Asics Gel Kayano 21 Review

Taking a giant leap forward from its early roots, Asics offers its softest shoe to date, the Kayano 21. Where some companies are bounding enthusiastically forward using new and innovative technologies, Asics maintains a more conventional design.

Overall the Kayano 21 offers many of the same characteristics as older models jazzed up with a few new distinctions. It retails for approximately $160, and the revamp is generally geared more toward comfort, softness and flexibility.


Asics Gel Kayano 21 Upper

The upper of this shoe is mostly the same esthetically. It features the Asics logo on both sizes, but the spacer mesh atop, hides a new inner lining, which is one of the largest changes in appearance and fit from the Kayano 20. The new lining causes the fit to feel snugger in width because it reduces elasticity in the mesh. Though, the lining is a desirable modification, be prepared to experience folded edges due to extra material.

The front of the shoe offers a leather bumper that includes triangle-like “carve-outs”. This addition pulls the design together visually, and offers a sleek appearance.

The tongue and collar are plushier and padded, similar to that of the Nimbus 16, thus, making it more comfortable for runners. In contrast to the Kayano 20, the Achilles dip and heel area implement a straight up design instead of curved. Athletes who are used to the curve of the previous model, might feel slack and roominess around the Achilles. This is also a welcomed changed to many Asics wearers.

Although, the tongue adds comfort, because of its ‘gusset free construction’, it has the tendency to slide. However, the shoe does offer a lace-loop in the center to combat the movement. The 21 includes one reflective in the toe and another in the heel.

Asics Gel Kayano 21 Sole

The sole offers the most notable changes, specifically the midsole. Embracing new technology, the midsole is still composed of three separate densities of foam but now they are softer. Each foam layer is glued atop the other. The bottom, inner deposit features “Dynamic Duomax”, which is the harder of the foams. This inner layer is meant to reduce pronation (inward motion of the foot during impact), but still offers a comfortable run for any athlete. It’s this cushioning that saw us vote the Gel Kayano 21 as the best plantar fasciitis running shoe.

Previously, Duomax was only offered in grey and pasted together with softer foams. The need for adhesives no longer exists, so combining the different foams offers a more blended tone and construction. If you look closely at the heel, you can still see some grey spots, but overall the colors have merged almost completely.

As a whole, the new Kayano removes an angled stacking under that heel that was present in the Kayano 20. It also embraces a thicker gel pad in the back of the shoe, as well. The difference in gel padding extends to the front of the shoe in a spacer design, allowing it to sit closer to the toe. Both the stacking and differences in gel composition are meant to encourage a softer ride and more flexibility.

The heel pad as also been increased in size, thus, the use of softer foams, makes the difference in cushioning obvious to any runner upon impact. The Kayano 20 might feel flatter and stiffer if you’re upgrading to the 21.


Summing up, the Kayano 21 is a stark difference from previous versions and Asics in general. This overhaul ditches the older, firmer styles that Asics wearers may be used to, and ushers in a softer addition. If you’re looking functional updates, which add comfort, flexibility and stability to your daily routine, the Kayano 21 offers the ultimate ride.