Our verdict

The ASICS Nimbus 26 is a testament to the Japanese kaizen philosophy, building on the solid foundation of its predecessor to enhance almost every aspect that needed improvement. In our lab tests, we were delighted to find a more breathable upper and an expanded toebox, ensuring comfort during our runs. The shoe also maintains its signature plush cushioning and premium feel throughout. However, we still noted its heft and the slim tongue—areas we hope will see enhancements in future iterations.

Pros

  • Premium all-around comfort
  • Enhanced toebox design
  • Exceptional durability
  • Best-in-series outsole
  • Ideal for long distances
  • Superb knit upper
  • Surprisingly stable
  • A dream for heel strikers

Cons

  • Increased weight
  • Limited energy return
  • Tongue lacks padding

Audience verdict

90
Superb!

Who should buy

We highly recommend the ASICS Nimbus 26 for:

  • Runners seeking a luxurious, comfortable experience on easy and moderate runs.
  • ASICS fans desiring a super-cushioned shoe for long distances and daily training.
  • Those who prioritize top-notch uppers, as the Nimbus 26's knit material offers a premium feel, excellent lockdown, good ventilation and ample toebox space.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26

Who should NOT buy

While the Nimbus 26 does offer a protective ride, we do not recommend it for runners seeking a lightweight shoe for uptempo paces. ASICS also has in its lineup a better—albeit pricier—alternative in the Superblast, which is significantly bouncier and lighter.

We also believe the Nimbus 26's price point may deter some runners. For those seeking a more budget-friendly option without sacrificing the super-high stack height, we've lab-tested the ASICS Novablast 4 and the Brooks Ghost Max. These models provide a comparable cushioned experience at a slightly more accessible price.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 parts

For those seeking an affordable yet cushioned running shoe, we suggest the Saucony Axon 3.

Breathability

One of the major complaints we had—and so did many users—about the Nimbus 25 was its limited breathability, owing to the thick, pillow-like knit upper. It felt almost suffocating in the sweltering summer heat and delivered blisters everywhere.

We found that ASICS was quick to pick up on this issue right from the get-go and, to our delight, they've made significant improvements in the v26. With our smoke-pumping machine at work, we clocked a breathability score of 4/5—a top-notch performance that makes it an ideal choice for all-weather training, in our opinion.

The light test, despite its simplicity, remains a lab favorite for its ability to vividly showcase where a shoe breathes best. In the Nimbus 26, it's evident—ASICS has given special attention to the tongue and the toebox, though the midfoot remains less ventilated.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 microscope

Moving on to the microscope, it proved to be the ultimate tool for examining the ventilation holes we'd initially spotted with the light test.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 light

ASICS has punched holes at regular intervals, a few millimeters apart, ensuring optimal airflow.

Finally, when we got hands-on with the knit upper, we loved it. From our standpoint, it ranks as one of the most comfortable, plush uppers we've ever had the pleasure of testing in the lab. The entire knit exudes a premium, stretchy feel, and the heel padding is mind-blowing, focusing purely on comfort.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 4
Average 3.8
Compared to 234 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Durability often emerges as a weak spot in knit uppers, as the softer yarns are more susceptible to damage. Thus, we approached our initial Dremel test with moderate expectations.

Contrary to our assumptions, the Nimbus 26 showcased its resilience, underscoring the value of rigorous lab testing. The outstanding 4/5 rating we awarded this shoe was a pleasant surprise, with the knit upper displaying remarkable toughness.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Toebox durability
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 4
Average 2.4
Compared to 168 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We then shifted our focus to the pillow-padded heel, which, based on typical outcomes with other shoes, we initially thought would score low.

Yet again, we were pleasantly surprised, as it impressively secured another 4-out-of-5, truly deserving our applause. Wear and tear in the heel area is now the least of our concerns.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Heel padding durability
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 164 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Another major thing regarding wear and tear in any road running shoe is the outsole, particularly in a high-end daily trainer like this one, priced at $160—early wear could be disastrous for your wallet.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 outsole

The outsole showcases significant upgrades from the v25, now incorporating a mix of AHAR+ (black, heel) and ASICSGRIP (blue, forefoot) rubber for enhanced traction.

To gauge its performance in this aspect, we began by measuring the outsole's hardness. We clocked it at 83.5 HC, which is around the average.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Outsole hardness
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 83.5 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 285 running shoes
Number of shoes
52.1 HC
Outsole hardness
93.0 HC

Outsole durability

We put the outsole's durability to the test in the heel area—typically the first to show wear for many runners, especially those facing stability challenges.

