Asics, Initial Impressions, Sneakers

Asics Gel-Lyte III: More Than Expected

Price: $120 [Check Amazon for Free Shipping]

Why Buy?

The Asics Gel-Lyte III is an extremely affordable option with some interesting tech inside.

Why Avoid?

The Asics Gel-Lyte III doesn’t feature the best materials, and the tongue will turn a lot of people away.


ModelGel-Lyte III Jade
MaterialsSuede / Faux-leather / EVA / Rubber
Weight457 g / 1 lb 0.1 oz
Country of OriginVietnam


If you listen to a lot of the shoetubers out there, you would have guessed that Asics is just becoming popular for the first time in late 2023. Sneakers like the Gel-Kayano have certainly been having a moment, but anyone who was around before 2020 knows that there was one style of Asics that has been attracting attention for years: the Asics Gel-Lyte III.

Launched all the way back in 1990 as – you guessed it – the third iteration of Asic’s “Gel-Lyte” line, the Gel-Lyte III is the brain child of Asics’ go-to designer: Shigeuki Mitsui. Designed to take the technology from the II and put it in an even lighter weight body, the sneaker did well enough. However, like other iterations, it was fairly quickly replaced with a new model.

Around a decade and a half later, with the retro sneaker craze in full swing, Asics felt like they needed something to cash in on the trend. What better sneaker than a silhouette that was unmistakable. 2007 saw the release of extremely limited pairs of the Asics Gel-Lyte III in collaborations from brands like Patta and solebox.


The big break for the sneakers were a few years later when Ronnie Feig of Kith fame got his hands on them. First with the “Cove” colorway, and then with probably the most sought-after pair in this style: the “Salmon Toes.”

With people looking for something other than the same Jordan sneakers everyone has been wearing since 2019, should the Asics Gel-Lyte III be on your list? Let’s dive in.



The upper of the Asics Gel-Lyte III is unmistakably a product of the early 90’s. This jade/obsidian colorway manages to tone down the mutli-colored patterns slightly, but there is still no denying it. From overlaid panels to writing what tech is inside the sneakers multiple times, it definitely fits the retro theme.

One thing worth noting is that the exact pattern of most modern Gel-Lyte IIIs can be a bit different. This pair, like most sold today, is made up primarily of suede panels with fake leather highlights. The originals saw far more in the way of mesh and breathable panels.

To make up for the lack of mesh panels, you’ll find perforation on the toebox and midfoot, helping to keep things cool. Two signature cut outs on the toebox confirm what you’re looking at.


Moving back to the midfoot, the Asics overlapping stripes logo is typically the area where the design offers a contrast color. Around back, a fairly basic panel stack with two different “Gel” logos within 2 inches of one another. Impressive.

OK, I’ve ignored it for long enough. The tongue. Or lack thereof. The Asics Gel-Lyte III’s most defining feature is the lack of tongue. Instead, a slit down the middle of where the tongue would be means you can get your foot in, and then use laces to cinch it down.

While they work for my feet, for a lot of people it looks… not great. There is a reason why nearly all sneakers use a tongue.

Mid- and Outsole

For a sneaker that has a surprising amount of tech for its age (more on that later), the bottom half of the Asics Gel-Lyte III sure looks like a basic “wedge of EVA foam.” That isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it harder and harder to wear big thick basketball shoes. Something more basic works really well.

However, now that I’ve said that, there really isn’t much to explain. The sneaker features a wedge-shaped EVA block with “asics” pressed into the side. The foam slightly overspills onto the upper near the midfoot, and has a very small plastic cage in the back.


The bottom of the sneaker is a single-piece black rubber outsole. There are small grooves cut into it, but it’s about as basic as can be.


The Asics Gel-Lyte III isn’t going to blow you away with it’s out of the box design, but it doesn’t aim to. It’s a fairly basic sneaker that the brand allows any designer to change any color that they see fit. There are a few things that I believe a bad rap for good reason, but that’s kind of the point of the sneaker.

There are literally dozens of sneakers that came out between 1979 and 1995 that look basically the same as this one. Overlapping panels, white foam midsole, basic outsole, branding on the back. Reebok, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Puma: they all had something like this.

The questionable design choices on the Gel-Lyte III are what made it stand out from the crowd, and why we are still buying it today. Heck, look at Asics’ relatively unsuccessful efforts to bring back the Gel-Lyte V. An extremely similar sneaker, just with a more conventional upper.

