Monday, June 10, 2024

ASICS GEL-Kayano 31 Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

ASICS GEL-Kayano 31 ($165)


Ultimate in comfortable, top to bottom, max cushion inherent stability

4D Guidance, a softer rubbery foam at medial midfoot supports and helps the foot roll without pressing on the arch. Not sure how it works! Different and effective! 

Excellent, no agenda, easier paces and recovery run shoe

Smoother transitions off the heel and easier toe off than Kayano 30


Weight: approaching 11 oz / g US9 is a lot and noticed

Not a shoe that likes to go fast, but not really its purpose


The Kayano 31 is a support/pronation control shoe that relies on its geometry and a unique  4D Guidance rubbery foam insert at mid foot to deliver a road training shoe that is inherently stable without resorting to firmer medial foams or plastic pieces. 

It shines brightest for those who really need pronation control, for heavier runners, and for any runner fast or slow seeking a stable comfortable and consistent ride for easier runs with no agenda of pace because, at its weight approaching 11 oz in a US9, it is for sure not the lightest trainer

The 31 on the surface anyways is a fairly minor update to the 30 which completely changed the shoe from a traditional support shoe which had less stack height and a firmer LiteTruss sidewall for support. The 30 went to a stack height of 40/30  so max cushion, a broader platform with ASICS FF Blast Plus ECO foam (23 % bio based) and the 4D Guidance.

The tuning in the 31 is a reshaping of the midsole side walls especially towards the rear, a 5mm longer 4D Guidance insert, a slightly different outsole pattern with now a hybrid ASICS Grip and AHAR Plus rubber, and a new plusher engineered mesh upper.

Most comparable shoes (see comparison detail at the end of the review)

New Balance 860 v14

Puma ForeverRun Nitro

Brooks Glycerin 21 GTS


Approx. Weight: men's 10.85 oz / 307g US9

  Sample Weight: men’s  10.6 oz / 300g US8.5 (Kayano 30: 10.74 oz  / 305g US8.5)

Stack Height: men’s  40 mm heel /  30 mm forefoot (  10mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 115 mm forefoot (US 8.5)

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

The upper is a soft, somewhat stretchy engineered mesh. The prior version’s upper was a bit rougher to the touch and not quite as soft. No question the new upper is plusher.

The rear collars are redesigned and are somewhat higher and streamlined at their top edges with now small knit top extension as well as big pull tab with reflective accent and at the rear. 

The inner plush soft collars and achilles padding is a similar material combination and is a touch firmer and extends further down 

The tongue is slightly thinner with more breathable padded mesh further towards the front than before. The tongue gusset moves further forward.  The midfoot hold is just fine and comfortable.

The new softer mesh makes the moderately broad toe box yet more friendly with the Kayano 31 also available in wide sizing.  

I was true to my usual size US8.5 with no issues and appreciated this deluxe cocoon of comfort.  

Midsole & Platform

The midsole foam is as before FF Blast Plus ECO with 24% bio based content. The stack height remains unchanged at 40 mm heel 30 mm forefoot as does the broad 90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 115 mm forefoot platform width. We continue to have an embedded Pure Gel unit at the heel. 

What does change is the geometry of the heel. 

It is now more flared out and curvy whereas before it was angular and blocky.  

Landings were indeed blocky and somewhat awkward in the 30. 

In my A/B test with the 30 on one foot and 31 on the other, the new rear geometry clearly eliminates much if not all of the blocky feel with a smoother landing and easier transition off the heel. 

This is also helped by the more linear carving of the rear lateral side walls.

The Kayano 31 includes a unique 4D Guidance tech. Instead of a firmer foam post or plastic pieces, the 4D insert is actually a rubbery feeling material that to pressing is actually softer than the midsole. 

The vertical medial side walls, broad platform and midfoot outsole rubber provide the inherent stability while the 4D allows the foot to roll through the midfoot easily and without the usual hard arch foam or plastic feel. 

I measure the 4D Guidance insert as 5mm longer at the ground in the 31 further helping the foot to roll forward towards toe off more easily. I felt this improvement in my A//B test, if subtly.

