Verdict from 11 experts and 100+ user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Subtle stability: The Kayano Lite's stability features don't feel harsh nor obtrusive. It's barely noticeable that experts claim the shoe to be suitable for both overpronators (runners whose feet roll inward excessively) and neutral runners.  
  • Lightness: It's not only lighter than the Kayano 27 on the scale but loads of testers also state that they "clearly felt" the weight reduction on the run. 
  • Fit: Despite the absence of overlays and bootie construction, the shoe still provides plenty of support. Runners say that it gives a very secure wrap from heel to forefoot. 
  • Comfort: Thanks to the upper's breathability, plushness, and pressure-free wrap, multiple reviewers find it comfortable right out of the box. 
  • Laces: The laces stay tied and do not come undone easily. 
  • Aesthetics: It has Asics' "classic," "conservative" vibe, but it's fast and modern-looking with its touch of flashy neon accents. 

2 reasons not to buy

  • Rigid: This contributes to the shoe's "slappy" ride. The lack of flex points on the outsole just makes transitions laborious, requiring some break-in time. It's only after 32 miles that runners felt the shoe become peppy and lively. 
  • Long laces: They have to be triple-knotted so that they don't flop around.

Bottom line

For long-time Kayano fans, the Gel Kayano Lite is essentially as cushioned and protective as the Kayano 27 but comes in a lighter package. It does a terrific job of being a daily trainer that can handle long runs and can even be part of your recovery shoe rotation. To put it simply, it's the "bread and butter" of everyday runs. 

Just a heads up: The Asics Gel Kayano Lite is, by no means, a speed workhorse. So if you're looking for an uptempo shoe, consider the MetaRacer or the Arahi 4 instead. 

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Our reviews

90
/100 by , posted on .

A lighter, more responsive, comfortable, and environmentally-friendly version of the Gel Kayano? Say hello to the Asics Gel Kayano Lite. 

Like all other Kayanos, this model is a stability road trainer, designed for pronators, and maybe even neutral runners since it’s a bit light on stability assistance. 

 

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Asics Gel Kayano Lite vs. Kayano 27

Fit

Made from recycled materials, the Gel Kayano Lite’s engineered mesh upper is environmentally friendly, with a nice flexible fit and a ton of breathability. 

Contrary to the Asics Kayano 27, the toe box feels a bit wider, which I really appreciate. 

 

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They kept the upper really simple—the only overlays are the logo over the midfoot and around the heel counter. These add more structure and reinforcement for lockdown. However, these have given the Kayano Lite a stiffer heel counter than the 27. 

The tongue is not gusseted, so Asics, please get on board here. 

I didn’t feel much movement or slip in the shoe, which is a big issue I had with the Kayano 27. Unlike the Gel Kayano 27, the Kayano Lite feels a few mm deeper in the heel. It hugs my ankle a bit better, even though it appears very similar to the 27. 

Comfort

The stability support is really felt inside the edge of the heel. Unlike most stability shoes, it’s not felt much in the arch. Although it didn’t bother me, it was a different feeling, for sure.

The midsole is a little forgiving than the 27, and the underfoot ride is smoother. Oddly, it is more responsive despite being softer. 

There’s also more cushioning under the forefoot. Asics changed the GEL tech in the Kayano Lite, which I really like. 

 

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The shoe is also built on a slightly wider platform, generating a more stable, confident feel on landing and toe-off. 

Weight 

The Asics Gel Kayano Lite weighs 9.9 oz while the Kayano 27 is 11.2 oz. So, not a full 2 ounces lighter as Asics claims, but still significantly lighter. 

If you’re looking for an alternative that’s a full 2-ounces lighter, the 9 oz. Skechers Forza 4 Hyper may be your go-to stability shoe. 

Durability 

The shoe’s Flytefoam midsole is very stiff, so it shouldn’t pack out easily. It’s also made of organic super fibers to be more eco-friendly. 

Typical from Asics shoes, the outsole is made of AHAR, which should also go the distance. 

Looks 

I think it’s better-looking than the Kayano 27. It only comes in one color currently, though. 

It has a standard Asics look; all their shoes tend to look very traditional, which is not really my style. To make up for this, at least, it has some fun colors on the midsole, plus I really dig the marbled look on the upper. 

 

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Also, it’s colored with non-toxic, water-based dyes. Given this, Asics is really giving its all in the sustainability department. 

Conclusion 

It‘s lighter on the feet, on the environment, and it’s lighter on stability control than the mainstay Gel Kayano 27. 

I dig this version significantly more than the standard version. It fits betters, feels better underfoot. It is also a bit wider, and transitions more easily—all for the same price. 

If you don’t like the maximum stability offered by the 27, this is a better shoe. I also 100% believe that the dual-density foam design is a better way to create a stable platform. 

 

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| Level 4 expert Verified
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.

Asics Gel Kayano Lite: Stability that's not elaborate

Unlike the Asics GT 2000 collection, the Kayano Lite does not employ any stability posts. Instead, it has the following stabilizing features: (1) wide platform, (2) full ground contact, and (3) vertical sidewalls for additional midfoot support.

The result of combining these elements is an unnoticeable kind of support with a very cushioned underfoot feel, making the Kayano Lite an enjoyable shoe for both overpronators and neutral runners.

Championing sustainability

Not only is the Kayano Lite a lighter, simpler version of the Kayano 27, but it's also its more earth-friendly sibling. So, how did Asics achieve this? 

  • The engineered mesh upper is made of 80% recycled materials.
  • The Flyte Foam midsole, meanwhile, is composed of 15-20% cellulose nanofiber repurposed from sugarcane manufacturing. 
  • Lastly, the packaging is 100% recycled material. Fun fact: Starting 2021, all of Asics' shoe packaging will be made of 100% recycled content. 

Asics Gel Kayano Lite vs. Gel Kayano 27   

With a design that’s reminiscent of the Asics Gel Kayano 27 yet sufficiently revamped to cater to midfoot strikers, the Gel Kayano Lite features the following: 

Lighter build. The Kayano Lite shreds about an ounce (26 grams) with its new upper and midsole construction. This makeup is targeted to preserve the runner's energy to reach greater distances.

More stable ride. It has a wider base, covering more surface area than the Kayano 27. Adhering to this is the internal heel counter which locks the foot in place for minimized chances of slippage. 

Better flexibility. Contrary to the Asics Kayano 27, the flex grooves on the forefoot of the Kayano Lite have been cut deeper, added with three pods. Such design encourages natural foot bend and a more stable platform upon toe-off. 

Roomier toe box. There is more space for the natural splay of the toes for more comfort.

Nice to know

You may be wondering why the Asics Gel Kayano Lite women's version has a greater drop (13mm) than the men's version (10mm). According to Asics, this is intended to prevent any onset of Achilles and calf issues. 

Rankings

How Asics Gel Kayano Lite ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 3% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 3% Asics running shoes
All Asics running shoes
Top 5% stability running shoes
All stability running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Asics Gel Kayano Lite.
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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.