Our verdict

Not all heritage runners end up gathering dust inside our shoe closets. At least not retros as stylish, innovative, and ultra-comfy (as verified in our lab!) as the ASICS Gel Lyte III. We had so much fun rocking this summer-ready basketball shoe, and we could even wear it on days when we wanted to shake up our looks. Apart from its signature split tongue, we loved the striking mix of coloured patterns in a luxe finish.

Pros

  • Electrifying ‘90s look
  • Splendidly comfy
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Generously padded tongue
  • Durable structure
  • Breathable
  • Premium materials
  • Reliable grip

Cons

  • Tight-fitting
  • Narrow platform

Audience verdict

86
Good!

Who should buy

After all the tests that we did on it, we found the ASICS Gel Lyte III most suitable for wearers who:

  • are after lightweight trainers from ASICS
  • want a shoe you can wear hands-free even if it does not have a heel counter
  • prioritise foot containment above all else.
  • are on the lookout for trainers that offer a good deal of breathability

Who should NOT buy

We felt the Gel Lyte III's tight fit because of its narrow construction. Those who do not like this kind of snugness might be happier with the Club C 85 by Reebok.

This shoe has a combination of a narrow platform and a not-so-stiff base, which might put the shoe's overall stability in jeopardy during our test walks. Sure, there were compensatory features such as the stiff heel counter and thickly padded tongue, but the two stability-compromising features might push some to lose confidence in the ASICS Gel Lyte III. They are better off with the RS-X from PUMA.

ASICS Gel Lyte III spread out

Breathability

Even if our walks lasted long, we didn't have problems with sticky and stinky feet. The airiness of the ASICS Gel Lyte 3 was pretty effective in keeping our feet fresh. 

We pumped smoke into the shoe to see if it could escape through the upper material. As shown in the video above, the smoke easily seeped through the upper. We were even more impressed when we compared the upper's performance with that of the Reebok Classic Leather. With that shoe, the smoke that we pumped barely escaped through the pretty closed-off upper material.

ASICS Gel Lyte III microscope upper

We also assessed the material used in the upper of the Lyte III, and we were delighted to see pores in between weaves. 

ASICS Gel Lyte III upper closeup

Both light and smoke get to pass without much issue. The Gel Lyte 3 from ASICS truly deserves the 4 out of 5 that it got from us for ventilation. It's already a huge bonus that this material also feel premium.

Test results
Gel Lyte III 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

Compared to materials such as plastic and fabric, leather is more resistant to flame. We used our torch to determine the authenticity of the suede material used in the upper.

After being exposed to the naked flame from our torch, only the tiny fibers on the suede's velvety surface got burned. After removing the burnt part with our awl, we still saw the fairly intact suede underneath. The verdict? Legit. It's real suede.

Test results
Gel Lyte III Real suede

Toebox durability

The upper has overlays in the most critical area to make it more resistant to abrasion. But the longevity of the shoe rests largely on the exposed parts, so our Dremel targeted such an area.

To our delight, the material displayed moderate resistance to pressure. It got a 3 out of 5 from us for durability.

Given such observations, we don't have qualms using this shoe even on slightly harsh surfaces.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Toebox durability
Test results
Gel Lyte III 3
Average 3.6
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

To the touch, the heel counter truly felt stiff and unrelenting, so we already expected that it would display a considerable degree of resistance to our Dremel drilling.

True enough, our device merely left a scratch on the surface of the heel padding. It got a 4 out of 5 from us for this amazing display of durability.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Heel padding durability
Test results
Gel Lyte III 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Compared to the average, the outsole of the ASICS Gel Lyte III felt just a little harder. Our HC durometer gave it a rating of 89.8, which is almost equal to the rating received by the Adidas Alphaboost V1.

We do not question the capacity of both shoes to resist the pressures of normal sneaker use. We skipped and  leaped a lot during our tests, and the Lyte 3 was definitely able to keep up.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Outsole hardness
Test results
Gel Lyte III 89.8 HC
Average 85.0 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC

Outsole durability

To test the durability of the outsole, we also subjected it to our high-pressure Dremel drilling. The resulting dent is only 0.8 mm deep, which is slightly lower than average.

With reasonable care, we expect this shoe to last a fairly long time.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Outsole durability
Test results
Gel Lyte III 0.8 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

In addition to being slightly more durable, the outsole is also slightly thicker than average. Our caliper measured it to be 6.7 mm thick.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Outsole thickness
Test results
Gel Lyte III 6.7 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm

Weight

Because of the durability of several of its parts, we expected the Gel Lyte III from ASICS to be on the heavier side. Thankfully, we thought wrong. This sneaker is even slightly lighter at 12.7 ounces or 361 grams.

Because of its weight and impressive breathability, we could wear this shoe for long periods without feeling any pain or discomfort.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Weight
Test results
Gel Lyte III 12.73 oz (361g)
Average 14.04 oz (398g)
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
10.62 oz (301g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Just by looking at it, we could already tell that the heel part of the midsole is just as thick as the usual sneaker. Our caliper measured it to be 34.1 mm thick.

