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Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Asics was largely considered one of the undisputed leading running brands. The team at Asics was on a roll innovating and introducing award-winning running shoes one after another. I still very clearly remember every runner during that time seeking out running shoes with Asics Gel technology.
However, starting in the 2000s, the tide started to change for Asics. Brands like Nike, Brooks and Hoka stepped in the limelight, leaving Asics — who still relied on the formula that worked so well in prior decades— somewhat in the dark. Fast-forward to today, and Asics is pushing innovation again and back on top, putting out some of the best running shoes you can buy.
A Sound Mind in a Sound Body
Asics dates back to 1949 when Japanese military veteran Kihachiro Onitsuka established ONITSUKA Co., Ltd with just four employees. In 1977, three sporting goods companies, including ONITSUKA Co., would merge to form Asics as we know it today. The name Asics is an acronym from “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” which translate to “(If you pray to God, you should pray for) a sound mind in a sound body.”
The Nike Connection
Onitsuka released its first running shoe in 1953 called The Marathon Tabi. It was a rather primitive looking racing flat with rubber soles. Then in 1969, in efforts to please the U.S. market, the company released the American-exclusive Onitsuka Cortez. It was designed in part by Bill Bowerman of Blue Ribbon Sports, the company that was founded in 1963 to distribute Onitsuka shoes in the U.S. and would later become Nike. Other running shoes at the time used a two-layer system of the outsole and what is now called the midsole. The Cortez, however, introduced a three-layer system, adding a “sand sponge” layer for better cushioning. (Ultimately, Nike retained the rights to the Cortez after the partnership between the two companies dissolved in 1971. Meanwhile, Onitsuka continued to produce the “Tiger Corsair,” another standout running shoe the company released in the late ’60s.)
World’s Lightest Marathon Shoe
Asics continued to push out some of the most innovative running footwear over the next 25 years, including the world’s lightest marathon shoe, weighing a mere 3.5 ounces. In 1986, Asics released a new cushioning technology that changed the trajectory of Asics running shoes forever and made its way onto the feet of almost every runner the late ’80s and early ’90s. This silicone-based cushioning system was called Gel.
How to Find the Best Asics Running Shoes for Your Needs
I’ve spoken with physical therapists, podiatrists, and footwear experts, and they all agree comfort should be the number one driver of which running shoe is best for any individual. That said, if you do have certain foot characteristics such as high arches, flat feet or a tendency to pronate, certain Asics running shoes maybe better than others.
Dr Brian Crispell, a foot and ankle surgeon, recommends runners with flat feet and overpronators steer clear of highly flexible and bendy shoes. Instead, these runners should seek outstyles that are more rigid and stable. He suggests looking for shoes with a sturdy heel cup, multi-density midsole and mid-foot bridge that stabilizes the foot.
On the other hand, if you have high arches, you should look for a more neutral cushioned runners’ shoe.
“Feet with high arches are historically more structurally sound and don’t necessarily need as much support as those that are already dropped in a bit more,” says Paul Lang, Senior Merchandise Manager at Asics America.
A great place to start is by using the Asics shoe finder, an online tool that will prompt you with six questions about your running, foot type and shoe preference in order to recommend the best Asics shoe for you.
Buying online does pose some challenges, with the biggest being the inability to hold and try shoes on before buying. But, Lang agrees that product review guides like this one can arm runners with enough information to make an informed decision about what shoe is best for them. And, most online retailers allow for a small window of time in which you can test out the shoes and still return them if they don’t work out.
Ahead, shop the best Asics running shoes we’ve tested for a range of needs and foot types.
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Asics Metaspeed Sky Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for Marathons
Carbon fiber shoes have become somewhat cliché. It seems like every month a new super shoe pops up promising better running efficiency and faster race times. I’ve tested them all and only a select few actually deliver on such claims. The Asics Metaspeed Sky is one such shoe. This thick-soled, carbon fiber-plated super shoe is remarkably bouncy and smooth. A steep rocker (curvature) under the forefoot helps to propel you forward with ease, while the Flytefoam Blast Turbo midsole gives the shoe a soft yet still highly responsive ride.
“Best shoe ever,” noted a happy customer. “These sweet rides should be illegal — so smooth, so responsive, so fast!”
Weight 7oz (men); 5.8oz women
Stack Height: 33mm/ 28mm
Asics Gel-Kayano Lite 2 Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for Overpronation
Like runners with flat feet, overpronators need a shoe with structure. This relatively new member of the flagship Kayano family takes everything we love about the original Kayano line — a stable and supportive ride with comfortable underfoot feeling — and packs it into a more environmentally sustainable and lighter Asics running shoe. Still on the firmer end of the cushioning spectrum, the style has a notably flared midsole to create a stable platform and provide for protective landings. Coming in around 0.7 ounces lighter than the Gel-Kayano 28, the Gel-Kayano Lite 2 a great lightweight speed or race option for overpronators.
Weight 10.2oz (men); 8.6oz women
Stack Height: 23mm/ 13mm
Asics Gel-Kayano 28 Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for Flat Feet
Runners with flat feet need a more stable and rigid shoe that will resist pronation. In terms of stability, the Gel-Kayano 28 is Asics’ flagship model. This workhorse of a shoe is jam-packed with features to keep your foot comfortable and stable over the longest of runs. Dual forefoot and rearfoot Gel technology provides a touch of cushioning, while a firm heel counter and Trusstic System placed strategically under the arch gives the Kayano the rigidity needed for runners with flat feet.
