RoadShoe ReviewsSite Feature

Best ASICS Running Shoes 2021 | A Guide From Real Runners

What You Need To Know

  • We break down our top 10 best ASICS running shoes to date
  • From racing to tempo to slow days to trails, we got you covered
  • Any questions? Drop it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s get you educated

NOTE: This is an ongoing list and is constantly updated to reflect our current opinion.

American running companies seem to dominate the landscape nowadays, but it’s tough to top the long and storied history of ASICS. Originally launched as Onitsuka Tiger, the Japanese shoe company has over 70 years of experience packed into its laces. That’s good news for you, as there’s an extensive list of shoes to fall in love with. Here are our picks for the best ASICS running shoes to get you pounding out the miles.

If you’ve read any of our ASICS reviews in past years, you know that they tended to start with feelings of dread. In a lot of ways, it seemed the company had turned stale. Lucky for us, the company has hit a serious stride in the past year or so with completely new models and improved designs. Our recommendations are packed with plenty of new hotness, but we can’t forget a few of the workhorses that got ASICS to where it is today.

It’s hard to pick just a few favorites, so let’s get to it.


ASICS 101: What To Look For

ASICS has had more than enough time to create some impressive running tech, and that means a long list of cutting-edge terms. It’s pretty easy to get lost in all of the jargon, so here’s a bit of a primer to get you started:

  • GEL cushioning: ASICS’ best-known midsole technology, GEL is found in most running shoes and helps to absorb some of the impact of your stride. It’s never deployed as a standalone GEL midsole.
  • Trusstic system: Outsole support that mirrors the structure of your foot to provide support. Depending on its application, Trusstic systems can also help increase responsiveness during your run.
  • Flytefoam: ASICS’ primary midsole foam , designed to provide a lightweight shoe without sacrificing cushion and protection. FlyteFoam is tuned in different ways across ASICS products to optimize performance.?
  • Flytefoam Blast: ASICS’ newest and most promising foam. Light and airy, compresses easily for a soft underfoot feel while also delivering an energetic bounce with each stride. Found in the NOVABLAST.
  • GuideSole: Rocker-like midsole design for reduced ankle movement and more efficient strides, helping runners expend less energy and go further. Found on the GlideRide, EvoRide and MetaRacer.
  • Guidance line: Outsole groove that runs from heel to toe, boosts stability.
  • AHAR rubber: More like AHARD, high-abrasion rubber that’s designed to be twice as tough as standard outsoles. Think of it as the shoe version of a car tire.

The Best ASICS Running Shoes

? GEL-Nimbus Lite 2

best asics

Use: Daily training | Men’s drop: 10 mm | Women’s drop: 13mm | Price: $150

The first shoe on our list allows our toes to do the typing. You can’t actually get the brand-new GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 quite yet (releases 1/1/2021), but when it drops it’ll be a real treat. Our review is still fresh off the press, and Thomas called it a “huge leap from the GEL-Nimbus Lite.” Robbe even went as far as to compare the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 to the Nike Epic React, his favorite running shoe ever (though the upper isn’t as good).

As for the shoe itself, it stars a tech-infused midsole of eco-friendly FLYTEFOAM with pockets of GEL in the heel and behind the big toe for a comfortably plush ride. The wide base provides a solid, stable landing, and the foam color really pops. The men’s version literally comes in Reborn Blue, as if that didn’t tell you that ASICS is getting back on the right track. All of our reviewers noted that the upper offered just the right amount of padding, though it can tend to run warm when you get around to those summer miles.

The GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 also puts a premium on sustainability. The upper utilizes approximately 80% recycled polyester and as mentioned, the eco-friendly FlyteFoam midsole blends cellulose nanofibers, more specifically, the waste product from the sugar cane manufacturing process to reduce weight and increase durability. It comes in 100% recycled packaging to boot.?

What else is there to say besides the fact that Robbe, Thomas, and Meaghan all called it the best ASICS running shoe they’ve experienced? Releases 1/1/2021, pre-order now using the links below.

Read The Review Shop Nimbus Lite – Men Shop Nimbus Lite – Women

??GEL-Kayano Lite

best asics

Use: Daily training | Men’s drop: 10 mm | Women’s drop: 13 mm | Price: $160

Sticking with the Lite theme, we’re also big fans of the GEL-Kayano Lite. We can’t really say that we understand the need for two different versions, but ASICS isn’t kidding about shedding the weight — the Kayano Lite comes in at two ounces lighter than the standard version. The Kayano Lite keeps the signature silhouette of the heavier shoe and it’s packed with plenty of updated tech, though most of it is hidden safely inside the midsole.

