In response to the numerous requests, I’ve put together a full, comprehensive review of Under Armour’s UA HOVR™ running shoe line. In this post, I’ll cover the shoes and models I’ve had the opportunity to test, a spec sheet/side-by side comparison, and also delve into the technological components of the line.
As a quick disclaimer, I’ve been working in collaboration with Under Armour for about a year and a half as part of their ambassador program. With that being said, I wanted to caveat that my review is based on my own candid and honest experience with Under Armour’s shoe models. This isn’t some ‘flat tummy tea’ bullshit – my opinions reflect my trial(s) with each shoe. This post is not sponsored by Under Armour, I’ve chosen to write this article based on the various shoes I’ve been fortunate enough to trial.
Last week, I published an article that I co-wrote with the owner of BlackToe Running, my favorite independent running store in Toronto, titled How to Choose the Best Running Shoes. If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest starting with the foundation laid out in that article then circling back. The reason? Well, you need to know your foot type, your gait, and a bit of running lingo in order to get the most out of this post.
This article will be covering some of Under Armour’s most popular models: Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Infinite, Infinite 2, Velociti 2, and the Machinas.
In 2018, Under Armour officially launched the UA HOVR™ running shoe line and each shoe model is equipped and built on the HOVR™ cushioning. The line consists of shoes for every type of run, ranging from long distance to tempo/speed work, to stability shoes. Under Armour has also pushed the “digital connectedness” of the gear as one of their USP’s; connecting seamlessly to MapMyRun via Bluetooth. Within this app, Under Armour also launched a new feature called ‘real-time coaching’, which we’ll flesh out later in this post.
The idea behind the HOVR™ cushioning emerged during the development process, discovering that the “the foam compound underfoot needed to be contained.” UA remedied this by developing an energy web that contained the foam. UA claims that, “the soft cushion core of UA HOVR with the energy web containing the foam resulted in a more durable foam that provides a premium cushioned feel, and energy return for the runner.” To boil this technology into a digestible paraphrase, the cushioning UA developed provides the runner with more durability,bounciness, and comfort.
As mentioned above, one of UA’s most unique features with the HOVR line is the behind-the-scenes technology component. All of the HOVR™ shoes have a pod embedded in the midsole of the right shoe that connects to UA’s MapMyRun app. This allows runners to not only “track and analyze their runs”, but also gain “unprecedented insight into their running form.” In January 2020, UA also released a feature called “real-time form coaching”.
In short, MapMyRun is a fitness tracker available for download on your phone. The app connects seamlessly to your HOVR shoes via Bluetooth which then allows you to track your route, time, pace, and distance. There are a lot of these types of apps out there, but I think one of the strongest points of differentiation is that UA offers a real-time form coaching feature and a full library of in-depth insights for runners.
Not only are you getting the basic stats, but the app is also able to provide your stride length, cadence, foot strike angle, and ground contact time in your post-workout analysis. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this feature is completely free. Some people like working out with a friend or coach to help push them to hit their goals or keep an eye on their form. If you’re that person, you will enjoy the real-time form coaching feature. In UA’s words,
This personalized feature helps every runner ensure that their form doesn’t break down in the middle of a run by providing real-time, personalized guidance, helping runners better manage their risk of injury and improve their performance.
I’ve used MapMyRun a lot and have had the chance to test out some of the other features the app offers, which we’ll dive into during the ‘Wear Trial’ section of this post.
I put together a quick chart so we can look at the main specs or what UA calls “product DNA” of each of the HOVR™ models side by side:
My Foot Type and Running Shoe Preferences
I’m going to sound like a redundant troll, BUT I need to reiterate this one more time before we dive into my specific wear trials: there is no universal type of shoe that works well for everyone.
It’s important for me to point out my foot type and personal preference before we go into the wear trials, since this directly impacts my experience and opinion of each shoe model.
I have a low-medium arch, meaning I’m pretty flat footed. That, in conjunction with the narrowness of my foot, has set me up to be a normal pronator for the most part, but at times I have a tendency to overpronate. I can get away with using neutral shoes; my personal preference are shoes with a low stack height. Although I’m not a true minimalist, I do like to feel close to the ground when I run and am drawn to a shoe that mimics a more natural movement. I prefer shoes that are light-weight, flexible and have some cushioning.
