The ASICS GEL-Kayano is an iconic name in the world of running shoes. So, I have this expectation that anything Kayano is going to be simply amazing, and I think the 16 has lived up to that assumption. And while the ASICS GEL-Kayano 16 is made for larger runners, I think the shoe is a great option for runners of all sizes. If you’re not quite a larger runner, it does take a little bit of time to break in these shoes, but it’s definitely worth the time. More on that later.
I ran in the Kayano 16 on both pavement and on the treadmill, and the shoe performed well on both surfaces. There is great traction, and more than enough room in the toe box. The important first test, for me, is whether I can run longer than 25 minutes in a shoe without my feet falling asleep. I have a wider forefoot that is prone to numbness in tighter shoes. If the toe box of a shoe is even mildly form-fitting, my feet start to go numb, so I usually keep the laces really loose on all running shoes. (And before I realized I wasn’t a freak of nature – that this does happen to people with wider feet due to a nerve that runs down the top of the foot – I would just suffer and continue running on numb feet. Yeah, I know. If this happens to you, don’t suffer like I did – find shoes with ample toe box room!)
Along with having a wider forefoot, I also tend to underpronate. This is something I notice in a lot of my shoes as the outside of the soles of my shoes wear faster than the inside. According to ASICS, the Kayano 16 is created for neutral runners to over-pronators, and while I don’t over-pronate, I still found the stability of this shoe helpful. The Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.®) is supposed to “enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off” according to ASICS, and I definitely agree. A stability shoe can sometimes feel restrictive through the midsole, but this shoe did not seem too stiff once it was broken in. But that’s the key – this shoe needs to be broken in. At first, it definitely seemed stiff, and I noticed my stride compensating for it, which caused some soreness around my lower legs, below my calves. But once I got the shoe broken in, about 30 miles into wearing it, it felt wonderful. So my suggestion is to give it some time and you’ll be happy you did. According to ASICS, the I.G.S.® “employs linked componentry that enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.” I agree that this technology does help, but again, it does take a little time to break it in. Once broken in, this shoe is very comfortable.
Another element to aid in gait is the vertical flex groove that decouples the tooling along the line of progression, otherwise known as the Guidance Line. There is gender-specific cushioning in the forefoot via a top layer of injected Solyte that adds a cushioned platform feel with a lower density for improved comfort, and the 3mm additional height in the women’s models, known as Plus 3, is supposed to help relieve achilles tension for women. What this means is there is more reason to buy women’s running shoes than just for the pretty colors. The women’s models actually work better for a woman’s specific running needs. According to ASICS, the Gender-Specific Space Trusstic System “recognizes the normal periodic changes in the shape of the woman’s arch and provides for the controlled deformation of the arch into the space within the system.” The Soft Top DuoMax system is also supposedly contributing to the overall comfort and efficiency of the gait. I don’t make it a habit of running in men’s shoes, so I cannot speak to this point specifically, but I do know that the shoe padding felt great and ample without seeming too bulky, even though the shoes weigh in at 10.5 ounces. Also, arch support was solid and not too overprounounced or underpronounced.
While the asymmetrical lacing might at first appear to be merely for aesthetic purposes, according to the ASICS website, this offset lacing is intended to “reduce potential irritation and offers improved comfort and fit.” There were some complaints about the inside of the lacing system of the Kayano 15 rubbing the upper foot, so this offset lacing was incorporated to combat such rubbing.
Inside of the shoe you will also find a patented ComforDry™ sockliner that “provides cushioning performance and antimicrobial properties for a cooler, drier, healthier environment,” according to ASICS. I can attest that my feet did feel very cool, even during runs on warmer days. After many miles in these shoes, they held up very well. The mesh was very breathable and there was the perfect amount of it around the upper.
At an original retail of $140, it isn’t a cheap shoe, but definitely not unreasonable for a high-quality running shoe. And now the shoe is on sale for $109.99, which is an amazing price for everything this shoe includes. All in all, it is a comfortable, stable, solid shoe that I would say is good for a variety of runners. I would strongly recommend this shoe to anyone training for a race or serious runners, but also to those just starting out running. The cushioning definitely held up, it is very breathable, and there were no areas of irritation or rubbing. And with enough room in the toe box for wide feet, this shoe gets a thumbs up from me. Overall, I would give this shoe an A-, only due to the break-in time. But, other than that, this is a very comfortable, breathable shoe to spend many miles in.