Stability is achieved through ASICS’ new 3D Space Construction technology. Engineered differently for men and women, ASICS imprints shapes into specific areas of the midsole to allow the runner’s foot to engage the stability technology. Allowing for a more subtle but highly effective stability trainer.??

ASICS’ GEL-Kayano Lite bids farewell to the exposed Trusstic system, and it’s pretty much down to a one-piece, approximately 80% recycled mesh upper and a thick, juicy FLYTEFOAM midsole. All of our reviewers seem poised to keep the Kayano Lite around for future runs though it’s not one for wide-footed runners. It only comes in regular width, much to Jarrett’s chagrin.

Read The Review Shop Kayano Lite – Men Shop Kayano Lite – Women

? GEL-Cumulus 22

best asics

Use: Daily training | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $120

If the Lite running shoes are the ghost of ASICS’ future, and the GT 2000-9 is the ghost of ASICS’ past, then the revamped Cumulus 22 is the perfect shoe to bridge the gap. It has a few classic features like exposed GEL, but it also makes important moves like trimming off a few ounces. The Cumulus is no spring chicken on version 22, though the key redesigns freshen the newest model.

One of our reviewers’ favorite features on the Cumulus 22 is the revamped upper. More perforations allow for more airflow so you can actually pound out some miles in the hot summer weather and 3D printed tiger stripes give the midfoot support a welcome boost. If you’re going for a more conventional daily trainer from ASICS, this is probably going to be our number one pick.

Read The Review Shop Cumulus 22 – Men Shop Cumulus 22 – Women

? NovaBlast

best asics

Use: Daily trainer for those who like a soft shoe | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $130

It’s easy to talk about taking a new direction, but sometimes you need a funky, angular midsole to really get the point across. How different is the Novablast? Well, you won’t find a spot of GEL anywhere on this shoe for starters. It rides on a thicc sole of FLYTEFOAM Blast, which offers way more bounce than your standard ASICS running shoe.?

Under all of that foam you’ll find an AHARPLUS outsole that’s three-times as tough as most shoes can offer. And take a look at that colorway — talk about clean. As much as it’s a step in the right direction, a stability shoe the Novablast is not. You Letterkenny folks can call it Squirrelly Dan, ‘cause this trainer is unstable as hell starting out but stabilizes once you get going.

This is definitely a shoe that made a splash in 2020 (and the shoe that Sara Hall wore for daily mileage in her lead-up to her 2nd place finish at the 2020 London Marathon). We can’t wait to see what’s coming in the next version.

Read The Review Shop NovaBlast – Men Shop NovaBlast – Women

??GEL-Nimbus 23

ASICS GEL-NIMBUS 23 - HEEL

Use: Daily training, easy runs | Men’s drop: 10 mm | Women’s drop: 13 mm | Price: $150

ASICS bounces back and forth between new hotness and old reliables like this one, the GEL-Nimbus 23. Call it old faithful, ’cause we’re nearing the quarter-century mark for this shoe. In the newest version, we have a gender-specific Trusstic system, two types of Flytefoam, AHAR+ rubber outsole, and more, all rolled into one big, high-tech smoothie of a shoe.?

Not much has changed since version 22, except this shoe looks a lot cooler and has more of that exposed GEL in the heel (there’s also a bit of embedded GEL in the forefoot).

The engineered mesh lays on your foot with just the right amount of padding and it won’t overheat. This is a shoe for people who want a solid trainer to log months of mileage. It ain’t fancy, but it works hard – it carries its food in a metal lunch pail to the construction site and doesn’t leave until the job is done.

Read The Review Shop Nimbus 23 – Men Shop Nimbus 23 – Women

??GlideRide

asics glideride

Use: Rockin’ through easy miles | Drop: 5 mm | Price: $150

You want a rocker? ASICS will give you a rocker, and that rocker’s name is GlideRide. Thomas was our only reviewer to lace ‘em up, and you might want to save his full thoughts for later if you still got an hour before lunch. He equates the midsole to goat cheese — it’s weird, but like in a good way. In fact, it’s a goat cheese sandwich thanks to the layers of FLYTEFOAM and the pocket of GEL in the heel.

