Asics- a brand that a lot of people have heard of over the years and a brand that many love, yet it’s not on the Mount Rushmore in terms of our culture like an Adidas or Nike is. Adidas and Nike have not only sought to dominate in the shoe industry, but instead they have branched out into a number of other ventures. That is where Asics have strayed.
Asics have stuck with what they know best- shoes- and as a result, they remain one of the most trusted leaders in the market as a result of that dedication to what brought them to the dance in the first place. By being consistently good for so long, Asics have developed a very loyal following, particularly with runners, and it is because of this that they should be heavily considered whenever you are looking at buying a pair of shoes. No, they might not have the cool factor that the bigger brands may have, but they do offer so much.
Today, we are going to take a look at the history of Asics, how they are different from the others out there, how to pick the best pair of shoes for you, and then look at some of the best men’s and women’s options they have out there in 2018.
Top Asics Running Shoes Comparison Chart
|Product||Heel Type||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Asics Women’s Gel Venture 5||Raised||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Women’s Torrance||Flat||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2||Flat||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Women’s Gel Cumulus 18||Raised||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Women’s Gel Nimbus 19||Raised||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s Gel Kayano 24||Raised||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s Gel Venture 6||Raised||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s GT-1000 6||Raised||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s Gel Excite 4||Raised||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s Gel Cumulus 19||Raised||$$||Check on Amazon|
Asics Running Shoes Buying Guide
One of the big disconnects, you have to think, between Asics and the likes of Nike and Adidas has to be the relative unknown history of the company. Most people just have no clue where, when, or how they came to be, and that has got to have a role in their underrated status. The company began in 1948 when Japanese businessman Kihachiro Onitsuka began making shoes for children in his living room. To begin with, he was only making sneakers, but he very quickly realized that he could do other things.
The company, named, after himself began making basketball shoes a year later. The story shifts when one of his then four employees told him the following advice: “pray to God for a sound mind in a sound body.” This became the inspiration for Asics, and Onitsuka decided that in order to have a healthy and happy life that one needed to be fit. His shoes sought to allow people happiness and healthiness, and that has to be a large part of the reason as well that Asics tend to be more for the hardcore runner and athlete.
It wasn’t until 1957 that Onitsuka and his company started making running shoes, along with a number of other types of shoes as well. Jump forward 20 years to 1977, and we got the much-needed change that would make his company a true giant in the industry. As his Onitsuka, Co. Ltd corporation merged with a couple of other companies, it was renamed to Asics. Why the random name, you ask, though? The name is an acronym that stands for a Latin phrase. The very same phrase that Onitsuka had gotten from his friend and had used as his principle for years. It is through this that Asics were able to really launch themselves into the stratosphere and compete with the likes of the bigger brands .
Asics, like a lot of other companies out there, have done a lot for the shoe industry in terms of bringing new technologies to the table. Unlike others, though, you probably don’t know much about what Asics has done, so it is fruitful to take a look at the developments they have helped bring to all of us as a result of their hard work and dedication. But it is one specific technology that has made them mainstream and forced other companies to play catch up and come up with their own designs.
Gel cushioning has become so commonplace today that we don’t even think twice about it. Even if a shoe doesn’t have ‘gel’ inside, it has some sort of foam substance that will make our overall performance better and that will make us happier. Without Asics, we might not have had the technologies we have today because they created and brought it to market for the first time, and they remain near the forefront of it today because they continue to do great things with their Gel compound. Asics were the very first to get this out to the people, and it was a huge deal. The gel is so important for runners that it has become a necessity. While it can be great for other sports (and Asics do use it in a number of other lines as well), the gel has always been most intended for the runner.
The job of the gel is to go into the areas where shoes typically show the most wear and tear in them: the midsole- which houses both the rear of the foot and the forefoot as well. The gel is inserted into those areas, and it does two things. In the forefoot area, it helps the rest of the shoe absorb shocks while you move forward, and in the rear, the gel looks to neutralize the impact of the heel striking the ground to decrease the amount of strain put on your body. This is especially important to those that run long distances, and it’s a big part of the reason why many runners just won’t even consider buying or wearing a brand other than Asics.