Like a fine wine, the Asics Gel-Kayano “continues to top itself,” says one long time Kayano wearer. “When you think it can’t get any better, somehow the line surprises you every time.”
Weight 10.8oz (men); 9.1oz women
Stack Height: 23mm/ 10mm (men); 25mm/ 12mm (women);
Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for High Arches
Runners with high arches generally need less support from a running shoe. A neutral running shoe with plenty of cushioning tends to be a good fit. One the best neutral running shoes Asics makes is the Gel-Nimbus Lite 2. This lighter, more streamlined sibling of the classic Gel-Nimbus is a perfect everyday companion for just about any type of run, from easy recovery days to up-tempo days. Underfoot, I found the cushioning and shock absorption to be outstanding, all without feeling too mushy or soft.
As one longtime Gel Nimbus fan said, “I’ve had Asics Nimbus in my rotation since forever. The new Lite 2 is my all-time favorite, and I’ve only had it a couple of weeks.”
Weight 9.1oz (men); 7.8oz women
Stack Height: 25mm/ 15mm; 27mm/ 14mm (women)
Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for Supinator’s
If you’re a supinator, you should look for a neutral running shoe with a moderate amount of cushioning — one that isn’t over-engineered without firm structural elements designed for stability. The Gel-Cumulus 23 is an everyday trainer ideal for runners who supinate. This less expensive alternative to the Gel-Nimbus has Asics’ shock-absorbing Gel technology in the fore and rear foot with a responsive Flytefoam midsole. The 23 millimeter/13 millimeter stack height is relatively low to the ground, so if you’re looking for something with a slightly thicker sole that’s more cushioned, I suggest the Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 instead (which is also still suitable for supinators). But at $120, the Gel-Cumulus 23 one of the better no-frills neutral trainers.
Weight 9.9oz (men); 24oz women
Stack Height: 34mm/ 24mm
Asics Magic Speed Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes Speed Workout
If coughing up $250 for a pair of super shoes like the Metaspeed Sky seems silly, the Magic Speed is for you. Great for up-tempo and short distance (5k to 10k) race days, this moderately priced speedster features a half-length carbon fiber plate and Asics Guidesole technology for more efficient toe off. Don’t expect an uber soft ride though. The FFBlast midsole certainly runs on the firmer end compared to other models, but, man, is it responsive. If you prefer a more traditional racing shoe and feel over the new-age uber soft, thick-soled super shoe of today, the Magic Speed will be right up your alley.
Weight 7.9oz (men); 6.6oz women
Stack Height: 34mm/ 29mm
Asics NovaBlast 2 Running Shoes
Best Asics Cushioned Running Shoes
If you’re looking for one of the best everyday neutral cushioned trainers with a performance edge, here you have it.
“In terms of neutral foot type, this is our winner right now,” says Lang. “Far and away, all of our athletes are training in it.”
One of my all-time favorite running shoes, the NovaBlast 2 gets a few key updates from its predecessor that take it to the next level. Most notable is the broader underfoot profile for a more stable ride and fine-tuned, more energetic FFBlast midsole. With a generous 30 millimeter/22 millimeter stack height, it registers as one of Asics’ thicker-soled shoes, but still maintains a surprisingly light overall weight — giving it the perfect blend of soft cushioning and get-up-and-go performance.
Weight 9.7oz (men); 7.8oz women
Stack Height: 30mm/ 22mm; 29mm/ 21mm (women);
Asics Trabuco Max Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoes for Trail Running
When I think of Asics’ offerings, its trail running shoes aren’t typically top of mind. But the Trabuco Max changed that. A standout in the Asics trail running shoe lineup, the Trabuco Max is a maximum-cushioned, maximum-protection long distance off-road beast. It features Asics Guidesole technology with a curved sole design and stiff forefoot aimed at reducing leg fatigue by assisting your foot through heel-to-toe transitions. Underfoot, the grip is phenomenal, even on wet, muddy and snow-filled trails. These aren’t the best for technical terrain, but if you’re looking for a comfortable, all-day stable trail runner, look no further.
Weight 10.7oz (men); 10.4oz women
Stack Height: 39mm/ 34mm
Asics GT-1000 10 Running Shoes
Best Budget Asics Running Shoes
Most budget running shoes use cheaper, less durable materials for the upper and midsole to keep costs down. Asics doesn’t think less expensive should mean lower quality. Classified as a neutral to light stability trainer, the GT-2000 uses the same high-quality gel technology and Flytefoam midsole found in Asics’ premium running shoes. It does run on the firmer side of the spectrum, so if you want a nice thick-soled and soft experience, I suggest spending a little more money on something like the NovaBlast 2 or Gel-Nimbus 28. Still, for the short run to the gym or workout, these fit the bill perfectly while keeping some money in your pocket.
Weight 9.8oz (men); 8.2oz women
Stack Height: 21mm/ 13mm
Asics GT 2000 10 Running Shoes
Best Asics Running Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis
Both under and overpronators can be more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. These types of runners want a shoe that will provide some midfoot stability. A slightly more sophisticated update on our best budget Asics running shoe, the GT-1000, the 2000 10 features Asics Lite Trussic technology to “improve midfoot integrity and support the medial side of the shoe,” as Asics puts it. Like all Asics shoes, the insole is removable to support custom orthotics or insoles with greater arch support, such as Superfeet insoles.
Weight 9.9oz (men); 8.4oz women
Stack Height: 22mm/ 14mm