The New Asics Gel-Kayano 26 Is a Heavy-Duty, High-End Stability Shoe

Asics spared neither foam nor rubber in constructing its latest marquee stability trainer.

The RW Takeaway: The Gel-Kayano 26 features a softer heel but retains its stability features and high-mileage construction.

  • The new heel has more gel and a softer foam compound for a plusher touchdown.
  • The slightly reworked upper features an external heel counter that locks your foot into the shoe.
  • An EVA-elastomer midsole and gratuitous, high-abrasion outsole rubber prepare the Gel-Kayano 26 for the long haul.

Price: $260
311 g . (M); 260 g. (W)


With its penchant for incorporating stiff soles and high-density medial posts into its creations, Asics seems to love classic stability shoes. And the Gel-Kayano reigns over them all. At $260, it’s the company’s flagship stability trainer, which means you get plenty of visible tech (read: Gel) and a posh, high-quality construction. What’s new with the 26th iteration is the revamped sturdy midsole, the collar with just slightly more foam, and the EVA sock liner, which is 1mm thicker than the GT-2000, the brand’s $200 mild stability shoe. In other words, it’s the deluxe package, and most of our testers lauded the immediate comfort of the plush upper (although a couple noted that the shoe felt small for its size).


Gel-Kayano 26


  • Highly stable, with lots of heel cushioning
  • Secure upper


  • Heavy

The midsole at the heel has soft FlyteFoam Lyte cushioning beneath a thicker layer of visible Gel, which manifests as softer compared to the previous generation. Beneath your arch, a high-density medial post and a plastic truss prevent torsional flexion, quelling overpronation forces. Directly beneath your foot is a layer of Asics’ EVA-rubber blend, a high-rebound material that isn’t quite as soft as traditional EVA foam—since the Gel and FlyteFoam are only present toward the back of the shoe, some testers felt the forefoot lacked cushioning compared to the heel.

On the run, the Gel-Kayano 26 feels substantial and stable, traits you might not like if you’re used to springy trainers with lightweight foam midsoles. But for overpronators who want support and enough cushioning to run long, the new Kayano should be a trusty companion.

Same Stability, Softer Heel Cushioning

More Gel, and softer foam beneath it, dampens the blow at each footstrike.

There’s a lot going on beneath your foot in the new Gel-Kayano 26. Starting from the top down, your foot rests on a 5mm-thick EVA foam sock liner that’s been contoured for an anatomical fit. Beneath it, a layer of FlyteFoam Propel provides responsive cushioning, thanks to the rubber Asics added to the foam (which shouldn’t pack out as quickly as traditional EVA foam). The Propel variant of FlyteFoam isn’t as immediately plush, however, and some testers felt that the shoe’s forefoot softness didn’t live up to the heel cushioning (although RW lab testing showed similar cushioning scores for both ends of the shoe).

Speaking of the heel, there’s now more Gel and soft, low-density FlyteFoam Lite beneath it, giving you two additional layers of shock absorption in the rear. The medial side is designed to be much harder. A high-density medial post and a plastic truss beneath the midfoot work together to firm up the shoe against the twisting forces of an overpronating foot. Our testers unanimously agreed that the shoe felt highly stable, which comes with a trade off, as some felt that stability yielded excessive stiffness. “Compared to other shoes I have run in, this felt very stiff,” said one tester.

Contoured, Plush Upper

The upper is a slightly reworked, two-layer, engineered-mesh construction. Whereas the old shoe had mesh with plenty of give in the midfoot and forefoot (and no stretch-preventing Asics Tiger logo on the medial side), the new shoe has a tighter, non-stretchy mesh surrounding the arch. The result is a snug, secure fit, although the toe box still stretches to accommodate wide feet. The heel is designed to be similarly snug, with lots of collar padding and a stiff plastic external counter to keep your heel locked in.

Two of our seven testers said the toe box wasn’t big enough, but the rest enjoyed the fit, noting that their feet didn’t slide laterally or back and forth within the shoe. The mesh prevented water from entering the shoe as one tester splashed through puddles, and another noted that the material ventilated efficiently during humid summer runs.

High-Mileage Rubber

The plastic stability truss adds to the shoe’s anti-pronation construction.

Never the company to skimp on outsole rubber, Asics lined most of the outsole with high-abrasion rubber, a compound that’s proven durable in previous Runner’s World testing. For road running, the Gel-Kayano 26 grips well, giving us confident traction on every pavement surface we encountered.

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