How to Pick Out the Best Asics Shoe For Your Feet
Shoe Finder Tool
One really awesome tool that is available to you online is on Asics’ own website. The Shoe Finder tool doesn’t just tell you one shoe that will work for you, but what it is does is rule out those that will not work for you. It takes into account your gender and/or age, the type of running you will be doing, the amount of miles you run, and your gait. You then click a button, and they will show you all of their shoes currently out there that match the description that you gave. This is just one possible way to go about it, but it is a very valuable tool that shows just how dedicated they are to going out of their way to help you achieve a sound mind and body.
Figuring Out Your Gait
Gait is a term that some people might not know, but it is quite crucial and central to runners. Gait is the way in which you run and walk. Depending on how you run, you will need differing protections. Whereas you may run hard on your heels, others might run hard on their forefoot. Some will run on the edges of their shoes, others more toward the middle. It is important to know this, but it is pretty easy to figure out this information.
One easy way is to simply look at a pair of shoes that you have worn considerably. Look down and see if you can tell where the wear is at. If you see it on the edges, take a note of it. If you aren’t seeing a lot of wear, you can always go to a store that specializes in selling running shoes. The employees there are much more likely to be trained- or at the very least- have some experience with it, and they should be able to help you figure it out.
Getting the Best Fit
Picking out a pair of shoes can be tough. It’s not always the easiest of decisions to be made, and it can keep your mind occupied if you aren’t careful. The best to alleviate that is to go try them on. Yes, we live in the internet days. But you won’t believe the numbers of people- and I mean bundles of them- that complain about their shoes not fitting them well after ordering. I don’t encourage anyone to buy a pair of shoes without trying them on unless they have had that model before. Not the model before, not the model after, but that specific model of shoe. So, the first and most important thing you can possibly do is take the time and get it right by going to a store first.
The proper size you need might not match up the measurement of your foot at the store. There are a few things that could make you choose to go differently. First things first, there is the issue of swelling. When you run, jump, or do any physical activity, your feet swell because the blood is racing through your body. This swelling of the feet and ankles is just a natural part of running, but so many people forget that when they buy a pair of shoes. Because of that, it’s a good idea to go with a fit that gives you a thumb or two of room in the toe bed (the place where your toes lie). That way you have wiggle room for those longer runs.
You might also not want to buy the ‘correct size’ if a product tends to run large or small. You might also find yourself resizing due to the width of your feet, too. This is why it is is critically important to just go to the store and survey the scene. Yes you can get an idea online about whether a shoe runs large or small, but it is nigh on impossible to figure out just how much exactly it will affect you. You can always purchase online later, but it’s just such a hassle to send things back. And let’s face it. If you don’t have time to go the store and try them on, you probably won’t have time to keep going to UPS over and over.
Asics and Levels of Cushioning
Asics keeps things fairly simple with their cushioning, but there are things to know about them before you buy. In a shift to the way they used to classify things, they have recently gone with two different categories in which they place their shoes: Road and Fast. We’ll take a look at each one here.
The road cushioning series is headlined with the familiar construction of the traditional Asics shoes that you know and love. Shoes that fall under this category are meant for people that train very seriously and put in a lot of miles. While they are comfortable and will make you happy in that regard, they just have more durability built into them, and that makes them good for this specific use. With this durability means they are a little bit heavier. This is just a natural trade off that has to be expected. More rigidity can only be engineered with more weight, unless there is a new process being tried, and those happen only every so often with the creation of new technologies, so for the most part more durability equals more weight.
The newest line from Asics is this, the ‘Fast’ line, and the goal of it is to be lighter and give you a more ‘deconstructed’ feel. The idea is to increase the responsiveness of the shoe. This shoe, despite its name, is tailored for versatile use. One would think this would be a line meant for the runner that is looking to smash a world record or the such, but in reality it is meant to be a shoe that can be taken to the gym, to the road, and even worn with anything while looking good. With a ‘Fast’ shoe, you will be expecting to see less protection and less weight. You can’t have it all, even in the very most expensive shoes, so look for this key distinction.
