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The best Asics running shoes – for road and trail

It started with a basketball shoe in 1949. But now Asics is Europe’s no.1 running brand. Here are our favourite models from the iconic running shoe company

asics running shoes

Asics is known for its performance running shoes, but its foundations were laid in a different sport entirely.

In a bid to revitalise the post-war youth of Japan, founder Kihachiro Onitsuka began making basketball shoes in Kobe, Japan. Marathon running shoes came next, and he launched the Marathon Tabi in 1953 and the leather Marup marathon shoe in 1958. Success followed, and after merging with two other sports companies in 1977, Asics as we know it was born.

By the late nineties, Asics’ popularity was in full swing, and a new technology was king – Gel™. The cushioned pockets of impact-absorbing silicone would become the brand’s signature technology, famously used in its popular Gel-Kayano stability shoe, Gel-Nimbus distance shoe and Gel-Cumulus road shoe.

Today the brand is still famed for its cushioned, supportive workhorses. But it’s no one-trick pony. In 2019, triathlete Jan Frodeno wore a prototype of Asics’ carbon-plated Metaracer shoe to break the Ironman World Championship course record. Next came Asics’ top-tier Metaspeed carbon shoe range in 2021 and more toppled records. Most recently, triathletes Kristian Blummenfelt and Kat Matthews wore the Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Sky+ (respectively) when they became the first male and female athletes to complete a full iron-distance triathlon in under seven hours (Blummenfelt) and under eight hours (Matthews).

What tech is used in Asics running shoes?

Gel™

Gel™ technology has been at the heart of Asics running shoes since 1986. Pockets of impact-absorbing silicone gel are strategically placed in the rearfoot and forefoot to deliver comfort, soften heel strikes and aid stability for a softer run experience.

Flytefoam™

Superseding EVA foam, Asics launched Flytefoam™ in 2015. Used in the midsole, its various iterations offer differing levels of softness and bounce. FF Blast Turbo, found in Asics’ Metaspeed range, is 45% lighter and 36% bouncier than conventional EVA.

Guidesole™

In 2019 Asics launched Guidesole™, a rocker-style curved sole with a shock-absorbent landing zone and stiff forefoot to reduce ankle flexion. Designed to reduce fatigue and preserve energy, it’s been proven by the Asics Institute of Sport Science to increase running efficiency. Find it in the Asics GlideRide 2, Evoride 2 and Trabuco Max trail shoe.

What are the best Asics running shoes?

Our team of RW testers have been putting the latest models from Asics through their paces over the last two months, including Asics' road and trail running shoes. The team consisted of men and women, each with differing running styles, levels of running experience and weekly running mileage. We then collated the feedback into the reviews you see here.


Asics women's running shoes


Asics’ women’s running shoes are built on a female last (model of a female foot), which takes into account that women’s feet are narrower at the heel and wider at the forefoot. Women are, anatomically, also more likely to roll inwards (pronate), which is something to consider when choosing your running shoes.

The women’s Gel-Kayano 28, Gel-Cumulus 24 and Gel-Nimbus 24 models include additional gender-specific features, including a higher heel-to-toe drop, gender-specific torsion control, and a strategically placed 3D Space Construction (honeycomb-shaped midsole cut-out), designed to help female runners engage the midsole for smoother heel-to-toe transitions.

Best plush support shoe: Asics Gel-Kayano 28

Gel-Kayano 28
Asics amazon.co.uk
£122.98
  • Weight: 258g
  • Drop: 13mm
  • Type: Stability/road

    Like a faithful friend, this veteran stability shoe has supported overpronators and neutral runners for 28 generations. This latest iteration is comfier and peppier, thanks to a midsole upgrade to the FF Blast foam. Worry not, it still serves up the stabilising roll-prevention that Kayano loyalists come for. This time via Dynamic Duomax, a sloped dual-density foam on the medial side of the shoe. Plus, there’s a lower-profile heel counter for improved rearfoot support, which our testers appreciated. 'It’s the perfect mix of feeling supported and stable without noticing the shoe too much,' commented one tester, who described the shoe as being 'really comfy during long runs, yet light and supportive during sprint work'.

