Our verdict

We discovered that with the ASICS Gel Challenger 14, you can get the benefits of a more expensive tennis shoe for only £100! The primary advantage being its fantastic stability for forceful lateral movements. It also carries over the outsole durability and traction of the famous Gel Resolution 9. Sure, you won't get the same level of durability but why not give this bang for the buck a try?

Pros

  • Excellent stability and arch support
  • Super hard-wearing outsole
  • Grip of a top-tier tennis shoe
  • Light for a stability-oriented shoe
  • Lots of impact protection
  • Plush and cushy in-shoe feel
  • More flexible than average

Cons

  • Lacks breathability
  • Upper is not so abrasion-resistant

Audience verdict

78
Good!

Who should buy

We cannot think of a better shoe than the ASICS Gel Challenger 14 if:

  • you are a beginner/occasional tennis player
  • you need a high level of support and stability
  • you want a budget-friendly shoe that doesn't skimp on outsole durability

Asics Gel Challenger 14 review

Who should NOT buy

If you are a toe dragger through and through, the Challenger 14 most likely won't last long enough for you. While it looks tough, the shoe's synthetic upper lacks the abrasion resistance we've seen in shoes like the ASICS Gel Resolution 9 and the ASICS Court FF 3.

Another reason to look elsewhere is if you value breathability in your tennis footwear. We recommend looking into the ASICS Solution Speed FF 2 if you seek better ventilation.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 lab test

Breathability

Let's be clear, the Challenger 14's synthetic upper is one of the thickest we've seen on a tennis shoe! So, ventilation is only allowed through the mesh tongue and a few perforations on the toebox.

This is easily illustrated in our proprietary breathability test. Filling the shoe's upper with smoke, we can see how none of it escapes through the toebox but finds a way through the tongue.

ASICS Solution Speed FF 2 (on the right) proved to be much better ventilated

This is the reason why we lowered the shoe's breathability score to only 3 out of 5. But the good news is that very few tennis shoes get more than 3 due to reinforced uppers.

Even when we hovered the shoe's half-cut upper over the light, we couldn't see a single pore. The material is dense throughout.

The light didn't even shine through those ventilation holes in the toebox! Looking at them up close through our microscope revealed that there is a tightly woven mesh layer underneath. It also stands in the way of letting the air escape so freely.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 microscope

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 3
Average 3.1
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

From the beginning, our hopes were set high for the Challenger 14's upper durability. With that dense synthetic layer it is supposed to be tough, right?

Well, as our Dremel test shows, not so much.

With the speed set to 5K RPM, we held the tool's sandpaper tip against the shoe's toebox for 12 seconds. And the result was far from encouraging.

The tool drilled right through the synthetic layer, damaging the lining beneath it too. For that reason, we couldn't rate the shoe's toebox durability higher than 3 out of 5.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Toebox durability

While there is a toe drag guard on this ASICS shoe, it is not as substantial as in the brand's other models. Even though it offers protection, it won't help much when you happen to brush a non-guarded area of the upper against the court.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 toe drag protection

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 3
Average 4.1
Compared to 23 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Of course, we cannot expect stellar durability from a budget-friendly model. But we must also be open about the shoe's shortcomings.

The Challenger's heel collar padding was the next part touched by our demanding Dremel. The delicate mesh gave in rather quickly as it took a mere 4 seconds to tear it apart.

On a 1-5 scale, where 1 is the least abrasion-resistant, we gave it the lowest score.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Heel padding durability test
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 1
Average 3.3
Compared to 23 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Seeing the pitfalls of the upper, we were more cautious about the shoe's outsole durability. But luckily, it performed rather well in our lab tests.

First of all, its rubber compound is adequately hard, showing 86.5 HA on our durometer. This is just as hard as in the more expensive tennis shoes. Softer rubbers tend to wear out way faster on the hard court.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Outsole hardness
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 86.5 HC
Average 85.8 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
73.4 HC
Outsole hardness
92.0 HC

Outsole durability

Going all out, we amped up the Dremel speed to 10K RPM and held its sandpaper tip against the shoe's outsole for 22 seconds.

