Asics most popular structured cushioning shoe is back in its latest edition, the Kayano 18. Built to be lighter and less stable than its predecessors, the shoe is creating quite a stir amongst previous Kayano runners who fear that this lighter and less supportive incarnation has the potential to cause problems for those who have come to rely on the Kayano line for their every running need. Even with the slight change to the fit and support of the shoe, the Kayano 18 is still one of the top end structured running trainers that Asics offer and this Asics Kayano 18 review is going to examine these features in more detail as we put it through its paces.
Asics Kayano 18 Review – Features
The Guidance Line and Impact Guidance system work in conjunction with each other to both provide support for your foot upon impact as well as ensuring that the foot follows the most efficient path from heel strike to toe-off. By actively encouraging the foot to move along the vertical guidance line, less energy is lost to lateral motion and therefore a fast heel to toe transition is encouraged even when you are running tied.
A high amount of gel cushioning is one of the most attractive features of this shoe. Those with a tendency to heel strike will benefit from the increased protection that gel cushioning in the heel offers whilst everyone can benefit from the sustained protection that the forefoot gel cushioning provides throughout the gait cycle. Gel cushioning is the material of choice for all of Asics’ high end trainers as substitutes such as air and foam have been proven to be much less effective. Foam cushioning has to be left to de-compress after long runs and therefore is not suitable for intense training. Air cushioning often wears out faster than the shoe itself and is only really found in cheaper alternatives. Gel cushioning in contrast offers not only a high amount of performance but also gives the manufacturer more control over specific zoning of protection, meaning that a shoe can be engineers to specifically target different types of athletes by offering different grades, thickness and densities of material. Gel cushioning has been the bedrock of Asics trainers for almost two decades now and the Kayano 18 has been engineered with such cushioning in abundance to give you a hard wearing shoe that will last for longer than any foam or air alternatives.
The Kayano 18 has been updated with a memory foam heel cup. This has allowed Asics to remove part of the support from the rear foot area as this higher performing and bespoke engineering allows for a greater amount of control and protection but with less weight and motion restriction. Initially we were unsure that this was a good move for Asics but after a few runs the heel cup feels like it fits very naturally around the rear of the foot and keeps the foot embedded within the shoe.
A comfort dry sock liner is an addition that we have come to expect from Asics high end models and this trainer is no different. A large amount of mesh keeps air circulating around the foot whilst the sock liner wicks away moisture from the skin. Less moisture means less potential for irritation and ultimately leads to a more comfortable running experience.
Support is the name of the game when it comes to the Kayano 18 and Asics have made an important edition in their latest creation. The DuoMax midsole material provides lighter support then previous Kayano models and therefore although these weight gains provide a more natural running experience, the level of support that the trainer offers has been reduced. This means that this edition is suitable for neutral to mild pronators and not those with severe flat feet. Previous users of the Kayano series have noted that this edition definitely has a different ride to that of previous models and therefore you cannot assume that just because you have been running in previous models for many years that this latest edition will suit your running style.
Ride and Summary
Support shoes are by nature heavier and less flexible than their neutral running shoe cousins but this does not mean that you should settle for anything that does not offer high performance especially if you have has problems with support trainers in the past. We are happy to say that the 18 offers not only a lighter and more flexible ride than its predecessor, but the weight savings have resulted in a more well rounded and higher performing trainer. Although those who have run in previous incarnations may find the fit a little different, if anything, the fit should be an improvement due to the exoskeleton heel plug and the biomorphic fit upper section. Those needing the highest levels of support should steer clear of this model as Asics have released a much more supportive and structured shoe called the 3020. If we were conducting a 3020 vs Kayano 18 examination then we would have to say that those serious pronators should seriously look into the 3020’s as the model offers a greater degree of arch support and stability whereas the Kayano 18 has been made to be more flexible and to appeal to a wider range of athletes