Earlier this year, Asics launched the Gel-Nimbus™ 25 – the latest iteration of their Gel-Nimbus running shoe series – with a bold claim: “the most comfortable running shoe, as tested by runners”. That got our attention.
What Asics Had To Say
The Gel-Nimbus™ 25 contains PureGEL™ technology, which is designed to absorb shock and, according to Asics, creates the softest landing to date. Other notable features are the addition of Asics’s FF BLAST™ PLUS ECO cushioning foam, which is made using 20% bio-based material from renewable sources, and the stretchy, breathable knit tongue and collar.
It took the Asics design team 18 months to come up with a running shoe that they believed could be called the “most comfortable”. They then handed it over to Dr Chris Bishop, a podiatrist and biomechanist at The Biomechanics Lab in Australia for testing. He designed a test to pit to the Gel-Nimbus 25 against three competitor shoes, as well as the Asics Gel-Nimbus 24. He recruited 100 runners – 52 men; 48 women – to take part in the eight-week study, which involved running on a treadmill for three minutes.
All the shoes were disguised, so study participants had no idea which shoes they were wearing. After reviewing the study participants’ ratings across various categories, Dr Bishop concluded that, “Comfort is a perception factor which is not a biomechanical variable and it’s not the same for every individual. However, the results of this study were conclusive: the GEL-NIMBUS™ 25 was statistically the most comfortable running shoe tested.”
WH Tests The Asics Gel-Nimbus™ 25 Running Shoe
Intrigued by the lab results, Wanita Nicol took the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 for a test-run under less lab-controlled, more plot-twisty conditions: South Africa’s roads.
The first thing I noticed, out of the box, was that the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25s felt a lot lighter than they looked. They’re actually quite broad and chunky looking, but this doesn’t translate into added weight. The next thing that jumped out at me was the tongue – it’s stretchy, perforated and a lot spongier than I’m used to. I find that running shoes sometimes squash the bridge of my foot and this tongue design prevents that from happening. When I read up about the shoe, I saw this was a key design feature – and the perforations I noticed are for ventilation.
The toe box is not as wide as I was expecting from the look of the running shoe, but it also wasn’t cramped – my toes had plenty of space to flex and move. (That said, I have narrow feet.) This snug fit also meant that my foot didn’t slip inside the running shoe, which can cause blisters. There’s a really nice, cushioned collar that prevents chafing and the laces – which are long and also have a good stretch, preventing them from digging into the top of your foot – have extra eyelets that you can use to create even more stability.
Speaking of which, the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 has a broad base for a running shoe, making it feel really stable. That higher collar that wraps around your ankle also made me feel more secure.
The sole felt nice and grippy on the road and gravelly pavements, although I haven’t tested it in wet conditions.
When you’re forking out a lot of money on a running shoe you may want to use it for different things. The shoe looks really good – on the run and with jeans. In fact, walking around the mall, I had a random stranger say, “I like your shoes!” and when a sports shoe passes the random-stranger test you must know it’s giving style! But as for other sports, this shoe feels, to me, like a road running shoe, end of story. I would not take it offroad – even just running over small stones, I could feel them right through all that cushioning (of course, I could just be long-forgotten royalty ala The Princess and the Pea). And while the base is broad and stable, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing a functional workout in them with all that cushioning.
Sometimes you put on a running shoe and you feel like you just want to run as fast as you can. This is not that shoe. However, I felt like I wanted to keep going. I did my usual loop around the neighbourhood and as I neared the end, I still felt fresh and like I could go around again. I found it very easy to maintain a steady pace.
And now for the big one – the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 feels like running on marshmallows. The landing is so soft and pillowy, I didn’t feel any of the jarring sensation I sometimes feel as I start getting fatigued and I had none of the pain in my joints that I sometimes feel as a result. The fit is correct to size, so I didn’t ever feel that my toes were knocking against the front of the shoe or that my heels were slipping out of it. There was no painful chafing and no annoying bite of a lace or any other part of the running shoe. The only bit of discomfort I felt was that my feet felt a bit toasty, which I suspect might be welcome in winter when they typically feel like ice blocks on early-morning runs.
A Running Shoe For People Who Hate Running
So, the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 is comfy. But who is it for?
I think it’s a good running shoe for people who hate running. From experience, I hated running until one day I put on a pair of shoes that cushioned my landing and took the pain out of the experience. I feel this shoe could be that gamechanger for other reluctant runners. It’s also good for recreational runners who just want to enjoy going for a jog and maybe run further but aren’t chasing a fast time.
A more serious runner weighs in:
While I – nowadays – enjoy running, I don’t run far and I don’t run particularly fast either. So, I asked my friend Amy (@amy_hoppy on Insta), a triathlete and half-marathoner, what she thought of the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25. Here’s what she had to say:
“The Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 shoes are a slightly wider iteration of the 24, meaning greater comfort in the toe box for wider feet like mine. I love the new stretchy tongue and really enjoyed the comfort of the new foam configuration. It’s a shoe you can comfortably wear all day (I’ve tested that) and is ideal for LSDs (Long, Slow, Distance – i.e. your long weekend runs). It’s not a speed shoe (for short, sharp distances), but a good 21km+ and marathon shoe and everyday runner’s training shoe. Their comfort means that two-hour+ long runs won’t feel as taxing on your body and feet.”
The Gel-Nimbus™ 25 goes for R3 499 at asics.com. The women’s sizes start at UK3 and go up to UK10, with half sizes available up to size 9.
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 is a very comfortable running shoe. Is it the most comfortable in the world? I’d have to test a lot more shoes to make that call, but of the shoes I have tested, it’s certainly high on the list. Is it worth the price? If a jarring landing is holding you back from pursuing your running dreams, then I would say yes. And if you usually spend this amount of money on a running shoe, this one is worth checking out