According to Running Warehouse, “If you’re looking for a lightweight running shoe with a touch of stability, add the Asics Gel DS Trainer to your rotation.”
And Road Runner Sports notes, “Now with a knit upper for improved aesthetic and fit, this may be the most propulsive and stable lightweight trainer.”
Do we agree with these statements? See the verdict below.
When I first encountered the Asics GEL-DS Trainer, it was quite a positive experience. That’s because up until that time I had run in shoes that only offered cushioning in the heels. I remember excitedly reading about the gel cushioning sitting under both the heel and forefoot.
This seemed to promise that the shoe could be used for long training runs. Asics delivered on that promise, and the GEL-DS Trainer became my favorite half-marathon shoe.
It’s been a while since I’ve purchased an Asics shoe, so I was quite interested in giving the twenty-fourth version of the GEL-DS Trainer shoe a spin.
The current edition of the Asics GEL-DS Trainer feels quite low to the ground when you first walk and run in it. Initially, it feels more like a racing flat than a performance trainer. The shoe has an 8mm drop and weighs 9.0 ounces, an increase in weight from version 23 (8.6 ounces).
By comparison, the now discontinued Asics Gel-DS Racer weighed just 6.6 ounces and also had an 8mm drop. That was a true racing flat.
The fit of the GEL-DS Trainer is perfect, but only if you size up a half size above your normal running shoe size. The shoe is quite attractive – at least in the Illusion Blue/Black colorway and with a multi-part knit upper. The upper hugs the foot until foot strike when it “gives” and expands.
The insole is pretty much perfect in cut and weight and provides a good measure of support under the arch. Remove the insole and you’ll see that Asics did a beautiful job on the full slip-lasting. No corners were cut here.
The tongue on the shoe is comfortable, unobtrusive and stays centered. The heel counter is firm and the cut of the upper around the ankles is neither too high or too low.
The midsole contains FlyteFoam cushioning and there’s GEL cushioning in the rearfoot.
According to Asics, the GEL-DS Trainer 24 uses “cleverly designed EVA TRUSTICC SYSTEM technology (which) supports your movements by stabilizing the center sole, meaning there’s less chance of the shoe twisting” and causing injury.
There’s some confusion over whether the GEL-DS Trainer 24 is or is not a stability shoe. Some retailers, like Running Warehouse, view it as a mild stability shoe but the Asics website is explicit: this is a neutral shoe.
There’s a light, hard plastic brace under the arch and midfoot; however, it’s not a true support shank like you would find in a Mizuno shoe.
Confusion remains as the midsole on the medial side contains the label Duomax, something traditionally found on Asics stability models. It seems that there is a bit of a medial post – one that’s very difficult to see without color differentiation, that extends from in front of the arch on the medial side to just before the heel area.
This medial post joins with the plastic brace. It makes me wonder whether there was a conflict between someone who wanted to design the shoe as a neutral FlyteFoam-based trainer and someone who wanted to preserve the shoe as a Duomax light stability shoe. Was the shoe designed by committee?
In the words of Stephen Stills, “Confusion has its cost.” We’ll try to provide clarification on the shoe’s actual nature as we proceed.
On the road
One does not feel any noticeable responsiveness while walking in the GEL-DS Trainer 24. It feels like you’re walking in a basic, inexpensive trainer from the 90s.
During my first run in the shoe, my mind wanted to compare it to a Zoot Sports shoe (the company sadly no longer produces running shoes). However, in order for that comparison to be apt, the GEL-DS Trainer would have to be less firm and more flexible. The more time I spent in this Asics shoe, the more it reminded me – truly reminded me, of another shoe.
The more time that I spent jogging in the GEL-DS Trainer the more I realized that it explicitly reminds me of a shoe from 361 Degrees, the Chaser 2. The two shoes are similar in looks and in concept. But the Gel-DS Trainer is not as well executed as the Chaser 2 performance trainer.
Both the GEL-DS Trainer and the Chaser 2 have a low to the ground feel and share an 8mm drop. The Chaser 2 is lighter at 8.2 ounces. Both have a moderately wide cut forefoot. (The similarities between Asics and 361 Degrees products have been pointed out by many reviewers.)
One of the best features of the Chaser 2 is its carbon fiber shank, which – as I earlier noted in a review, “adds integrity to the midfoot and an overall feeling of solid presence.” And the Chaser 2’s list price is a full $30 less than that of the GEL-DS Trainer.
While the GEL-DS Trainer and the Chaser 2 share some similarities, there’s one key difference.
The Gel-DS Trainer comes off as a utilitarian shoe. It gets the job done but without sparkle and personality. I often felt like there was no “there” in the shoe. If I were to compare the GEL-DS Trainer to an automobile, it would be the Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu will get you to your destination but put aside any notion of excitement.
