A Guide to the Best ASICS Retro Running Shoes

If you’re a sneaker collector, there’s an almost 100% chance that you own a good amount of retro models. After all, sneakers from the 1990’s, 80’s (or even older) make up a significant portion of the best shoe designs ever. Your closet is probably full of retro classics from brands like Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. You probably have at least a couple pairs of classic Vans, and maybe some of New Balance’s retro runners. And now, more likely than ever, you may have some ASICS sneakers in there, too.

In the last couple of years, ASICS has made a big push in the retro category, supplying sneaker fans with a steady flow of the brand’s classic running shoes in great colorways and quality materials. Definitely no hindrance to their rising popularity among sneakerheads, in recent years ASICS has also been frequently teaming up with some of the most respected retailers in the sneaker world for some of the coolest collab shoes out there—from any brand.​

A few years back, there were pretty much only two options on the market for ASICS retro models: the Gel Saga and Gel-Lyte III. Now with their growing popularity, ASICS has unleashed a new arsenal of classic models all worthy of adding to your collection. To make sense of the various models, I present this handy guide to the best of the ASICS retro department.

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Bait Asics Gel Saga Phantom Lagoons

Ford has the Taurus, Coca-Cola has their original formula, and the ASICS retro line has the Gel Saga. The most tried-and-true model of all of the brand’s retro running offerings, the Gel Saga is basic yet stylish and ultra comfortable. Catch them each season in great new in-line versions in both traditional mesh-based constructions and casual modern suede builds in a steady stream of stylish ​colorways. The Saga is also a favorite silhouette for collaborators, like the “Phantom Lagoons” version by California sneaker boutique BAIT pictured here.

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Gel-Lyte III

Asics Gel Lyte lll Captain Blue
via vagrantsneaker.com

Along with the Saga, the Gel-Lyte III is one of the most popular ASICS retro silhouettes. The famous split-tongued Gel-Lyte III (read all about it HERE) originally from 1990 is another standby of the ASICS retro line that you can expect to see in new versions each season, constructed in a plethora of materials and colorways. With versions by the likes of Kith, Concepts, BAIT, St. Alfred, and many more top-tier boutiques, the Gel-Lyte III is the most collaborated-on sneaker in ASICS history.

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Gel-Lyte V

Asics Gel Lyte V Atomic Blue
via KithNYC.com

The hottest new retro model in the ASICS arsenal is the Gel-Lyte V. Re-introduced in 2013, the shoe has quickly become one of the most popular retro runners from not just ASICS, but all brands. A clean and stylish upper, a foot-hugging bootie system around the ankle, and even that wavy line in the midsole all add to its appeal. The fact that the Gel-Lyte V is super comfortable doesn’t hurt, either.

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Asics GT Cool Sneaker
via KithNYC.com

Another newer addition to the ASICS retro line is the GT-Cool, a second split-tongued design similar to the Gel-Lyte III. A bit overshadowed by the Gel-Lyte III so far, the GT-Cool has still seen its share of great colorways like the black and mint version pictured here.

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Asics Gel Epirus
via SneakerPolitics.com

From the late 1980’s, the Gel-Epirus is one of the most basic models in the ASICS retro running lineup, sporting a fairly simple mesh and suede upper. Going for that vintage feel, the designers at ASICS have kept it in its traditional build so far, but don’t be surprised to see the silhouette turn up in some more modern looks or collab versions sometime soon.

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Asics GT II
via SneakerPolitics.com

Like the Gel-Epirus, the GT-II is another one of the older, more simple models in the current retro lineup. However, it’s been back in the rotation for a while longer (like the Gel-Lyte III and Gel Saga), so it has quite a few colorways, constructions, and collabs under its belt. The GT-II is kind of like the old, wise member of the ASICS retro runner family.

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Gel-Kayano Trainer

Asics Kayano 20th Anniversary
via PackerShoes.com

The Gel-Kayano has been the flagship stability model in the ASICS performance running category since 1993, now up to the 21st edition. That very first version from ’93 is now back, as one of the brand’s newest and most popular retro models. Its awesome design features a bit more technical look than the other ASICS retro models, with a plastic stripes logo panel that doubles as a support cage, a one-piece tongue that hugs the ankle, and a thick and stable midsole with plenty of ​Gel cushioning. Along with the original colorway pictured here, every new in-line colorway released so far has looked great, so be on the lookout as more new versions hit the market.