The shoe's AHAR PLUS rubber held up fabulously, just like we would expect from ASICS' top-tier outsole. It seems as though the Dremel only brushed the dust off the shoe as our tread gauge showed a minuscule dent of 0.4 mm.

Smaller than average, it reassured us of the Challenger 14's shelf life.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Outsole durability test
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 0.4 mm
Average 0.7 mm
Compared to 23 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Even though there is no durability warranty for this ASICS shoe, its resistance to abrasion and the amount of rubber look promising enough to us.

Based on our calliper measurements, the outsole of the Challenger is 4.1 mm thick. That's a solid slab of rubber to wear through!

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Outsole thickness
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 4.1 mm
Average 4.1 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
3.0 mm
Outsole thickness
5.1 mm

Weight

The DYNAWING setup on the sides of the ASICS Gel Challenger 14 makes the shoe seem heavier than it is. We felt quite nimble moving all over the court in this tennis shoe.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 lightweight

Placing it on the scale, we got 12.5 oz (354g) in a men's US size 9. That's even lighter than average! Especially for a shoe with such pronounced stability features.

For context, ASICS' step-up stability shoe (Gel Resolution 9) comes in at 13.8 oz (392g).

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Weight
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 12.49 oz (354g)
Average 12.84 oz (364g)
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
10.30 oz (292g)
Weight
14.71 oz (417g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Worrying about impact protection is absolutely unnecessary with the ASICS Gel Challenger 14. It has more cushioning than 60% of our lab-tested tennis shoes!

Measuring the shoe's heel stack, we got 30.4 mm. Same as the Adidas Barricade 13 (30.2 mm).

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Heel stack
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 30.4 mm
Average 29.3 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
25.3 mm
Heel stack
33.0 mm

Forefoot stack

There is also a generous amount of forefoot cushioning in the Challenger 14. It's got a good level of responsiveness for split steps and explosive launches.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Forefoot stack
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 20.8 mm
Average 19.7 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
17.0 mm
Forefoot stack
23.4 mm

Drop

But we should note that this ASICS shoe doesn't feel detached from the ground either. It has a moderately steep incline between the heel and the toes. At 9.6 mm, it makes the heel only slightly elevated allowing for a cushioned yet stable experience.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Drop
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 9.6 mm
Average 9.7 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
6.3 mm
Drop
12.4 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

A major portion of the shoe's midsole is made of a single-density foam. ASICS doesn't specify what kind of foam that is but we measured its softness at 31.3 HA. That's a moderately firm compound which is typical for tennis shoes.

Under the heel, the Challenger 14 features a rearfoot GEL unit. Wonderfully squishy, it balances out the firmer carrier foam by adding a bit of bounce.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Midsole softness
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 31.3 HA
Average 29.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
21.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
34.0 HA

Insole thickness

Finishing up the shoe's cushioning setup is a fairly well-padded insole. Based on our calliper, it is 5.2 mm thick which is standard for tennis footwear.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Insole thickness
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 5.2 mm
Average 5.3 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
3.9 mm
Insole thickness
8.5 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The DYNAWING stability system has a slightly different configuration in the ASICS Gel Challenger 14 than in the brand's top stability shoe, the Gel Resolution 9. But it still proved to be effective in our forceful lateral movements and crossover steps.

The shoe allowed us to forget about potential ankle rolls and focus on the game wholeheartedly.

Lateral stability test: ASICS Gel Resolution 9

Even though the Resolution 9 has more rearfoot reinforcement, you can see how both ASICS shoes are taking good care of the arch and ankle support.

Lateral stability test: ASICS Gel Challenger 14

Torsional rigidity

The brand's DYNAWALL system creates such a strong midfoot hold that we couldn't even twist it one bit! The video below shows our struggles.

Based on this manual test, we rated the shoe's torsional rigidity with the highest possible score - 5 out of 5. It is the same level of stiffness as we observed in the Resolution 9.

