Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review
The Asics Tarther Kainos is a remarkably light, well cushioned shoe with outstanding grip on asphalt. The main flaw is that the heel is much higher than the forefoot, creating an excessive drop. If you're transitioning from a more traditional running shoe and are okay with running in high heels, then the Tarther may suit you. I rate the Tarther "worth considering", and it would rate higher if it had less drop. Note that the Asics Tarther Kainos and Asics TartherZeal are nearly identical twins, differing only in their uppers, with the Kainos being slightly heavier than the Zeal. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 Comparisons
- 3 Cushioning and Shoes
- 4 Visualizing the Attributes of the Asics Tarther Kainos
- 5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
- . If you're okay with running in high heels, then this is an excellent shoe, combining good cushioning with light weight. Its grip on asphalt, even wet asphalt makes it a good choice for speedwork.
- . The Tarther has great cushioning for its weight, but the drop means that there's a lot more in the heel than the forefoot. The foam is Asics' Solyte, which is a lightweight EVA foam, combined with a Asics' Gel in the heel (a silicone based impact absorption material).
- . The Tarther has 9mm of drop when worn, which is way too much. I believe that running in high heels messes with your biomechanics, as well as biasing the cushioning to the rear.
- . There is no significant "arch support" to cause problems. The Tarther includes the "Propulsion Trusstic System" which is a plastic shank that links the forefoot and heel of the sole, which seems to be intended to create a little bit of a spring effect. I'm not sure it helps, but it doesn't cause any problems either.
- . The Tarther is reasonably flexible, as you'd expect for a lightweight shoe.
- . The outsole covers all the contact patches, and the forefoot has hard plastic "nubs" that provide outstanding grip on asphalt. Shoes with this style of plastic nubs seem to be growing more popular, and they are awesome for speedwork, especially in damp conditions.
- cutting open the toe box open to prevent toe problems. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . The shape of the Tarther does not match the human foot, and narrows in the toe box, and I'd recommend
- . The upper is fairly thin, with no padding except a small amount around the ankle opening. The upper contains quite a few overlays of plastic or pseudo-leather which could create pressure points for some runners. The open weave of the upper is highly breathable.
- . The tongue is relatively thin, partly padded, and quite comfortable. It's not a thick plush tongue like you'd get on a heavier shoe, but it does the job nicely. The tongue design is traditional, with no attachments to the upper along the sides. It has a loop to attach it to the laces, and I found it stayed in place without any problems.
- . Traditional thin flat laces that stay tied.
- . The heel counter is quite solid and it's a little larger than most. The edges seem quite soft, so I doubt if it will dig in to your foot. I'd classify it as "useless, but mostly harmless."
Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.
2.1 Asics Tarther Kainos and Asics TartherZeal
It seems odd that Asics would make two shoes that differ only in their upper. The Kainos looks like a far more modern shoe, as the reinforcement overlays are thin strips of plastic that are embedded into the upper rather than thick plastic or pseudo-leather strips that are stitched on. I much prefer the look of the Kainos over the Zeal, but the two uppers feel the same. The biggest difference is actually the weight, with the Zeal coming in just over half an ounce lighter. That's not a huge difference, but it's enough to tip the scales in favor of the Zeal. That said, unless you're concerned with the weight because you're choosing a shoe for a race, I'd recommend going for whichever is cheaper.
2.2 Asics Tarther Kainos and Saucony Kinvara
I classify both the Tarther and the Kinvara as good for transitioning away from traditional shoes like the Asics GT 2000. The Saucony Kinvara and the Tarther are close cushioning and helpful in this transition, but they are rather different in style. The Kinvara is a little heavier than the Tarther and doesn't have the outstanding grip, but the Kinvara has a much lower drop. If you're looking for a lighter shoe but maintaining the higher drop, then the Tarther is well worth trying. However, I'd recommend migrating to a lower drop shoe like the Kinvara.
2.3 Asics Tarther Kainos and Asics Gel Hyper Speed
The Tarther provides more cushioning and better grip for only slightly more weight than the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. If it were not for the excessive drop, the Tarther would be a strong competitor for the Hyper Speed. So the decision between the two shoes comes down to how you feel about running in high heels. If you're transitioning from a traditional shoe, then the Tarther could be an awesome shoe, but if you want something more natural, then stick with the Hyper Speed.
