Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Asics Kayano-18 vs GT-2160

Upgrade, or not to upgrade......

I've only been running for 4 years.  But the majority of that time has been spent in Asics GTs. 2140s, 2150s, 2160s.  They've treated me well, and are certainly my 'go to' shoe.

However, when the marathon training starts hitting 15+ mile runs, it seems I'm always wishing for just a little more cushion.  I'm not setting any records, so a couple additional ounces of weight in exchange for less foot pain is OK by me.

I just happen to be up for my free pair of shoes (you know - buy 6 pairs get the 7th free kind of deal) from my local running shop.  Perfect time to tryout a more expensive, cushier model.

A couple of searches led me to the Asics Kayano 18.  It's in the 'control' category just like the GTs, but is listed as having a little more control and a good bit more cushion.  But where I can usually find last years GT model for around $65, the Kayano tends to run around $130 for the current year model.  Like I said, good time for a free pair.

On the outer side of the shoe, the first thing you notice is the more prominent gel in the Kayano (lower).  Both in the ball of the foot as well as quite a bit more in the heel.  Presumably where it gets much of it's additional comfort.

On the inner side of the shoe, you can see the the Kayano (left) has it's support material (the grey firm stuff that keeps you from pronating) run a bit further into the heel area of the shoe.  Hence more control that than the 2160.

Looking at the heal structure of the shoes, you can see that the Kayano has a rigid plastic heel 'cup' to help hold the foot in place.  Even more control.  This part worried me a little bit.

I even scored some free technical Asics socks for buying the Kayanos.  Pretty slick.  Lots of cushion, support, and abrasion coverage where a runner needs it.

Of course, the only way to determine if the Kayanos would pass the test was to put them to use.  My marathon was still around two months away.  So I figured that was plenty of time to try em out, break them in for the race, or swap back to my GTs if I had to.

I've now put in 25 hours, and 156 miles of running on the Kayanos, including a full marathon.  I have to say I'm pretty happy with them.  The thing I noticed when I first ran on them, was that I didn't notice anything.  This was exactly what I hoped for.  I certainly didn't want the shoe to feel drastically different in a way that would alter my gait.

What I did notice is that on my longer runs, 15+ miles, that the extra cushion helped make things a little more comfortable.  But even more helpful was that additional support.  After running for 3+ hours, your muscles don't necessarily keep your feet striking and pushing off the way they should be.  For me at least, it seemed that the extra support in the shoe prevented me from sliding too much out of line.

I don't know if I'm willing to pay the extra bucks for the Kayano on the next go round.  I already bought me another $65 pair of last years GT2160s.  But it is good to know that I have another option if needed.


  1. I can not recommend the use of said local running store due to their shady business practices.

    1. I didn't recommend them.... only said I got my free pair of shoes from them ;)

  2. Still like them now?

    1. I do. I've since moved on to the Kayano 19's and run a couple more marathons in them.

      I've only recently started to explore a couple other options, looking for a bit lighter shoe. The Kayano is plenty cushioned, but sacrifices for that in weight a bit.

      Because of this, I've usually kept a lighter pair of GTs around when training. This way I use my more cushioned Kayanos on long (over 12 mile) runs, and my GTs on the shorter weekday runs.

  3. Still like them now?

  4. Thanks for the post and this reply. I'm a 20-year runner who moved from Sauconys to the Asics 1000 series in 1999... moved into the parallel 2050's, 60's and 70's these past two years as they are all harder to find. Let me ask you, since Asics isn't answering: Is there any meaningful difference in the D-width last between the 2060 and the Kayano? I have custom orthotics and that would be an issue. Any snugger/looser in the toebox or heel?

    1. I didn't notice any difference in width between the GTs and the Kayano; at least not at my 2E width. They are essentially identical in that respect. I would recommend you checkout www.runningwarehouse.com They have a great sizing tool that lets you look at a new shoe, then tell it what brand/make shoe and size you are currently using, and it shows you a footprint, arch, and 3d model comparing the two shoes.