I have a confession. Despite regularly purchasing UA apparel and rarely being spotted running around Cardiff without sporting a backward-facing UA cap, it is simply not a brand I have previously considered synonymous with running.
However, when a friend approached me and asked if I would be willing to run a marathon for charity with the added dimension of obtaining a world record, I had little hesitation in pulling on the UA Sonic 2 and putting them to the ultimate test.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Digitally connected running
- Reasonably priced
- Narrow fit for wider feet
- Cushioning means, you lose some natural ‘feel’ with the ground
- Can lose traction on wet smooth surfaces
|Midsole||HOVR foam technology|
|Weight||260g (Men) 235g (Women)|
|Price||£105 (UA UK)|
First impressions & appearance
The Under Armour Sonic 2's are extremely easy on the eye. Unboxing, my first thought is that these pair of shoe wouldn't look out of place in a "back to the future movie." Thank goodness, RunRepeat didn't send me a blue hedgehog.
The micro-tonal black knit contrasting perfectly with the vibrant neon orange and green midsole certainly has connotations of a shoe that has arrived from the future. The shoe also comes in a range of including black, grey, white and blue.
It is clear that there has been some time and effort in incorporating design and technology into this shoe to make it aesthetically appealing.
It has a thick knit upper that appears to be robust and breathable. The midsole "incidentally" incorporates UA's HOVR technology not only boast a good degree of cushioning, but also allows a good degree of flexion when pulling the toe box towards the heel. This bodes well.
I am aware that looks can be deceiving. However, if we are judging a book by its cover, I can assure you that your first meeting with the Sonic 2’s will at least have you intrigued about what these shoes can offer.
Comfort & fit
It is not every day that I would agree to run a marathon with less than a week’s notice, let alone run it in a brand new pair of running shoes. Neither may I add would I advise any readers to follow suit.
However, when RunRepeat gave me the opportunity to review the Sonic 2, a spontaneous marathon offered an ideal scenario to test the qualities of this running shoe right out of the box.
On this basis, it is a credit to Under Armour that I was able to complete the distance with only one minor issue.
Overall, from a comfort perspective, there are a number of features that make the Sonic 2 an extremely comfortable shoe.
Firstly, the shoe is extremely responsive. The HOVR foam does what it was designed to do which is, in essence, giving back the energy return you put into each step.
The shoe feels relatively light and bouncy, which reflects UA’s claim of a ‘zero gravity’ feel. This is an aspect that my aging knees are certainly grateful for. Any shoe that can reduce impact and give something back in return is a winner in my book.
However, no shoe is perfect, feel, and performance are two different things. The knit itself (while reassuringly study), allows a good amount of movement. You have wiggle room for your toes, yet at the same time, your foot still feels secure within the shoe.
The securing qualities within the shoe are found with little details such as a slightly unique tongue construction. While suitably padded for extra comfort, it is also attached to the footbed by support wings.
Further to this, the TPU heel counter means that your foot is held into place from toe to heel. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is essentially a flexible, durable plastic. In light of that, your heel will feel supported, yet with the ability to allow movement.
The only (aforementioned) issue with the comfort and sizing of the Sonic 2 is concerning the fact that as a runner with slightly wider than average feet, the shoes are a narrower fit.
While running a marathon, this meant that I was experiencing some pain as my feet expanded in the heat. I had to stop and adjust the shoe, slackening the laces as much as possible.
Fortunately, as the marathon was run at a relatively slow pace, this rectified the issue. However, be aware that the fit is certainly snug.
The upper consists of a robust micro thread knit that provides a breathable and durable exterior to the shoe.
The complex weave (below) provides a premium quality material. This is versatile in its ability to keep the feet well ventilated in the heat while offering protection from the elements in more inclement weather.
In relation to our marathon quest, as the miles counted down on a sweltering hot summers day, and with a world record in site, my feet were grateful for both the ventilation and the protection offered by this durable and well-ventilated exterior.
