Best Asics running shoes

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The rearfoot Gel on the Asics Gel-Kayano 29.

This article has been updated with current models for November 2022. The Gel-Kayano 28 and Novablast 2 have been replaced with their updated versions. The Asics Gel-Trabuco 10 is a new addition. The Asics Glideride 2, Fuji Lite 2, GT-1000 11, Metaracer, and Tartheredge 2 have been removed. Except for the narrower ‘B’ width, the women’s models are almost identical to men’s. The Asics Kayano 29 and GT-2000 10 have different stack heights for men and women.

We like the ‘new’ Asics. The Japanese brand has reinvented itself over the last few years, and if there’s a sign of complacency, we’ve yet to see it.

Asics has also done an excellent job of bringing the old and new together. On one hand, we see popular popular models like the Nimbus, Cumulus, and Kayano in the catalog, but updated with fresher designs and materials.

The Asics Nimbus 24 on a footbridge.

Brand loyalists will love the soft and comfortable Nimbus.

And unlike what Asics did back in 2015 with the ’33 series’, the newness doesn’t feel forced. Sure, the plated cushioned racers like the Metaspeed Sky and Edge are inspired by the Nike Vaporfly, but they feel different enough.

There are ‘bridge’ models like the Kayano Lite 3 and Nimbus Lite 3 that share the same name as the Nimbus 24 and Kayano 29, but lack trims like a medial post or visible Gel. Again, these are excellent trainers with distinct flavors.

The Asics Metaspeed in a marathon.

The Asics Metaspeed racer is a worthy competitor to the Nike Vaporfly and Alphafly Next%.

This is a clever way of doing new things. Brand loyalists keep coming back to popular trainers like the Cumulus and GT-2000, whereas runners who love plated marathon racers find what they want in the Metaspeed series.

Trail running shoes have always been Asics’s weak spot, and this hasn’t changed. That said, the Gel-Trabuco 10 is a half-decent trail runner, and so is the Fuji Lite 3.

1) Best for beginners: Asics Gel-Cumulus 24

Every brand has an everyday neutral trainer that’s a ‘safe’ pick for most runners. You know, shoes like the Brooks Ghost and Nike Pegasus.

For Asics, the Cumulus 24 is that shoe; a running shoe that combines ride comfort with everyday versatility.

The Asics Cumulus 24 in a road race.

From daily runs to a half-marathon, the Asics Cumulus 24 can do it all.

The 10 mm heel-to-toe offset makes it a safe choice for runners of all experience classes. The $130 retail also makes it decent value for money. Our full review is here.

The soft Flytefoam midsole is comfortable enough for long runs while being lightweight (10 ounces) and non-mushy when the pace picks up.

The Flytefoam Blast midsole of the Asics Cumulus 24.

The Asics Cumulus 24 gets a Flytefoam Blast stack for improved responsiveness.

It’s worth pointing out that the Cumulus 24 now has a Flytefoam Blast midsole, a change that makes it livelier than the Cumulus 23. The Ortholite insole and the blown rubber forefoot outsole help with the cushioning too.

Even with the heel Gel and a softer foam wedge, the Cumulus feels very neutral. It’s not the most supportive shoe, but you won’t get thrown around either. The transition groove on the outsole (Guidance line) also helps center the weight.

Also, this is one of the best Cumulus versions ever. The true-to-size upper relies on comfort-oriented features like a padded heel and tongue, and the 24 even has an inner sleeve.

The Cumulus 23 was an excellent shoe, and the 24 builds on that. For runners who require more room, the upper is offered in multiple widths.

2) Best for long runs: Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

The $40 more expensive Nimbus 24 is a premium Cumulus of sorts. That means an upgraded upper package along with larger Gel pads – that kind of stuff. By the way, the new Nimbus is $10 more expensive than the outgoing model.

The Cumulus used to be the lighter of the two, but the latest Nimbus has closed the gap. It’s still the deluxe model – the Nimbus 24 will do everything the Cumulus is capable of, but with superior upper and ride plushness.

The Asics Nimbus 24 in a road race.

The Nimbus 24 is comfortable enough for unhurried marathons and such.

To sum up, this is a capable daily trainer or a long-distance shoe for un-rushed workouts.

While the Nimbus 23 was excellent, the 24’s new Flytefoam Blast midsole makes it lighter and peppier without compromising comfort. The ride is neutral with satisfactory levels of support.

We like what Asics has done to the Nimbus 24’s midsole; the plastic half-shank moves closer to the foot. Our comprehensive review tells you what’s changed.

The molded logos on the Asics Gel-Nimbus 24.

The Nimbus 24 is excellent. The stretchy knit tongue feels out of place on the traditional upper, though.

The tongue flap of the Asics Gel Nimbus 24.

Ditch this racing shoe tongue, Asics.

This is a $160 shoe we’re talking about, so we get an excellent upper. The mesh exterior is soft and breathable with a true-to-size fit.

We’re kinda divided on the new tongue design, though. Instead of the plush foam-filled tongue of the 23, the 24 has a thinner knit tongue. The latter isn’t as great at absorbing the lacing pressure.

