Under Armour HOVR Sonic CT ReviewMarch 13, 2018
- Excellent midsole responsiveness
- Great outsole traction
- Highly ventilated upper for hot conditions
- Minor fit slipping at high speeds
- Narrow forefoot last
- Outsole rubber could be more strategically placed
This spring marks the debut of Under Armour’s HOVR line of footwear, engineered to combine cushioning and energy return on a proprietary midsole compound that is comparable to Adidas Boost or Saucony EVERUN materials.
The first two models in the HOVR line are the Sonic and Phantom. We tested the Sonic, which is a lighter and more responsive ride geared toward distance runners, while the Phantom is more of a dedicated cushioned trainer. Both of these shoes are available in connected versions (indicated by the CT, and for an additional $10 price point) which have a high fidelity sensor embedded in the shoe. This sensor pairs to the newest version of the MapMyRun app and sends analytics such as cadence, stride length, and shoe life. Digital versions of UA HOVR Sonic and UA HOVR Phantom also include an annual MVP subscription to MapMyRun with access to its health and fitness community, plus live tracking and coaching capabilities later in the spring.
Length of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic is true to size. Width is relatively narrow in the forefoot, and while the mesh uppers provide some stretch accommodation, these shoes will be too snug for runners with wide feet. The upper uses a traditional lace system without any overlays connecting the laces to the midsole platform. Under most conditions we did not experience any slipping inside the shoe, but during high speeds on the track there was a bit of lateral drift of the foot inside the shoe even with the laces cinched tight. The external heel counter holds the rearfoot very securely in place.
The Under Armour HOVR Sonic an engineered mesh upper in the forefoot and midfoot; the weave is very thick with large ventilation holes; these are outstanding for ventilation but will also allow grit to permeate if you venture down dirt roads. The uppers will also run chilly in cold conditions, but in dry or warm conditions they ride very comfortably and flex naturally with the movement of your foot. There is minimal internal padding except for small amounts on the tongue and the inside surface of the heel counter. Underfoot comfort is exceptional thanks to Under Armour’s new midsole technology – see next item.
The Under Armour HOVR Sonic utilizes an “energy web” of cushioning material wrapped in a mesh fabric that combine for excellent responsiveness. The primary midsole foam, called HOVR, is a proprietary compound developed with the Dow Chemical Company that has very high rebound and resilience. This compound is then wrapped in a tight mesh fabric that helps speed the rate of the HOVR material returning to its regular shape after absorbing a foot strike. (You can see the mesh fabric in small windows at the heel and on the lateral midfoot areas of the shoe.) Our testers found this combination comparable to well-established compounds like Boost or EVERUN in terms of energy return on impact. The compound maintains its cushioning throughout long mileage running, and seems to decrease the energy demand on tired legs.
The overall ride quality of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic has a relatively firm feel rather than a soft landing like some other cushioned trainers. The 8mm heel-toe drop favors heel strikers for transfer of momentum from heel to toe, but moderate flexibility through the forefoot will be appreciated by those who land more flat footed. Blown high abrasion outsole rubber on the Sonic is extensive and provides very good grip in wet and dry asphalt conditions – it’s very similar to the Continental rubber outsole used on Adidas shoes – but traction is poor if you’re on gravel roads.
The Under Armour HOVR Sonic has the makings of a strong speed shoe, with a secure fit and great energy return from the midsole technology. However, it is heavier than similar low-profile performance trainers, and much of this weight differential is likely due to the extensive outsole rubber.
Testing of our lightweight road shoes was performed by a committee of testers, both male and female. Our group consists of eight testers who wore the shoes for total distances of approximately 20 to 80 miles. Single runs ranged in distance from three to 26 miles, and included casual training as well as speed workouts and road racing. The majority of our testing is conducted on asphalt roads or all-weather tracks, but we occasionally venture off-road onto jeep trails or smooth trails. Each tester prepares a summary overview of how each shoe performed in the criteria of fit, comfort, responsiveness, ride quality, and speed, and he or she also includes any additional thoughts or observations about the shoes during the test period.
Donald Buraglio- Minimalist Running shoes
Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports.