of the Gel unit in the heel for that as well.
Overall, this runs lighter than its weight or at least doesn’t feel clunky on foot. It’s comparable to the feel of the Gel-Nimbus 24, just maybe not quite as agile.
Uppers are something that Asics almost unequivocally does right, especially in their flagship shoes. This is something that most traditional brands get right year-in and year-out, and this is no different. It’s comfortable in all the places you need comfort, locks down nicely, and can keep you in the saddle for miles at a time.
The outsole has plenty of traction and is pretty substantial in its stack height, meaning it’ll last for quite some time. Despite that, the ground feel isn’t harsh, and that Flytefoam Blast+ midsole disperses the force of impact.
Last thing — and I can’t believe I’m saying this about an Asics stability shoe — it does look pretty good on foot.Shop ASICS Kayano – Men Shop ASICS Kayano – Women
ALDREN: This shoe is toasty. I was hoping for a tongue like that of the Gel-Nimbus 24, but it’s still more of this heavily padded sensation. I’m sure this is great in winter, but I’m already walking out of my front door in 90-degree weather. I don’t need to be heating up more than that.
I also started building a slight hotspot around the medial side of both my big toes but maybe I need to size up. I’m not entirely convinced yet.
MERCER: Hotspots galore. For me, it was right under the ball of my foot where the toe Gel pieces would typically be, but it was bearable, so whatever.
Speaking of Gel, ya gotta phase it out at some point. It makes the shoe heavier than it needs to be and doesn’t feel all that good while walking or running. I’d honestly prefer if they just put more foam in place of the gel.
ROBBE: As Aldren said, this upper does get warm, especially in the summer months. It was stupid humid and in the 80s when I started my run, and I almost turned around within the first two miles. Nevertheless, I persisted, but the warmth of the shoe wasn’t exactly helping me along in my quest to endure. I was very much looking forward to pulling them off and soaking my feet in a cold creek. But hey — you want comfort, you’re generally going to have to have some trade-off, and a warm upper is usually at the top of that list.
Aldren and I must have similar feet because I also developed a slight hotspot behind my big toe on the medial side. Granted, I was sweaty as hell and putting in close to 3 hours on the road, so anything can happen at that point.Shop ASICS Kayano – Men Shop ASICS Kayano – Women
ALDREN: For those of y’all that have gone back-to-back to back 29 times to the Kayano series (I know there are some of you out there), you’ll appreciate this one. Every year, Asics continues to modernize its legends and stay up to date with the competition.
I had a slight issue with the upper being somewhat spicy, but if a bit of heat is the biggest issue you have to deal with this summer, I recommend heading inside for some treadmill miles.
MERCER: If you like stability and want to have fun running, slide up in the 29, and you’ll have a great time. Good luck to any running stores keeping these in inventory because not only will you have to deal with repeat customers, but some newbies are gonna hop on the Kayano train come August 1.
ROBBE: This is a shoe built for miles — hundreds of them. The comfort combined with the outsole’s durability will almost certainly get you to that mark (i.e. 400-500 miles). While it is a pricier shoe at $160, your money will go further as your shoe goes further. If you want something lighter while still retaining some stability, you may want to opt for the Kayano Lite, but don’t expect it to last as long or have quite as much comfort.
You can pick up the Asics Gel-Kayano 29 for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop ASICS Kayano – Men Shop ASICS Kayano – Women
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Love the kayano series! Looking forward to blast+.
Typo in conclusion… “You can pick up the Asics Gel-Nimbus 29 for $160 at Running Warehouse”.
Sorry to be that guy.
Thanks for the review!!