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I bought the Asics Gel Kahana 8 knowing at the end of the week I would be doing a tough 12-mile trek and back down Mt. LeConte on the Alum Cave Trail in the Smoky Mountains.



Having done the trail before, I knew I needed good footing. On the ascent, it’s uphill all the way and steep enough that coming down in some areas feels a little treacherous.

I debated about splurging for a higher-end $130-$150 trail shoe from Salomon or La Sportiva. But then, I noticed a great deal on the Asics Gel Kahana 8.

I have loved Asics in the past but hadn’t run in a pair for years. I picked these up for only $59.99, a deal on just this gray and red color model.

Comfort right out of the box

The shoes arrived Thursday afternoon, purchased through Amazon. I slipped in my orthotics, which is something I need to wear in all my shoes.



The orthotics are a consideration when wondering how much room you are going to need. I tested out which socks fit best and wore them to go hang out with my son for the evening.

They felt great right out of the box. As soon as I put on the first shoe, I noticed the cushioning and how good the shoe felt.

I like a substantial shoe and could tell right away these had good support. I was quickly convinced I had made a good decision.

The model I bought was gray and red—a very good-looking and understated shoe. I knew I would be comfortable wearing the shoes anywhere without it being the center of attention.

Again, on Friday evening, I wore the Asics as much as I could knowing that I was going to push them hard the next morning. Not the best thing to do in a brand-new shoe, but these impressed me.

Rugged sole works wonders on tough terrain

Saturday morning comes, and as we head up the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte, I have great footing. The tread holds well and feels good when I step on uneven surfaces like rocks or tree roots.

The shoe gives me the confidence that I won’t slip on wet rocks and logs, which we must sometimes bear down hard on as we make the ascent.



The trail consists of several surfaces—dirt, gravel, man-made wood steps, tree roots, slate, and a few bridges of log or wood decking materials—that test whether you have on the right shoe or not.

I couldn’t have been happier with how the Asics held up.

Upper weave helps feet stay dry

The day was slightly wet and in the mid-60s. Although we covered some muddy spots and streams, my feet stayed dry. The shoe has a nice tight weave on the upper.



The upper overall was very good at resisting dirt stains. I thought I’d end up washing them after this one wear, but most of the dirt brushed right off.

On the descent, I did have some discomfort on the upper of my foot. But, I didn’t attribute that to the shoe. As you can see in the picture, the Asics doesn’t require me to lace too tightly.

Also, I wore thicker hiking socks to protect the balls of my feet.


Overall the Asics Gel Kahana 8 makes me wonder why I haven’t been more loyal to the brand. Over the years, I thought they didn’t have something stable enough for me.

However, this shoe proved I was wrong. I love the look of the shoe, and it fits great. I have worn an 11.5 in New Balance and found that to be the correct size for this shoe as well.

It was a bargain for a shoe, and I would buy it again.

| Level 1 expert Verified
Hello, I am Gregg! I started running competitively in high school and then competed in college as a cross country and track distance runner. I have logged as many as 70 miles a week and enjoy being challenged physically. In addition to running, I look for tough hiking terrain to tackle in the Smoky Mountains. I would love to provide some guidance to others when it comes to choosing a right, quality shoe.

Updates to Asics Gel Kahana 8

  • The Asics Gel Kahana 8 is a high-quality stability running shoe that’s made for the trails. It has a design that’s specifically made to last. The strong and sturdy look complements the quality materials and components used in it.
  • The upper unit makes use of a breathable mesh material, which allows environmental air into the foot-chamber. Soft textiles line the interior, providing a smooth coverage that’s non-irritating to the skin. Stitched overlays fortify the upper unit. They also make the fit more agreeable to the foot of the wearer.
  • The mid-sole unit of the Asics Gel Kahana 8 features a full-length foam unit that provides responsive cushioning and bounce-back characteristics. Basically, it cushions the landings well and makes the toe-off springier. The rear section of the mid-sole unit also has a silicone-based unit that’s meant to attenuate impact shock during the landing phase of the gait cycle.
  • Covering the mid-sole unit is a rubber material, which was designed to function well on the unpredictable off-road terrain. Made from abrasion-resistant compounds, it is capable of shielding the platform from the aggressive nature of the trails. It also delivers reliable surface traction. Flex grooves permit natural movement, especially during the toe-off phase.

Size and fit

The Asics Gel Kahana 8 uses standard measurements for its length. The sizes follow the usual choices of men and women. The available width is medium; it is able to accommodate those who have medium sized feet. Its semi-curved shape adheres to the natural curve of the human foot.


Similar to the popular stability running shoe, the Asics Gel DS Trainer 24, the outsole unit of the Kahana 8 uses the AHAR® or the Asics High Abrasion Rubber. It protects the rest of the mid-sole from the potentially debilitating effects of surface friction and continued use. It doesn’t fray or peel off easily. It also delivers reliable traction on the unpredictable outdoor terrains.

Flex grooves allow the platform to be more agreeable to the natural movements of the human foot. These indentations or small horizontal trenches give freedom to the foot as it goes through the gait cycle, especially during the toe-off.


The mid-sole unit uses the SpEVA® Material, which is a high quality foam that’s responsive and springy. It doesn’t easily break down, even after many uses. It responsibly cushions each landing and brings energy to the toe-offs.

The rear section of the platform uses the Gel® Cushioning System. This gel-like unit is the one responsible for absorbing impact shock during the landing phase of the gait cycle. It doesn’t feel stiff or out of place within the mid-sole unit.

The DuoMax® Support System is a dual-density material that’s meant to support the underfoot and prevent it from destabilizing when taking each step. Those with over-pronated foot motion are the ones who are going to appreciate this feature because it essentially corrects any deviation to the gait.


Breathable mesh makes up the main cover system of the Asics Gel Kahana 8. Its open construction facilitates the flow of air into the foot-chamber, thus keeping the foot cool and dry.

Synthetic overlays are stitched onto the upper mesh. These durable layers provide structure to the upper unit and they maintain a snug & secure fit.

A pull-tab in the heel area allows the runner to wear and remove the shoe easily.

Smooth textiles line the interior wall of the upper unit. They stave off skin irritation, which stunts the overall quality of the wearer’s performance.


How Asics Gel Kahana 8 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 37% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Top 22% Asics running shoes
All Asics running shoes
Top 45% stability running shoes
All stability running shoes


The current trend of Asics Gel Kahana 8.
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Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.