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The 8 Best Asics Running Shoes

Asics has a loyal following and an innovative approach to shoe design—and these shoes prove it.

Asics got its start nearly 70 years ago, when Kihachiro Onitsuka began making basketball shoes in his living room in Kobe, Japan. He soon expanded to running shoes, and his first pair, the Marathon Tabi, came out in 1953. His business grew, and in 1977 he merged it with two other companies and began selling footwear in the United States. He also changed the company’s name to Asics, an acronym for the Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” (a sound mind in a sound body). Since then, Asics has grown into one of the premier running shoe companies.

A Scientific Approach

A strong commitment to research and performance has helped Asics design consistently high-quality running shoes, and made it a favorite among all kinds of runners. Shortly after its arrival in the US, Asics released the California jogging shoe, which featured new developments like a flared sole and reflective tape on the heels to keep runners visible at night. In May 1990, it opened the Research Institute of Sports Science in Kobe, where the company conducts materials tests and biomechanical research to fine tune its designs. This lab has produced some of Asics’ hallmark innovations, like the Gel shock absorption system, its new GuideSole design, and other midsole features that combat overpronation and help prevent injury.

Gel and Beyond

Perhaps one of Asics’ best-known innovations is its Gel technology, which the company first released in 1986. It consists of a gel-like substance implanted in the midsole that helps absorb impact forces for a smoother ride. It’s found in the midsoles of many of the company’s flagship shoes, and it’s the primary cushioning system in the Gel-Quantum Infinity. Another key innovation is the Impact Guidance System, which combines an external heel counter and specially-designed plates in the midsole to aid in a more natural foot movement while running.

The Nimbus 21 places extra gel cushioning in the heel.

The company has continued to churn out new technologies in recent years as well. Like other shoemakers, it pushed past EVA foam with its own proprietary cushioning, called FlyteFoam. This foam is formulated to be lighter and more resilient than EVA. It’s further refined into subgroups of FlyteFoam Propel, which includes a special elastomer to increase energy return, and FlyteFoam Lyte, an even lighter-weight version. The company’s latest development is GuideSole, which debuted on the MetaRide. It’s a rocker-based sole construction that’s shaped to help runners roll through their stride and reduce ankle movement—the company claims it cuts energy loss by up to 19 percent. That means you can push through longer distances more easily, since you’ll expend less energy with each step. We’re still testing these claims, but it’s an exciting development nonetheless.

 

The MetaRide has a rocker-style sole and firm heel counter designed to limit excess ankle motion.

How We Chose These Shoes

To choose the shoes below, we scoured the Asics lineup, talked to a brand rep to get the scoop on the company’s newest models, incorporated info from Runner’s World reviews, and used our own knowledge of the running shoe market to flag the most important kicks. We also worked to include a variety of shoes that would appeal to different runners and styles of running. Of course, it’s impossible to choose the right shoe based on a picture and a paragraph, so we’ve listed pros and cons for each shoe and linked to RW reviews wherever possible. In those reviews, you’ll find an in-depth breakdown of the shoe along with feedback from hundreds of wear testers and data from the RW shoe lab.

Generally speaking, Asics makes workhorse road shoes that can power through high mileage, and they’ve been scrutinized from top to bottom to help you run farther, faster, and more comfortably. It has led to some remarkable running shoes—here are a few of RW’s favourites.


—BEST FOR DISTANCE RUNNING—

MetaRide

Asics

MetaRide
$320
asics.com.au
PROS:
  • Rocker shape promotes a smooth stride
  • Good energy return

CONS

  • Very expensive

Designed to make long-distance running easier, the MetaRide is structured to reduce movement in the ankle joint, where most of your running energy is expended. It does so with Asics’ new sole design, called GuideSole, which is a rocker-shaped sole that helps you roll forward smoothly through your stride. Layers of FlyteFoam Lyte and FlyteFoam Propel support your feet and provide good energy return, but the jury’s still out on how much these shoes can improve your distance running.

READ MORE     MORE IMAGES


—BEST FOR SPEED TRAINING—

Gel-DS Trainer 24

Asics

Gel-DS Trainer 24
$200
asics.com.au
PROS
  • Knit upper
  • Good ground feel

CONS

  • Too firm for high mileage

This veteran speed training shoe got a major redesign for its 24th iteration, and it comes with a number of key changes. Most notable is the knit upper—the first on any Asics shoe—which enhances breathability and reduces weight. A redesigned heel counter keeps your feet in place when you pick up the pace, and the FlyteFoam Lyte midsole offers good energy return and ground feel for shorter, faster runs.