The GlideRide is also the perfect ASICS running shoe for short dudes near and far. It put Thomas over the six-foot threshold, which has to be nice (I wouldn’t know). We might sound like a broken record, but the GlideRide isn’t a feather of a shoe. It weighs in at upwards of 11 oz. for Thomas’s M10.5 size. However, he did call it a contender for easy miler of the year alongside the Hoka Bondi and Nike Vomero 14.

Read The Review Shop Glideride – Men Shop Glideride – Women

??GEL-Kayano 27

best asics

Use: Stability-focused daily training | Men’s drop: 10 mm | Women’s drop: 13 mm | Price: $160

ASICS and stability running shoes go together like peas and carrots. Just look at the GEL-Kayano 27. Heck, the Kayano is on its 27th iteration, and it still rides on one of the most stable soles in the game. It’s also a textbook definition of ASICS packing as much tech as humanly possible into one pair of shoes, and the weight starts to add up.

The Kayano 27 mixes in a dash of GEL in the forefoot and heel, two flavors of FLYTEFOAM, Space Trusstic technology, and even more to achieve its perfect ride. We can’t argue the results, as it’s still a go-to in the stability category. The Kayano 27’s price tag is starting to creep up there, but we’re all getting used to more expensive trainers whether we like it or not.

Read The Review Shop Kayano 27 – Men Shop Kayano 27 – Women

? MetaRacer

Use: Race day | Drop: 9 mm | Price: $200

Pick after pick of stability shoes and daily trainers can convince you that ASICS is a one-trick pony, but that’s where you’d be wrong. The MetaRacer is a perfect way to wrap up our favorite ASICS running shoes because it’s a high-tech carbon plated race day shoe, yet it’s rich with classic Onitsuka Tiger style. That little Micro USB-looking port in the toe is actually a vent that honors the innovative 1960s Magic Runner.

Breathability is key, and the upper mesh is peppered with tiny holes to keep your foot cool and collected as you hit the finish line. Though you might think that the thin racing flat design means less padding, the Metaracer actually manages just the right amount thanks to the FLYTEFOAM midsole and embedded bottom-loaded carbon plate. ASICS’ Wet Grip and ASICSGrip outsole also provide all the grip and grit you need to pound through corners.

The ASICS MetaRacer isn’t like other racers. It’s a cool carbon plate shoe that doesn’t fall into the over-padded trap. For those who like the feel of a more traditional racing flat, this shoe will work wonders.

Read The Review Shop MetaRacer – Men Shop MetaRacer – Women

??ASICS Trabuco Max

ASICS Trabuco Max - toe

Use: Variety of trail conditions, from light to technical | Drop: 5 mm | Price: $140

Not especially known for their trail game, ASICS has quietly dropped a very solid trail shoe in the ASICS Trabuco Max. Though it has a fairly high stack at 27 mm in the heel, it still provides decent stability with a wide base. Aggressive lugs, hefty outsole, and a thick rock plate, provide plenty of security, while the shoe also has built-in gaiter attachments to keep out dirt and debris. It works great in a variety of conditions, and we think it looks pretty nice too – until you get it muddy, of course.

The shoe releases 1/1/2021 for $140.

Read The Review Shop ASICS Trail – Men Shop ASICS Trail – Women

??GT-2000 9

asics gt-2000 9 - lateral

Use: Listening to Tekashi 6ix9ine and daily training | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $120

ASICS hasn’t quite gotten around to making Lite versions of all of its running shoes yet, but this is a Brite one if we’ve ever seen it. The ASICS GT 2000-9 is a familiar silhouette, though we can’t help but notice that it has more numbers than your standard calculator. It’s yet another stability running shoe that weighs less than the Kayano 27 and a no-frills daily trainer.

Overall, the GT 2000-9 is a who’s who of ASICS shoe tech. I’ll dip into my Stefon voice to say that this shoe has everything… GEL cushioning, AHAR rubber, an odd reference to a Skittles-colored SoundCloud rapper. Robbe has some gripes with the styling, though it may just be the hot pink accent colors. He also likened the tongue to a North Face winter coat in terms of puff.

Read The Review Shop GT 2000 9 – Men Shop GT 2000 9 – Women

How We Make Our Picks

All of our recommendations come directly from our feet to your screen. We test countless running shoes here at Believe in the Run, and we let our reviews guide our decisions. However, we also take other reviews and our BITR community into account, as not every runner has the same experiences. We also aim to stick with shoes that are currently available so you can actually give our recommendations a try.

 

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