All in all lots of deep friendly cushion here in a stable geometry that is not a chore to run, albeit this is not a light shoe at 10.6 oz / 300g in my US8.5 sample. It’s pleasant, relatively easy to turn over and focused on leisurely paces.


The outsole follows a similar pattern to the 30 with slight modifications. The rubber moves from an AHAR LO compound to Hybrid ASICS Grip with at the heel as before slightly firmer and thicker high durability AHAR + (yellow) and now also at the very front.

Outsole Comparison  Left: Kayano 31 Right: Kayano 30

Grip has been fine and durability should be excellent.  

I did note in my A/B test that the front of the 31 had a smoother somewhat easier toe off than the 30 which may in part be due to the new outsole in combination with the midsole geometry redesign with the 31 now also noticeably more flexible.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The Kayano 31 is a big shoe for stable, comfortable leisurely cruising. With a 40/30 stack height of quite reactive FF Blast Plus we have plenty of deep easy on the legs cushion. I do wonder if the combination of broad platform and big stack could be reduced a bit to improve agility and reduce weight with all else unchanged.  

The inherent stability and 4D Guidance clearly gives support and stability while never being overwhelming or over present in feel for this mostly neutral shoe runner. 

For me it is an ideal shoe for those no agenda leisurely runs where pace is moderate and you want to focus on the sights more than speed  The subtle improvements in upper, midsole geometry, 4D Guidance and outsole all improve the Kayano, and effectively so, but in sum they are more a fine tuning than big changes.

The Kayano 31 is a great option for plush top to bottom stable  and refined rides. It is neither a fast or light shoe and that is OK. I see it as a great option for recovery runs for all runners, heavier runners in need some support, and for beginners who aren’t sure how much support they actually need as it adapts well to different strike, pronation and supination patterns without over dictating as traditional stability shoes do, including its predecessors before the Kayano 30. 

Sam’s Score: 9.1 /10

Deductions for weight and I question if the big 40/30 stack height is too much adding to weight and reducing agility even for the shoe’s purpose of stable well cushioned easy going runs


4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 

ASICS-GEl Kayano 30 (RTR Review)

As described throughout the review, subtle improvements in the upper, geometry, 4D Guidance and outsole make the 31 an improved shoe but if you have no issues with the 30 get those on sale while they are still available.

New Balance 860 v14 (RTR Review)

Somewhat lighter at 10.45 oz / 296g US9 the 860 takes a completely different approach to stability, while very much like the Kayano, not overdoing it. Lower stack at 35.5 mm at the heel with an 8mm drop it incorporates a thin EVA plate which is longer on the medial side than lateral as well as similar to the Kayano vertical medial midsole sidewalls. Its dual density foam has a soft layer below the foot with firmer extending below and medially  It is not quite as rock solid stable as the Kayano or as plush in the upper but has a bit quicker feeling ride. At $140 it is $25 less than the deluxe ASICS take on inherent stability.  Both true to size and available in wides.

Puma ForeverRun Nitro (RTR Review)

Sam: The Puma has the same 40/30 stack height and is also an inherent stability trainer. It is far lighter at 9.5 oz  / 269 g (US9) and livelier due to its supercritical Nitro foam. The ForeverRun is not quite as stable but it is considerably more agile and fun to run. Fit of both is true to size with the ASICS upper plusher and more comfortable but heavier.

Brooks Glycerin 21 GTS (RTR Review)

The Glycerin’s approach to support is via rails of foam along the top of the midsole with the medial a firmer glued in insert and the lateral molded in. The support is more about higher up the chain towards the knee than classic pronation control. Its DNA Loft v3 midsole is softer and livelier. Its upper in the regular mesh I tested is very comfortable but I found it not nearly as supportive as the Kayano’s at midfoot.  The Brooks is actually slightly heavier on a slightly lower stack height. Clear choice for me if in need of support and not worried about shoe weight the Kayano.

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Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is in his 60’s  with 2024 Sam’s 52th year of running roads and trails. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very, very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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