TLDR; I ordered ASICS Gel-Contend 3 on Amazon 12/31/2016 for $39.23. It was the cheapest pair of running shoes that I have bought to date. But after running 50 miles on the Gel-Contend 3, I’m very satisfied with its performance as training shoes. Very highly recommended.
In keeping with two-pairs-of-running-shoes-every-6-months plan, I was ready to retire my old pairs, ASICS Gel-Nimbus 17 and New Balance 490v3. (They have served me well, and you can read my reviews of them here and here.)
So I began searching for my next pair of running shoes. After trying two budget shoes earlier (I define budget shoes as $50 or less including tax), I was ready to try another. Since I tried two New Balance budget shoes, I thought I would try Asics budget shoes this time.
I have been a big fan of Eastbay when buying my running shoes. But I realized last year that there are lot of times when Amazon has better deals than Eastbay. So I started searching on Amazon. There were two shoes that I was eyeing on. One was Asics Gel-Excite 3, and the other was Asics Gel-Contend 3. Both shoes retailed at around $40 – $60, so both were within my budget as long as I land a good deal.
Since I wear out my outer sole faster (I’m an under-pronator), I wanted to get a pair of Excite 3. Excite 3 is advertised on Asics website as under-pronator or neutral runner’s shoes. But I couldn’t find anything lower than $50 when I was shopping late last year on Amazon.
Fortunately, I was able to find a pair of Asics Gel-Contend 3 for $39.23. To make it even better deal, the price included the tax and shipping. (Great deal!) I ordered on the spot, and I received the shoes a couple of days later, thanks to Amazon Prime.
As I mentioned it was the first time ordering a pair of shoes for $40, so I didn’t know what to expect. Drawing from my past experience with budget New Balance shoes, I was thinking there must be some catch when a pair of shoes sell for $40. Either upper sole will be made out of flimsy vinyl, or shoes will lack structure to hold on to my feet and ankle, so I thought.
Well, guess what. I just ran 56 miles on my Asics Gel-Contend 3, and I just cannot tell what the catch is. Shoes are solidly constructed. Unlike New Balance 490v3, it grips my heels really well. In fact so well that I couldn’t tell the difference from much more expensive Asics shoes when it comes to heel grips. When putting on, you can feel that the build quality that are found in premium shoes.
It did not end there. After the smashing first impression, I decided to wear them out on my trail running, and I have been thoroughly impressed. It had very predictable and solid feel to them. Cushion is firm yet supportive. It needed a little break-in period (maybe around 10 miles or so), but once broken-in it gave me just enough cushion and balance for me to run 7 miles without feeling all beaten up.
Honestly, I don’t know what the catch is. It looks great. It feels great. It gave me just as good support and balance as $100+ shoes. I have been buying wrong running shoes!
Oh, there is one more plus: Unlike Asics Gel-Nimbus 17, it did not give me any blister since the day one!
If you are on a budget, and looking for a running shoes, you must try Asics Gel-Contend 3. Even if you are not on a budget, I think you should try Asics Gel-Contend 3 just to try them out and see how good they feel on the road and trails.