Under Armour’s newest foam, named HOVR, released at the end of January (right around Outdoor Retailer) and debuted in new two running shoes: the Sonic and the Phantom. The Phantom represents the higher-end of Under Armour’s line, and the Sonic occupies the space just below that. To get a feel for how the new foam technology compares to other options on the market, like Adidas’s Ultraboost and Nike’s new Epic React foam, I ran in the Sonic for just over 20 miles. But beyond new foam, the Sonic brings connectivity to the table through a built-in sensor.
The Good: There’s no break-in period with the Sonics. The dual-layered breathable upper hugs the arch of your foot, and the new foam provides an ample bounce that works great on long runs. They’re responsive and lightweight, even with an external heel cup for support. The shoes connect easily to the MapMyRun app which allows users to easily track miles, pace, stride length and cadence.
Who They’re For: The HOVR Sonics are great for runners who want a bit more support in the heel cup and underfoot, but still want ample space for toe splay. The toe box is larger and more flexible than New Balance Zantes or even the Adidas All Terrain Ultraboost.
Watch Out For: While the microthread fabric is quick drying, breathable and dual-layered around the midfoot, it might not contain the level of support you need if you’re particular about feeling compression around your arch. The flat-knit upper consists of a sock liner that’s more rigid than it appears. Since the tongue is uber stretchy, I had concerns that I might slide around in the shoes, especially around turns, but that was a non-issue.
The Verdict: Compared to past Under Armour running shoes (the Charged Bandit and SpeedForm Gemini), the Sonic is a strong competitor in the running shoe market. The new HOVR foam technology claims to be the ideal combination of cushioning, energy return and durability, but does it deliver?
For one, the Sonic doesn’t feel clunky — they feel soft and supportive. Energy return is a bit trickier to measure, but the shoes felt responsive on each of my runs after putting in around 20+ miles.
The outsole is different compared to other shoes I’ve tested recently. Typically, one piece of rubber covers the length of the sole, but with the Sonic, a circle of highly-abrasion-resistant rubber is placed on the heel to counteract any powerful heel striking. The outsole held up in virtually all the terrain I tested it in.
The external heel counter keeps your heel planted in the shoe — which helps prevent any slipping on turns. Plus, the cushioning underfoot made me feel confident enough to try heel-striking (I’m typically more of a midfoot striker).
The most exciting feature of the Sonic is that they are “connected.” There’s a sensor built-into the shoe that syncs up with the Map My Run app to deliver all your running stats — whether you choose to run with your phone or not. The allure of never worrying about missing a mile because you forgot to start your fitness tracker is appealing. Under Armour has attempted similar technologies in the past, but I’ve had trouble using previous models (connectivity and interference in particular). The Sonic though, was a different experience. From start to finish, linking the shoe to an app took all of one minute (including the time it took to download Map My Run). To connect, lift up the right shoe and place it down flat for 5 seconds to reset the system. That’s it. From there, you can track distance, duration, pace and cadence in real time. You can also measure your stride (quick feet help you to hit faster speeds). Even if you hate running with your phone, the shoes will sync with your phone and subsequent apps up once you’re back in range. Best of all, there’s no charging cord, and I never even noticed the sensor.
What Others Are Saying:
• “As promised, the shoe delivered comfort and responsiveness. The longer I ran the more I appreciated the shoe—the HOVR tech is a notable new platform upgrade for pounding miles on pavement.” — Stephen Regenold, Gear Junkie
Weight: 9.6 ounces
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