Verdict from 7.1 hours of research from the internet

6 reasons to buy

  • Stability: A great number of runners swear by the stable ride and effective pronation control of the Kayano 26. They describe its support as solid and reliable but unintrusive.
  • Comfort: ‘Luxurious’, ‘plush’, ‘nice to touch’ are some of the wearers’ most common descriptions of the shoe’s step-in feel.
  • Heel clutch: Many users note how secure their heel feels inside the firm exoskeletal counter and highly padded collar.
  • Fit: The upper feels tailored to the foot but leaves enough room for the toes to splay.
  • Quality: A lot of buyers praise the top-level materials and highly durable build of the trainer which makes it last for hundreds of miles.
  • Ventilation: For such a supportive shoe, the Kayano breathes well enough for most users.

2 reasons not to buy

  • Lack of responsiveness: More than a few runners are unhappy with the firm cushioning that feels stiff, flat, and unforgiving, especially on distances over 20K.
  • Weight: Due to all the midsole technologies, it is a rather heavy, old-school stability shoe.

Bottom line

The Kayano 26 belongs to the flagship line of stability shoes from Asics. It has become the go-to shoe for numerous runners with varying degrees of overpronation. You can expect it to be a heavy-duty workhorse for easy and medium-paced runs on short-to-medium distances. It is also considered comfortable enough for all-day wear.

It is not a shoe for those who want to pick up the speed with a light and bouncy underfoot feel.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Our reviews

82
/100 by Martin Schmidt, posted on .

One of the highest-rated stability shoes of all time is the Asics Gel Kayano 25. Almost everyone knows this shoe. It is the go-to shoe for over-pronating runners. I never tried it, but I bought Its successor, the Gel Kayano 26.

 

The facts

  • Use: Daily trainer, stability
  • Terrain: Road
  • Weight: 304g in EU size 42
  • Heel height: 29mm
  • Forefoot height: 19mm

With a 10mm heel-to-toe drop from 29mm in the heel to 19mm in the forefoot, this shoe is designed to be a heel-striker.

The upper

The shoe has a mesh upper with padded tongue and collar. The mesh is stabilized somewhat by the Asics logo and the toe trim and eye-stay that are made with less flexible material.

 

The sole

The midsole consists of part Flyte Foam, part DuoMax. The heel has a wedge of the famous Asics GEL, and around the arch, you will find some thermoplastic meant as a stability measure.

 

 

With a relatively thick outer sole that will last for many, many kilometers, this shoe is a workhorse.

Why I bought the Gel Kayano 26

I had a goal in 2019 of being able to run half a marathon, and I simply couldn’t run much further than 10km before I started getting fatigued and sore in my knee joints.

After having recorded and watched my gait on a treadmill, I was recommended a stability shoe and bought the Gel Kayano 26.

My thoughts on the shoe

The good

Comfort and stability: The shoe upper is very comfortable with a perfectly accommodating toebox. I never experienced any blisters anywhere, and I ran around 12K the first time I tried them.

The shoe is very stable, and I believe that I have this shoe to thank for reaching my last year goal of running a half marathon. In fact, I ran two half-marathons and a trail run of 17km last year.

Even though this shoe is a road shoe, the sole has just enough tread that you can also run on (dry) trails and paths.

All terrain-ish: Due to the tread of the sole, you’re able to take this shoe on dry trails and paths through the woods.

However, the tread-design also picks up some smaller debris and granules on the way. You will quickly find yourself with a muddy behind if you try to transverse muddy terrain.

But on the other hand, the shoe is not intended to be an all-terrain vehicle.

Build quality: I’ve run 333 km (207 miles) in these, and a bit of wear is apparent on the outer sole.

Mostly on the outsides of the heels, and a bit of creasing in the Duomax midsole. But, other than that, these shoes hold up great. I suspect there is at least another 300km of running left in them.

 

The bad

Unsecure fit: Comfortable as it is, I wasn’t able to get a good lock-down of my foot. With an accommodating toe box, I believe it is necessary to get a good lock-down around the midfoot and heel.

But, even when I tightened the laces to the point that felt even a bit too constricting, the shoe could just slide right off and on again without undoing the laces. I believe this is due to slightly too much padding around the heel and collar.

Rough ride: With a 10mm drop and relatively high stack height, the shoe is meant to be a heel-striker. Thus, you rely almost solely on the cushioning of the sole (pun intended), but the shoe does not feel very cushioned at all.

I’d consider the shoe relatively firm and on top of that not very flexible. This means that the shoe feels very flat and that you land pretty hard.

When you land on your heel, the transitioning from heel to midfoot is a bit rough. I believe this is due to the thermoplastic embedment in the arch-part of the sole, not allowing for any flexibility at all.

The transitioning from midfoot to toe is a lot better, however. But generally, it is difficult to get a smooth landing in this shoe.

Also, I found that it feels a bit flat and slow, especially when you compare it to other shoes like Hoka One One’s that have their meta-rocker technology. However, landing on your midfoot helps a bit to soften the landing and the transitioning.

Absorbs water: This shoe is quite horrible in wet conditions. The padding around the heel, on the tongue, and collar absorbs water. This means that the shoe gets even heavier and that it makes squishy sounds when you land.

Aesthetics (The ugly in this case): This shoe looks like something that was designed in the 90s. It is big, bulky and filled with crisscrossing lines of contrast textures and colours. I prefer a simpler, cleaner appearance.

Conclusion

This shoe is a workhorse with great build quality, great fit, and lots and lots of mileage. Due to the tread, the shoe is usable on roads as well as easy dry trails (in my opinion).

It is a very stable shoe that minimizes overpronation. I would consider it being a good option for a medium-to-severe overpronating runner that doesn’t care too much about speed, who needs a daily trainer that will last a long time.

I would, however, not recommend running longer than 20K in these shoes, since the cushioning is relatively firm.

This is probably a general downside of being a stability shoe: it is difficult achieving both stability, cushioning, and flexibility in the same shoe, and the Gel Kayano 26 leans heavily towards being a stability shoe.

My PB’s in the Gel Kayano 26

5K: 24:34 - 10K: 51:08 - 21,1K: 1:50:15 - Max distance: 22,3K

Martin Schmidt | Level 2 expert Verified
In my spare time, I try to get more fit, so I’ve been going to the gym regularly doing various forms of training. I’ve been wanting to get better at running, but I’ve always struggled with increasing my distance and speed since I’m prone to getting fatigued in my knees. However, persistence and a couple of stability shoes led me to complete a half-marathon and a bit more. This year, I’m hoping to run a 30K race without injury or pain.

90
/100 by Jacob Becker, posted on .

If you haven't come across Kayano, it is hands-down one of the most hyped models for runners with pronation. With the slogan" protect every step", the shoe is aimed at providing you with stability and extra support to prevent your arch from collapsing.

 

 

So with that in mind, I was eager to take the shoes for my training and review them.

Upper design

The top is made in a "jacquard-mesh" material, which is very soft and cozy. The front design allows a lot of space for your toes, both horizontal and vertical, though the midfoot feels very stable.

When moving around in the Kayano, it feels natural and comfortable. This is partly due to the insole, which is anatomically shaped. Therefore, it follows and supports the feet's natural shape.

However, the feeling is mainly based around the midsole that is made out of a combination of Flyte Foam Lyte, Flyte Foam Propel and Gel.

This is something we have seen in past models, where Flytefoam Lyte is contributing with exceptional shock absorption, letting your every step land safe.

Flyte Foam Propel is found from heel to toe and is softer and more responsive than Lyte. This results in an overall soft and responsive feeling with a "bouncing" effect. Thus, it provides you with more efficient steps.

The gel is used in a wide variety of Asics shoes since it was introduced in 1986. It provides shock absorption and protection. In the Kayano 26, there is more gel added to the shoe than in its predecessor.

 

 

Asics Gel Kayano 26 is, without doubt, a worthy partner to crushing new year's resolutions, as it guides your feet step by step. You won't feel the shoe limiting your every step or "breaking" your routine.

Meanwhile, it feels like the shoe is supporting to a large degree, so you end up with a smooth and balanced feel.

Dynamic Duomax

On the inside of the midsole, the foam is more solid to prevent the feet collapsing inwards (pronation). On top of the foam, there is a layer of Flyte Foam Propel to spread the pressure across a larger surface, thus counter measuring the solid foam.

 

Stable heel

The external heel is built to keep your rear foot safely in place. The middle part of the heel is a bit softer than the previous model to give better comfort.

 

Guidance Trusstic System

In the midsole, you'll find stiffness to prevent ankle twists, which is a big plus for me, while running on unstable surfaces. The rear and middle part of the shoe does the job effectively, making it seem almost impossible to twist your ankle.

The front part of the foot is, on the contrary, very flexible and soft, which gives a feeling of freedom to move around. It bends very well, as you set off the ground.

 

Conclusion

The Asics Gel Kayano 26 is just an awesome and comfortable running shoe, which provides you with stability and protection. Its focus may not be on speed, but more on maximum comfort.

Hence, the shoe is a great companion for your daily training, whereas other shoes may be a better option for sprints.

The shoe is very soft and comfortable for both short and long runs, and the space in the rear part of the shoe makes it feel luxurious.

If you appreciate stability and comfort, then you will love the Asics Gel Kayano 26 for the runner who needs the support for pronation. See you out there!