I really don’t know the reason, but heavy shoes in both weight and cushioning cause my feet to suffer dearly. I’m talking sharp pain that typically manifests in the soles of my feet. It’s not a pleasant experience at all.
When it comes to aesthetics, I always choose function over appearance, but a nice-looking shoe is always an added bonus.
HOVR™ Running Shoe Reviews & Wear Trials
The Infinites were the first shoe UA I trialed under their HOVR™ line. This model was designed for distance running and provides a “consistent underfoot feel”. The Infinite’s are also the heaviest in weight and provide the most cushioning out (next to the Machinas) in contrast to any of the other shoes.
Look & Fit
When the Infinites arrived at my doorstep, it was in the midst of our Canadian winter so I only had the opportunity to test these babies out on the treadmill. To be honest, they felt a bit weird on my feet. The higher stack height and level of cushioning was not something I was used to. My other distance trainers (the Nike LunaRacer 3+s) came in at about 2.75 ounces lighter than the Infinites. The shoes did feel snug though and the upper felt light-weight and breathable. In terms of appearance, I’d give them an 8/10 – they’re sharp and come in a multitude of colours, but there’s a bit of clunkiness when they’re fresh out of the box. However, they look much better on your feet than when they’re standing on their own.
I ran a 5-miler indoor on the treadmill for my first trial and experienced some pretty rough soreness in my feet within the first few kilometers. Unfortunately, this got progressively worse as the mileage increased. I’ve never ran in a shoe that provides that much cushioning so I think my feet were experiencing a bit of shock. To digress for a moment and reiterate what I called out above; my feet don’t work well with highly cushioned shoes with a high stack height; it causes soreness in the soles of my feet. This isn’t just with UA, but every brand I’ve tried.
The second trial, however, was like night and day. Pro tip: don’t tie your laces so tight that they cut off the circulation in your feet. I loosened the laces and instantly felt some relief. I also think that was probably the biggest catalyst of the extreme discomfort I experienced during the first trial. The shoes did still feel heavy, but I didn’t start to experience foot pain until I was about 5-6 kilometers into the run which, similar to the first trial, got progressively worse as the mileage increased. The pain, by the way, was concentrated in the soles of my feet. The last trial yielded the same results and I came to the conclusion that these shoes were not a good fit for my foot type. They are a hefty shoe with too much cushioning for me. I could get away with running a 5k or wearing them as a gym shoe (since I really do like the design), but I wouldn’t feel confident wearing these on longer runs. I did give these runners to a few ultra running friends who love the added cushioning and stiffness of the shoe. Again, we’re all different and what shoes work for me won’t work for others (and vice-versa).
I wish I did give these a try outdoors to test out the traction in the snow. The shoes are made from blown rubber and carbon rubber, providing good traction control in slippery conditions. An added bonus? The Infinite’s have incorporated gender-specific molded sock liners – meaning, they have a different design tailored for men and women.
The Sonic 2 was the second shoe I tested in the HOVR™ line, which provides much less cushioning than the Infinite’s. UA describes the Sonics as, “the perfect blend of cushion and flex, and is all about the smooth & easy ride.” It’s as light as a tempo shoe, but with more cushioning and a super-smooth transition.” In my opinion, the Sonic 2 is more of a shoe for every runner; a good shoe for shorter runs and at the gym.
Look & Fit
When I grabbed the shoes out of the box, I noticed immediately how lightweight they were (at 8.3 ounces) and after trying them I could immediately tell the difference in the level of cushioning compared to the Infinites. They fit a bit more snug for me and my feet felt a lot closer to the ground. The upper felt breathable and the tongue felt cushiony against the top of my foot. Aesthetically, I also really enjoy the simple and sleek look the shoe provides.
I decided to do my first wear trial on the treadmill for my daily 5-miler. For the first run, I didn’t feel any pain in my feet until the 3 mile mark and then started to feel some discomfort in the soles of my feet. Again, I never judge a shoe by the first wear trial – even my previous go-to model hurt my feet on the first wear or two, until I was finally able to break them in and adjust. For a shoe that has a decent amount of cushioning, my feet adjusted quite nicely to the fit. Particularly, I liked the thickness of the tongue; it felt very comfortable across the top of my foot. I also really liked the breathability of the shoe and the lightweight feel when I take my strides. I did experience a slight lingering irritation in the sole of my foot during the last mile or so, but it wasn’t anything major. When browning through some other reviews of the shoe, I saw some comparisons to the Nike Free Run. The Sonic 2’s have lower arch support and the base is flexible. Like the Infinites, I’d recommend these runners for someone who has a neutral stride, a higher stack height, and likes a bit of cushioning. The Sonic 2 has good impact protection, but personally, I prefer my feet to feel a bit closer to the ground.
