We aren’t sure what to make of all these Lite shoes ASICS has been pumping out lately. It is like they are actively trying to dethrone their primary lineup with these killer lightweight, high performing, and amazing looking alternative versions. The ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite is no exception and after logging plenty of miles and getting up close and personal with them, we can say that honestly the shoe is better than you might expect and you shouldn’t let the stability moniker deter you.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Seriously one of the best stability shoes we’ve seen in a while.
- Might make you rethink sticking with the standard Kayano…
- Weighs in at 9oz or 255g for a US Men’s 9, 7.6oz or 215g for a US Women’s 7.
- Features 23mm of cushion (25mm for Women) and has a 10mm heel/toe drop (13mm for Women).
- Retails at $160.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
First off, the best thing we can say about this shoe is that it doesn’t feel like a stability shoe. The traditional stability elements are hidden in such a way that you don’t really even know they’re there. The use of elements like their 3D Space Construction to help aid with pronation show real innovation and then you still get the same great FlyteFoam midsole we find on many of their other shoes as of late. However, one of the simplest and best changes we are seeing and this also occurs on the Nimbus Lite 2 as well is an overall wider midsole footprint. The widening of the midsole allows for greater total landing area and improves stability almost without any of their other features.
On the foot, the recycled mesh upper feels plush against your foot and yet it still breathes really well. The front half of the shoe has a nice amount of volume for plenty of movement, then the decently padded tongue, collar and heel counter lock you into place in that rear foot. Without even running in them, the shoe will pretty much sell itself just based on upper feel alone. As we get down into the midsole, we have said before that the FlyteFoam runs on the firmer side so while there is cushioning, it definitely skews more responsive.
Out in a run, those stability elements kick in and that 3D Space Construction does show its head, but not in the way of traditional post or truss system would, it is minor and dare we say non-intrusive. This makes it more accessible for lighter support needs and even those looking for a little bit extra during recovery. The shoe can still move really well in addition, so you’re not sacrificing a lot like you typically do in other stability leaning shoes. The lighter weight here is definitely a huge selling point and getting back that almost an ounce and a half from the main Kayano is a big deal.
Now the big question after running in the Kayano Lite is why would we ever go back to the mainstream version. ASICS inevitably will introduce new elements to those shoes, but if we are being totally honest we would invest more in this area, build-out the color options and focus on these new technologies which are enabling stable yet still lighter rides. We can’t imagine going back to an almost 12oz Kayano after this. It will be really interesting to see where are ASICS goes from here.
The upper on the Kayano Lite is really a pleasure as we said. It features a recycled mesh upper that breathes well. As you reach mid-foot, you get a bit of mid-foot support for lateral movement control. The tongue is moderately padded and non gusseted, but moves very little during run. The actual collar is well-padded and very soft against your heel and achilles and that big external heel counter we typically see on this shoe has been moved inside with only an overlay on the exterior.
The midsole on here primarily one big piece of FlyteFoam which is geared more towards responsiveness over cushioning. ASICS has also included their traditional GEL technology in the front and rear to help with some of that lack of cushion. It is definitely going to sit more on the firmer side so don’t expect a soft run here.
The outsole uses a sponge version of their traditional high abrasion rubber (AHAR) which provides better traction and durability over the long haul. You have a significant amount in the forefoot, and then kind of a “j” shape that outlines the heel. As with most ASICS shoes, the sole is not going to be the place it breaks down. This will last.
Style & Aesthetics
The only drawback here is that the Kayano Lite only comes in a single color although the good news is both the men’s and women’s version are decent looking. We would have appreciated a slightly darker upper material as the white/grey shows wear a bit, but overall it is a good looking shoe.
We have to be honest, most of the time stability shoes are heavy and clunky and really just not a ton of fun to run in unless you really need it. Some do stand out and in this case, the ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite REALLY stands out. About the only real complaint we could point to is the aesthetically lighter upper which is really a stretch. It is made from recycled materials, provides solid stability, has a nice wide landing area, weighs under 10oz, the list just keeps on going. So if you need moderate stability, even just for your recovery days, then give this a look. Honestly, the standard Kayano has a real tough act to follow.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.