running shoes

Asics Gel Kayano 17 Review

Reviewed April 16 - 2011


asics gel kayano 17 reviewWe loved testing out the Asics Gel Kayano 17.  This is considered the top of the line shoe from Asics.  One of our shoe testers has stuck with this line ever since he received his first pair for free when he ran competitively in college.  It is a very popular shoe, especially with runners who log a lot of miles and are mild to moderate overpronators.  A newer design element that has been added to the Kayano 17 is the Guidance line.  This is a channel that is cut in the bottom of the shoe.  This path slightly curves through the bottom of the tread path to help runners with a proper gait cycle.  The removal of some tread path also reduced the weight of this Asics Kayano compared to earlier models.

1. Kayano 17 Features, Shoe Type and Weight

  • Shoes type
  • Features
  • Weight

Shoe Type – This is a trainer or stability shoe.  It is designed to support and protect your feet and legs for distance running.  Most runners use this shoe type for their everyday running or moderate paced workouts.

Foot Type Fit – Neutral to Over Pronators can wear this shoe comfortably.  Supinators (Under Pronators) should not choose the Gel Kayano 17.    

Features – The Gel Kayano series from Asics always features the latest and greatest innovations for running shoes.  As we mentioned earlier, one of the new additions (actually a subtraction of some material) is the Guidance Line.  This channel, which is cut in the bottom of the sole reduces the weight of the shoe significantly and improves the gait cycle.   The gait cycle means how your foot makes contact initially with the ground and then pushes off in the correct path.  If your gait is unstable, it can lead to various injuries. 

We love the ComforDry sock liner that this shoe has.  It feels almost like a stretchy web has wrapped around your entire foot.  This sock liner breathes really well, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear socks with the shoe.  The shoe also has built in reflectors.  These are very nice to have if you run near roads during the morning or late at night.

This shoe is also different between the men’s and women’s models.  The Asics Gel Kayano 17 woman’s version has an added 3 millimeters of arch height to help with your Achilles, and it also has the ‘Gender Specific Space Trusstic System’.  This is designed to help support and cushion the for a woman’s arch.

Weight – 12.4 ounces is the total weight for the men’s model of the Asics Gel Kayano 17.  The woman’s model is lighter at 10.4 ounces, simply because women have smaller feet.  The weight of this shoe fits in the typical 12 to 14 ounce range for a men’s training shoe. 

Features and Weight :


2. Wear and Comfort of the Asics Gel Kayano 17

  • Wear Comfort
  • Getting Ready to Run

Wear Comfort – You might be convinced to wear the Asics Kayano all the time after you slip on a pair.  They feel wonderful on your feet, no matter if you are walking around the workplace or running a long distance run.  The ComforDry sock liner provides a great balance between mobility and stability.  This shoe model also features ‘Asymmetrical Lacing Design’ which means the laces aren’t totally centered on your foot.  This is because they are laced according to the anatomy of your feet (A symmetrical foot would have all the same sized toes – weird right?).  This lacing is designed to reduce any possible irritation when lacing these up.  We really like the cushioning in the Asics Kayano too.  It wasn’t too squishy and soft, but it had a little give.  The Gel, coupled with the Dual Density Solyte in the heel and forefoot is built to last. 

Getting Ready to Run – Sliding on and taking off this shoe is pretty easy because the ComforDry sock liner is flexible.  We also liked the very sturdy and solid heel construction, plus the heel collar is surrounded by soft padding so you don’t rub against any hard edges. 

Comfort/Getting Ready to Run :


3. Stiffness/Flexibility, Stability and Traction

  • Stiff or Flexible
  • Stability
  • Traction

Stiff or Flexible – The shoe is pretty stiff all the way through.  It only is flexible if you are moving your toes around in the web like mesh ComforDry sock liner.  We took the shoe in our hands and tried to bend it at the forefoot, and the midfoot.  It has a little give in the forefoot area and flexes a little bit as you run.  The Arch under your midfoot is constructed with very hard clear plastic.  It really locks the shoe in place.   

