Summary

We spent 7.1 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

8 reasons to buy

  • Most testers commend the cushioning capability of the Asics Gel Kayano 26’s midsole unit, stating that it was reactive and comfortable.
  • The stability mechanisms of the platform have been praised for being supportive of the foot and for steadying the foot’s anatomical shape.
  • The upper unit offers continuous breathability and security, according to a lot of runners.
  • Although expensive, many buyers agree that the superb features of the Gel Kayano 26 make it worth every penny.
  • Several users have observed the durability of the shoe, citing that it is properly constructed and that it holds up well.
  • A number of runners believe the shoe helps relieve discomfort that is caused by flat-footedness.
  • The Gel Kayano 26 feels comfortable from the first use and does not need a break-in period, many reviewers said.
  • The midsole features of the Kayano 26 offer a springy and responsive ride, according to numerous wearers.

5 reasons not to buy

  • Several people have complained about the too-tight construction of the Asics Gel Kayano 26’s toe box.
  • The shoelaces of this model have received criticism from a few testers for quickly unraveling.
  • A handful of people note that the midsole was a bit thin to handle extended running sessions.
  • Some runners consider the available colorways to be unappealing to the eyes.
  • The sizing scheme has gained a bad rep for being a bit bigger than the usual fare.

Bottom line

The Asics Gel Kayano 26 proves to be a successful update of a solid running shoe series. Most of the positive feedback is focused on the midsole’s cushioning quality and stability mechanisms, as well as the shoe’s durability and responsiveness. The criticisms tackle the too-tight toe box, the contrasting looseness of the overall fit, the apparently dull color schemes, and the easy-to-unravel shoelaces.

The shoe appears to be a worthy purchase for many despite its high price tag. Thus, overpronators and those who enjoy running on the roads would likely appreciate the Asics Gel Kayano 26.

Facts

Rankings

A top rated Road running shoe
A top rated Asics running shoe
Top 1% most popular running shoes

Expert Reviews

86 / 100 based on 18 expert reviews

  • 82 / 100 |

    Critical review of the Asics Gel Kayano 26

    More photos

    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

  • 90 / 100 |

    Why Asics Gel-Kayano 26 became my new best friend

    More photos

    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!

  • 90 / 100 | Road Runner Sports | | Level 3 expert

    I enjoyed this shoe. I'm probably going to to keep training in these for a while before I switch to something else.

  • 92 / 100 | Coach | | Level 5 expert

    The Gel-Kayano 26 is a solid update to the line that will not disappoint those who have used the shoes in the past. Asics has done little to change the shoe, apart from small tweaks to make it more comfortable, and the Kayano 26 is an even better option for long-distance running as a result. The stability features on the shoe get the job done without feeling intrusive and while the ride is a little firm for my taste, it’s a shoe that will work well for a range of training and racing.

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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.

jens@runrepeat.com