Our verdict

Still staying true to its Kayano roots, the Kayano 28 retains its hallmark of stability and support while seeing some updates that translate to amped-up comfort and flexibility in my wear tests. And with better flex, the shoe was just overall fun! Although designed as a daily trainer, I also find it fitting as a standalone shoe that you can take out of the closet during race day and on long, slow miles.

Pros

  • Familiar Kayano fit
  • Roomier toebox
  • No lace bite
  • Added pep
  • No medial post
  • Lost weight
  • Kayano durability

Cons

  • Heel slipping
  • Overly plush
  • Runs warm

Audience verdict

90
Superb!

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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

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Who the shoe is (not) for 

The ASICS Gel Kayano 28 is for the runner who needs extra stability underfoot 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. 

I don’t think you should buy the Kayano 28 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. I recommend having 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 tonne 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 shoes 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.