Just like the last time, the Nimbus 24 has gender-specific cushioning. The Women’s version has a 2 mm thicker heel and 1 mm lower forefoot that results in a 13 mm heel-to-toe offset – versus the 10 mm drop on the Men’s version.

3) Best for daily training: Asics Nimbus Lite 3

You’re probably wondering why we featured the Nimbus Lite 3 instead of the Kayano Lite.

The answer is simple; the Nimbus Lite 3’s higher versatility appeals to a broader demographic. Of course, if you’re looking for a more stable ride, then the Kayano Lite 3 is the answer. It’s a supportive version of the Nimbus Lite 3. Unlike the Kayano 29, the Kayano Lite 3 lacks a medial post or a visible Gel pad.

Our detailed review of the Nimbus Lite 2 highlighted its supportive and mileage-friendly cushioning. Its softness did not translate into slowness; the single-density Flytefoam midsole (with internal Gel pads) was smooth and amenable to efficient toe-offs.

Outsole of Asics Nimbus Lite 2

The Nimbus Lite 2 and Lite 3 share the same Flytefoam midsole.

Nothing under the upper has changed for the Nimbus Lite 3, as both the V2 and V3 share an identical midsole and outsole.

The 9.2-ounces weight makes it considerably lighter than the fully-kitted (and 10.2-ounce) Nimbus 24.

At the same time, the Nimbus Lite is capable of everything that the Nimbus 24 is – it’s a comfortable everyday trainer that can go the distance.

The upper is secure in the forefoot, and plush in the rear. The forefoot fit helps the pace-friendly character of the forefoot by securing the foot over the midsole, whereas the sleeved midfoot and foam-filled heel + knit tongue create a plush interior environment.

The Nimbus Lite 3 no longer has the EVA foam-filled tongue, and gets a thinner knit tongue like the Nimbus 24. As a result of these changes, the upper fit is a lot more relaxed.

4) Best for overpronators: Asics Gel Kayano 29

The Kayano is the longest continuing shoe series with a firmer medial post. These days, the midsole wedge design isn’t in-your-face like it once used to be.

Asics hasn’t canceled the medial post on the Kayano 29. While the brand doesn’t advertise it, the ‘Litestruss’ part of the midsole has a firmer section of foam.

The Lite Truss midsole of the Asics Gel-Kayano 29.

Regardless of what Asics says, the Kayano 29 does have a medial post.

As expected, the Kayano 29 has a mild motion-control quality that’s expected of traditional stability shoes.

However, the midsole isn’t without its changes. The plastic shank no longer exists. The redesigned footbridge and its sloped design improve the transition quality by acting as a firmer base under the foot.

The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole of the Asics Gel-Kayano 29.

The FF Blast+ makes the Kayano 29 marginally softer than the 28.

The foam has been softened a bit, so the Kayano 29 feels easier on the feet than the Kayano 28. An Ortholite insole and foam lasting add the familiar step-in comfort.

The Asics Kayano 29 in a road race.

A half-marathon in the Kayano 29? Sure.

The 10.5-ounce Kayano 29 is best used as a daily runner or for occasional long-distance training at easy paces.

Premium materials are used throughout the upper to create a comfortable interior. The sizing fits true to size, and the Kayano also sells in a wide and extra wide.

5) Best for overpronators: Asics Gel GT-2000 10

Even if you don’t identify as a running shoe geek, you may have heard of the GT-2000 in passing.

For a very long time, the GT-2000 was a reliable bet within the traditional stability shoe category. The cushioned midsole featured a firmer medial post that was a watered-down version of what the Kayano used.

But even the venerable GT-2000 isn’t immune to the changes in the rapidly evolving running shoe industry. Asics no longer advertises the ‘Duomax’ medial post on the V10, nor does the midsole have a plastic shank.

The Litetruss midsole of the Asics GT-2000 10.

The toned-down stability features of the Asics GT-2000 10.

Nonetheless, the midsole still has a firmer (but smaller) section of foam, so the GT-2000 10 isn’t completely out of the medial posting business yet.

The Flytefoam midsole is softer than the 9, yet sufficiently supportive. The ride is more comfortable, and the transitions feel smoother due to the updated outsole geometry. More details can be found in our detailed review of this shoe.

Summing up the GT-2000 10 is easy. It’s a versatile daily trainer with supportive cushioning and a conforming fit.

The non-sleeved tongue of the Asics GT-2000 10.

The true-to-size upper has a design and fit character that resembles the past models. Components like the engineered mesh upper, welded overlays, and the traditional tongue and heel design produce a pleasing fit character.

6) Best for tempo runs: Asics Novablast 3

The Asics Novablast 3’s Flytefoam has a soft yet lively cushioning that’s ideal for high-mileage runs. The shoe’s 8.9-ounce (253-gram) weight delivers a high cushioning-to-weight ratio.

There’s a fair bit of spring in the semi-rocker midsole, so the runner benefits from a forward-biased transition quality. Also, the 8 mm heel-to-toe offset makes the Novablast 3 beginner-friendly.

In short, the Novablast 3 is a cushioned tempo trainer for everyday runs or races of up to a half marathon. While full marathons are also doable, we recommend softer racers with a plate – our recommendations are here.

