Under Armour, originally an apparel company founded by University of Maryland football player Kevin Plank in 1996, didn’t make its move into running shoes until 2009. Still, it didn’t really gain traction with runners until 2014, with the release of the SpeedForm line of shoes. Put simply, this lineup proved that Under Armour could produce a well-crafted running shoe by doing what it does best: making clothes.
The SpeedForm technology capitalized on UA’s apparel expertise and brought innovations from clothing manufacturing into running shoes. The 2014 Runner’s World review for the SpeedForm Apollo notes that the upper was constructed in a bra factory—an odd move at first glance, but the company’s experience with textiles helped UA develop a fabric with a nearly seamless finish that provided a snug fit and great durability. When much of the conversation today centers around midsole cushioning, it’s important to remember that other parts of the shoe also have a big effect on performance, and the SpeedForm upper is a key area where Under Armour stands out.
From Your Foot to Your Phone
In addition, Under Armour has worked to meet increasing demands for performance and connectivity. While Nike has been a dominant force in fitness tracking since the 2006 launch of Nike+, Under Armour has embraced software more than most other shoemakers. UA purchased fitness tracker company MapMyFitness in 2013 and proceeded to create an empire of branded fitness tracking apps, including MapMyRun and UA Record. For runners, the company’s move into software has led to shoes (most notably the Hovr Sonic and Phantom) that seamlessly integrate with tracker apps, which means easier access to stats and more feedback on your performance. As health and fitness tracking devices become more and more prevalent, it’s not a stretch to imagine that many shoes in the future will include this kind of tech—and Under Armour is clearly positioning itself to be a leader in connected kicks.
Not Just Running, Hovr-ing
In 2018, Under Armour launched a proprietary cushioning platform called Hovr, which has now replaced the company’s older EVA-based Charged foam in many of its models. To make it, UA worked with Dow Chemical to create a new foam formula using olefin wax. The result was a more durable foam that hits the sweet spot between a cushioned ride, low weight, and a firm feeling at toe-off. This unique formulation stands out from other brands’ new foams, which often incorporate thermoplastic blends, and it makes up the midsoles of the company’s flagship Hovr Sonic and Hovr Phantom shoes. Hovr foam also comes with another UA innovation: Energy Web. Most foams (especially EVA blends) will compress over time and lose their softness, but Energy Web surrounds the foam core with a mesh fabric and helps it maintain its shape, which preserves its energy return and increases its durability. That means you can pile on more miles before the cushion starts to give out—a big plus considering that running shoes are no small investment.
How We Chose These Shoes
The shoes below are the top running models from Under Armour available right now. To pick them, we talked with an Under Armour brand rep to get more information on what’s new and notable, perused past Runner’s World reviews, and used our knowledge of the running market to parse out the most important kicks. We also aimed to include shoes for a wide variety of runners and running styles, whether you need shoes for speed training or a pair to help with overpronation. Of course, a picture and a paragraph doesn’t really do any shoe justice, so we linked to the full RW reviews where we have them—there, you’ll find an in-depth breakdown of every aspect of the shoe, as well as data from our lab and feedback from the hundreds of wear testers who ran in the shoe.
Although it’s still relatively new to running, UA is hustling to prove itself. Here are the running shoes you need to know about.
—MOST VERSATILE ROAD SHOE—
Hovr Sonic 2
The second generation of the Sonic continues what made the shoe so popular in the first place: a great combination of soft cushioning and bounce paired with built-in activity tracking. Hovr foam wrapped in an Energy Web keeps the shoe cushy and responsive, which means this shoe feels comfortable for long runs but peppy enough for speedwork, too. A sturdy heel counter adds support and the rubber outsole has good road traction in both dry and wet weather—plus, it’s only $100.
—MOST CUSHIONED SHOE—
Hovr Phantom SE
The Hovr Phantom is the cushier, slightly heavier sibling to the Sonic, though they share much of the same underlying tech. Like the Sonic, the Phantom’s midsole is made up of Hovr foam wrapped in an Energy Web mesh, so the soft cushion retains its shape and provides plenty of energy return as you run. The redesigned knit upper includes a molded midfoot panel dotted with small perforations for increased breathability, and a full rubber outsole provides good grip and durability.
—BEST AFFORDABLE TRAINER—
Charged Bandit 5
Skechers isn’t the only brand proving that you can get a good running shoe for less than $100. Under Armour’s Bandit has been an affordable favorite since its debut back in 2015, and the latest version upholds the shoe’s reputation as a versatile low-cost trainer. The Charged cushioning has been tweaked so it’s firmer in the heel and softer at midfoot, which might be bad news for heel strikers, but the flexible grooved outsole and breathable mesh upper are features that any runner will appreciate.
—BEST FOR MARATHON TRAINING—
Based on a generous slice of Hovr foam, the Infinite is designed to be exceptionally plush for maximum comfort over high mileage. Lab tests show it’s actually firmer than the Sonic, but testers raved about the cushioning after long road runs. The outsole is studded with rubber from heel to toe for good traction and durability, and grooves under the forefoot help the shoe retain some flexibility, too. Overall, it makes a competent trainer for runners following a distance training regimen—and it nabbed a 2019 RW Recommended Award, too.
—BEST FOR STABILITY—
Similar to the Hovr Infinite, the Guardian offers a cushioned ride thanks to a Hovr/Energy Web midsole wrapped in durable Charged foam, but this shoe comes with added stability features. Here, a firm foam medial post under the arch and an external heel counter guide your foot into place as you run. Like the Infinite, the cushioning is somewhat firm, but it’s forgiving enough to keep your feet and legs happy when the mile count grows.
—BEST FAST, RESPONSIVE TRAINER—
Hovr Velociti 2
What do you get when you combine the former SpeedForm Velociti’s snappy ride with the Hovr family’s cushioning and energy return? Something like the Hovr Velociti 2. It’s a great shoe for runners who prize a peppy trainer and also need a shoe that won’t beat up your feet and legs. It achieves that thanks to the Hovr + Energy Web cushioning and bouncy “Micro G” foam in the midsole, which together deliver a stiff, responsive ride that helps you pick up the pace when you need to.
—BEST FOR RACING—
The Velociti Racer is a sure bet for runners who like their shoes thin and fast. A thin layer of Charged cushioning takes the edge off of impacts, but the feel is definitely firm—and that makes these a great platform for picking up the pace. Testers found they performed well for races up to a half marathon, and they loved the shoe’s responsive ride. The upper is snug and breathable, and a generous serving of rubber on the outsole creates excellent traction on the pavement.
—BEST FOR TRAILS—
The Horizon RTT is Under Armour’s best-selling trail shoe, and its durability and cushion make it a popular choice among trail runners. The midsole features a full-length layer of EVA foam, and a “puck” of Charged foam under the heel adds even more shock absorption. It’s capped off with a dual-layer polyurethane/textile upper to stand up to rocks and debris on the trail, and a lugged rubber outsole adds more durability and bite for digging into the dirt.
—BEST FOR THE TRACK—
SpeedForm Sprint 2
The SpeedForm Sprint is one of Under Armour’s top-selling track spikes, and it’s a great pick for shorter races up to 400 meters. With the Sprint, you get an upper designed with UA’s foot-molding SpeedForm construction for a snug fit. A layer of “TPU film” in the forefoot increases durability (TPU is a more resilient material than EVA, for example), and a full length Pebax plate in the midsole adds bounce for a snappy feel underfoot.
You Might Also Like