Can Running Shoes Help You Hover? Under Armour Says Yes!
I’m familiar with the concept of hovercrafts, but my imagination was piqued when I received a pair of UnderArmour HOVR Phantom men’s running shoes. Is it really possible to “hover” while running? I wanted to find out.
I try to be honest—pay close attention to detail and record my observations thoughtfully when assessing shoe performance—but I must confess that the prospect of hovering left me perplexed and curious. After all, dictionaries define hovering as remaining in one place in the air. Could this be done or did physics preclude humans from accomplishing this fete?
Nevertheless, I was Game
My comprehensive review starts at the top as I analysed the compression-mesh Energy Web textile. In concert with UA HOVR foam, this construction appeared to be top notch and I always welcome flexibility and cushioning advances, so from the get-go, I liked the neutral feel of this shoe even before I attempted to “fly” in it.
Seeking utopia—the UA HOVR Phantom ‘zero gravity feel’ I was promised—I quickly got in touch with the way my feet communed with the ground and that’s when it dawned on me what this whole HOVR experience was about: it took no time for me to realise that the impact I always felt when my soles hit the ground had been lessened.
“So that’s what zero gravity is supposed to feel like,” I mumbled, attracting the attention of runners I encountered who assumed I was speaking to someone on a mobile while in fact, I was talking to myself.
Seriously—that whole energy exchange thing on my maiden run was palpable and it was a particularly profound experience as I logged miles, assuming that the typical heavy impact I felt in the past would return. It didn’t. Check one box for Under Armour and one reason for my feet to relax and enjoy the ride.
Stability meets comfort on many levels
I found the HOVR Phantom to be uniquely accommodating to my feet, experiencing the compression-like fit UA’s advertising material brags about, and I believe the 3D molded midfoot panel was in cahoots with that part of the shoe. The knit collar didn’t annoy my ankles despite fitting snugly, so that bootie-like fit is no marketing exaggeration, either.
More stable support came my way courtesy of the external heel counter. The rubber outsole outperformed the last couple of pairs of shoes I reviewed because in this shoe, I ran on a knobby textured sole that enhanced traction and gave me confidence that these shoes were durable, sturdy and tenacious. So not only could I hover at full throttle, but when I landed, that full rubber outsole protected my bones from abuse with each footfall.
To run perhaps to clean
Having removed the shoes from my feet after taking two serious runs to ascertain whether or not the first trial was accurate, I set about figuring out whether I would be beset by cleaning issues because the trend toward mesh uppers can mean dealing with weaves that require a toothbrush to dig out trail dirt and soil. Surprise, surprise. UA HOVR micro threads rebuff dirt, clean up fast and even dry quickly.
Breathable and big on ventilation, I learned that the 3D molded midfoot panel was engineered with laser perforations so that aeriation sensation was more than imaginary. I pondered the marriage of breathable, compression-like fit, comfort and strength in a lightweight shoe (just 10.6-ounces) and mulled the question of whether the HOVR is where the running shoe industry is heading.
- Did I feel like I was running on air? You could say that. But landing offered the biggest skeletal perks of all.
- An ideal balance of firmness and stability, this shoe is functional for runners of all levels.
- I like wearing a stylish shoe; I wear it on and off my running routes.
- Feedback from guys at the gym needing to drop a few pounds say this shoe relieves fatigued, sore legs.
- Easy to clean and fast to dry, my feet asked me to remind readers that these kicks truly ventilate them.
- I talked to a guy seeking a pair and he told me that there was no inventory in stock. Wow. Selling out fast.
- Not everyone testing these shoes found them to be as soft as UA claims.
- Size and colour availability may be iffy, depending upon where you shop.
- Some shoe buyers had to swap an original pair with a larger size to get a better fit.
- Due to the bottom/outsole design, these can slip on wet surfaces.
Final Thoughts on The UA HOVR Phantom
I hope you don’t think I have concluded that these shoes have no flaws. They do—but they’re so minor, the only reason I mention them is because I’m compelled to do so. My issue begins and ends with the upper stitching that irritated my feet—even when wearing socks. I tried to ignore it—after all, my job was to figure out if I could hover. Toward that end, it was mission accomplished. I’m ignoring that upper stitching issue. You should, too.
Do you find yourself in a quandary when a company like UA comes out with several different running shoe styles at the same time? What helps you cut through the differences?
The Men's UA HOVR Phantom Running Shoes is available at Under Amour online store for S$229.