Asics Gel Nimbus 17 vs Kayano 21

Ouch! You were out running and noticed pain in your legs and feet. After careful consideration, you have noticed that you hurt whenever you wear your current shoes. They are old and lack the support you need – it’s time for a change.

Running is a science with understandable laws and rules, including the proper way to run and how feet should be angled and positioned. Even the Mayo Clinic conducts research on ways to avoid injury and receive the health benefits of this popular exercise. So, according to science, what should you shoe be like?

Today we will break down the differences between two super popular running shoes Asics Gel Nimbus 17 vs Kayano 21. 

What Makes a Shoe Great:

Shoes are often as unique as their wearers. What makes a wonderful shoe for you might be somebody else’s worst nightmare. However, professionals and doctors have been able to determine that there are some features that can be agreed upon and which can help prevent injuries that – literally – take you out of the running.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the three factors to focus on are weight, minimal features, and no angling on the bottom of your footwear. It also recommends that you have your feet sized every time you plan on buying a new pair, especially in the store where you will purchase them. This way, you can prevent problems like tightness, chafing, and blisters.

Good running shoes should not weigh more than 10 oz. each, or 1 lb. for individuals with larger feet. The minimal features section of the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations means that running shoes shouldn’t have a lot of built-in padding or unnecessary add-ons, both to keep the weight down and to protect the natural shape of the feet.

Finally, and this is important, shoes should not have a high degree angle when resting. This means that the heel should not be much higher than the toe of the shoes. Too much angling actually increases stress on your muscles and can lead to more long-term injuries which can take you down.

How do the Nimbus 17 and Kayano 21 stack up in comparison to these requirements?

Asics Gel Cumulus 17 Review

ASICS Women's Gel-Nimbus 17 Running Shoe,White/Hot Coral/Apple,12 M US

The Nimbus 17 is a low to mid-range exercise shoe that costs between $65 and $100. The shoe is relatively durable and emphasizes the importance of comfort while running.

The Nimbus 17 features a soft, breathable mesh material which wraps around the foot and provides a snug fit. The interiors are soft and include cushioning to protect the foot from impact with pavement and other hard surfaces. Because of its focus on comfort over durability, this model is excellent for runners who don’t work themselves too hard but still exercise on the regular.

Another benefit of this shoe is its lack of a surface angle on the bottom of the shoe. The American College of Sports Energy advises against too much angling because it can increase muscle tension, and the Nimbus 17 avoids this problem while still having a rubber sole to maintain traction.

ASICS Women's Gel-Nimbus 17 Running Shoe,White/Hot Coral/Apple,12 M US
  • Lace-up running shoe featuring breathable mesh upper with reflective logo and padded collar
  • Gait enhancing impact guidance system
  • Vertical flex grooves

Runners would also be interested in the heel counter. These useful devices prevent the shoe from slipping off while running, which many people have trouble with. Combined with the mesh, the counter helps keep footwear tight while still letting runners feel like they are gliding on a cloud.

The high internal arches of this model can be good or bad for wearers. People with flatter feet will find the Nimbus 17 uncomfortable, but people with a more obvious curve find the shoe fits well. The product additionally features a stiff toe area designed to prevent damage. The durability is a great bonus but can hurt individuals with wider feet or splayed toes.


  • Includes a heel counter to prevent slippage 
  • Rubber soles keep traction
  • Soft interiors
  • Cushioning to protect the footB
  • Breathable material
  • High internal arches


  • Stiff toe area
  • Material has been known to tear from moderate to hard use
  • High internal arches

Asics Gel Kayano 21 Review

ASICS Women's Gel Kayano 22 Running Shoe, Ice Blue/Flash Yellow/Blue, 10 M US

If you’re a long-distance runner, a marathoner, or someone who enjoys cross country, then you need a shoe that lasts. The Kayano 21 is a mid-price option that costs between $100 and $180, so there is some variation between styles and features.

One of the greatest benefits of the Kayano 21 is its tough, rubber sole. This shoe has a thick bottom designed to last during extreme wear and tear, including marathons and daily runs. If you’re looking for footwear that can slog through the mud with you, than the Kayano 21 is a wonderful option.

Sweaty feet is a fact of life for runners. Even the most breathable shoe is a breeding ground for bacteria and moisture. The Kayano 21 features something called a moisture-wicking Ortholite X-40 sockliner which will help keep your feet dry and comfortable despite the heat.

The shoe additionally has breathable mesh in its creation, which allows air to reach the foot and help cool you down when you move. Additional mid-foot support also prevents pronation.

According to the Sports Injury Clinic, pronation is when your foot naturally rolls inward. This movement doesn’t count as an injury, but makes you more susceptible to damage by stressing the tendons and muscles. The mid-foot support in the Kayano 21 helps keep you steady, so you can avoid injuries that could take you out of your hobby.

Another common problem for runners is arch support. If you have high arches, then you know that your feet can hurt after using shoes without additional features designed to reinforce the natural structure of your foot. The Kayano 21 includes added arch support to keep your feet comfortable while you run. 

Finally, there is the cushioning and the heel clutch. Not everyone appreciates the cushioning because it can distort the natural movement of the foot, but others like it because of its pillowy feel on the soles. A heel clutch also helps prevent the shoes from slipping off while you run, which is great for people who worry about the fit.

The American College of Sports Medicine advises against an angled bottom, but the Kayano 21 does have a slight angle from its touch sole. This means that the wearers will have heels which are higher than the balls of the feet. This shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but can cause some discomfort if you’re not used to it.

This video demonstrates the slight angle of the shoe’s bottom, as well as the arch and sole designed to help runners with pronation or curved feet. Runners should pay attention to the added support and determine whether they want something like that, or footwear with minimal padding.


  • Tough Rubber Sole
  • Added Arch Support
  • Mid-foot design prevents pronation
  • Breathable Mesh
  • Includes Sock liner
  • Quality Cushioning
  • Includes Heel Clutch


  • The internal lining is susceptible to damage
  • Quite more expensive than other shoes

Asics Gel Nimbus 17 vs Kayano 21

As with many things in life, a comparison between these two products comes down to price, functionality, and intended use.

The Nimbus 17 is an all-around comfortable shoe, great for walking, and excellent for people worried about slippage. It’s also one of the cheaper options currently available on the market. One of the main problems a dedicated runner would have, though, is that the Nimbus 17 doesn’t hold up under consistent use.

Many people praise the materials and softness but find that the soles wear down quickly. The stiff toe area, while amazing for holding the foot in place, can also cause irritation with extended use. The Nimbus 17 is recommended for runners who like to take things easy, while the Kayano 21 would best serve athletes who want a hard workout.

The Kayano 21 is a stiffer model with some support but less all-around padding. The main drawback for potential buyers is that you will need to spend more money initially. However, the extra money purchases durability.

Many reviewers found that the Nimbus 17 will last up to six months under daily use, while runners were able to wear their Kayano 21s for a year before they decided to trade them in for a newer model. 


Where does this leave you? As a runner, you should know your body not just to prevent damage, but to also help you find the right footwear for you. Both the Nimbus 17 and Kayano 21 are excellent shoes for runners.

The main way to tell which one is for you is to know what kind of athlete you are. If you know that you will wear your shoes down to nubs, then you want something durable with rubbers soles for days, like the Kayano. If you’re honest with yourself and think you’re more of a casual jogger who exercises three days a week, then the Nimbus would be a great investment.

As a final note: Be careful when purchasing any running shoe online. Many models, including the Nimbus 17 and the Kayano 21, have knockoffs in online markets. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Last update on 2021-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API