Hands-on Gear Review

ASICS Gel-Kahana 7 Review

Price:  $85 List | $75.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Motion control, sensitive, affordable, wide sizes
Cons:  Heavy, not very protective, durability concerns with sole
Editors' Rating:   
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Upper:  Synthetic mesh
Midsole:  SpEVA midsole with GEL cushioning in heel and DuoMax pronation control
Outsole:  ASICS High Abrasion Rubber
Manufacturer:   ASICS

Our Verdict

The ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 is an everyday trainer that is a good option for those who want a shoe that can handle both road running as well as gnarlier trails. It is designed as a motion control shoe, meaning it has an integrated DuoMax support system that helps mild to severe over pronators by adding extra support under the arch and in the heel. At only $85, this shoe is considerably cheaper than most of the others in our review, but in our opinion, you get what you pay for. While popular and affordable, the GEL-Kahana 7 simply does not offer the same level of performance found in most of the other shoes we tested.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
Tuesday
June 30, 2015

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While touted as a trail running shoe, the ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 is more of a crossover shoe that will work well both on the roads and on trails, and is not nearly as well equipped to handle burly trail running as the ASICS GEL-FujiTrabuco 4 Neutral. It incorporates the GEL cushioning system in the heel and DuoMax stability control in the heel and under the arch, but lacks a forefoot rockplate. These features give it a rigid and supportive feel through the back of the foot, yet a flexible and sensitive feel in the forefoot. This could be a great shoe for ASICS lovers looking to transition from roads to trails, or for those who run on smoother dirt, but we can't recommend it when comparing it to the other options available for dedicated trail and off-road running.

Performance Comparison


Lots of leather overlays that are sewn into the mesh upper mean this is a well constructed upper.
Lots of leather overlays that are sewn into the mesh upper mean this is a well constructed upper.

Foot Protection


Without a rockplate and with a relatively low stack height of cushioning under the foot, the GEL-Kahana 7 does not give much protection to the bottom of the foot. Despite using ASICS' GEL heel cushioning system, this shoe felt much less protective and cushioned than the FujiTrabuco 4 Neutral. There are gaps in the outsole designed to increase flexion, but the simple reality of this shoe is that you can easily feel what you are stepping on. Whether you like that or not, you be the judge.

The horizontal gaps in the forefoot allowed for great articulation and flexibility. Notice the GEL cushioning system in the heel.
The horizontal gaps in the forefoot allowed for great articulation and flexibility. Notice the GEL cushioning system in the heel.

Traction


The trail specific outsole on this shoe was amongst the lowest performers that we tested. The lugs are low profile compared to most and very closely spaced, a feature that leads to mud build-up. Additionally, the outsole is formed in many separate pieces glued to the SpEVA midsole, which is nowhere near as durable as a single sole piece. We saw reports online of the soles coming apart, and indeed this was beginning to happen to our test pair after less than 100 miles of use.

We had seen pictures of this posted online and then realized it was happening to our own pair as well. We find this is common with outsoles that use many different pieces that need to be glued in place and think that a single piece of rubber is a much better solution.
We had seen pictures of this posted online and then realized it was happening to our own pair as well. We find this is common with outsoles that use many different pieces that need to be glued in place and think that a single piece of rubber is a much better solution.

Stability


The GEL-Kahana 7 was middle of the road in terms of stability. Its 10mm heel-toe drop is amongst the largest in the test, a quality that we find leads to less stability in general. However, it rides higher off the ground and is nowhere near as stable as say the Mizuno Wave Kazan.

Comfort


Comfort is going to be a very subjective thing with this shoe depending on whether you need motion control in your shoes or not. The motion control feels similar to an orthotic insert that supports the inside of the foot in the heel and arch area. Our head tester prefers a neutral shoe, so found the motion control pretty uncomfortable. That said, he did not find any discomfort from the fit or construction of the shoe. One detraction to the comfort score of this shoe was the fact that it absorbed and then retained a lot of water during our bucket test.

Notice the blue GEL cushioning insert used in the midsole of this shoe  like many made by ASICS. We found that compared to some of the others we tried there was relatively little cushioning in this shoe  giving it a very sensitive feel.
Notice the blue GEL cushioning insert used in the midsole of this shoe, like many made by ASICS. We found that compared to some of the others we tried there was relatively little cushioning in this shoe, giving it a very sensitive feel.

Weight


The GEL-Kahana 7 weighs 26.2 ounces for a pair, ranking it amongst the heaviest in our review along the sides of the GEL-FujiTrabuco 4 Neutral and the Brooks Cascadia. It was still considerably lighter than the Salomon XA Pro 3D. Ignoring the scale and going by feel, it didn't feel prohibitively heavy to our testers.

Sensitivity


Similar to the New Balance Leadville 1210v2, this is a shoe that also foregoes the addition of a rockplate and instead uses EVA foam exclusively to protect the bottom of the foot. As a result, the GEL-Kahana 7 offers great trail feel. The forefoot articulates well, which is what makes it a good option for roads as well. The GEL system in the heel eliminates much of the heel sensitivity, but it is designed to cushion against heel-striking, and thus that is more important.

The built in outsole creases allowed for great flexion and a natural stride. This makes the shoe a good option for roads as well as trails. With no forefoot rockplate this in one of the most sensitive shoes in our review.
The built in outsole creases allowed for great flexion and a natural stride. This makes the shoe a good option for roads as well as trails. With no forefoot rockplate this in one of the most sensitive shoes in our review.

Best Applications


In our opinion, the GEL-Kahana 7 is a good shoe for someone who runs on both trails and roads but only has one pair of shoes, or someone looking to transition from roads to trails. For a dedicated trail runner, this is not the ideal shoe.

Value


The MSRP for this shoe is $85. While that makes it $10 more expensive than the Adidas Vigor 5, we feel it is a far superior shoe. For those getting into trail running or who need motion control, we think this shoe offers you good bang for your buck.

Conclusion


The ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 is versatile and affordable shoe that offers runners with over-pronation issues a motion control midsole platform. Lacking a forefoot rockplate, it is one of the more sensitive shoes that we tested, and its supple and flexible feel make it a great choice for runners who spend a lot of time on both trails and roads.

Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: June 30, 2015
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