The Velociti 2’s are a tempo trainer designed for speed work and as UA describes, it “[provides] the runner with a smooth, light, and snappy ride.” The main difference between the original Velociti model and the 2’s are the shoe’s updated HOVR™ cushioning platform.
Look & Fit
I must admit, I immediately fell in love with the Velociti 2’s design and style when I pulled them out of the box. The outsole had a unique design and I loved the unique purple/grey colour. Out of all the models, I finally had my Goldilocks moment – these shoes fit just right. I have narrow feet, so the fact that the middle of the shoe had a snug fit and the toe box was a bit wider allowed for greater movement. This shoe felt very light, had low cushioning and felt stiff, but also secure. I instantly knew my feet would groove with these shoes.
Out of all of the other shoes in the line, the Velociti 2’s wear trials went the smoothest. They’re the most lightweight shoes of the line (at 7.5 ounces for women and 9 ounces for men). They also provided little cushioning and a low stack height, which is exactly what my feet are looking for in a “solemate”. LOL get it? “SOLE-MATE”. Dad jokes.
I ran 5 miles outdoors for the first wear trial and only experienced minor discomfort for the last few kilometers – to be expected for every first wear. The second trial, I ran a HIIT 5 miler/8k on the treadmill, pacing an overall ~4’20’km. I felt no discomfort whatsoever. I did notice the shoes had a bit of stiffness, but in a good way; they felt secure to my feet. The lower cushioning made the shoe feel more responsive to quick movements.
For my last wear trial, I brought these babies to the track. I completed a series of 10 x 100m sprints followed by some slight jogging in between sets. Akin to my experience on the treadmill, when I moved from a static position to a sprint, the runners adapted; the lightness of the shoe allowed me to pick up my feet quickly. The Velociti 2’s are now part of my weekly shoe rotation. I wear them on my treadmill HIIT workouts and outdoors for a maximum of 12 kilometers. Love these guys!
The Sonic 3s are a newer, upgraded version of the Sonic 2. From first glance, it may appear that there were just minor upgrades from the Sonic 3s, but in my opinion, I think these are a completely different type of shoe. As previously mentioned, the 2s felt more like your everyday running shoe, whereas the Sonic 3s have much more arch support, and a firmer body while still maintaining comfort (and that light-wight feel). Overall, more ideal for running longer distances.
Look & Fit
The second I took the Sonic 3s out of the box, I knew I’d like them. The shoe felt light (close to the Velociti 2s) and when I tried them on, they did have a bit more cushioning but not too much. UA describes the Sonic 3s as “light as a tempo shoe, but with more cushioning”, ideal for “runners who like distance but want more flexibility.” The shoes fit snug, but are widened in the toe box to allow for toe movement. The material around the ankle is thin, the cushioning
feels a bit stiff and the upper feels breathable (my feet didn’t get too hot or sweaty). The shoe was a bit of a wider fit.
To mix things up from my other wear trials, I actually tested the Sonic 3s outdoors for the first three trials. I liked the little cushioning, comfortable and snug fit, and low stack height. I ran on pavement and liked the feel of having my feet closer to the ground. The upper felt breathable and soft; my feet didn’t get too sweaty or hot, which meant I didn’t have a slip-n-slide situation going on in my shoe. I only experienced mild discomfort on my soles around the 7 kilometer mark, but nothing I wasn’t used to with wear trialing any brand on the first go. The second trial went even better. I ran 10 kilometers and didn’t feel any foot pain whatsoever. Weighing in at 8.1 ounces, the Sonic 3s felt almost as light as the Velociti’s but had a bit more added support for distance. The most I’ve run in the Sonic 3s is a full marathon on the treadmill during quarantine. Out of all of UA’s shoes in the HOVR™ line, the Sonic 3s are by far my favourite for distance running.