Aside to a minor sizing issue (see comfort), how many running shoes with 0 miles within their running life would leave both feet unscathed with neither a blemish nor abrasion in site following a challenging rural marathon?
The Midsole is the engine room of the Sonic 2 and is essentially where the magic happens.
The UA Sonic 2 incorporates UA’s flagship technology in the HOVR cushioning. This is surrounded by an ‘Energy web’ (as you would expect with any shoe with a celebrated cushioning technology this means a relatively standard 8mm heel drop).
The energy web is created from a mesh fabric that wraps the cushioning core. This means that there is highly reactive charged foam ready and waiting to deliver an effortlessly responsive energy return with each step.
Essentially, the energy web does the job of harnessing the energy input by not allowing the cushioning foam to lose its shape. Any impact during the run is absorbed by the foam and instantly returned to the foot in the form of energy.
So in basic terms, what does the HOVR technology mean for the runner and my experience of the Sonic 2 during my marathon world record attempt?
In simple terms, from a running perspective, this means that you maximize the effort you put into each step. When you think the force of each step is approximately 2-4 times bodyweight, the energy return and responsiveness of the shoe cushioning means every stride should feel light and effortless.
Returning to my world record attempt (as a result of the midsole), not only did I feel more efficient as the miles ticked by, but my fatigue levels were kept at bay as well.
The construction of the Sonics 2 encompasses a durable micro thread knit weave upper with a lightly reinforced material lining offering both breathability and durability.
The tongue of the shoe is padded and encased within a robust and easily tied and comfortable lacing system. Within the shoe itself, you will find a removable anti-microbial sock liner for customized comfort and fit.
Below this, the shoe is built around a charged foam midsole containing UA’s HOVR technology which essentially consists of three layers - the HOVR foam itself, the energy web, and the blown rubber outsole.
Further to this, the heel counter adds support to the shoe with the TPU heel counter as per above.
The outsole is an elaborate patterned network of blown rubber which is a lightweight material and incredibly responsive. This adds the overall ‘zero gravity’ feel of the shoe.
Directly beneath the heel, you will feel a reduced impact in each stride due to a high abrasion rubber which helps absorb ground contact.
I did feel a slight loss of traction underfoot on extremely smooth and wet services. However, this is not uncommon in a standard running shoe.
The digital advances in shoe technology have been an interesting development from shoe manufacturers over recent years. It only seems like yesterday that Nike developed a removal chip to communicate with the I-pod.
However, focusing on the UA Sonic 2, is it evident that UA has made advancement in the digital capabilities of shoes that this technology is already built into the shoe?
To utilize UA’S record sensor technology, you will firstly need to download the UA Mapmyrun App on your smartphones.
The digital connectivity between the shoe and the App is controlled via Bluetooth. The chip is contained with the right shoe, and all that is required to activate it is a simple tap of the foot to establish a connection with the App on your phone, and off you go.
The process is relatively seamless the stats such as pace, distance, and time is recorded along with interesting "extras" such as stride length and cadence. It is also nice to have vocal feedback through your earphones as you run.
The only downside is that you have to have your phone while you run to record all of the detailed stats. If you are a more experienced runner, you will find your Garmin stats more sophisticated in managing your training needs in regards to stats.
However, the digital connection is a nice touch and connects you to UA’s world of likeminded runners.
In my view, any shoe that is a record-breaker has to be considered a quality shoe. For me, the Under Armour Sonic 2 are indeed that.
From the perspective of someone who hasn’t previously run in any of Under Armours selection of running shoes, it has been a pleasure to review these trainers.
Every aspect, from aesthetics to comfort, has been considered. Because of that, UA has designed a shoe that delivers a durable, comfortable ride that also potentially improves individual performance due to the effortless response and feel from the HOVR technology.
Personally, I feel that this is a versatile shoe and is essentially a ‘Jack of all trades’ in some senses. Its lightweight design enables it to function well as a faster shoe which is great for those tempo runs, while its robustness and comfort lend itself well to those longer runs where you need to feel a reduced impact.