Determine Your Goals
Before you can decide which pair of shoes to buy, you first have to figure out what you are setting out to accomplish. There are a number of things that a runner can aim to be, and that information is invaluable in this process. It’s just as important as figured out your size and fit!
First, you need to determine whether you are a serious runner or a recreational one. Just because you are a serious runner doesn’t mean that you are trying to win a marathon, but it also doesn’t mean that you don’t take it seriously. If you are someone that runs frequently, as in multiple miles per day and do so every single week, you will want a certain type of shoe. If you are someone that runs more recreationally, you won’t need the same kind of shoe. You can go with less protection and support, provided you don’t have any lingering issues that need to be addressed.
And then there’s people in need of something versatile. If you want something you can run in some, maybe take to the trail, or workout in, or just wear, or all of the above, then you need to determine that, too. Knowing what you are asking of a shoe is a critical step in making the right decision. You can, and probably will be, left disappointed at your shoe if you end up asking too much of it.
Shoes are designed with specific purposes, and they are getting more and more specialized for specific areas, so you shouldn’t be so quick to lump them all in together in one huge category. We will have some of each type below in our reviews, just so that everyone is covered and will have something to match their needs and wants.
Best Asics Running Shoes Reviews
1. Asics Women’s Gel Venture 5
Because it is an older model, this shoe can be found for an inexpensive price, and it still gives you all the features you could ask for in a shoe in that price range. Aside from its price, one of the main calling cards of the Gel Venture 5 is the outsole that is designed with trail running in mind.
Though the focus of this article is not trail running, it goes to show that this is a very versatile shoe that can be used effectively in a number of different manners. The fact that it can be taken to the trail means that traction is very good, which is sure to help you out a ton on the pavement if the conditions aren’t exactly suited to what you are used to.
The high abrasion rubber sole also helps not only absorb shock but also is very durable, causing the shoes to last a quite a while. Heel strikers have noted that this is a good shoe for them because they just don’t feel much of anything when landing. They do tend to be very sturdy, which means inflexible, so for some that will be a deal breaker of sorts.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea because they are a little bit heavier due to the trail running component, these are still a great pair of shoes that can take your training regiment to the next level and last a while if taken care of properly.
- Inexpensive and appealing price
- Excellent traction
- Absorbs shocks well
- Not solely for pavement running
- Doesn’t have the best of looks
- Quite rigid and sturdy
2. Asics Women’s Torrance
A shoe that looks a lot better than the Gel Venture, the Torrance has a very classy look in a number of colors that should make you very happy no matter what the setting is in which you wear them. Also coming in at an affordable price, the Torrance is labeled as a shoe for ‘easy running.’ This right there should send out alarm bells to those that are very serious runners, but if you are a casual runner, or want a shoe to stand in, or to just wear around in addition to being able to do some exercise, then this could be just what the doctor ordered.
Even the biggest proponents claim that these are good for casual wear, which typically has not been the calling card of Asics, but is becoming more of the norm. The shoe itself is very lightweight and has great breathability built into it, so those two things, plus comfort that is lauded, makes it an ideal ‘starter’ shoe for those looking to get started in the sport. Some of the issues include, most obviously, it not being suited to heavy duty running One of the reasons is that the toe box has not proven itself to be all that durable, while the webbing also can take a pounding if it is used too often.
- Great price
- Very stylish
- Ideal for casual and general uses
- Toe box not the most durable
- Webbing can give way if excessively used
- Not great for hardcore runners
3. Asics Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2
Another shoe that is both relatively inexpensive and looks great , the Fuzex Lyte 2 is a good one to look at for those that want a lightweight option for the road while remaining looking good as well. The Lyte, as you would expect is extremely so, with the average being around 7 ounces or so, meaning you are going to be minimizing your weight, which is in stark contrast to the Venture, which is almost twice as heavy.
You would assume that it would mean a lack of support and protection, but that is not the case, with many being very happy with the issues it has helped correct. People with shin splints and pronation have seen their issues corrected, and that is a major plus that has to be commended in a shoe that is so light. One way it accomplishes the comfort level is by fusing the Gel that they are known for with foam. This not only makes you comfy but it has helped reduce the weight of the shoe.