2.4 Asics Tarther Kainos and Hoka Clifton
The Tarther and the Clifton are not really competitors; the Clifton is about 30% heavier and provides massively more cushioning. If you're after cushioning then the Clifton is the best choice.
2.5 Asics Tarther Kainos and Asics GT 2000
I tend to compare shoes against my benchmark "normal running shoe", the Asics GT 2000. The GT 2000 weights just over half as much again as the Tarther, but actually provides less cushioning. The GT 2000 has a more padded upper, but the comfort is not as different as you might think. What the GT 2000 does give you that the Tarther lacks is lots of over engineered attempts to manipulate your stride, attempts that The Science of Running Shoes indicates are all in vain. The main similarity is the drop; both are high heels.
3 Cushioning and Shoes
It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.
4 Visualizing the Attributes of the Asics Tarther Kainos
5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Full Review||Name||Rating|| Recommended
|Asics 33-DFA Review||33-DFA||Worth considering||$90||5.7||10.6||16.5||27||27||0||6.1||6|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||8|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||7|
|Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review||Bionic||Highly Recommended||$95||6.4||7.0||10.9||15||18||2||4.5||9|
|Hoka Bondi Review||Bondi||Highly Recommended||$150||8.0||10.9||17.0||41||45||5||8.8||0|
|Hoka Clayton Review||Clayton||Best of the Best||$150||8.8||8.3||12.9||26||30||3||7.3||5|
|Hoka Clifton 3 Review||Clifton3||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||9.8||15.3||34||38||3||8.9||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||8|
|Hoka Conquest Review||Conquest||Worth considering||$170||5.0||11.9||18.5||28||34||5||6.0||3|
|Saucony Cortana 4 Review||Cortana||Worth considering||$150||4.4||9.9||18.7||22||28||5||4.3||5|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||7|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||6|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||6|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin Review||Endorphin||Highly Recommended||$125||11.1||4.1||6.4||14||13||-1||4.5||9|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||6|
|Puma Faas 100 R Review||Faas 100||Highly Recommended||$90||8.4||6.1||9.4||15||20||1||5.1||9|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||8|
|Topo Fli-Lyte Review||Fli-Lyte||Highly Recommended||$100||6.0||9.4||14.6||23||24||4||5.6||6|
|Nike Free 4.0 Review||Free||Recommended||$120||5.3||8.2||13.6||24||30||6||4.4||6|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||11||11||3||5.8||7|
|Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review||Gel Lyte||Not recommended||$90||8.0||7.3||11.4||17||24||4||5.8||9|
|Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review||GOmeb 3||Worth considering||$120||6.9||8.1||12.6||20||24||4||5.5||8|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||5|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review||GRU-R||Worth considering||$105||6.5||11.3||17.6||30||40||6||7.4||7|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||7|
|Altra Instinct 3.5 Review||Instinct 3.5||Recommended||$115||4.9||9.3||15.2||24||23||0||4.5||6|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||7|
|Saucony Kinvara 7 Review||Kinvara||Best of the Best||$110||7.4||8.2||12.8||23||27||3||6.1||6|
|Nike LunaRacer 4 Review||LunaRacer||Recommended||$90||9.9||7.0||10.9||22||30||7||6.9||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||7|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||3|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|New Balance 980 Review||NB 980||Worth considering||$110||4.6||10.1||15.7||21||30||5||4.6||5|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||4|
|Altra Olympus Review||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$130||5.4||11.8||18.4||27||27||3||6.4||4|
|Altra One 2.5 Review||One||Highly Recommended||$100||8.5||7.1||11.1||22||25||2||6.0||8|
|Altra Paradigm Review||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$130||6.4||9.9||15.4||25||25||1||6.4||4|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||7|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000 Review||RC5000||Best of the Best||$125||12.2||3.4||5.3||13||17||3||4.2||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||8|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||9|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||9|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||2|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Streak LT||Best of the Best||$80||8.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.8||6|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Torin||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.6||14.9||28||25||-1||5.5||5|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||6|
|Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review||Trail Glove||Best of the Best||$100||2.9||6.9||24.7||11||11||0||2.0||9|
|Brooks Transcend 2 Review||Transcend||Recommended||$170||5.1||12.6||19.6||30||36||6||6.5||4|
|Topo Tribute Review||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||7|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review||Vapor Glove||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||6|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||7|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.