Interestingly, Under Armour market the Sonic 2 as a faster pace shoe due to the HOVR technology and its light weight.
However, I do feel that because of their versatility, the Sonic 2 are not exceptional at any one particular thing. There are faster, lightweight, and possibly more robust shoes on the market that can outperform these shoes.
That said, from a performance perspective, the UA Sonic 2 delivers exactly what they say on the tin. A lightweight, responsive shoe delivering a ‘zero gravity’ feel and you can’t ask for more than that.
In answer to the question ‘could the Sonic 2’s be record breakers?’ The answer for me in regard to the very pair that I own is an emphatic yes!
From a review perspective, what does this mean?
Well, the fact that this shoe accomplished this feat right out of the box, means that rest assured, this shoe is an extremely comfortable, lightweight shoe with a technology (HOVR) that only adds to your efficiency.
Add to this, the digital connectivity and aesthetic appeal then quite possibly UA is on the road to breaking their own records in the running shoe arena.
As mentioned above, if you are looking for a versatile shoe that has a tick in a majority of boxes, you won’t go far wrong with the UA Sonic 2’s.
I recently purchased Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 (Black/Orange glitch). I bought this in a UA outlet for a great deal (CAD 60). As of this review, I ran around 60kms on this shoe.
The one biggest concern was sizing. As many mentioned, the sizing is not true to fit.
In my case, the issue is with midfoot width. I would have kept my size 10 if the midfoot has wider options. Thus, I recommend getting a half size bigger if you are shopping online.
Other than sizing, the comfort of this shoe cannot be questioned. The cushioning is so nice you feel like you are turned into flight mode. You will realize this in your very first run.
The outer mesh is breathable that will surely help for long runs. I haven’t logged a long run, but from my 6kms run, I didn’t feel any issues.
The removable Ortholite liner keeps your feet dry and responsive.
With regards to comfort, this shoe is on top of my list. As advertised, UA cushioning feels like zero gravity, and there is no denying this factor.
Design & construction
Construction of the shoe is excellent. In my 50km runs so far, I don’t have any issue with my feet or felt any uneasiness.
Before this Under Armour, I was coming from Asics Cumulus 20, which are slightly heavier (maybe by .2oz) than the UA Sonic 2.
The mid and inner sole of the shoe are very soft and responsive. Your feet are glued into the shoe well and will give you instant comfort without any break-in period.
UA HOVR technology hasn’t failed to live up to the expectation. The responsiveness and energy return are evident from your first use.
The HOVR, as claimed by UA, uses Olefin material, which is a wax-like synthetic that is strong and resilient. If you are a first time UA user, you will notice the difference immediately.
The one thing to note in this shoe is that the heel counter is not having any special padding or cushioning.
If you prefer some support at the back of your heel, then I strongly recommend trying on the shoes before making a decision.
The outsole provides good grip and traction during your run. The solid abrasive rubber under the heel enhances comfort during the ground contact.
During the run
As the title of my review states, this shoe will turn you into flight mode. The HOVR technology provides the zero-gravity feel, which will make you feel like running on the air.
With the smooth stride and ground contact, you might be pleasantly surprised to see improvements to your overall pace, at least in my case, I could see my average pace going up.
The side support and running at a good pace into turns didn’t give any gripping issues. The grip on the road is good. However, I haven’t tried this shoe on non-road surfaces.
I have used this shoe when the outside temperature was ~18-20ºC and haven’t tried in lower temperatures. Considering the design, I am confident they will handle lower temperature runs.
However, don’t consider this for running in winter as the traction and grip might not be great in Canadian winter.
UA connected sensor
These shoes come with an inbuilt UA connected sensor, which tracks and records the run with your shoes. The sensor works without any issues.
Download the UA “Map my run” app from Apple App Store or Google Play store. It also works with Map My Fitness app.
Tap the right leg shoe on the ground, keep them to their sides, and the phone app will be paired with shoes.