Our second Dremel test yielded another impressive result. The tool managed to remove only 0.6 mm of the AHAR+ rubber from the heel, indicating that the outsole is built to last for the long haul!

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Outsole durability
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 0.6 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 146 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

In our final assessment of the outsole, we turned our attention to the outsole thickness. ASICS opted for a slightly thinner design here, which we consider a positive move, especially given the outstanding results from our previous tests.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 outsole

Choosing a thicker outsole often guarantees durability but can mute the feel of the ride, rendering the shoe somewhat cumbersome for long runs and significantly heavier.

Therefore, a 2.3 mm thickness seems to hit the sweet spot for us, yet we believe ASICS could potentially reduce it to below 2 mm for next year's version.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Outsole thickness
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 2.3 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Addressing the weight is unavoidable when discussing the Nimbus 26—it's the glaring issue we can't overlook.

Tipping the scales at 10.7 oz (303g), it's not only heavier than its predecessor but also feels quite bulky by modern standards. While it's not excessively heavy to the point of being a deal-breaker, we firmly believe ASICS should aim to bring this shoe under the 10-ounce mark.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Weight
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 10.69 oz (303g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Nimbus 26 has fully embraced the maximalist, high-stack trend, with the stack height climbing an additional 2.4 mm from last year, reaching a skyscraper-high, 40.4 mm in the heel.

What's the takeaway of this increase? The Nimbus has long been ASICS's flagship model for max-cushioning and comfort, and it seems they're doubling down to ensure a cloud-like, ultra-comfy ride for every runner, regardless of weight.

Furthermore, as evidenced next to our digital caliper, it's not all foam at play here—ASICS has used again the PureGEL technology, amplifying the softness of each heel landing. More on this later!

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Heel stack
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 40.4 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
45.7 mm

Forefoot stack

During all our test runs, we experienced absolutely no ground feel and a significant amount of cushion under the ball of the foot.

This didn't come as a surprise, especially after our second measurement in that area revealed a whopping 32.0 mm of cushioning—ideal for long runs!

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Forefoot stack
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 32.0 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
36.9 mm

Drop

ASICS claims the Nimbus 26 has an 8-mm heel-to-toe drop, and our lab measurements (8.4 mm), taken following the official guidelines from World Athletics, confirmed they were really close. This is a rarity, since we often encounter larger discrepancies.

With this offset, we believe it accommodates all types of runners, from those who strike with their rearfoot to those who hit the ground first with their forefoot.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Drop
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 8.4 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The insole, crafted by Ortholite, is exceptionally plush with a substantial thickness of 5.0 mm.

Its considerable thickness also makes it an ideal choice for those looking to increase space within the upper by substituting it with a thinner insole.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Insole thickness
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 5.0 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 300 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

ASICS has incorporated a full-length layer of FF Blast+ ECO foam, same of last year's version. Our durometer readings showed a softness level at 18.5 HA, indicating a plush sensation without excessive sink.

This balanced approach is beneficial, given the foam's composition of EVA and Olefin, making it best suited for easy to moderate runs, as it's not very resilient.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 FF Blast

Because of that, it's not designed for anything fast that demands massive energy return from the midsole. For runners seeking that, the Nike Invincible 3 might be a better fit, featuring the super-bouncy ZoomX foam in a similar design.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Midsole softness
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 18.5 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 232 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

PureGEL

As mentioned earlier, the heel boasts one of ASICS's latest innovations: PureGEL.

This advanced version of the traditional GEL technology ASICS has utilized for years is a compact piece positioned above the foam in the rearfoot area, facilitating softer landings. True to its design, it delivers precisely that sensation, yet obviously lacks any energy return. It's all about comfort.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 PureGEL

Difference in midsole softness in cold

The FF Blast+ ECO foam isn't merely standard EVA, as we mentioned earlier, but a blend of EVA and Olefin developed by Dow. This distinction was crucial in our testing, given that EVA foams typically falter in cold conditions, hardening significantly.

Yet, the Nimbus 26 demonstrated moderate resilience in our cold-temperature test, stiffening by just 27% after a 20-minute stint in our freezer. This is a result that leaves us content.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 27%
Average 25.5%
Compared to 231 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

With over 40 mm of stack height—even exceeding the race-day legal limits—we braced ourselves for a potentially wooobbly ride in the Nimbus 26.

However, while it's not the go-to option for those seeking stability (if that's you, the Kayano 30 might be a better fit), we found it surprisingly offers a reasonably stable ride.

ASICS managed this feat by designing a rigid, wide sole and incorporating sidewalls that gently steer the feet forward in every stride. We think this approach is a good choice for providing stability in a shoe with such a high stack.

