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ASICS Gel-Kahana 8 - Women's Review

ASICS Gel-Kahana 8
Price:   $85 List | $79.95 at Zappos
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, wide toe box, cushioned gel pods in the heel, cross-over versatility, durable
Cons:  Poor traction on gnarly surfaces, no rock plate, heavy
Bottom line:  The perfect cross-over for recreational runners looking for an inexpensive trail shoe option.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   ASICS

Our Verdict

The ASICS GEL-Kahana 8 is a great traditional trail running shoe option boasting comfort, versatility, decent construction, and most importantly - a great price. As a responsive and foot-cradling shoe, this model offers moderate foot protection, decent traction, and comfort. We liked the wide toe box and the well-constructed uppers. Additionally, the rubber outsole sticks to most surfaces. What we didn't like was the heavy upper that resulted in little breathability on hot days and the shoe's poor performance on snowy and sloppy surfaces. It's also quite heavy. Despite the flaws, it's still a reliable women's trail running shoe with cross over capabilities. So if you love transitioning from pavement to dirt roads and moderately difficult trails - all for a seriously low price - this may be your best option.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Trail Running Shoes for 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
May 26, 2017

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A well-constructed trail running shoe that take you on moderately technical trails and back to the pavement again. The GEL-Kahana 8 is available at a low price of just $85. If you're in the market for a shoe with decent performance at a low price - this is your best option.

Performance Comparison




The Kahana 8 is a great crossover shoe with a great price!
The Kahana 8 is a great crossover shoe with a great price!

Foot Protection


While careening over rough surfaces, you can count on the ASICS Kahana 8's hard toe cap to protect from stubbed toes on the trail. With a rigid and cushioned midsole comparable to the New Balance Leadville v3 - Women's, it will continue to protect you until you get to a super rocky point in the trail.

The sole is flexible as this shoe lacks a rock plate. That said  it's traditional feel provides the sole with some rigidity and protection on the trail.
The sole is flexible as this shoe lacks a rock plate. That said, it's traditional feel provides the sole with some rigidity and protection on the trail.

Since this shoe lacks a rock plate, we found it wasn't as protective as other shoes like our Editors' Choice, the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX - Women's and our Best Buy winner, the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's. That said, if you're a heel striker you're in luck! This traditional trail runner features a Rearfoot GEL cushioning system that helps to absorb shock while running downhill and over flats. The uppers are thin and rigid, providing a great fit with little slip. The protective mesh does just the trick to keep pesky sand and other matter out of your shoe. As a result of these features, this shoe earns an average score of five out of ten.

The mesh is tight knit...rocks and sand will not penetrate!
The mesh is tight knit...rocks and sand will not penetrate!

Traction


Earning a four out of ten in this category, traction is rated less than average. Even though this shoe features reversed lugs for climbing uphill and rocketing downhill, we still found ourselves slipping out more than other contenders. We liked that it gripped on most surfaces like dry rocks and roots; however, we found that the sole became slippery when wet, making it difficult to run. We also felt the lugs weren't deep enough to grab well in thick mud. Thus, this model did not perform as well as the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's on sloppier surfaces.

The traction on the ASICS Kahana 8 shoe is best for moderate terrain. That said  it's perfect for running the road due to its smooth outsole.
The traction on the ASICS Kahana 8 shoe is best for moderate terrain. That said, it's perfect for running the road due to its smooth outsole.

That said, the Kahana did well on both the track and pavement, making it a fantastic cross-over shoe option, comparable to the Brooks Cascadia 12 - Women's.

The deep indentations across the footbed allows for a flexible liftoff on trail.
The deep indentations across the footbed allows for a flexible liftoff on trail.

Stability


With a very wide toe box, form-fitting uppers, and rigid, yet flexible forefoot, this shoe felt incredibly stable on the trail, earning a score of seven out of ten in this category. The integrated ASICS DuoMax support system features a dual density midsole foam layer positioned in key places on the foot to provide support and stability on the trail when needed. The lacing system features round laces that sometimes come undone after long days on the trail.

The wider toe box accommodates those with wide and narrow feet.
The wider toe box accommodates those with wide and narrow feet.

Comfort & Fit



Comfort
We found this shoe to be a little more comfortable than most! The wider toe box accommodates foot swelling on longer runs. The break in period is roughly eight miles and the gel pods really conform to your foot for a unique and comfortable fit that we didn't experience with any other shoe. What took points is that the toe box feels shallow. This causes some discomfort and blisters on the tops of our toes during the initial break-in period. Furthermore, this shoe is not very breathable. The thinner upper accommodates some breathability, but our feet felt like they were burning up on warm days. If you are in the market more breathable shoe, check out the Salming Elements instead. If you're looking for the ultimate in comfort, check out the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 - Women's. This shoe earned five out of ten in this category.

The gel pods located on the heel of the shoe offer a springy ride down the trail.
The gel pods located on the heel of the shoe offer a springy ride down the trail.

Fit
This is a traditional trail runner with a 10 mm offset. The shoe features a wide toe box with a locked in heel and arch support system. This shoe is great for both heel and midfoot strikers alike.

In exchange for durability and "burl" this shoe doesn't offer a whole lot of breathability. here we hold the shoe up to the sun to see if any light shines through. Here  we see none.
In exchange for durability and "burl" this shoe doesn't offer a whole lot of breathability. here we hold the shoe up to the sun to see if any light shines through. Here, we see none.

Weight


Earning a four out of ten, this shoe feels heavy. Weighing in at 11.05 oz per shoe, this is our second heaviest shoe tested (next to the Brooks Cascadia 12). When drenching the shoe, we found it held about 3.2 oz of water - not bad for a heavier construct. As a result, we concluded it's not very absorbent and good for wet weather. Our field stream tests concluded that this thought is correct. If you're looking for an incredibly light shoe with similar features, check out the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Women's instead.

Weighing in at 11.10 oz  this shoe is not light! In fact  it's one of the heaviest tested.
Weighing in at 11.10 oz, this shoe is not light! In fact, it's one of the heaviest tested.

Sensitivity


With a seven out of ten, we thought the sensitivity of this shoe was about average. Without a rock plate, we were able to feel the trail underfoot, but it wasn't as sensitive as shoes with less cushioning like the Salming Elements.

Best Applications


The ASICS Kahana 8 can go most places but works best as a crossover shoe. You can take it into the mountains, but we'd recommend running shorter distances as it doesn't offer much in the way of protection. This shoe is a great introductory option for new trail runners.

A jaunt on mellow terrain is a perfect place for the ASICS Kahana 8.
A jaunt on mellow terrain is a perfect place for the ASICS Kahana 8.

Value


For a ticket price of just $85, this is the most inexpensive option tested. That said, it didn't stand up to the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's (our Best Buy award winner) in all areas of performance. We did like that its durable construction didn't show signs of wear and tear throughout our testing period - adding to the value of this past Best Buy award winner.

Conclusion


The GEL-Kahana 8 by ASICS is a great trail running shoe that can go almost anywhere for a great price.
Amber King

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Most recent review: May 26, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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