The Machinas are described as a trainer that’s designed for both speed and distance. The runner has an “uncaged midsole that provides the benefits of the soft HOVR™ cushioning without any extra weight”. You may have heard of the recent popularity in propulsion/carbon plates (to help with speed). The Machinas incorporate a carbon plate called the 2-pronged carbon-filled Pebax® spring plate to help with efficiency. UA actually did a really good job with this. The consensus among many runners is the fact that the carbon plate adds a stiffness to the shoe. The Machinas, however, provide more flex allowing for more natural and “snappy” movements with your stride. Somehow UA also managed to make this shoe lightweight despite having 20% more cushioning than the Infinites. In summary, the Machinas are built for distance, but are versatile enough to use for tempo or speed runs. They may even be the shoe to help propel you towards your next PB marathon time.
Look & Fit
Aesthetically, these shoes look the most badass. Although I’m not saying that you should buy a shoe based on look, if you do decide to go with the Machinas, be prepared to get a lot of compliments on the vibrant colours. I do have a couple pairs of the Machinas, but the colour I’m in love with is the bright pink or what UA has identified as “lipstick”.
These shoes are so plush that they almost look like a stuffed animal out of the box. I’m kidding, but you can certainly tell that these are going to be a comfortable shoe. As expected, the runners felt super soft, cushiony and gave you the sensation that you’re walking on clouds. The Machinas provide a snug fit, use a traditional lacing system, and have a really thick tongue. I didn’t know if I’d like the thick tongue at first, but if you’re someone like me that ties your shoes so tight it cuts off the circulation, the thick tongue actually protects the top of your feet. For traction purposes, the outsole combines both carbon and blown rubber.
I ran the first few wear trials of the Machinas inside on the treadmill. As usual, I felt a bit of soreness on the soles of my feet while adapting to this new type of shoe. On both trials I did a HIIT 5 mile run. The shoes felt very comfortable and despite weighing 8.5 ounces, they didn’t feel super heavy while doing my sprints. I was able to easily lift my feet off the treadmill.
It wasn’t until I was a few trials in when I experienced some unpleasant sensations. On my third longer, steady-state trail run, sharp pains across the bottom of my entire foot. I’ve now been wearing the Machinas for months and I’ve come to some bizarre conclusions. As mentioned above, UA claims the Machinas are good for both speed and distance. However, for me, they work better for speed. On my slower runs, I find the shoes feel a bit clunky and hot, and the cushioning causes pain at the bottom of my feet. But for my HIIT and tempo runs, the shoes perform outstanding; no foot pain and I feel like they allow natural movement in my feet and my stride. The Machinas make an appearance in my shoe rotation, but I only wear them for short spurts (ie. 5-miles tempo/HIIT outdoors or on the treadmill). When I’m planning my slow, steady runs, I prefer to use a different shoe (ie. Sonic 3’s).
The Infinite 2s are an obvious upgrade from the Infinites. The main difference is the design, look, and feel of the Upper Mesh. In UA’s words, “the HOVR™ Infinite 2 is more streamlined than the initial version. The technology and other features are exactly the same”
Look & Fit
I had the opportunity to test the Global Running Day edition of the Infinite 2s which we’re vibrant and colour. The fit was very similar to the Infinites; snug, high stack height, lots of cushioning, big plush tongue. I did notice that my toe was really close to the toe box and would maybe recommend going up half a size in this model.
Since the design of the Infinite 2s almost exactly mirror the Infinites, the trials were pretty similar. I ran a half marathon on the treadmill and wore the Sonic 3s for the first 10k and the Infinite 2s for the last 10k, since I didn’t want to run a full half marathon on my first wear trial. The first trial didn’t go too bad and although I did experience a bit of foot pain, nothing was too extreme. For the second and third wear trials, I tested the shoes outside on my daily 5-mile runs. As expected, the cushioning started hurting my feet quite a bit. I came to the conclusion that like the Infinites, the 2s weren’t a good match for my foot type.
All UA HOVR™ series shoes have a pod embedded in the midsole of the right shoe which, by the way, you can’t feel at all. The pod connects the shoe through Bluetooth to UA’s own MapMyRun app. I’ve been using this app for over a year now and before its discovery, I was using the Nike Run Club (NRC) app for YEARS. My opinion of MapMyRun was formed based on my long-term experience using the NRC app. Bluetooth can be hit or miss at times, but my experience connecting the shoes was very seamless. Connecting the shoes took only a few taps on my iPhone and they were connected in less than a minute.
