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ASICS Gel-Kayano 28 Review
By Matt Klein


The ASICS Gel-Kayano 28 is one of the longest running shoe series to date. A premium, highly cushioned, high stability shoe, the Kayano been a staple for many people throughout their whole lives. Shoes with this much history have a loyal following. This can make things challenging for the newly progressive ASICS to change things. The previous versions had minor tweaks that seemed to keep people happy over the years. The newest version, however, has some major changes that fit along with current evidence and research regarding stability. Their trusstic system remains but with a full ground contact outsole. An extensive external heel counter / plastic side walls have been added. The duomax post feels better integrated and less biased. These are noticable changes to a classic shoe that may bring in newcomers to the Kayano series while still maintaining the Kayano identity which will keep loyal wearers happy. 



Specifications (per ASICS)
Weight: 10.9 oz / 308 g (men's size 9) 9.3 oz / 258 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height:  33 mm / 23 mm 
Drop: 10 mm 
Classification: Premium High Stability Daily Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The ASICS Gel Kayano 28 returns with large updates, especially to the sole to create a balanced, soft but stable ride. An engineered mesh continues to lock the foot down on the platform well with a normal width fit through most of the shoe. The sole features a total redesign including: a full ground contact outsole, an embedded trusstic in the midfoot, a balanced ride from a less biased Duomax post, super soft Flytefoam BLAST concentrated in the forefoot, high flexibility up front, and a large, extended external heel counter. It features a stable, but stiff ride in the rear and midfoot transition to a soft and smooth forefoot. The Kayano 28 carries the spirit of previous iterations, but shows up with some new age updates that line up with some of the current thoughts on stability.



FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

The ASICS Gel Kayano 28 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is fairly normal throughout the length of the shoe. The heel feels more snug thanks to the combination of both a solid, but cushioned heel counter and an external heel counter. There is a solid, slightly flexible but cushioned heel counter that wraps around the heel and into the posterior midfoot. This is well cushioned so I did not have any issues on my sensitive calcanei (heel bones). There is also an external heel counter that wraps around both sides of the foot and elevates in a sidewall fashion. This further stabilizes and locks the heel in very well (almost too well). 



The upper is an engineered mesh with the ASICS logos on each side of the midfoot as overlays. The midfoot has plenty of room, but is secure with how well the laces interact with the overlays and the lock from the logo overlays themselves. This transitions into a forefoot that fits fairly normal in width but with plenty of stretch. This provides a little more room than traditional ASICS shoes in the forefoot (not as much as the Kayano Lite but close). There is a light toe guard up front that is not noticeable at all. This upper has the potential to be worn sockless given how comfortable the inner liner is, but I chose to keep my socks on due to the stiffness from the rearfoot. The tongue is free floating, but is locked in with the laces. I did not experience any abnormal movement here. The upper is thick in the rearfoot, which makes it toasty back there. A tiny bit more breathability exists in the forefoot. This upper is meant to lock the foot down in the rearfoot while providing some wiggle rooms at the toes without being sloppy. 



PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

The ASICS Gel Kayano 28 is a high mileage, highly cushioned daily training shoe. Weighing in at 10.9 oz for a men's size 10, this shoe has some weight to it. This is a daily training shoe and is best for mileage and easy runs. There are others that are good for uptempo work (DS Trainer, Kayano Lite) but this is for mileage exclusively. There is a high amount of cushion underneath with the BLAST foam that provides a soft ride particularly in the forefoot. The heel and midfoot are slightly less soft due to the trusstic system and duomax post. The large exposed Gel in the rearfoot provides a bit more cushioning on the lateral aspect on landing. There is a heel bevel in the rearfoot, although this is slightly offset by the posterior flare from the midsole. This causes a bit of an early initial contact with significant heel strikes. This smooths out as the shoe breaks in though. The anterior heel and midfoot are stiff as you transition over the trusstic system. Now that the outsole is full ground contact, the transition is smoother than it was previously. 




The forefoot is noticeably soft and smooth given the BLAST mentioned earlier and the deep flex grooves. Toe off feels very natural and forefoot strikers will likely enjoy this shoe. I have close to 50 miles on my pair and the durability is good. The high abrasion rubber shoes minimal wear, so I expect an average to above average number of miles out of a shoe like this.  Overall this is a soft shoe with a smooth forefoot transition and some stiffness in the heel and midfoot.




STABILITY 

The Kayano 28 is a high stability shoe as it has always been. There are multiple methods that create stability. There is obviously the DuoMax post on the medial side that is quite smooth. It does not feel very obtrusive to me and may be offset by the softer sole. There is an internal heel counter that wraps around both sides of the heel all the way into the posterior midfoot. There is also an external heel counter that wraps around both sides and goes even farther into the midfoot. The full ground contact outsole creates a guideline from the heel to posterior forefoot, providing a much more stable sole. The trusstic system also spans the full length of the sole in the midfoot, creating quite a bit of rigidity. The forefoot is fairly broad, but the deep flex grooves facilitate forward motion quickly. This is a shoe for those who need rigidity and stability in the heel and midfoot. Those who do not may find this shoe too stiff at those points. The softer ride does make this shoe a little less stable than previous versions, but this is offset by the addition of the sidewalls/external heel counter that wraps so far around. The stability is less biased than the past and should work well for those who need guidance in either direction.

I would not normally suggest an increase in softness for a stability shoe, as softer soles are inherently more unstable. The softness seems to hide the duomax post, but as mentioned previously is offset by the more forward heel counter and the side walls. The stability is integrated well and the ride feels guided while running. While standing I didn't really feel the post as much, but continued to feel that same guided feeling while running. So those that need stability, are sensitive to excessive stability and are okay with a heavier shoe may enjoy this. 