There are some problems, however, and the main one revolves around the tongue. Not only do many find it bothersome because it rubs up against the skin, but it also is a hindrance because it has to be adjusted over and over again. Some people will get over that fact or will do something to fix it, but it may be a decisive factor in avoiding it. People with high arches might also want to avoid them. The other issue is that they tend to run small.
- Elegant and simple look
- Another inexpensive pick
- Extremely lightweight
- Tongue has major issues
- Tends to run a little small
- People with a high arch should avoid
4. Asics Women’s Gel Cumulus 18
The 18th iteration of the Cumulus comes, and with it you find an inexpensive entry door into the world of running. One of the first things you notice is the looks of the shoe. While they aren’t the worst ever, it has to be said that the color patterns are a little bit strange and eccentric. Maybe you are into that sort of thing, but on some people it just looks dorky, so there is that to have a think about.
As with nearly all of the Asics shoes that have their Gel compound in it, it is very well cushioned and keeps people happy over the long haul. That is very much what this pair is designed to do. While some of the above pair would be a great shoe for you to have if you are running just a little bit, this is one that is meant for people that will be hitting the pavement a little bit more and racking up the miles. They are also very breathable without being porous and allowing in a lot of moisture, so that is a major plus.
Some of the negatives of the Cumulus include a long break in period. You will have to be prepared to ease these in, lest you be disappointed when you start to hurt. Another strike against it is that the feel of the shoe- like ‘pillows’ to many- is just too much after a long run. Sure, that feels great for short runs, but on a long run it can take a toll when you feel you aren’t supported. And lastly, the toe box is more narrow than most would like, so that is another factor to think about.
- Relatively low cost again
- Gel compounds makes you very comfortable
- Built for longer runs
- Too pillowy for some on long runs
- Takes a while to break in
- Toe box is narrow for a good chunk of folks
5. Asics Women’s Gel Nimbus 19
The Gel Nimbus 19 is the 19th iteration of this line, and with it brings a shoe that can look good, depending on what color you choose. It’s really just up in the air; half of the colors look great with the design, while the other half look like they were made to match 1970s NFL jerseys. Nonetheless, like the Nimbus name implies these are very comfortable for a mid-range priced shoe due to the Gel component that keeps on giving to Asics wearers the world over.
Unlike the 18 mode, this shoe is considerably lighter in weight, giving you more of a weightless feel. Because of that, the need to break them in isn’t as big of a deal with them as it would be for many pairs of shoes that are heavier. Another big plus is that it is very responsive to your touch and feels good with a fit like a glove would give you.
The negatives to be mentioned begin with the fact that they run both narrow and small. With the narrow bit comes the fact that the toe box is very tight, leading many to be frustrated that they have little to no wiggle room for their toes. That can be downright cumbersome if you are running long distances and just want to move around a little. The outsole durability is also an issue expressed by many, so that is a possible draw back to getting them.
- Mid-range price for the newest model
- Much lighter than the 18 model
- Doesn’t require much of a break-in
- Outsole durability is not great
- Runs both small and narrow
- Not a lot of space in the toe bed
6. Asics Men’s Gel Kayano 24
Unlike the majority of the women’s options above, the 24th version of the Kayano from Asics is a higher priced, more premium option for men to choose from. While the looks aren’t all that imaginative, they certainly get the job done and look nice on your feet. This model of the Kayano has improved from the last one with its improved upper. However, despite that the toe box remains a little bit too narrow and restrictive for a lot of people, so there is that to look at.
Back to the positives of the shoe, and you see that the amount of cushioning is superb in it, and that it lends itself very well to the prospect of long distance running, which means it would be a good choice for those that are serious about a good training tool.
One thing that goes hand-in-hand with most good long distance running shoes, and it holds true here, is that these just do not do all that well for all day comfort and wear. So don’t buy these thinking they will comfort you all standing on the job just because they are very good and comfy when you are running. It is also rather lightweight, something that is becoming more and more common in the market, and that has helped this shoe gain notoriety as a result.