I tried to check the metrics, unfortunately, they are not very accurate. But, if you don’t have any fitness tracker, then you will be happy to use the inbuilt sensor.
For those using some fitness tracker, the sensor doesn’t have GPS (if you are Strava user you know it will be treated as indoor run).
I compared the running distance with my Apple watch and inbuilt sensor, and this always recorded longer distance.
For instance, my watch recorded 6.05kms and sensor recorded 6.78kms. It cannot differentiate the run and regular walking.
These shoes come with good color options for different tastes.
My picks are:
- Dust/Summit white
- Wire/Ash Gray
- Black/Orange glitch
- Mod gray/ Jet gray
- Super comfortable pick neutral and daily running shoes
- HOVR technology stands out with its zero-gravity feel, which makes you feel like you are running on the air.
- Suitable for all levels (beginners and serious runners)
What I don’t like
- Sizing is not true to fit. I recommend trying it first in the store before purchasing.
These Bluetooth enabled smart shoes are reportedly comfy out the box. This may be true, but what will break first on a long run: me or the shoes?
The UA HOVR Sonic 2
This is a review of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 shoe. I know the Under Armour brand more for their apparel rather than their shoes.
As someone who normally sticks to the ‘classic’ running brands, testing these shoes is going to be a voyage into the unknown.
The shoes have an interesting colour combination on them, though it is not something I would normally go for.
But, the bright foam is mitigated by the back upper, which means they aren’t too gaudy. The upper also has an interesting “crochet” effect, if that’s what you’re into.
The shoes are Bluetooth enabled to allow a direct connection with the MapMyRun app. Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive about trying these shoes.
I often wonder if gadgets are tagged onto the kit for the sake of it, to the detriment of their original function.
I already had the MapMyRun app downloaded on my phone, along with Strava, ViewRanger, and Endomondo. I mean why have one app when you can have six or seven?
I also had an account set up, so the shoes connected relatively easily.
The instructions in the box were quite minimalist. Downloading the app and setting up an account would make the process slightly more laborious.
Technophobes might find it a little baffling from the box instructions. Luckily, the website has expanded instructions making connecting the shoes simple for pretty much everyone.
Inside of the box
The long run
Having run a couple of shorter road runs (5-15km) in them, I decided that I would give the shoes a proper test on my hilly, traily, 100km ultra-marathon route.
I uploaded my long run route to mapmyrun.com. I assume this means my shoes will know where they are, even if I don’t?!
I did worry about how the Bluetooth connectivity would work with my Bluetooth earphones also connected. But, this turned out not to be a problem.
I think that there are a couple of things that make a good shoe, comfort and durability are my main criteria with the price also being an important factor.
Comfort and fit
These shoes are indeed comfy straight out of the box. The toe box is nice and wide, which makes them comfortable for longer runs as your feet swell.
Wide toe box
The shoes feel very light when you are wearing them. But, the arch support can be clearly felt when you put the shoes on and the sole is quite stiff.
This was a slightly unusual feeling for me. I often go barefoot, but it didn’t cause me any irritation once I got used to them.
No bend at all in the sole except for at the toes
I have been struggling with a calf problem recently. Having the 8mm drop, rather than barefoot like I’m used to, really seemed to help me run without too much pain whilst I recovered.
The shoes were breathable and the upper mesh was nice and light, making it great on the long test run in the heat. The mesh also provided support and kept my feet comfortable and secure.
I did think the back would rub at the ankle over a longer distance as soon as I put the shoes on. The heel/ankle enclosure section of the shoe is very stiff compared to the other shoes I have had.
I always wear thick socks and I still got a small blister on my right ankle after 30 miles. I don’t normally get blisters from my shoes, so this was unusual.
It may prove to be a more significant problem for those who wear thinner/no socks.
Grubby feet and blisters – the shoes did well though, you should have seen some of the others!
Some small stones did get lodged in the bottom of the shoe, which was slightly annoying whilst running.