The upper has a similar form factor as the Novablast 1 and 2, which means it fits securely and true-to-size.

7) Best for marathons: Asics Metaspeed Sky

Asics has a diverse assortment of running shoes with an internal plate. The first is the ‘Guidesole’ kind; shoes like the Glideride use a stiff Nylon plate to enhance the rocker sensation. The second is the Metaracer – a cushioned racer that promotes quick transitions through a stiff Carbon plate.

The third category would be models like Metaspeed Sky and Edge – running shoes that are inspired by the Nike Vaporfly form factor. In other words, there’s a curved Carbon plate inside a soft midsole to deliver the signature cushioning ‘snap’ or springiness.

Both the Metaspeed models use the Asics Flytefoam Turbo material – a responsive foam that feels like a blend between New Balance Fuelcell and adidas Lightstrike Pro.

The FF Turbo is a soft and bouncy cushioning platform, but with a resilient overtone. And like most other superfoams, it adds sufficient comfort for marathon distances.

The full-length Carbon plate does the rest – it adds a sense of pushback under the heel, and makes the forefoot transitions quicker. Asics uses a specially formulated outsole rubber to improve the grip quality.

8) Budget road racer: Asics HyperSpeed

The HyperSpeed shares nothing in common with the identically named HyperSpeed 6 or 7 from a few years ago. This Hyper Speed is more cushioned, but firm – thus making it a comfortable speed trainer for longer distances.

If the Hyper Speed looks familiar, that’s because its design is based on the plate-equipped Metaracer.

Asics Hyper Speed outsole grip

The Hyper Speed borrows its design lines from the Metaracer.

However, as noted in our review, the foot does all the work during the transitions instead of the plate making things easier.

Nonetheless, it’s an excellent shoe for speed training and races – even though the midsole isn’t as low-profile as the previous generation Hyper Speed 7.

The upper is secure but well-ventilated and not overly narrow. That kind of fit character works great for longer speed runs as it accommodates the increased foot volume that occurs as a result of running long distances.

9) Best for 5K races: Asics Gel DS Trainer 26

It’s easy to see why the DS Trainer has been a popular choice for over two decades. Its firm and low-profile ride make this 9-ounce shoe an excellent shoe for fast training.

The last couple of DS-Trainers – namely the 24 and 25 – brought in significant improvements to the fit quality. The DST-26 gets a similar knit upper with a smooth and secure fit. The exteriors are based on a single-piece mesh, with the Asics logos on the side acting as supportive layers.

Under the upper is a dual-density midsole with a barely noticeable medial post. If that sounds familiar, the New Balance 1500V6 and Saucony Fastwitch 9 are comparable products.

The DST-26 uses the same sole as the 25, so the forefoot outsole has a colony of small lugs for a decent bite on the roads. However, it lacks the Dual-Stenciled lugs seen on versions 23 and earlier. The outsole connects the forefoot and the rear so the transitions feel connected.

The 8 mm offset DS-Trainer 26 is perfect for days when you want to build some speed into the run, or as a race-day shoe.

10) Best for trail running: Asics Gel-Trabuco 10

Asics lacks a versatile trail running shoe like the Brooks Cascadia or Nike Terra Kiger 8.

Most Asics trail running shoes are good but not great; the Gel-Trabuco 10 is one of them. We also like the Fuji Lite 3, but the Trabuco is a better choice due to its rock plate – a feature that’s missing on the Fuji Lite 3.

The unimaginatively-named Asicsgrip outsole is excellent – both from a rubber compound and lug geometry viewpoint. The material sticks well on slick surfaces whereas the aggressive lugs bite well on dry trails.

The 8 mm heel-to-toe offset encourages full-contact or midfoot landings.

The Flytefoam midsole makes the ride cushioned yet supportive enough. The Trabuco is one of the very few trail running shoes to have a medial post; the firmer foam wedge (Duomax) makes the inner midsole more stable.

The Trabuco 10’s comfortable and true-to-size upper fit fits like a road shoe.

The secure interiors aren’t overly narrow so that the foot doesn’t feel boxed in. The rubberized layers add durability and some degree of splash resistance. The ‘lace garage’ (pouch) on the tongue prevents the laces from flapping around.

We recommend the waterproof Gore-Tex version as it allows the Trabuco to be used on damp trails.

11) Best affordable trainer: Asics Excite 9

The Gel-Excite 9 isn’t particularly ‘exciting’ but it gets the job done – if a budget daily trainer is what you’re looking for.

Unlike the $10 cheaper Contend 7, the Excite 8’s design taps into inspiration from the more expensive models. That applies to the engineered mesh upper and sculpted midsole.

Though the midsole is non-Flytefoam EVA, its contoured sidewalls are based on Asics’s new visual scheme. The Contend 7 is also nice with a similar ride, but the Excite looks like a more expensive shoe. That’s the reason why we have featured the Excite 8 over the Contend.

Asics has done a good job with the upper too. The snug-fitting exterior holds the foot securely while managing to look good in the process. The heel and tongue have a generous amount of foam padding.

Also see: Gel Contend 7.

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