Asics Gel Kayano 28 review and lab test

Wow, a truly NEW Kayano!!

Ultimately this is a great update to the 27th version of the Asics Gel Kayano. If you are a die-hard Kayano runner, this shoe is very similar to past versions: the tongue, ankle collar and fit are all the same. But, the new version is a touch more breathable, flexible, cushioned, and overall more fun to run in. 

Pieces of the Asics Gel Kayano 28

Who the shoe is (not) for 

The Asics Gel Kayano 28 is for the runner that needs extra stability under foot to help with overpronation. It’s a daily trainer that’s been completely updated for 2021 with fresh, exciting midsole materials and a less rigid design letting your foot flex through your gait cycle. 

Don’t buy the Kayano if:

  • you are a neutral runner, 
  • you’re looking for a non-plush shoe for warmer climates, or if
  • you suffer from heel slip issues or just enjoy a deep feeling heel cup (then have a look at the Skechers Forza 4 Hyper or the Hoka Gaviota 3).

Familiar Kayano fit

The new Kayano 28 fits a lot like all the past Kayanos, so if you are a legacy Kayano runner, you will probably like how this new, updated version fits your foot. 

Asics Gel Kayano 28 profile photo

There’s plenty of room in the toe box, and the updated upper stretches a bit more than the past version making for plenty of wiggle room up front. 

As utilitarian as possible

Ideally, the Kayano is an everyday trainer, it’s not super fast, or super cushioned, it’s utilitarian. 

It gets the job done and now that it's finally comfortable it can act as a single rotation shoe coming out of the closet both on race day and for long slow days. 

No lace bite in Kayano 28 

The midfoot lockdown is fine, though there’s still no gusseted tongue on the Kayano 28 (Asics, I hope you are listening).

Lacing on Asics Gel Kayano 28

But, you can lace these up tight without concern thanks to the insanely thick, 14mm padded tongue (the average tongue is just 5.8mm thick FYI). 

Tongue on Asics Gel Kayano 28

Heel slips in Asics Gel Kayano 28 

My main complaint with the fit of the Kayano 28 is the heel that still feels too shallow and my heel still slipped and rubbed against the back of the shoe.

Unbelievably comfortable  

One of the big reasons I’ve hated the Kayano for so long is it just wasn’t comfortable to me. The big, hard, plastic medial post just didn’t work under my foot. It was too stiff, the shoe didn’t flex well, and I could feel the shoe fighting my feet on every step. 

The Kayano 28 solves almost all its past comfort issues. Asics gave this iteration a new midsole material, FlyteFoam Blast (FF Blast), the same foam on the insanely plush Novablast 2, and it’s fantastic. 

Midsole on Asics Gel Kayano 28

They also updated the insole to a plump 4.9mm thick Ortholite insert, giving the Gel Kayano 28 a much more forgiving feel under foot. 

I hate to admit it, but I actually enjoyed running in this shoe, a lot!

Stable and responsive 

The ride has improved as well.

Gel pack on Asics Gel Kayano 28

The new midsole material is a bit more responsive and peppy than past iterations and the shoe finally flexes with your foot. 

Now, this is not a rockered shoe or something with a ton of spring or a carbon plate by any means.

It doesn’t do any fancy tricks, but it’s a utilitarian shoe for people that pronate and is an ideal daily trainer for anyone that needs the extra support the Kayano offers. 

Kayano is losing weight, finally!

With these new updates, the Kayano lost half an ounce.

Weight of Asics Gel Kayano 28

That’s admirable. At 10.6 ounces (301g) the new Kayano 28 is starting to compete with other stability shoes and doesn’t feel as clunky as older models. 

It still has a long way to go to be considered lightweight, but in this category it’s acceptable and it’s heading in the right direction for sure. 

Half of the Asics Gel Kayano 28

Asics just needs to drop some of the excessive padding now, the ankle collar in these shoes is a bit overdone, at 13.2, 17, 17.8mm (front, middle, rear) it's way more than the average shoe (8, 11.2, 10.5mm) and ultimately unneeded. 

Heel padding in Asics Gel Kayano 28

I am also happy that the plastic exoskeleton heel clutch is finally a thing of the past! Was Asics listening when I told them to ditch it on the 27

Durability level: Kayano

This shoe has been around for 28 years, and there’s a lot of runners still rocking Kayanos from years past. I have no concern with durability, especially if you are a heel striker. 

The heel rubber on the outsole is 31.5% stiffer than the forefoot, way above the average difference, meaning, if you land heels first you’ll have plenty of dense outsole material to take the long-term abuse. 