    On top of its gender-specific torsion control, the women’s model includes a 3mm thicker sole to alleviate calf muscle strain, plus a gender-specific 3D Space Construction, designed to address gait differences and deliver softer transitions.

    Best cushioned distance shoe: Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

    Gel-Nimbus 24
    Asics amazon.co.uk
    £196.00
    • Weight: 247g
    • Drop: 13mm
    • Type: Neutral/road

      Designed for distance, our Best in Test 2022 winner is Asics’ softest and most cushioned road shoe – and it’s a joy to run in. After shedding 20g and enjoying an upgrade to Asics’ softest FF Blast+ midsole material, the latest Gel-Nimbus feels lighter over longer distances. But where it really delivers is on comfort. 'It fit beautifully straight out of the box – no pinching, no hot spots, no instability,' said one tester who trialled it over middle distances. 'It’s plush, cushioned, and I felt like it was made for my foot.'

      Just like its Kayano stablemate, it includes a gender-specific torsion control and 3D Space Construction, which all add up to a comfier ride and better impact protection. Bottom line? Although a tad too soft for speed drills, you’d be hard pushed to find a better Asics women's running shoe for everyday mileage and long run comfort.

      Best bouncy everyday running shoe: Asics Novablast 2

      Novablast 2
      Asics amazon.co.uk
      £146.56

      • Weight: 22g
      • Drop: 8mm
      • Type: Neutral/road

        Although the original Novablast won fans for its bouncy ride, its success was somewhat derailed by stability issues. After a reboot to address them, the shoe returned in its second iteration with improved heel support, a wider mid-foot for stability and 2mm more cushioning at the forefoot.

        Our testers enjoyed its soft transitions and springiness (which comes courtesy of FlyteFoam Blast tech in the midsole), and it ticks plenty of boxes: the toebox is roomy, the heel is plush, padded and supportive and the lightweight mesh upper offers a secure lockdown. We’d probably opt for something nippier for speed drills, but otherwise, this shoe is brilliantly versatile. As one tester put it: 'Tempo runs, slow plods, recovery runs, short to medium distance mileage – I’d happily wear it for all of the above.'

        Best for top-tier runners: Asics Metaspeed Sky+

        Metaspeed Sky+
        Asics asics.com.uk
        £225.00

        • Weight: 205g
        • Drop: 5mm
        • Type: Neutral/road

          Hot on the success of Asics’ original Metaspeed Sky super shoe, this second-generation carbon-plated racer was developed using insight from Asics’ elite athletes. It’s designed for PB-chasing top-tier runners and elites who increase their stride to run faster, and Asics’ research suggests it improves running economy by 2 percent. It’s also the shoe Eilish McColgan wore to break the European 10K record recently.

          So, what’s new? There’s now four percent more of Asics’ lightest and bounciest FF Blast Turbo midsole material, and the carbon plate has been repositioned to sit higher under the foot for better compression and higher bounce-back at the toe-off. The new upper is a lighter, more breathable woven mesh and includes new crinkled laces and a thin tongue for a secure fit. Our GB triathlete tester – who raced in the shoes sockless fresh out of the box and clocked the fastest 10km run leg at a recent triathlon wearing them – described running in them as feeling ‘effortless and springy’. 'I didn’t believe the carbon fibre hype until I raced in these and knocked 40 seconds off my 5km PB. They’re supportive, fit perfectly, and they’ve improved my running efficiency.'

          Best for tempo runs: Asics Evoride 2

          EvoRide 2
          Asics amazon.co.uk
          £161.00
          • Weight: 192g
          • Drop: 5mm
          • Type: Neutral/road

            Strictly speaking, the Evoride 2 isn’t pegged as a speed horse (it sits in Asics’ ‘Run Further’ collection), but we found this second-generation shoe performed best on tempo runs and pacier efforts. Updated with a lower density Flytefoam material and softer cushioning underfoot, one tester reported that the shoes felt lightweight and grippy enough ‘to be able to commit without feeling clumpy'. Meanwhile, others described the ride as smooth, firm and responsive. 'For day-to-day tempo and speed work, these shoes really hit the mark,' enthused one.