You have the option to add a run manually or track your runs using the GPS component. I found it super easy to use and could seamlessly disable the optional coaching and voice feedback (personal preference). For accuracy purposes, I also tracked my run using my Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch. The only initial downside I noticed from my first wear trial was the discrepancy with the distance; MapMyRun logged 0.66 more kilometers than my Garmin, but I found the same with the NRC app when I first started using it. It sometimes takes a few runs (or several) to calibrate correctly. Albeit, I’ve found that there will always be a slight discrepancy between the app and Garmin.
If you are seeing quite a bit of discrepancy with distance yourself, there’s a great troubleshooting article on MapMyFitness that will walk you through the steps on proper calibration.
Another cool feature of MapMyRun is the preloaded workouts. If you head on over to the “Workout Routines” > explore, you can navigate to an abundance of different workout types. From a sharing perspective, you can upload a ‘highlight’ photo post-run and share your run metrics (time, distance, and pace) on social media.
I’m not going to get into too much detail about the app as you came here for the shoes, but the last feature I want to take you through is really unique, which is the Real-Time Form Coaching.
Real-Time Form Coaching
As I mentioned above, not only can you track all your main metrics via MapMyRun, you actually have the option to hire a ‘virtual coach’ (my words, not UA’s) who will give you real time feedback on your runs.
This was a feature I was very interested in testing out. Once the shoes are connected to MapMyRun, you can click into Settings>Coaching and choose what live feedback option you want during your run. Options include: distance, time, time of day pace/speed (avg.), pace/speed (current or split), pace/speed (split), cadence, stride length, and heart rate. You can also choose what distance interval you want to receive feedback on (ie. for every 1 kilometer, give me feedback on the chosen stats).
You can then choose your run goal; for example, for speed goals the voice will tell you to speed up if you’re under pacing or for time goals, the voice will notify you when you’ve reahed a time milestone (25%, 50%, etc.) of your workout. I’m not sure this a tool I would personally use, but I think it’s great resource for beginners who aren’t already using a watch to track live metrics. The post-run analysis is what really caught my attention…
Under your main metrics, you’re provided with a form summary. The data points were pretty cool and include avg. cadence, stride length, contact time, and foot strike angle. I was mostly interested in my contact time, aiming to decrease this value so that I could increase speed. It was also interesting to learn my foot strike angle (5° which is classified as mid foot strike).
For those who love a bit of a push and want to delve deeper beyond your superficial running stats, the Form Coaching post-run analysis is a great added bonus with your HOVR shoes.
The last neat feature I recently discovered was the HOVR Zwift integration. For those who aren’t familiar, Zwift is a virtual run app where all you need is a treadmill and a smartphone/tablet/laptop that’s compatible with the app. Zwift also requires the purchase of a foot pod that’s around $50 CAD, BUT if you have HOVR shoes, you can bypass the purchase of the pod as all shoes are compatible with Zwift. If you’re already a frequent user of the app, you’ll be saving $50 AND get a new pair of shoes. Pretty good value I would say.
I do use each of the shoes for different purposes.
I use the Velociti 2s for my speed workouts; HIIT and tempo runs that are 10 kilometers / 6.25 miles or less.
The Sonic 3s have been my go-to for slower/steady-state outdoor runs and they seem to agree with my feet the best. The longest I’ve run in the Sonic 3s is 26.1 miles (42.2 kilometers).
The Machinas and Infinite series are heavier shoes with a bit too much cushioning for my foot type and personal preference. However, I do still wear the Machinas and Infinites on occasion but can only manage to run 5 miles or less before the shoes start to hurt my feet.
One last thing to mention – UA does have a stability shoe available (I haven’t tried it) called the Guardian 2. If you over or under pronate and need some added stability, this is a shoe worth checking out.
The biggest takeaway here is understanding your foot type and preferences before choosing a shoe model.
If you’re like me and prefer a lighter-weight, low cushioned shoe, I would go with the Velociti 2 or Sonic 3. I would say that if you prefer the heavier and cushioned trainers, definitely go with the Machinas or Infinites.
For everyday use (gym, lower mileage runs) you could get away with any of the above models, but I would say the shoe that best fits in this category is the Sonic 2 model.
Where to Buy
I’ve included these links throughout the post, but here they are again 🙂
United States: To shop the UA HOVR™ line and for free shipping visit this link.
Canada: To shop the UA HOVR™ line and for free shipping visit this link.
The HOVR™ series are also available in-store at Under Armour Brand Houses.