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 5
Average 4.2
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The Gel Challenger 14 also made sure that there was enough stiffness and structure in its heel counter. Playing in this ASICS shoe, we never got a hint of heel slippage or undue ankle play.

Assessing its stiffness on a 1-5 scale, we gave it nearly the highest - 4 out of 5.

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 4
Average 3.9
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Interestingly enough, the ASICS Gel Challenger 14 managed to achieve a very high level of stability without going for a super wide platform.

Measuring the widest part of the forefoot, we got 110.6 mm on our calliper. That's no different from the average across tennis shoes. The lateral outrigger is quite supple in this ASICS shoe.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 110.6 mm
Average 111.7 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
105.3 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.4 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The same can be said about the shoe's heel width. The distance between its widest points here is 88.5 mm. Not among the widest on our roster for sure.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 88.5 mm
Average 89.7 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
82.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
99.7 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The shoe's DYNAWALL support ends near the forefoot, creating a good breaking point for the foot to bend at the metatarsal joints.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 flexibility

To give you an idea of how the Gel Challenger 14 measures against other tennis shoes, we used our in-house flexibility test. We bent the shoe to a 90-degree angle with the help of a force gauge and the tool showed that it took only 23.2N. That's a whole 33% less than it takes on average!

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 23.2N
Average 30.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
20.6N
Stiffness
44.9N

Grip / Traction

What's amazing about the Challenger 14 is that you get to enjoy the highest quality of grip but for £50 less! We found that the traction pattern on this ASICS shoe is 100% identical to that of the Gel Resolution 9!

Asics Gel Challenger 14 outsole

The shoe's outsole offered a fantastic balance of grip and give, providing great stopping power when we needed it but letting us slide around the court just as freely.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The fit of the ASICS Gel Challenger 14 can be described as perfectly medium. Having medium-width feet ourselves, we felt like the shoe's toebox was fine-tuned to our footshape.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 fit

Our subjective experience was also confirmed by our calliper measurements. In the widest part of the forefoot, the tool returned 101.1 mm which is an average reading for a tennis shoe.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 101.1 mm
Average 101.2 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
98.2 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
105.0 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

There is also no drastic tapering of the shoe towards the toes. At the big to mark, we measured the upper's width at 76.8 mm. Right about the same as the average.

But if you are someone with wide feet, you will probably be left wishing for more in-shoe space. In that case, we recommend looking into the ASICS Gel Resolution 9 which is available in wide options.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 76.8 mm
Average 76.8 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
74.8 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
79.8 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Given its price point, the ASICS Challenger 14 is a simple shoe. It doesn't feature extra add-ons such as tongue gussets. So there is a small risk of tongue shifting in this model but nothing too critical.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

On the inside, this ASICS shoe is all about padding and comfort. It packs lots of foam around the collar as well as in the tongue.

The tongue in particular is 10.5 mm thick! That's notably thicker than average, by a few millimetres. So don't mind the £100 price tag - ASICS made sure that you get the cushiest experience inside the shoe.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Tongue padding
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 10.5 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 25 all court tennis shoes
Number of shoes
2.5 mm
Tongue padding
13.1 mm

Heel tab

There are no heel tabs to hold onto when putting on the ASICS Gel Challenger 14. But the fact that its tongue is not gusseted really helps to keep the shoe's opening wide and slide into it quickly.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Heel tab
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 None

Removable insole

If you happen to use custom orthotics or a different kind of insert, the shoe's stock insole is easily removable and can be swapped just like that.

Asics Gel Challenger 14 Removable insole
Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Of course, we cannot expect stellar durability from a budget-friendly model. But we must also be open about the shoe's shortcomings.

The Challenger's heel collar padding was the next part touched by our demanding Dremel. The delicate mesh gave in rather quickly as it took a mere 4 seconds to tear it apart.

On a 1-5 scale, where 1 is the least abrasion-resistant, we gave it the lowest score.

Test results
Asics Gel Challenger 14 No