ASICS Gel Lyte III heel closeup

But don't get us wrong, we don't have complaints at all. The heel provided just the right amount of bounce and compressive that kept our walks and runs comfortable.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Heel stack
Test results
Gel Lyte III 34.1 mm
Average 31.3 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
18.7 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

Just like the heel, the forefoot is just average. Our caliper in the lab pegged its thickness at 21.1 mm.

ASICS Gel Lyte III forefoot

This setup allowed us to feel the ground more at the forefoot, giving us a more natural stepping experience.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Forefoot stack
Test results
Gel Lyte III 21.2 mm
Average 20.1 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

The heel was not prominently elevated. The whole midsole also did not feel especially high. Because of this, heel-to-toe transitions were quite smooth.

When we measured the heel-to-toe drop, it was indeed just around the average. Our calculations pegged it at 12.9 mm.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Drop
Test results
Gel Lyte III 12.9 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Midsole softness

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

We were quite pleased with the plushness of the midsole. It was not too much to cause instability; it was not too stiff, either. 

Our in-lab HA durometer gave it a rating of 22.1, making it just slightly softer than the average midsole.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Midsole softness
Test results
Gel Lyte III 22.1 HA
Average 30.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 28 trainers
Number of shoes
15.6 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
70.4 HA

Insole thickness

We did not feel anything different with the removable insole. It was soft, it was comfortable, and it practically did what it was supposed to do. Hence, we were surprised (well, just a little) when our caliper measured it to be slightly thinner than average at 3.8 mm.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Insole thickness
Test results
Gel Lyte III 3.8 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.3 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Stability was not an issue with this shoe. The midsole was not too high and the sidewalls were stiff enough to keep our feet in place.

Torsional rigidity

The ASICS Gel Lyte III's twist resistance was not the best when we were testing it in our strolls, but it also was not the worst (try walking in the New Balance Minimus TR to see what we mean!). As long as it's used not so aggressively on debris-free surfaces, this shoe should be fine. It still got a considerable 3 out of 5 for torsional rigidity, after all.

Test results
Gel Lyte III 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Aside from being durable, the heel counter also felt immensely stiff. Not once did we feel that our feet were going to pop out of the shoe because of how securely the heel counters were clasping them. A good but well-resisted squeeze in the lab was all it took to convince us to give this shoe's heel counter a perfect 5 for stiffness.

Test results
Gel Lyte III 5
Average 3.3
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The platform of the ASICS Gel Lyte III is generally narrower than average. At the forefoot, it is only 100.0 mm wide, making it 9% narrower than the typical sneaker.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Gel Lyte III 100.0 mm
Average 109.1 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel is also narrower than average. It is only 76.88 mm wide.

ASICS Gel Lyte III heel width

Narrow platforms often lead to problems with stability. Fortunately, we did not experience such issues while wearing the Gel Lyte III from ASICS because the stiff sidewalls and secure heel counter successfully compensated for what the platform lacked. Admittedly though, having this configuration resulted in a tighter fit, which we know is preferred by some.

However, if a relatively wide platform is what's desired for a more forgiving fit, getting the PUMA RS-X might be the better move.

Test results
Gel Lyte III 76.8 mm
Average 83.9 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The ASICS Gel Lyte III offered a good deal of flexibility. It was able to fairly accommodate the natural flexions of our feet.

ASICS Gel Lyte III linear flexibility

We tested it in the lab, and we saw that it needed only 17.2N of force to bend at 90 degrees, making it 22% more flexible than the average sneaker.

Test results
Gel Lyte III 17.2N
Average 23.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N

Grip / Traction

We did not have issues with grip. We were able to change directions or stop as we pleased.

ASICS Gel Lyte III

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The widest part of the toebox is just as wide as the average at 98.9 mm.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Gel Lyte III 98.9 mm
Average 99.4 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
111.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe is also as wide as the average at 74.0 mm.

Sneakerheads with medium-sized feet can go true to size. Those with wider feet may want to consider sizing up to achieve a more optimal fit.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Gel Lyte III 74.0 mm
Average 76.1 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
65.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
101.3 mm

Tongue: gusset type

This sneaker comes with a very unique split-tongue design. We enjoyed the smugness of it and found that it creates a lot of support on the sides of the upper.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Gel Lyte III None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Given its stiff heel counter, responsive sidewalls, fully gusseted design, and now its thickly padded tongue, we feel it's safe to say that the Gel Lyte III from ASICS is big on foot containment.

Our caliper measured the tongue padding to be 12.6 mm thick, and it's easily one of the thickest that we have ever seen. Aside from providing plush comfort on top of the foot, the thick padding also helped ensure a snug fit and pretty secure lockdown.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Tongue padding
Test results
Gel Lyte III 12.6 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 36 trainers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
23.0 mm

Heel tab

Because of how easy it was to put this sneaker on and take it off, we almost did not even notice that the Gel Lyte III does not have any heel counter!

ASICS Gel Lyte III Heel tab
Test results
Gel Lyte III None

Removable insole

This ASICS sneaker has a removable insole, and it was easy to get it out of the shoe when we needed to wear orthotics and other add-ons.

ASICS Gel Lyte III Removable insole
Test results
Gel Lyte III Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

This sneaker has a reflective 'ASICS' logo right at the back of the collar. Aside from attracting compliments, this thoughtful add-on also helped increase our visibility during the night.

Test results
Gel Lyte III Yes