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

I am interested in the changes ASICS made to this shoe. As mentioned, one has to be cautious changing a shoe with this much history for so many people. This is one of the more common shoes I see out in the wild besides the Pegasus, GT 2000 series and the Adrenaline. The ride is soft, which will offset any post. A softer sole is inherently less stable, but this is offset by additional methods in the upper, including the external and internal heel counter that both lock the heel and part of the midfoot down well. These methods are far less biased in one direction, which follows the concept of the preferred movement pathway much better than previous (Nigg et al., 2017). The goal is to help guide people toward the midline regardless of direction to a level that is comfortable to them without overcorrecting. This can be challenging given the variability in how people move and in what direction. The heel counter and external heel counter do a great job of acting as "guides" given that they run fairly far forward on both sides. Additionally, the softness of the sole is offset also by the trusstic system. I initially questioned the use of this, but it does a great job of stiffening the sole up to create stability. I personally do not need this level of stability, but for those that do, this creates a nice balance of stiffness, softness, and stability. I am very happy to see a full ground contact outsole now, so some modifications may be able to be made to the trusstic system to smooth out the ride in the midfoot a tad.


One of the most noticeable things is how soft the insole is. There is some interesting research on trying to measure perceived footwear comfort that found that people perceive most of the midsole comfort through the insole (Mundermann et al., 2002). That makes sense given that the insole is the only thing besides the upper that is direct contact with the foot. The Flytefoam BLAST is certainly soft, but it is interesting how much softer it feels with the insole in. This feeling may change as the insole compresses, especially given how thin they usually are. Just a random thought based on some of the literature I am reading....

References
M√ľndermann, A., Nigg, B. M., Stefanyshyn, D. J., & Humble, R. N. (2002). Development of a reliable method to assess footwear comfort during running. Gait & posture16(1), 38-45.

Nigg, B. M., Vienneau, J., Smith, A. C., Trudeau, M. B., Mohr, M., & Nigg, S. R. (2017). The preferred movement path paradigm: Influence of running shoes on joint movement. Med Sci Sports Exerc49(8), 1641-1648.


RECOMMENDATIONS

The Kayano 28 is meant to be a high stability shoe, providing rigidity in the heel and midfoot. For those that want that, this is the perfect shoe. For those that do not, the Kayano Lite may be a better option for stability. I cannot recommend that change since that stiffness creates stability that people are looking for when they choose this shoe. The only change I would like to see is either reducing the posterior flare just slightly to smooth out more pronounced heel strikes or increase the bevel just a little. I think this may help smooth the transition out for those with a higher inclination angle at initial contact. 



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

The ASICS Gel Kayano 28 is a solid, heavy but soft high mileage stability shoe. Retaining its spirit as a stability shoe, the Kayano 28 brings a bit more balance due to a softer ride and more guidance from medial and lateral heel counters both internal and external rather than the post. The posting is not as aggressive as before due to the softer ride, but the rigidity of the trusstic system and the new fully ground contact outsole provide more than enough stability. Featuring a little more room through the forefoot, compared to other ASICS shoes, this will be comfortable up front but secure in the heel and midfoot. The ride is a bit softer but stiff in the rearfoot and midfoot and transitions into a pillowy soft and flexible forefoot. Previous Kayano wearers will still have their Kayano, while people trying this shoe for the first time will find a stable, stiff but soft ride that will fit the needs of a wider group of individuals. 



GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Solid lockdown with a little more room in the forefoot. Upper is very thick, a bit heavy and can get a little warm)     
Performance: (A very soft ride with rigidity in the rearfoot and forefoot. Feels better the more forward you land. Heel is a bit clunky and the shoe is a bit heavy for anything but mileage) 
Stability: A- (Great balanced stability despite soft ride. Softness offsets post while heel counter and external heel counter/guide rails provide guidance on both sides of the foot. Stiffness is high from trusstic system but should work for people who need stability in any direction) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Solid updates moving in the right direction. Less emphasis on the post with more emphasis on guided stability rather than forced via the post. Will work for a larger number of people. ) 
Personal:  (Love this shoe for casual use and very easy miles. Too heavy for anything else. Probably why I keep grabbing the Kayano Lite. I prefer lightweight trainers, so those who want more cushioning and weight will love this) 
Overall: B+ (A great evolution of the Kayano series. More balanced ride with plenty of cushioning and rigidity in the right places for those who want it. )                   

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FURTHER READING

Compare Max Stability Trainers
Saucony Hurricane 23 -
Combining PWRRUN+ with a smooth ride, the Hurricane takes a big leap forward in comfort and stability in the long running line
New Balance 860v11 - Fresh foam fans will enjoy the ride of the 860 which rolls along nicely. For those who want a heavily posted shoe that can run high mileage
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 - Those looking for a very stable, non-posted shoe may want to seek the Horizon 5, with it's unique wave design to help guide runners
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 - The long running stability favorite of many continues to develop it's Guide Rail technology which helps propel runners forward
Hoka Arahi 5 - The J-frame system wraps around the runner to help guide them forward in Hoka's unique stability design, and provides some firmness to help cut the traditionally soft Hoka ride

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Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 Review - Version 2 comes in with a new upper and refined heel. Our editor Matt Klein's top three of 2021
Nike Pegasus 38 Review - The classic returns with a refined upper that addresses last year's lockdown issues

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at ASICS USA for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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