            Just like its predecessor, this version includes Asics’ curved Guidesole technology, designed to provide toe-off propulsion, and a stiffer ankle for energy-saving efficiency. While our testers didn’t notice the energy-saving benefits on tempo runs, the easy rolling motion got the thumbs up for being gentle but effective in nudging them forwards.


            Asics men's running shoes


            Best for racing: Asics Metaspeed Sky

            Metaspeed Sky
            Asics asics.com.uk
            £225.00
            • Weight: 210g
            • Drop: 5mm
            • Type: Neutral/road

              If you’ve got cash to splash and some lofty racing goals, this carbon fibre racing shoe is a worthy choice. Designed for runners who pick up the pace by extending their stride, Asics’ first foray into super shoe territory is lightweight and propulsive. The new nylon-based FF Blast Turbo in the midsole offers excellent energy return and easily provides enough protective cushioning for marathon distances. Add in the stiff carbon plate and the shoe really comes into its own the faster you run. 'Soft, bouncy and energised – like running on clouds, but with a snappy push-off,' was how one tester described putting the hammer down on a pacy 5km.

              Up top, the engineered mesh upper was appreciated for its second-skin fit, which was flexible and unrestrictive. All in all, a superb racing shoe that more than holds its own in the competitive super-shoe market.

              Best for speed work and tempo runs: Asics Magic Speed

              Magic Speed
              Asics asics.com.uk
              £145.00
              • Weight: 230g
              • Drop: 5mm
              • Type: Neutral/road

                Despite being overshadowed by its full carbon-plated Metaspeed siblings, the Magic Speed impressed our testers with its lively ride and poppy toe-off. It isn’t quite super-shoe territory, but for its price point, it’s a superb entry into the carbon shoe market – albeit with a half-length carbon plate. Asics has amped up the FF Blast cushioning in the midsole, which delivers plenty of energy return together with the forefoot carbon plate, while the rocker-style Guidesole aids forward propulsion at transition. Unsurprisingly, this shoe really gets going at speed – 5km, 10km, tempo runs and speed drills all hit the mark. To keep things streamlined and light, the upper and collar are perforated and lightweight. In summary, this is an accessible racing shoe worthy of a place in your rotation.

                Best value everyday running shoe: Asics Gel-Cumulus 24

                Gel-Cumulus 24
                Asics asics.com.uk
                £130.00
                • Weight: 286g
                • Drop: 8mm
                • Type: Neutral/road

                  The Gel-Cumulus has earned its reputation as a dependable and versatile everything running shoe, and this edition, which offers plenty of bang for your buck, doesn’t disappoint. Now 24g lighter with a full ground contact design and FF BLAST midsole, its lively ride prompted one runner to recommend it for speed work, tempo runs and even races. Elsewhere, testers enjoyed the step-in softness of the sockliner and found the improved heel fit comfy and secure (no heel slips). There’s also a gender-specific 3D Space Construction, plus impact-absorbing Gel™ in the heel and forefoot and a breathable engineered mesh upper. While one tester felt it warranted a little more cushioning for long runs, others gave it the thumbs up for middle-distance mileage.

                  If you baulk at the idea of a shoe rotation and prefer one versatile does-it-all option, this is the Asics running shoe for you.

                  Best long run shoe for heel strikers: Asics Glideride 2

                  Glideride 2
                  Asics amazon.co.uk
                  £186.00

                  • Weight: 285g
                  • Drop: 5mm
                  • Type: Neutral/road

                    Asics’ energy-saving shoe is designed to help runners feel fresher for longer on their distance runs. Key to this is the Guidesole tech, a curved, rocker-style sole proven to improve running efficiency from foot strike to toe-off. There’s also a midsole plastic plate, which is sandwiched between a layer of Flytefoam and Flytefoam Propel, for a softer landing and a more responsive bounce back.

                    Our testers found this firm-riding, mid-stack shoe best suited to heel strikers, who benefit most from the rocker geometry in the forefoot which tips the wearer into an unmistakable forwards lean. 'Once I got used to the fall-forward geometry and into a rhythm, my stride flowed easily at a cruisy pace and the forwards propulsion felt smooth and easy,' noted one tester. Elsewhere, the engineered mesh upper is breathable and wraps the foot securely, while the firm heel counter feels secure and helps achieve a solid lockdown.

