Gear Shoe Review: ASICS GEL-KAYANO 31

Shoe Review: ASICS GEL-KAYANO 31


The ASICS GEL-KAYANO 31 has become my everyday trainer. It’s cushioned and light, and provides stability, but doesn’t weigh me down and the most important thing? It’s reliable. It costs $220 and it’s bright yellow and I love it. I can’t imagine anyone for whom this neutral stability shoe wouldn’t be good for. Let’s get into it.

The KAYANO is a legacy brand. First introduced in 1993, it’s name means “constant change,” or “kaizen,” in it’s native Japanese: continuous improvement, which ASICS has done true to form with the KAYANO thirty-one times. These iterations are sometimes mild, though devotees of the shoe sometimes moan. They fix a thing, constantly, that’s not broken. But technology is always advancing, and the new KAYANO has what’s called “4D GUIDANCE SYSTEM,” which balances a runner’s stride.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what this does, but on my long runs when I’m tired, I just know it helps my errant steps not trip me up. Stability isn’t important, until you lose it.

I’m men’s sized 9.5, and my pair weighs 305 grams, the heel height is 40mm, and the forefoot height is 30mm. These are not carbon-plated shoes. You won’t see the KAYANO on Cam Levins at the Olympics. But I’m sure he has a pair, as much as he runs, and I’m sure he likes them. Between their outsole grip and knit collar construction, the details all work on this shoe.

Plus, and this is important: the laces stay tied and they’re not made out of fairy dust and sugar—if you happen to find yourself out for 22K in a rainstorm, like I recently did, the shoes don’t immediately need to get thrown in the trash. They’re durable and comfortable and damn near indestructible. I have lots of sneakers, but I keep wearing these.

I’m at the stage of my running where I want my shoes to give me support.

The GEL-KAYANO 31 has a carbon footprint 27% lower than the industry average, but I’d argue it’s even better than that, because the shoes are built to last and don’t wind up in a landfill after two races. The foam remains foamy—even after getting soaked—and I recommended the shoes to a friend, a new runner, and she loves them.

ON THE GOOD FOOT: The thirty-first iteration of the GEL-KAYANO is a winner.

At first, she loved them because of the yellow (I really do like the yellow a lot, too). But, over time, as her running improved and she got more involved with the sport, she came to appreciate their comfort and stability. She tried a few shoes but none took like the KAYANO. A result of constant iteration, perhaps.

A shoe built for the long run, the ASICS GEL-KAYANO 31 is my Golden Sneaker award nominee for New Shoe of the Year. Hard to miss with a shoe that’s been worked on for thirty-one years.


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