Stability – Overall, the shoe is very stable throughout, from toes to the heel.  The shoe has a nice, strong and rather stiff base.  If you are running on a road or a trail where the footing is slanted to the left or right, like a road with a big pitch to let water drain off of it, you will notice the stiffer bottom and outer sole of the shoe.  The heel of the shoe is snug and very strong.  It does have a little bit of a bulky feel to the shoe, but almost all stability shoes do.  The Kayano is designed for superior stability, and it does a great job in this category.

Traction The grip and traction is fine for paved paths and gravel trails.  There isn’t much traction for slick or smooth surfaces though.  It does a better job than other Asics models, but it definitely isn’t designed for trail running.  The Guidance Line on the bottom sole of the Kayano 17 does act as a nice little traction path as well.  The only problem with it is if you step on a pebble perfectly, you might feel this pressure through the softer padding of the shoe.  The traction that is in place does wear off pretty quickly after running on paved surfaces after about 100 miles.  You won’t notice anything unless you run on wet grass or slick woodchip trails. 

Stiffness, stability, traction :


4. Running Performance

  • Running Easy
  • Running Moderate
  • Sprinting

Running Easy – These shoes are great for easy runs, or longer distance runs at a pace of 10 minutes per mile or slower.  To test the feel of this shoe, we jumped on a treadmill set at six miles per hour.  There is a heel drop of 12 millimeters in this Asics shoe, so it is perfect for heel strikers running at a relaxed pace such as this.  We liked the stable, and comfortable feel of the cushioning in the heel all the way to the front of the foot. 

Running at a Moderate Speed – We define moderate speed as a pace between seven to eight minute mile pace.  This is about eight miles per hour on a treadmill.  It still felt very nice at this pace.  The shoe wraps around the whole foot nicely.  Another thing we did was to take the shoes out of the store and run around on a few different surfaces at moderate speed.  It was nice and stable on every path we followed.  It probably felt the most comfortable on the pavement.  The Kayano was nice though on grass because the stable footing felt great even on some bumps and rises on our run.

Running near Top Speed – This shoe doesn’t work well for sprinting at top, or near top speed.  It felt a bit heavy as we tracked our foot path through the running cycle.  Most runners naturally start striking the ground more towards the midfoot, and even strike the ground only with the forefoot during a sprint or fast paced run.  The Asics Gel Kayano 17 isn’t designed for training at this pace because of the 12 millimeter heel drop.  It doesn’t feel comfortable through the toes as you sprint.  If you plan on doing harder, faster workouts often, you might need a different pair of shoes like racing flats for a fast workout. 

Heel Drop – As we stated earlier, the heel drop is 12 millimeters.  What this means is the cushioning is 12 millimeters higher at the heel compared to the forefoot area in the shoe.  Most runners who train at a easy to moderate pace strike the ground heel first.  Extra cushioning at the back of the shoe is exactly what these runners need.

Running performance of the Kayano 17 :


4. Summary of the Asics Gel Kayano 17 Review and Alternatives

  • Summary
  • Pros and Cons
  • Alternatives
  • Where to Buy

Summary – Every aspect of the Gel Kayano is designed to give a runner a smooth, stable ride as they run.  Previous models have always been rated high, and this edition didn’t disappoint us either.  Some of the positives of this shoe include the upper ComforDry, which encases your foot in a comfortable elastic breathable package.  We also like the Dual-Density Midsole which helps correct individuals who overpronate.  The collar around the heel is nice because it was specifically designed for the differences in a male and female foot.  A few negatives would be that the outsole doesn’t provide excellent traction, however it is perfectly fine for running on pavement, a treadmill, or a track.  Some runners view this as a positive, but we thought the shoe might be a little too stiff through the heel and midsole.

Our verdict :


- Wonderful Stability

- Superior fit throughout the foot

- Gender specific

- Built to last (very durable)

- Designed for Neutral to Over Pronators

- Ideal for training runs (easy to moderate pace)



- The traction is not good for wet running conditions or trail running.

- Not designed for Supinators (Under Pronation)

- Too big and bulky for sprint training (Running on your mid-foot or forefoot)

Takes you to Zappos for some of the best selections for this model and other Asics models

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