Written by Sim Benson www.wildrunning.net for the URC

Price: £115

Weight: 290g per shoe Men’s UK 11 Eu 46.5.

Find out more at www.asics.com

Asics DS Trainer 21 Stock Image 


The 21st version of the Asics DS-Trainer aims to continue the line of lightweight road shoes. It’s not the lightest shoe in the range but it’s close and claims to be designed for smashing your PB! I enjoy running in a light pair of neutral shoes but I try not to get the lightest racers as I know that light weight can’t be as durable. I’ve used older versions of the DS Trainer before and I liked them so hopefully these will be even better…

The Brand:

Founded in Japan in 1949 but not called Asics until 1977 this is a company dedicated to progressing running shoe technology. Asics continue to innovate using different materials and manufacturing technologies, always trying and create a better shoe.

Ethically Asics publish details of their corporate and social responsibility program which is comprehensive and makes interesting reading. They aim to include social and environmental considerations into all business decisions.

The Shoes:

On first inspection the DS Trainers feel light, the upper is very minimal and, reassuringly for me, the sole has a reasonable amount of cushioning and structure; it actually feels quite stiff. The current men’s version is a green and black design which I think looks a bit like slime but in a good way. The shoe is available in a women’s specific fit and colourway as well but we haven’t tested them.

The Fit:

As I would expect from a lightweight shoe the fit is reasonably slim and the shoe doesn’t have very much volume in the forefoot. This fits me well but if you have wide or deep feet it may not be so comfy. The heel of the shoe is reasonably deep and structured and feels like it should hold my heel well. Length-wise I’d say they are true to size.

Asics DS trainers 138 2

The Tread:

Asics have used a soft and grippy rubber around the edge of the fore foot and on the heel and a section of harder studded tread in the middle of the forefoot. The studs don’t feel as grippy as the rubber but they feel like they should be durable and presumably help to make the sole unit lighter. The shoe offers good grip on road and they also feel good on the gravel towpath that I often run on.

The Sole Unit:

The Impact Guidance System that Asics use in most of their running shoes is designed to link the various types of EVA midsole and gel cushioning to create a smooth ride from landing to take off. In practice the shoe feels fairly cushioned and supportive, especially considering its low weight. It feels good to run in, doesn’t interfere with my natural running gait and protects my feet from the impact on the road.

The Upper:

The upper is super light and thin, constructed from a single layer and reinforced with external rubberised banding. Inside the only seams are around the midfoot where the extra heel lining material meets the single layer upper on the forefoot; in use I can’t feel this seam at all. Reading other reviews online I have seen a few comments on the durability of the upper material but after well over 200 miles I haven’t experienced any issues. The tongue is thin but is padded and protects my feet from the standard laces. I do find that I need to be careful not to roll the edge of the tongue up when I put my foot in the shoe, if I do it’s quickly uncomfortable but since I’ve realised that this can happen it’s easy to get right.


The Asics Gel-DS Trainer 21 offers runners a lightweight but I’ve found fairly durable road shoe. The sole is reasonably structured and most of the weight-saving appears to be in the upper, so they still cope well with longer runs and high mileage. They are designed as a lightweight racing shoe and the upper is very light so I wouldn’t expect them to be hugely durable but they are doing well so far and are great to run in. So, assuming they fit you well they would make a great racing and fast training shoe, and I’d happily wear them for longer-distance races.