It appears that Under Armour is setting the bar for running footwear affordability.
With a February 2018 release, Under Armour introduces a sleek new running shoe with its Hovr technology called the Sonic retailing for $120. Like the Under Armour Bandit (Canadian Running editor’s pick for best shoe update), the Hovr Sonic – the Hovr refers to the midsole technology while Sonic is the line of the shoe – is a great bang for one’s buck.
Canadian Running got an advance look at the Sonic, in all-black, just as winter began. Read: we did a lot of running in the cold while combating ice and snow. After testing, we’d say that The Sonic is best used in drier, warmer running environments. While it’s not a winter running shoe, this model would work great in spring, summer or fall in Canada. That’s mainly because the upper is similar to that of the Nike’s Flyknit sneakers, which offers a snug fit and breathable material. This well-ventilated upper can be an issue in the winter when running through deep snow that threatens to seep in through any upper. Once you get past winter’s elements though, the Sonic is an option for a runner looking for a medium-cushioned, lightweight trainer at a reasonable price.
Release date: Feb. 1, 2018
Type: Lightweight neutral trainer
Heel-to-toe drop: 21 mm to 13 mm (8 mm drop)
Weight: 272 g (9.6 oz.)
Price (MSRP): $120
Terrain tested: Roads, icy surfaces, hard-packed gravel
Kilometres tested: 80
What is Hovr?
The Under Armour Hovr Sonic is one of the first shoes to use the Hovr cushioning technology. Hovr makes up the midsole of the shoe, and separates the foot from the ground. Think of Hovr like you would other shoe technologies: Saucony’s Everun, Adidas’ Boost, New Balance’s Fresh Foam and so on.
RELATED: 2017-18 winter shoe guide.
Hovr, made of olefin, is certainly more responsive than previous Under Armour midsole technologies and runners don’t pay for that with extra weight as the shoe itself weighs less than 10 oz. With a relatively-standard 8 mm drop (the difference in height between the heel and toe stacks), and 21 mm of cushioning in the heel, the Sonic is medium-cushioned on the maximal-minimal scale. The sweet spot in terms of mileage for the Hovr Sonic seems to be in the 10-15K range.
The knit upper extends all the way around the foot, with a heel counter in the back. Testers’ concern for the external heel counter is that it doesn’t quite extend all the way up the heel, which may or may not be in line with your preferences. The heel counter also means that the heel is not as padded or cushioned as other trainers so be aware of that.
A notable feature for those who use orthotics or custom inserts is that the Sonic insole is removable. (A removable insole is also beneficial for post-run drying purposes.) Note that if you are going for the all-black model, there will likely be salt staining if roads in your area are treated. Under Armour has a second Hovr shoe, the Phantom, with the main difference being a high-top upper.
A crucial consideration for Canadian winters is a shoe’s grip, the last line of defence from falling on slippery surfaces. Fortunately, the Sonic grip is like a car tire: it’s rubbery and feels gritty, which provides necessary traction. (Check out the corners we took in the review video.) Testers did find a bit of snow buildup in the grooves but that’s a common problem on snow-covered terrain. If any part of the shoe begins to break down, chances are it won’t be the outsole.
The bottom line
The Under Armour Hovr Sonic is a shoe for you if you enjoy a lightweight ride, don’t under or overpronate and are in the market for a shoe that retails for less than $150. If you’ve worn Under Armour shoes in the past, the UA Hovr Sonic will likely be your new go-to shoe for the brand. Just beware of potential winter hazards.
Find the Hovr Sonic at your local retailer or online.