- Improve upper materials
- Great for long distances
- Very lightweight
- Narrow in the toe box
- Not for standing all day
- Expensive compared to some others
7. Asics Men’s Gel Venture 6
The Gel Venture 6 is yet another offering from the Venture line that offers not only a shoe at a low cost but also one that is very comfortable and sleek. One quick look will have you notice, at least in profile, that it has a distinct sort of look, so you might want to take a look at that if you are all into style. Apart from that, a number of colors are available and most of them look very good together, unlike some of the earlier Asics options we have seen.
Despite being affordable, you don’t really give up all too much on the Venture 6. You get a shoe that has very good grip to the ground, making it a good one to take on the trail as well as the pavement as a result. The Venture is more based on trail running, but if you are doing some lighter type work on pavement, then it will be a good choice to go with and won’t penalize you for doing so.
The reinforced heel is the perhaps the most impressive feature, with its rear foot Gel cushioning system serving to accentuate the blow during impact and then allowing you to have a very smooth transition into the middle of the stance. Because it is more of a trail runner, it does have heavier weight and is a little less responsive than other choices you could make. But if you are looking for something flexible, affordable, and versatile for a low price then this is a good shout.
- Very decent price
- Rear foot Gel works wonders
- Very good traction
- Heavier due to being designed for trails
- Not as responsive as lighter models
8. Asics Men’s GT-1000 6
Coming at an appealing price and coming in an array of colors, the GT-1000 6 from Asics stands out like few Asics have in this part of the market. The looks are really great, something that can’t always be said, but it’s not just the looks that should have people excited about them.
The chief calling card of the shoe is the fact that it’s cushioning is not only comfortable but also is very responsive and stable. Most shoes, and I mean a ton of them, have a hard time getting part of that equation, but the GT-1000 6 checks off all of those boxes at once in a big way. The shoe is very lightweight as well, which makes the feat all the more impressive that they have pulled it off. The midsole is stiff yet solid, so it hasn’t caused a lot of issues for people and has them overall happy with the way they have been made.
Because of the comfort and the weight, or lack thereof, this is a good shoe for longer distances. The only main strike that has to levied against this pair of shoes is that the toe box is once again pretty narrow. However, that is just something to be expected, and it can be overlooked by a decent group of people anyway due to all of the pluses that it is able to deliver to you, the consumer. The heel of the shoe also has presented issues for some people with a little bit of slippage taking place, but it doesn’t appear to be an issue for everyone and is nothing to panic about.
- Really appetizing price
- Colors really do them justice
- Gives a lot of energy return
- Toe box is narrow
- Heel is a little loose for some
9. Asics Men’s Gel Excite 4
Once again, a shoe that will excite the bargain hunters due to it having a relatively low price, the Excite 4 is a fine option for those that are looking for something friendly to the checkbook and need a good training shoe. One of the things that sets it apart is the fact that a number of widths are offered in this particular shoe, meaning that everyone should be able to find something that does not force them to compromise on size too much- if at all.
However, with that said, this shoe does tend to run smaller than most other Asics model out there, so it would be wise to check them out and try them on before you purchase online. The colors and the style are refreshing for a company that too often overlooks that part of the equation, so that is another way that is excites you. The durability brought on by the materials used, and the level of comfort that is afforded due to the Gel compound and the lightweight nature of the shoe make it very desirable, and thus, popular to the masses.
A couple of other issues that must be pointed out are that the shoes don’t take too well to the wet, so if you are doing a lot of running in those conditions you might want to look for more traction elsewhere. Break in time is also needed, so be aware of that and working your way into them accordingly.
- Really friendly to your wallet
- Offers a variety of widths
- Very light and responsive
- Tends to run smaller than most Asics models
- Needs some time to break in
- Traction isn’t so good in the wet
10. Asics Men’s Gel Cumulus 19
The 19th edition of the series, the Cumulus 19 has long since become a tradition of Asics, and as such has developed quite a following. The reference to clouds is an obvious example, and it sums up perfectly what the shoe wants the wearer to feel like. The optimal wearer is someone looking for comfort, and by and large this shoe does the trick. It is also quite stylish, perhaps more so than any of the other nine Asics offerings that we have seen today.