As for the Chaser 2, well, it’s like traveling in a Mazda Miata. You don’t just move forward in it. It comes with a sense of youthful adventure included at no charge.
Pluses and minuses
The GEL-DS Trainer delivers good cushioning on asphalt, which makes for relaxing training runs. The shoe feels more responsive the faster you run in it, and the shoe digs in and grips well on uphill and downhill runs.
The GEL-DS Trainer, in fact, comes to life on non-flat roads and surfaces. I suspect it would be a very good shoe to run in on unchallenging trails, although I refrained from testing it on such surfaces.
No doubt, the GEL-DS Trainer would be a good shoe for fast-paced training runs on high school and college tracks. However, it’s unlikely that this shoe would out-perform the highly-rated New Balance 1400 v6 lightweight trainer/racer.
The GEL-DS Trainer feels somewhat bland on concrete. And the shoe’s level of responsiveness is underwhelming.
Asics used to boast that their shoes needed no break-in period. This shoe does. To be fair, the shoe may feel more lively and responsive with age, but I have no idea how many miles it would take to get to that point.
The price point is high for the GEL-DS Trainer, especially for a shoe that provides an indistinct, numb-feeling heel strike. There’s minimal padding in the heel area – it looks like it was taken from a racing flat, which is simply insufficient for a supposed long-mileage performance trainer.
The padding on the outsole is pretty meager, especially for a shoe that lists for $130. The outsole cushioning would be fine on a flat, but it’s unlikely to provide the durability desired of a high-mileage trainer.
The forefoot of the GEL-DS Trainer is a mixed bag. Fast and fleet runners will no doubt like the firm cushioning upfront, but I suspect that a high percentage of general runners would appreciate added flexibility under their toes. The shoe has just one forefoot flex groove and could use at least two more.
The stability issue
I think the GEL-DS Trainer 24 is a very light stability trainer and not a pure neutral shoe. It does, to a limited degree, attempt to limit roll-in, but not to the extent that it interferes with the natural foot strike of a non-pronator.
My concern is that those who ran in earlier models of the GEL-DS Trainer, when it was promoted as a light stability trainer, will be disappointed that this version is more neutral. I would encourage these individuals to take version 24 for a test run before electing to purchase it.
I will say that this is a much different shoe than the GEL-DS Trainer that I first became acquainted with. That shoe was somewhat heavy but highly protective and durable with Gel cushioning pads front and rear - designed for long, punishing training and race miles.
The best-intended uses
I think most potential users of the GEL-DS Trainer 24 could beneficially use it for short to medium training runs, and for races from 5K to a half-marathon. Faster, lightweight runners would probably do better to use a racing flat.
Yes, the Asics GEL-DS Trainer 24 is a lightweight running shoe with just a touch of stability.
But, no, it’s not an impressively propulsive and stable trainer. In fact, the lack of energy return on this premium – and premium-priced – performance trainer is puzzling.
The Gel-DS Trainer 24 is a beautiful-looking shoe for someone who does not mind paying $130. It will get the job done under most conditions. The shoe is likely to satisfy the expectations of new runners who run in one shoe at a time.
The problem with the shoe is that it feels retro and not in a positive way. It runs like an old technology shoe but with a current technology price tag.
I would love to see Asics take what was best about the Asics GEL-DS Racer 11 – a fast feeling, comfortable fitting, flexible and responsive shoe hampered by minimal forefoot cushioning - and combine it with this trainer to produce something new and exciting.
Perhaps the Asics GEL-DS Fast Trainer? The GEL-DS Racer 2020?
C’mon, Asics, you can do it!
This is the 24th edition of the DS Trainer. This year's update has made DS Trainer a good looking and modern-day shoe. It is loaded with lots of techs. Now, let's see what this shoe has to offer.
- Knit upper
- Duomax midsole
- FlyteFoam Lyte
- Trusstic system
- Impact guidance system (IGS)
- Gel cushioning
- Asics high abrasion rubber (AHAR)
- Pronation: Overpronation
- Cushion: Firm
- offset: 8mm
- Weight: 240gm
- Surface: Road
- Best use: Faster paced runs
- Fit: True to size
With this edition of DS Trainer, Asics has also jumped into the game of knit upper in their performance line up. The knit upper in DS Trainer is soft and feels premium.
It has enough stretch to it for a comfortable fit. The pattern of the knit looks very nice. The knit provides great amount of support and stability.
Breathability is also top-notch. I have run some miles in hot weather, and it kept my feet sweat-free.
Asics logo is also on the lateral side of the upper for added lateral support.