As for how to style these, they are a great athleisure sneaker. A pair of nicer joggers and a well-fitting hoodie or sweatshirt with these is a perfect outfit to run to the mall on a Saturday afternoon.


Fit & Comfort


The Asics Gel-Lyte III fits slightly smaller than your average sneaker. I got these in my typical sneaker size of 13, but if they offered half sizes above 12.5, I probably would be just as comfortable in a 13.5.

These are built on a Japanese last, which means they are actually a bit wider for a given length. Or, in other words, if your sneaker size is typically set by your foot’s width, you can probably go true to size. If your sneaker size is typically set by your foot’s length, you will almost certainly want to go a half size up – though you might find them wider than you expect.

One item to be aware of, Asics themselves charge for both shipping and returns. If you don’t know your size, you could easily be out $12 to figure it out if you don’t go in store. As these don’t fit like most sneakers, I’d strongly recommend trying somewhere with free returns.

Amazon has prices as good as anywhere else, with fast shipping and free returns on almost every colorway.


For a sneaker that is now 34 years old, the Asics Gel-Lyte III is surprisingly comfortable. The upper is extremely supple, and the gel-filled insole offers something that sneakers of a similar vintage don’t.


Now, don’t kid yourself. This is a sneaker that is old enough to have 2.2 kids and a house. You’re not getting the bleeding edge in comfort with them. However, if you’re just looking to casually walk around you should be able to wear these all day with no issue.

Materials & Construction


The upper of this particular pair of sneakers is almost entirely made of a fairly cheap feeling suede. Honestly, I would have said it was synthetic had Asics not included a note that there is some form of leather product on the sneaker.

Speaking of, the white and blue panels are designed to look like leather, but those are definitely not real. So that leaves just the suede.

Gel Pods

When evaluating sneakers, it’s important to keep their price in account. The Asics Gel-Lyte III is on the more affordable side as far as retro runners go at MSRP, and are basically always on sale. Similar suede on something like a $225 Jordan 5 is problematic, but on these? It’s perfectly serviceable.

Underneath, the sneaker is actually a bit unique. Trying to find a way to combat the success of Nike’s Air technology, Asics wanted to find a way to be similar, but also different enough. Different enough to sell? Not be sued? Unclear.


However, what they ended up doing is creating pods similar to Nike’s air, but instead filled them with silicone gel. This offered much better cushioning than air, at the trade off of some rebound. For a casual sneaker, it’s a great option.

This pod is encased in an EVA foam, and that whole package is mounted to a rubber outsole.


The construction of the Asics Gel-Lyte III is fairly standard. The upper is sewn, and lasted on the shape. The midsole EVA is molded, the pods are dropped in, and these two pieces are glued together. The outsole is added either with the midsole, or at the end, depending on time of production.

This type of construction is known as cemented, and it’s among the most common ways of making a sneaker. It offers unparalleled water resistance (though, this sneaker does have holes in the upper so don’t expect much). It is also the most affordable way to make a shoe.

As for drawbacks, it’s not the most durable way to build a shoe as the glue can fail, and makes resoling much harder.


The Asics Gel-Lyte III MSRPs at $120 for most models, $130 for upgraded materials, and up to $140 if they utilize unique materials or feature a collaborator.

You’re almost never going to pay that price though, unless you’re buying the day it releases. While certain hyped up collabs will resell, most Gel-Lyte IIIs will be on sale before too long. I picked up this pair for just $35 + shipping on Black Friday, and more than 75% of colorways on Asics’ website are on sale at time of writing. You might not be able to get a pair you want for quite as low as I got this pair, but plenty of good colorways can be found for $60-70.

That being said, Asics charges shipping and for returns. Definitely check out someplace like Amazon so you can get your sizing right on your first pair.

This price point means it’s hard to find a sneaker as well known as these for a similar cost. Other than the Reebok Club C – another great pick – you’re mostly looking at things like Vans, or maybe hoping to find a Nike Tailwind at an outlet. 

Are the Asics Gel-Lyte III Worth It?

The Asics Gel-Lyte III is definitely a sneaker you should have on your radar. They are comfortable, unique enough (sometimes bad, sometimes good), and surprisingly affordable. It isn’t a pair of sneakers that is as versatile as something like the Samba or Stan Smith, but doesn’t pretend to be.

In a world where more and more sneakers are crossing that $200 price point, it’s great to know that something like the Asics Gel-Lyte III is out there. A low risk, high reward option that has a spot in almost every closet.

You should definitely consider a pair.