Review: Asics Gel Kayano 24
Asics Gel Kayano, launched in 1993 as a heavy-duty running and training shoe, gets an update every year. The Gel Kayano 24 is the newest in the line-up, and some significant technology has been incorporated in the shoe design. It also corrects the shortcomings of its immediate predecessor.
The Kayano 24 is wider, with a larger toe box. However, the design still focuses on a snug fit, so if you prefer a roomier toe box, go for half a size larger than what you usually buy. There is a hard plastic wrapping around the heel, which has a positive impact on the rigidity of the shoe. The heel collar has a lightly curved design, rather than the abrupt dip many shoes have around the achilles area. There is a good amount of cushioning around the foot too, and the Ortholite X40 lining material feels soft even after hours of use.
The upper, called FluidFit, is an engineered mesh, a combination of vents and tightly knit sections. There are large vents above the toe and forefoot sides. But if ventilation is of paramount importance, the adidas PureBoost DPR (Rs14,999; www.adi das.co.in) will still be way better, though the Kayano 24 does much better than the likes of the Under Armour Charged Ultimate 2.0 (Rs6,895; Underarmour.com).
Asics has used a material known as Flytefoam for the midsole, which is made of organic fibres—what you get is extremely good cushioning under the foot, and it is lighter too compared to some other midsole materials. It should be able to retain its cushioning feel for longer than conventional EVA foam-based midsoles too. Unfortunately, this does dampen the feedback from the running surface, particularly around the mid-foot and forefoot areas.
Integrated into the Kayano 24 midsole is a gel-based cushioning layer below the toe and the heel. This has its advantages—first, it absorbs impacts during the foot’s heel strike and push-off movements; second, it helps reduce the excessive pronation, which refers to how the foot lands on the outside of the heel and then rolls inward.
The outsole is made of AHAR rubber, which is twice as abrasion resistant as conventional rubber. The Kayano 24 also features what is known as a guidance line on the tread pattern which runs vertically on the outsole. The idea is to concentrate and absorb the centre of pressure around this area every time the foot lands. This should, for all practical purposes, also improve balance while running, and assist in changes of direction as well.
In terms of running, the Kayano 24 isn’t perhaps as stiff as some thoroughbred running shoes tend to be. There is a 10mm heel-to-toe offset, which is what many other shoes also offer. There are definite positives, with the wider toe box, the more resilient materials, stability and finely thought-out pressure distribution points adding significant value. However, it isn’t as well-ventilated as some of its rivals, and you don’t always get precise feedback from the surface you are running or training on.
Yet, the cushioned ride makes the Kayano 24 a rather versatile shoe that will be equally good for training, jogging or running—though it’s most comfortable as a trainer and a slow runner.