Torsional rigidity

After testing over 500 shoes in the lab, we've learned that shoe design is all about trade-offs, balancing one feature against another. In the case of the Nimbus 26, the trade-off is between flexibility versus stability.

The Nimbus 26 turned out to be exceptionally rigid, almost mirroring the stiffness of a carbon-plated shoe. We had to award it 5/5 in rigidity, so we caution against choosing this model if you prefer a natural running feel, where the shoe flexes in harmony with your feet. Consider the Nike Pegasus 40 as an alternative.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 283 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is notably less stiff, a feature we genuinely appreciated, as anything stiffer might have been overkill given the shoe's extreme torsional rigidity.

We deduced that ASICS was able to integrate a moderately firm heel counter (rated 3/5) due to the shoe's well-designed geometry and the supportive midsole sidewalls. These elements effectively guide the foot straight, eliminating the need for an excessively rigid component in the heel.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 267 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The forefoot is relatively wide, though not to the extent often seen in stability shoes. We measured it at 118.4 mm.

This design choice resonates with us, considering the shoe primarily caters to heel strikers. Opting for an overly wide forefoot would have unnecessarily added to the shoe's weight and bulk.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 118.4 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

ASICS significantly widened the heel platform to guarantee secure landings for rearfoot strikers. Our measurements showed a width of 101.7 mm, surpassing the width of many stability shoes.

This design choice contributes to a notably stable feel in the heel for neutral runners. For this reason, if you have mild stability needs, the Nimbus 26 might be worth considering, though we lean towards recommending the ASICS GT 2000 12, which is tailored specifically for those with slight stability concerns.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 101.7 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Previously, our manual assessment revealed the shoe's exceptional rigidity, as we couldn't twist or bend it. Yet, evaluating it longitudinally was still on our to-do list.

During this 90-degree longitudinal bend test, we discovered the shoe to be more flexible than from a torsional standpoint, displaying average stiffness. It required only 30.2N of force to bend, which bodes well for comfort and gets the easy-pace seal of approval.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 30.2N
Average 29.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Similar to our midsole softness test, we reassessed the stiffness after a 20-minute chill in the freezer.

Remarkably, the shoe became just 10.4% firmer, further highlighting the outstanding qualities of the FF Blast+ (EVA mixed with Olefin) foam. This level of performance is exactly what we anticipate from a premium-priced shoe.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 10.4%
Average 35.9%
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

We've found that ASICS has taken the users' feedback to heart, as the toebox now spans 99.2 mm at the same measurement point. This is considerably wider than the Nimbus 25.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 toebox

This adjustment creates additional space inside the shoe, making it more accommodating for runners with wide feet. Moreover, those needing even more room have the option to choose a wide or extra-wide size in certain markets.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 99.2 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area is notably comfortable, thanks to its minimal tapering. Our measurement of 79.1 mm confirms it's broader than many other running shoes in its category.

When it comes to vertical space in the toebox, there's ample room for most feet, although it doesn't feature an exceptionally high design. However, we already shown that the upper is made from an ultra-soft, stretchy knit material, which ensured we experienced no discomfort, a common issue with many rigid, mesh-based uppers.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 79.1 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 179 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

We shifted our focus to the tongue area and observed that the tongue is semi-gusseted—a remarkable strategy for achieving optimal lockdown.

Yet, we were surprised, as knit uppers typically come with fully-gusseted tongues, or even bootie-style designs.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

While the Nimbus 26 focuses on all-around plush comfort, its surprisingly thin 4.1-mm tongue stood out to us despite being considerably thicker than the previous version.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 knit

Initially, we were concerned about potential pressure points. However, extensive long-run testing proved these fears unfounded—the tongue caused no discomfort whatsoever.

Still, it's worth noting that other comfort-focused trainers like the Brooks Ghost 15 often feature tongues twice as thick, an option potentially limited by the Nimbus 26's emphasis on weight.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Tongue padding
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 4.1 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 302 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

The heel retains its distinctive, oversized finger-loop tab from the previous design. This striking addition isn't just visually amazing, we found it makes sliding into the knit upper a breeze!

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Heel tab
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 Finger loop

Removable insole

The Ortholite X-55 insole is fully removable, making it a snap to swap with aftermarket orthotics if needed. We tested this with several different insoles and found the process completely hassle-free.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Removable insole
Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Nimbus 26 includes a few, basic reflective pieces. Frankly, this feels like the bare minimum.

ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 Lite-Show

It's apparent that ASICS follows the same pattern year after year—those wanting full reflectivity need to wait for separate Lite-Show versions of the shoe.

Test results
Gel Nimbus 26 Yes