                    Best value mild support shoe: Asics GT 2000 10

                    GT-2000 10
                    Asics amazon.co.uk
                    £118.01
                    • Weight: 280g
                    • Drop: 8mm
                    • Type: Stability/road

                      Where the Gel-Kayano is Asics’ flagship stability shoe, the GT 2000 10 is a more affordable option for runners seeking an everyday running shoe with mild support. A combination of Literuss technology on the medial (inner) side of the shoe and 3D print details on the upper deliver support and stability. Gel™ in the heel and forefoot provides lightweight cushioning and shock absorption, while Flytefoam Propel adds a touch of peppiness. There’s also a plush padded ankle and a soft sockliner, and the upper is now a more supportive knit. ‘Comfy’, ‘stable’, ‘supportive’, ‘firm’ and ‘durable’ were words used in feedback by our testers, who found the shoe ‘surprisingly responsive and lightweight’. A solid, supportive choice for daily mileage.


                      Asics trail running shoes


                      Best for trail racing: Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco Sky

                      Gel-Fujitrabuco Sky
                      Asics asics.com
                      £135.00
                      • Weight: 220g
                      • Drop: 4mm
                      • Type: Neutral/trail

                        Shop - men's

                        Shop - women's

                        Developed with three-time UTMB winner Xavier Thévenard, this shoe comes with solid trail cred. Lightweight and minimal without being a hard ride, it offers superb ground connection and includes a flexible plate under the forefoot for protection against sharp rocks and roots. Our testers put it through its paces in the Peak District, where its uphill- and downhill-specific traction patterns delivered cracking grip on rocks, hardpacked trail and technical descents.

                        Small holes in the sole and sockliner quickly drain water and there’s a lace garage to stash the elastic laces. Testers liked the bootie construction’s snug fit, and the reinforced upper kept the shoe free from trail debris. The Gel™ heel and full-length Flytefoam midsole lends the shoe cushioning and comfort underfoot, which our testers reported felt good over long durations. In a nutshell: A great lightweight trail shoe for racing or speedy trail adventures.

                        Best for long hours on the trail: Asics Trabuco Max

                        Trabuco Max
                        Asics asics.com.uk
                        £145.00
                        • Weight: 250g
                        • Drop: 5mm
                        • Type: Neutral/trail

                          Shop - men's

                          Shop - women's

                          Designed for long trail runs, this high-stack trail shoe had our testers cruising over off-road terrain, thanks its gentle rocker-style Guidesole geometry. Easily the most cushioned and protected trail shoe of this bunch, its thick Flytefoam midsole sailed over sharp objects without them being felt underfoot. Clad in an Asicsgrip rubber outsole, the 4mm lugs include an uphill- and downhill-specific pattern which drew praise for its grippiness on super-steep banks of loose dirt, and on rocks, roots and wet trails, despite collecting a little debris underfoot.

                          The heel counter is well padded and feels good on long runs, and the toggle laces stay tight even when wet. Although cushioned, this shoe does feel a little firm underfoot when you first put it on, however our testers report that this soon gives way to a comfier ride.

                          Best stability trail shoe: Asics Gel Trabuco 10

                          Gel-Trabuco 10 Sneaker
                          Asics amazon.co.uk
                          £112.37
                          • Weight: 305g
                          • Drop: 8mm
                          • Type: Stability/trail

                            Shop now - men's

                            Shop now - women's

                            Asics’ stability trail shoe happens to be a great choice for neutral runners, too. The full ground contact design includes Asics' trusty Duomax support system on the inside arch of the shoe which keeps feet stable. 'The shoes felt really secure and superlight even on technical, uneven trails,' said one tester. 'There’s no roll in them, which you sometimes get with a mesh upper.' The hefty 5mm lugs, set in uphill/downhill patterns on the medial and lateral side, also hit the mark. 'In wet bogs they were excellent, and they stuck to dry rocks and sandy trails like glue, so I had total trust in them flying down steep descents.' The Gel in the heel and Flytefoam in the midsole made for a comfy but firm ride, while the flexible rock protection plate kept feet protected from roots and rocks underfoot. Plus, there’s a handy ‘lace garage’ to keep your laces from flapping around.

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