Asics got its start nearly 70 years ago, when Kihachiro Onitsuka began making basketball shoes in his living room in Kobe, Japan. He soon expanded to running shoes, and his first pair, the Marathon Tabi, came out in 1953. His business grew, and in 1977 he merged it with two other companies and began selling footwear in the United States. He also changed the company’s name to Asics, an acronym for the Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” (a sound mind in a sound body). Since then, Asics has grown into one of the premier running shoe companies.
What makes Asics different?
A strong commitment to research and performance has helped Asics design consistently high quality running shoes, and made it a favorite among all kinds of runners. Shortly after its arrival in the US, Asics released the California jogging shoe, which featured new developments like a flared sole and reflective tape on the heels to keep runners visible at night. In May 1990, it opened the Research Institute of Sports Science in Kobe, where the company conducts materials tests and biomechanical research to fine tune its designs. This lab has produced some of Asics’ hallmark innovations, like the Gel shock absorption system, which helps soften impact forces as your foot strikes the ground, and midsole features, which combat overpronation and help prevent injury.
The company has continued to churn out new technologies in recent years. Like other shoemakers, it pushed past EVA foam with proprietary cushioning. For Asics, that's FlyteFoam, which has subgroups of FlyteFoam Propel, a special elastomer to increase energy return, and FlyteFoam Lyte, simply a lighter weight version.
Another key innovation is the Impact Guidance System, which combines an external heel counter and specially-designed plates in the midsole to aid in a more natural foot movement while running. All this means that each pair of Asics has been scrutinised from top to bottom to help you run further, faster, and more comfortably. It has led to some remarkable running shoes—here are a few of our favorites.
How can I buy cheap asics running shoes?
From Thursday 22nd November 2018 to Monday 26th November 2018, all Runner's World Readers can save 30% on asics.com using the code RunnersWorld30. The discount can only be used once and only applies on full price items.
The best Asics running shoes 2018:
Best Asics shoe for: Overpronators and Asics addicts.
The Gel-Kayano has been on runners’ feet for over 25 years, and it remains Asics’ top-selling shoe. It’s a great everyday trainer, especially if you’re an overpronator. The stretchy woven mesh upper provides a close fit, while a medial plate and sturdy heel counter keep you from rolling onto your inner foot as you run. It’s a hefty shoe packed with the company’s latest proprietary tech, including FlyteFoam Propel and FlyteFoam Lyte, as well as Gel cushioning in the forefoot and heel.
Best Asics shoe for: Runners looking for a lighter, leaner cushioned shoe.
One of the newer shoes in the Asics lineup, the Dynaflyte is light, but it also includes plenty of cushion and features a snug fit—it’s a good option if you’re looking to transition into a more minimalist shoe. The latest version in the Dynaflyte family features an enhanced toe spring to help you launch into your stride as you run.
Best Asics shoe for: Cushion fiends
One of Asics’ flagship shoes, the Gel-Nimbus sets the standard for cushioned running. Expect a plush ride, but all that padding pumps up the weight (11.1 oz for men’s, 9.4 oz for women’s), so these aren’t the best pick for a day of speed training. Asics also integrated a breathable mesh to help keep your feet cool, and redesigned the way the upper attaches to the sole, which makes for a roomier fit in the forefoot.
Best Asics shoe for: Supinators and neutral runners
The Gel-Cumulus, like the Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Kayano, is one of Asics’ longstanding bestsellers. Designed for underpronators and neutral runners, it features the Impact Guidance System to promote the natural movement of your foot as you run, as well as FlyteFoam Propel for more bounce and Gel for cushioning. Despite all that tech, the Cumulus is lighter than the Nimbus and Kayano—a good pick for runners who don’t need a lot of extra support in their shoes.
Roadhawk FF 2
Best Asics shoe for: Bargain hunters and beginners
A great entry level shoe, the Roadhawk combines premium features with a bargain price. It’s a lean, fast shoe, but it comes with a full layer of FlyteFoam (that’s what the “FF” in the name stands for) underneath the foot, and has a high quality mesh upper that you’d typically find on top tier models. First-timers, be warned: Getting a quality shoe for this price might just get you hooked on running for life.
Best Asics shoe for: Moderate support and cushioning in an everyday trainer
Marathon runners, this one’s for you. The GT 2000 has built a reputation as a reliable high mileage trainer. The latest version adds FlyteFoam to the midsole to shave off weight while still providing the support and bounce that runners have come to expect from this model. The midsole is also designed to counter overpronation. Overall, these kicks deliver a solid balance of cushion, stability, and durability to help you go the distance.
GT-2000 6 Trail
Best Asics shoe for: Long distance trail hounds
The trail version of the beloved GT 2000, these dirt-ready shoes combine a lugged outsole with the same durable, high-mileage upper and midsole that make the road version such a favorite with distance runners. FlyteFoam in the midsole provides cushion and bounce, and high abrasion rubber adds extra protection for high-wear spots on the outsole. With its combo of support and cushion, it’s a great off-road option for neutral runners and overpronators alike.
Noosa FF 2
Best Asics shoe for: Triathletes
The Noosa is Asics’ purpose-built triathlon shoe, and this iteration comes redesigned with the company’s signature FlyteFoam midsole and Gel Technology heel. Triathletes will appreciate the special mesh upper that’s made for sockless wear and an outsole designed to grip the ground even in wet conditions. It also comes with specialised grips on the heel and tongue that help you whip these on and off in flash.
A version of this article appeared on Runnersworld.com