The toe box is wide enough, so runners with wide feet will not face any kind of problem in fit. Internal reinforcement is also provided along with the toe box for added stability.
DS Trainer has a traditional lacing style, and the shoe's tongue is fairly padded. It does not cause any issue like sliding or irritation.
This has internally placed heel cup, which is stiff. It provides great lockdown and support while taking turns or doing lateral movements.
The padding in the heel is average but a little higher for to the shoe that is meant to go fast. At the back of the heel, there is a reflective strip, which helps runners become visible in low light.
Asics loads a hell lot of technology in their midsole. This shoe also has lots of tech like FlyteFoam Lyte, which is made of Kevlar and organic fibres.
This is much more durable than EVA.
Trusstic system is enforced in the shoe's midsole for prevention of lateral movement of the foot. This system adds to the shoe's stability while running on uneven surfaces.
Duomax is made of two different kinds of foams, which prevents overpronation.
Impact guidance system
This system helps in more efficient ride and smooth transition.
Only the forefoot has the gel component. Thus, forefoot strikers like me will not benefit from this feature, but heel strikers would.
Now, let us talk about the performance of the midsole. I found the FlyteFoam cushioning not as responsive as one would like in their fast shoe.
I took them on a 10-mile run, and after 6 miles, the FlyteFoam felt dead. I did not find the midsole responsive enough.
I suggest not taking this shoe for longer than a half marathon distance as the FlyteFoam Lyte loses its responsiveness after 6-7 miles, and the midsole becomes hard.
Asics uses their own AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Rubber) in the DS Trainer. This rubber is very durable and will not breakdown before the cushioning of the shoe.
I also took this shoe on wet surfaces, and it held up pretty well. After putting 20 miles in these, the outsole looks almost new.
DS Trainer provides enough support for mild overpronation. Runners who tend to pronate more should look towards other options.
This is the only part where this shoe let me down. This shoe performs well on early miles. However, as the miles rack up, the midsole becomes less responsive and feels hard and dead.
Flexibility is enough in these shoes. I don't expect anything crazy from a stability shoe. But, this shoe can be used by neutral runners as well as they have a hint of stability.
Asics's high abrasion rubber is of great quality. It provides great traction on all kind of surfaces and does not wear down quickly.
This shoe has a high ground feel, which is required in any fast shoe. The FlyteFoam Lyte adds firmness and ground feel.
This shoe is not as responsive as one would expect from a shoe that is meant to go fast.
This shoe is very durable. The knit upper and the AHAR outsole is of high quality and will not deteriorate quickly. FlyteFoam Lyte is also very resilient as compared to the natural EVA foam.
I think the shoe will last around 350 miles easily.
This is the best-looking shoe by Asics. It has a very sleek upper and very modern and eye-catching knit pattern. This shoe will also look good with the athleisure clothing.
DS Trainer retails at a price $130, which I think is fairly priced according to the tech and materials used in it. But, the way it performs does not justify the price point.
- Soft and breathable knit upper
- Lots of tech used
- AHAR is durable
- Reflective strip at the back
- Good looking shoe
- Not very responsive
- Feels firm after few miles
Asics DS Trainer 24 is a few miles away from becoming excellent running shoe.
Regardless, those looking for a mild stability shoe for their faster workouts, this shoe will get the job done. Neutral runners who want a little extra support can also go with this shoe.
TLDR: These lightweight, cool-looking street racers make you feel like you’re flying while still providing Asics signature support.
The knit uppers are stretchy but snug, with an almost slipper-like quality. They stay very breathable even on hot road runs.
The mid and outsoles are feather-light yet somehow still offering a good amount of cushion for pavement pounding runs.
The result is a really fun and fast run without giving up the support that you need.
Cool throwback colorways plus a slim-fitting stitched upper are a refreshing counterpoint to some of Asics chunkier, more supportive shoes.
Distance: Six Miles | Terrain: Paved Roads + Dirt/Sand Trails
Location: New Jersey | Season: Summer | Conditions: Hot and sunny
It’s 8:30 AM, and it's already 90 degrees out. I lace up the Asics Gel DS Trainer 24 and am pleased by the flexible, stretchy material of the upper.
The laces have an almost spandex-quality. This is great if you like your shoes snug without cutting off circulation.
Despite the mid and outsoles being relatively thin, I get a pleasant cushioned bounce when I walk in these shoes. It is as if they’re begging you to spring into a jog.
I head out for a medium intensity workout, aiming for 7:20 miles. This course will be very flat. So, the biggest challenge will be the heat.
Compared to my Asics GT-2000s these trainers feel incredibly light and fast. It feels similar to the way that compression tights might feel compared to running in sweatpants.
