A solid pair of running shoes is one of the most important, yet underrated, pieces of gear in a runner’s arsenal. They should be dependable, designed to be abused and built to log hundreds of miles. After two years of R&D, Under Armour’s HOVR Sonic has combined the dependability of a daily trainer with the performance of top-shelf shoes. Better yet, the shoe’s integrated technology means you can officially leave your GPS watch and cadence sensor pod at home.
I got my hands on a white (and I mean white) pair of Under Armour’s stylish new offering, and I was impressed, starting with the first run.
I couldn’t be more excited — Under Armour’s new HOVR cushioning platform shows a marked improvement over former models I’ve reviewed. The ride is extremely comfortable, even on concrete-dominated runs through suburban Los Angeles.
The foam is responsive and soft enough to absorb continuous impact, but firm enough to provide the “fast” return feeling we’re all looking for. Props to UA; the HOVR midsole dissipates energy exactly as advertised.
No matter if I was slogging through base miles or throwing in the occasional tempo run, the HOVR Sonic excelled in everything I put it through. With a 21mm heel and 13mm forefoot, the conservative 8mm offset is right in the sweet spot — not too low, not too high.
I found the outsole to be one of the most interesting features of the shoe. The high-grade blown rubber had a tacky, almost sticky feeling to it. Once planted, the shoe had no slip and I never had any traction issues, even on damp pavement during early morning runs. Surprisingly, the full-coverage rubber had a great underfoot feel while maintaining decent durability.
The front half the shoe is built with a flat-knit fabric that has the breathable, sock-like feel all runners have come to expect in recent years. While half the country is under a few feet of snow, it’s been about 70 degrees here in Los Angeles, and I found the upper to have the perfect mix of structure, flexibility and breathability. I’d expect this to hold true as we enter the summer months.
The tongue was an interesting feature of the shoe — it’s wafer thin, but also super wide. Once correctly positioned around the top of the foot and laced up, the sock-like feel accentuated that much further.
No matter how packed with features and technology, a poorly fitting heel cup can ruin an otherwise positive experience. But worry not, Under Armour got it exactly right on the HOVR Sonic The seamless 3D molded heel had a snug fit despite feeling more low profile than other daily trainers I’ve tried. The external heel counter added well-placed structure, and I never had any slipping issues or hot spots. Even on the steepest grade, I had complete confidence that my heel would stay in place.
Calling these shoes “white” is a serious understatement. I, for one, have never owned a pair of white shoes, let alone a pair of white running shoes. With white uppers and white soles, I was afraid to take them outside. I wasn’t wrong — the first three mile run left the immaculate colorway spotted with mud.
Besides my own inability to keep shoes clean, the HOVR Sonic has some serious style points. Dress them up (a clean pair, that is) with some jeans and a sport coat, and you’re set. The subdued gold UA logo on the heel counter was a nice touch, as well. The breathable knit upper is slightly transparent, so make sure you wear white socks if you choose this monochromatic option.
Now to the connectivity. I downloaded the MapMyRun app from the App Store, and once I created my account and logged in, the app asked me to pair the shoes. Much to my surprise, the shoes connected almost immediately, and the app prompted an update. A couple anxious minutes later, they were ready to go!
I was immediately impressed by the MapMyRun app, but I have to be honest — I used it briefly years ago and found myself wanting more. Since then, it has be dramatically redesigned and updated for a fluid user experience with all the performance metrics you can ask for.
Not only can you map your route, but when paired to the HOVR Sonic, you can track your cadence, pace, stride length and route. A notorious heel striker myself, analyzing this data became one of my favorite post-run habits. My physical therapist has told me a million times that a faster turnover and shorter stride is key to reducing my chronic shin splints. With these shoes, I have the data to correct any stride inconsistencies.
Another bonus: Pairing the shoes to the app unlocks training plans (everything from 5K to 26.2) and other premium features like audio coaching.
Overall, I couldn’t be more impressed with Under Armour’s latest offering. At $110, the HOVR Sonic is an incredible value. It boasts many high-performance features, and I found myself reaching for them time and time again. Plus, with the included in-shoe sensors and app connectivity, it’s a solid shoe for beginners and veterans alike.
The shoe runs true to size and has a supple yet supportive underfoot feel, and while it has the credentials of a running shoe, it’s just as at home in everyday applications. It has that classic, yet modern look that’s in line with current athleisure trends. You can’t go wrong with either the black on white or the white on white colorway.
While the HOVR Sonic may lack the top-end speed for race day due to its more sturdy build, it’s more than appropriate for high-mileage applications and it certainly won’t hold back the hobbyist runner at their local 5K/10K.