Outsole on Asics Gel Kayano 28

Kayano 28 could be more breathable

The upper on the Kayano 28 has been updated, and it’s more breathable than past versions, but this is still a very plush shoe with a lot of foam, padding, and material over the top of your foot. 

I think it’s a bit warm and would love to see Asics innovate a bit more on the 29 with its use of upper materials.

Upper on Asics Gel Kayano 28

There are lighter, more breathable options out there. 

Longer than ever

One odd thing that happened in this update, the shoe got significantly longer. At 303.79mm, it’s almost 15mm longer than the Kayano 27, and one of the longer shoe’s we’ve tested. 

Length of Asics Gel Kayano 28

The shoe runs stable, and I assume this added length is to help balance out the shoe now that it doesn’t have its trusty medial post. 

Conclusion 

It took a long time but finally Asics made some real improvements to the legendary Gel Kayano. I am not a long-time Asics Gel Kayano fanatic like some people out there. Honestly, I think this shoe has been lousy in the past, but I have to hand it to Asics, they’ve made improvements that have me really rethinking the brand lately, and this new Kayano is no exception.

The FF Blast midsole material is a wonderful upgrade and the cupped rubber support insert allows the shoe to flex while still offering the support pronators need without the antiquated plastic post. 

I don’t know Asics’ motivations behind these changes, but this is a better Gel Kayano and I think a logical bridge to encourage venerable Kayano runners to see that the Kayano Lite and traditional Kayano may soon be one and the same.

Complete lab-specs overview 

Asics Gel Kayano 28
Weight - Left (g) 302
Weight - Right (g)  301
Weight - Insole (g) 28
Weight - Lace (g)  3.9
Length - Overall (mm) 303.79
Length - Insole (mm) 282.4
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 113.4
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 94.4
Width Midsole - Middle (mm) 75.8
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 99.7
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 82.2
Width Upper - Middle (mm) 76.4
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 23.1
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 31.8
Stack - Forefoot without insole (mm) 17.4
Stack - Heel without insole (mm) 25.9
Insole Thickness (mm) 4.9
Drop (mm) 8.7
Outsole thickness (Forefoot) (mm) 3.94
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 4.18
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A
Laces (without stretch) (inches) 59
Laces (with stretch) (inches) 69
Lace Stretch  16.95%
Laces - Thickness (Height) (mm) 1.5
Laces - Width (mm) 5.5
Room temperature (F) 59.9
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Room temperature) (HC) 62.8
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 82.7
Outsole % of change from Heel to Forefoot (Room temperature) 31.56%
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Room temperature) (HA) 22.3
Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Room temperature) (HA) N/A
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 19.5
Durometer Insole (Room temperature) (HA) 13.8
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 25.6
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) (HC) 76.0
Durometer Outsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) (HC) 81.5
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour) (HA) 29.2
Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Freezer 1 hour) (HA) N/A
Durometer Midsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour) (HA) 29.5
Durometer Insole (Freezer 1 hour) (HA) 19.7
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 1 hour) (N)38.3 38.3
Durometer Outsole Forefoot (% change with temperature) 20.95%
Durometer Outsole Heel (% change with temperature) -1.41%
Durometer Midsole Forefoot (% change with temperature) 30.60%
Durometer Midsole Heel (% change with temperature) 51.28%
Durometer Insole (% change with temperature) 42.17%
Flexibility of the shoe (% change with temperature) 49.45%
Thickness - Heel Counter/Insert (mm) 2.5
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Front) (mm) 13.2
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Middle) (mm) 17
Thickness - Ankle Collar (Back) (mm) 17.8
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 14
Flexibility of the heel counter (N) 83.0
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 25.2
Longitudinal flexibility (0-5,0 being the stiffest) 3
Torsional flexibility (0-5, 0 being the stiffest) 2
Heel counter material Plastic
Tongue: gusset type none
Tongue gusset material N/A
Laces: profile  Flat
Laces: material braided nylon
Laces: extra hole  yes
Laces: are they long enough to use the extra hole  yes
Heel: pull tab  none
Insole: removable yes
Control devices:
Multi-density midsole
Rigid heel counter
Elevated medial insole under arch
Supportive tensioned medial upper
Medial flare
Thermoplastic medial post

yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes

How minimalist the shoe is in % 26

Note: all the tests were done on a men's shoe US size 9. 

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 305g / Women 271g
Drop: Men 10mm / Women 13mm
Arch support: Stability
Forefoot height: Men 13mm / Women 12mm
Heel height: Men 23mm / Women 25mm
Collection: Asics Gel, Asics Gel Kayano, Asics Flyte Foam, Asics AHAR

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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

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.