That said, they don’t skimp on support. They cushion well against the hot pavement and keep me gliding for the first 5K.
They’re snug but comfortable, with the stretchy fabric allowing my foot to strike naturally. Three miles, down 7:15 pace.
As the sidewalk ends, I continue onto a sandy trail out to a bird conservation area. Despite being billed as road shoes, I am curious to see how they perform off-road.
Traction is good on a thin layer of sand. But as I approach some patches a few inches thick, they start to show their limitations away from the pavement.
Not only does traction give out, but the mesh knit uppers let fine grains of sand through, creating an unpleasant sensation in my shoes. I head back to the road, stop for a stretch, and empty them out.
One positive note is that the stretchy material of these shoes makes it easy to slip them on and off while remaining snug on your feet. I love that.
The Home Stretch
On the return loop home in the scorching sun, the shoes remain light and breathable. The knit fabric keeps my feet cool and comfortable, a huge plus in this weather.
I wonder how well they’d hold up in cold or wet conditions. But, maybe it’s not realistic for it to do everything well.
This run was about as hot as they come. Being on the coast, I had very little protection from the sun.
When I took my shoes off after my run, they were a bit damp with sweat. The knit uppers definitely absorbed more water than shoes with other materials.
All in all, I really enjoy running in these shoes. I plan to keep them in my regular road running rotation.
The combination of their lightweight and low profile, medium level cushioning and support are just right for medium-distance paved road runs.
Good to know
- The Asics Gel DS Trainer 24 is a road running shoe that has a light and uncluttered construction. It is built for the consumer who desires a free and flexible experience on the asphalt. The façade is made up of knitted fabric for breathable support and a set of thin prints for security and durability. A smooth interior sleeve facilitates the foot and hugs it in place. The overall construction looks and feels simple, yet this shoe is also a testament to Asics’ quality designs and sound service.
- Flytefoam® Lyte serves as the main cushioning unit of this Asics running shoe. It is accompanied by a GEL® piece in the heel for extra shock attenuation, as well as the DuoMax® and Trusstic System® for mild support against overpronation. The DS Trainer series is known for providing slight stability while also catering to the neutrally pronating foot.
Standard sizing schemes were used in the making of the Asics Gel DS Trainer 24. Runners are welcome to get a pair using their usual sizing expectations. Widthwise, the available option for men is D – Medium; for women, the variant is B – Medium. This product’s semi-curved shape accommodates the natural curvature of the human foot.
The outsole unit of the Asics Gel DS Trainer 24 is composed of AHAR® or Asics High Abrasion Rubber. This compound protects the midsole foam from the damaging effects of surface contact and continued use. It is also generously layered, allowing it to have better longevity. It grippy nature lets the runner take control of the movement on the ground, ensuring precise steps, swerves and brakes.
The Flytefoam® Lyte makes up the bulk of the Asics Gel DS Trainer 24’s midsole unit. This platform technology offers a lightweight yet springy ride. It is made of environmentally friendly materials (organic nanofibers), yet it is touted to last as long as the industry-standard counterparts. The Asics Gel Kayano 25 is an example of a product that also uses this feature.
The back part of the midsole is graced with the GEL®, a silicon-based piece that’s made to absorb impact shock during the landing phase, dispersing the potential for discomfort due to the forces generated by the foot-strike.
A dual-density DuoMax® unit placed in the medial side of the platform is meant to buttress the arch and prevent it from collapsing during the running session (known as overpronation). It is not very obvious as it doesn’t have a raised top or an exaggerated construction, so it permits neutral pronators to feel supported, as well.
The Trusstic System® is a thermoplastic layer between the midsole and outsole. Its purpose is to reinforce the platform and to act as a proxy for the muscles and tendons of the foot, seizing much of the effort of transitioning through the gait without sacrificing the quality of the performance.
The Asics Gel DS Trainer 24 is comprised of a performance knit exterior, a stretchy and seamless material that welcomes the foot and accommodates its capacity to move. It has ventilation pores that permit air into the foot-chamber, thereby ensuring a cool and dry running session.
Thin prints adorn the sides and the instep. These seemingly inconsequential layers are meant to support the foot and keep it in place. They also make sure to bolster and maintain the structural integrity of the façade.
The traditional lacing system helps the rest of the upper in locking the foot in the interior chamber and preventing it from quivering during the run.
The lightly padded tongue and collar work together to cushion the heel, the ankles and the bridge of the foot. These parts of the façade are also tasked with averting any accidental shoe removals.
A velvety fabric is used for the internal sleeve of the Gel DS Trainer 24, its seamless configuration serving as an assurance of freedom from skin irritation.