Jacob Becker | Level 1 expert Verified
My name is Jacob, and I have done all kinds of sports throughout the years at different levels (from maximum chill to national team), managing a gym and helping others. In the past five years, I've been very active with Crossfit—covering all aspects of functional fitness alongside meeting tons of nice people with the same passion.

  • The Asics Gel Kayano 26 is a running shoe that’s designed to heighten performance on the roads. It is also an update to a well-established series of stability running shoes, taking the lead as one of the industry’s go-to products that function against the progression of overpronation.
  • The visible and mechanical changes take the form of the zigzag pattern of the Gel® shock-attenuating technology in the heel for aggressive impact mitigation. This Gel® configuration is a sign of reverence to past Gel Kayano models like the Kayano 16, which also employed the discernible wave-like structure of the Gel®. This current-day embodiment of nostalgia is a tribute to the Japanese wisdom of ‘respecting the past in creating the new.’
  • The 26th iteration of this family has an open-weave upper that moves away from the uniform sipes of the Gel Kayano 25 model, as well as an increase in natural reflectivity which makes it quite visible to anyone.

The AHAR® or Asics High Abrasion Rubber is used as the layer of protection for the heel section. The durable construction of this material helps in extending the life of the midsole foam. It also lasts long as it resists abrasion caused by surface contact and continued use.

DuraSponge® is a spongy version of the AHAR® compound. It is used for the forefoot section of the external pad. Such a placement assists the heightening of the cushioning quality of the platform, particularly when it comes to the toe-off phase of the gait cycle.

Flex grooves line the surface of the outsole. These shallow trenches are meant to make the midsole adherent to the natural movement of the foot, bending in cadence with the heel-to-toe transitions.

The base of the Asics Gel Kayano 26’s midsole is made up of the FlyteFoam® Lyte. This aptly named piece has a lightweight build, but it isn’t flimsy. It’s tasked with delivering quality cushioning, even after many uses. Lyte is made up of organic nanofibers that are friendly to the environment.

A concentration of FlyteFoam® Propel graces the forefoot section. This feature has a bouncy configuration that allows it to energize the forefoot lifts. Its malleable nature works with the blown rubber outsole and the FlyteFoam® Lyte in providing invigorated steps.

The Gel® shock-mitigating technology is wedged into both the forefoot and heel of the platform. These silicon-based portions are designed to absorb the force generated by the foot-strike, then transfer the energy to the foot, allowing for a cycle of energetic forefoot lifts and smooth landings. The visible zigzag that makes up the heel GEL® is touted to amplify the absorbing capacity.

The Dynamic DuoMax™ is a dense foam in the midfoot of this stability running shoe that’s meant to support the arch and prevent it from buckling or overpronating during the run or when standing idly. This stability mechanism fundamentally averts injuries brought about by anatomical deviation or irregularities in gait.

The Trusstic System™ is a thermoplastic layer that sits between the midsole and outsole. This midfoot add-on bolsters the structural integrity of the cushioning system while also acting as a foundation for the tendons and muscles of the underfoot. Such inclusion prevents fatigue or tendon inflammation due to straining.

The Impact Guidance System® links the technologies of the midsole together without sacrificing flexibility and the natural capacity of the foot to move. No part of the platform hinders their counterparts.

The ComforDry™ X-40 is a removable sockliner that offers extra cushioning for the foot. This lightweight insert has antibacterial and anti-moisture capacities to prevent odor and sweat-retention.

Serving as the exterior of the Asics Gel Kayano 26’s upper unit is the jacquard mesh. This cloth-like material offers flexibility, a form-welcoming fit, and breathability through a set of tiny and gaping ventilation holes.

The FluidFit™ construction is composed of stretchy fibers that adapt to the motion of the foot as it gears itself for each takeoff. It is even made seamless to provide a non-irritating wrap.

Printed overlays reinforce the structure of the upper, sustaining its upright form and saving it from looking soggy over time. These synthetic layers also help the traditional lacing system in giving a locked-in fit.

MetaClutch™ is an exoskeleton that rests on the back of the façade. The purpose of this feature is to help the fabrics in holding the foot in place and maintaining its steadiness.

Asics Kayano Lite: The brand's new take on stability shoes that steers away from the good old medial posts in favor of more neutral support. It is 2.1 oz (60 g) lighter than the Kayano 26.

Asics GT 2000 9: A less posh stability shoe but has a softer ride. It is also 1.2 oz (34 g) lighter than the Kayano.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21: A highly-rated stability shoe with softer cushioning.

Size and fit

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Same sizing as Asics Gel Kayano 27.

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How Gel Kayano 26 compares

This shoe: 94
All shoes average: 86
53 98
This shoe: $160
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 11.1oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 16.2oz
Author
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.

jens@runrepeat.com