READ REVIEW     MORE IMAGES


—BEST STABILITY SHOE—

Gel-Kayano 26

Asics

Gel-Kayano 26
$270
asics.com.au

PROS

  • Well-cushioned
  • Good support for overpronators

CONS

  • On the heavy side

The Kayano has been a part of the Asics lineup for decades, and it remains one of the company’s most popular shoes. It’s designed for distance, with Gel cushioning in the forefoot and heel, FlyteFoam Propel and FlyteFoam Lite in the midsole, and an EVA sockliner all working to absorb impact forces. It also offers plenty of support: a medial plate and heel counter guide the foot at landing and counter overpronation. Plus, it’s all topped off with a breathable jacquard mesh upper.


—BEST LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING—

Dynaflyte 4

Asics

Dynaflyte 4
$220
asics.com.au
PROS:
  • Snug-but-flexible new upper
  • Good cushioning without the weight

CONS:

  • Overpronators will need more support

The DynaFlyte hits a nice balance between cushion and low weight, which makes it an ideal shoe for fast-paced training and longer races. Asics worked to improve the fit in the latest version by swapping in a new knit upper that’s designed to flex with your foot in key areas and provide support in others. It’s also an ounce lighter than the previous iteration. Shock absorption comes from a layer of FlyteFoam Lyte foam in the midsole and Gel cushioning in the heel, which together provide good cushion and energy return when you pick up the tempo.


—BEST CUSHIONED TRAINER—

Gel-Nimbus 21

Asics

Gel-Nimbus 21
$240
SHOP NOW
asics.com.au
PROS:
  • Smooth, supportive ride
  • Durable

CONS:

  • Narrow fit

Asics’s top-of-the-line neutral distance shoe is a perennial favourite among runners, and the latest version upholds that legacy: It has a smooth and supportive ride that can stand up to high mileage. The midsole is packed with Flytefoam Propel, Flytefoam Light, and the Gel cushioning system for excellent impact absorption and energy return. It also comes with a full high-abrasion rubber outsole for solid durability and a dual-layer mesh upper—just watch out for the fit, as these shoes are narrow.

READ REVIEW     MORE IMAGES


—BEST FOR DURABILITY—

Gel-Cumulus 21

Asics

Gel-Cumulus21
$180
SHOP NOW
asics.com.au
PROS:
  • Great durability and grip
  • Supportive cushioning

CONS:

  • Heavy and not flexible

The Gel-Cumulus, like the Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Kayano, is one of Asics’ longstanding bestsellers. The latest version comes with a recontoured sockliner and more foam padding around the collar for better fit and comfort. It also sports a roomier toe box, and Asics tweaked the FlyteFoam Lyte in the two-layer midsole to make it softer underfoot. Testers raved about the blown rubber outsole, which offers excellent grip and can handle a high-mileage training regimen without wearing down.

READ REVIEW     MORE IMAGES


—BEST AFFORDABLE STABILITY SHOE—

GT-1000 8

Asics

GT-1000 8
$180
asics.com.au
PROS:
  • Plenty of support
  • Durable

CONS:

  • Firm ride

The GT-1000 is an affordable workhorse shoe that incorporates many top-shelf features. Asics swapped in FlyteFoam Propel in the midsole to bump up energy return, and it comes with a new twin layer jacquard mesh upper for improved breathability and stability. A section of firm foam under the arch counters overpronation, and an EVA sockliner improves the step-in feel. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a plush shoe, and the overall ride will feel firm.


—BEST ROCKER SOLE—

GlideRide

Asics

GlideRide
$150.00
asics.com.au

PROS:

  • Good cushioning
  • Smooth ride

CONS:

  • Not much support for overpronators

Aimed at competing shoes like the Hoka Bondi and the Nike Zoom Fly, the Glideride is a new shoe that’s designed to promote efficient running over long distances. It does that with a curved rocker sole (called GuideSole) that helps you roll forward as you run, and it’s combined with a top layer of soft FlyteFoam and a Gel pod in the heel to cushion impact forces. We haven’t reviewed the Glideride yet, but Bondi testers noted that the rocker shape helped keep their legs fresh on long runs—so the curved design isn’t without its merits.


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