Those that have issues with supination and those that need added support for their arches love this shoe because of the added support that it brings along with it. On top of all of that, it is also lightweight enough to be an effective shoe in shorter races as well as being there for those that are either training or running in long distance races as well. This shoe also comes with different options for width, and many feel that it is a great feel straight out of the box, a major plus for someone in dire need of a pair of shoes to wear immediately.
However, there are some complaints to be waged. One of them being that the shoelaces don’t seem to hold up very well in this particular model, with many claiming that they have torn apart rather easily. Others have pointed toward the midsole foam not being as responsive as some others, but for the price you just have to expect that to come with the territory.
- Excellent price point yet again
- Arguably the best looking design on the list
- Very comfortable
- Not as responsive as better models are
- Shoelaces represent a genuine problem
Conclusion and Final Asics Running Shoes Recommendations
Some might not think it is fair to summarize Asics in such a way, but what you get by and large with the ‘Tiger Mark’ is reliability and an emphasis on the things that should matter in a shoe: its construction. So often we forget that looks aren’t everything.
While Adidas and Nike continue to wow us with whatever they can come up with next, Asics keeps on fine tuning models that have been around for years and years already, constantly tweaking them to make the shoes a better fit and feel. With that said, we can see that there are some general problems that Asics shoes have to get over. Mainly the fact that they tend to run tight in the toe box is a concern.
For people with wider feet, and for those that want to be able to extend their toes out some during a long run, this can be a crucial deciding factor. Asics might not have the style that some other competitors have, but you shouldn’t overlook them solely based upon that, because this is a company that knows what it is doing and has been doing an excellent job at it for decades now. And you can expect it to carry on in the foreseeable future as well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Asics Running Shoes
Why are Asics good for runners?
One of the main reasons Asics has done such a good job is due to their ability to help comfort those that run with non ‘normal’ postures. For people that striker their heel, experience supination, or have high arches, Asics have used their Gel system to help them out and make their times much easier and better for them.
Is it important to buy shoes for my gender?
If the shoe finder tool is any indicator, then the answer is a wholehearted yes. I’d answer yes no matter what the brand is, but none more so than Asics. Just think back to their motto and what the company literally stands for and means. They seek to help both male and female with their distinct issues while they run, so it is very important to keep in mind that shoes for men are designed for men and shoes for women are designed for women. It is that way for a reason because these people do know what they are doing! For example, the Gel Nimbus has gender specific cushioning used in its makes, working to give the two genders a distinct advantage, so please don’t assume it’ll just ‘be OK’ to wear whatever.
Can I/Should I Use Running Shoes for Other Activities?
Depending on the type of running shoe, you can use them for other things. However, you have to be careful. As many companies move toward a more specialized approach where each shoe is made for one purpose, and one purpose only, you have to evaluate the merits and construction of the shoe. Some are made with lots of versatility in mind, while others are made with only running in mind.
For example, some of the upper tier running shoes now are ultra lightweight and are streamlined for performance only, and they are mostly used in races. A very lightweight shoe with a lot less support in it like that might not be good standing all day, or lifting weights, or doing HIIT (High intensity interval training) exercises. While you can use your shoes for just about anything, you have to factor in the terrain, surface types, and conditions as well before deciding what to do.
Do Asics make up for a lack of style?
Well, first off that is a bit of a loaded question. Everyone has different taste in shoes. While some might enjoy a flashy color or design, others might fancy a classic look that takes you back a few years. On the whole, that sums up Asics, who let the shoes’ performance do the talking. While you might have a preference with another brand, you can rest assured that you are going to look fine and feel great, provided you purchase the correct pair, of Asics.
How long will it take to break in my shoe?
The answer to that question depends entirely on the shoe, unfortunately. Some pairs of shoes are quicker than others to break in, and that is the case all across the board. Just because they are Asics, or Nikes, or Adidas, doesn’t mean they will automatically be ready to put on and run 26 miles out of the box. So of the shoes were reviewed will take time to break in, others won’t. But just to be safe, it’d be smart to ease into them. Our bodies need time to adapt much more than the shoes themselves do, so run a mile or two to start with and just get accustomed to how they feel before you put them under immense strain and pressure.