However, I think it is unlikely that this would be a large problem when the shoes are used as intended (i.e road running as opposed to on trail).
The shoes were comfortable, cushioned, springy, and responsive on the road. The stiffness and cushioning did make the trail harder to connect with under-foot, but I can’t fault the grip.
More of a hypothetical; I suspect the upper may allow in quite a lot of water when running in the wet (as it’s nice and breathable). But as it’s currently dry as a bone outside.
I have no way of seeing if this is true.
So far, I have no complaints. The shoes have held up really well, even when up against much rougher terrain than they were designed for.
Soles after ~70 miles wear
These shoes are at the cheaper end of the spectrum for road shoes (around £70 from sports retailer sites). When you add in the free year of MVP on mapmyrun.com, they are extremely good value.
The free year of MVP on mapmyrun.com is a brilliant extra for these shoes. It allows you to access training plans and other premium features.
This means you can make the most of your shoes without forcing you to purchase MVP separately. The training plan feature would be particularly good for newer runners.
The bottom line
Having to drop out at 53km was very disappointing. I had a virus all week and was still struggling to breathe on race day, so I’m glad I managed to get as far as I did.
If I had carried on I would have kept these on my feet, even given the choice of two other tried and trusted pairs in my drop bag.
Shoes in action
The MVP function on mapmyrun.com allows for live tracking, which was fantastic as it allows people to follow your race remotely.
They see how you’re getting on (and in my case where to come and rescue me from!)
The shoes held up incredibly well. They are road shoes, and I tested them on some very traily trail. They got me up even the steepest hill with no worries about grip.
They are quite bouncy on road too and very comfortable.
I will be testing them more on road over the next few months as I train for a 10km road race. I have absolute confidence that they will continue to perform well.
But most of all, these shoes are vegan. I am a vegetarian, and I’m really glad that no animals were harmed just so I can go running in comfort!
Good to know
- The long-distance capability of the first HOVR Sonic is improved in this second iteration, where it boasts of more cushioning and providing a smoother transition. Because of these updates, the Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 equips the runner with more flexibility while retaining the zero-gravity feel in the activity.
- The HOVR Sonic 2 is readily equipped with the Record Sensor™ that allows the runner to track and measure their running metrics. This is a significant change from the first HOVR Sonic, where Under Armour had released two shoes that differed with the presence of digital connectivity.
- While most of the materials have been retained from the first HOVR Sonic, this new edition delivers a level-up of each feature. For instance, the Threadborne upper—also present in the first version—is made more breathable than ever, promising better airflow and longer-lasting ventilation. In addition, other upper elements have also been improved, both in construction and functionality.
The outsole of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 comes in two portions. First, under the forefoot is a blown rubber. The structure of blown rubber—that is, air-injected—makes the outsole lighter, softer, and more flexible compared to traditional rubber outsoles. These qualities prove to be important during toe-off, as they enable a more nimble and responsive movement, which results in a quicker pace.
Meanwhile, under the heel is a high-abrasion outsole unit made from carbon rubber. The durability and high-resistance characteristics of this material promote optimal shock absorption and better feel of the ground during running.
The HOVR technology of Under Armour is materialized as an ultra-responsive midsole foam that encourages energy return with each step. More importantly (and as its name implies), HOVR provides a “zero-gravity feel” because of its ultra-lightweight and soft qualities. With HOVR foam, the HOVR Sonic 2 effortlessly absorbs impact during running and transforms it into energy.
Aiding the HOVR foam is the EnergyWeb, a compression mesh unit that is wrapped around the HOVR foam. This feature maintains the shape of the midsole, as well as augment the shoe’s responsiveness and energy return.
The Record Sensor is the main feature of the Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 that sets it apart from the traditional running shoe. This unique device comes in the form of a pod that is embedded in the midsole foam. The Record Sensor engages digital connectivity via Bluetooth to allow runners to track their data, as well as offer coaching to improve running metrics.
Similar to the previous iteration, the HOVR Sonic 2 utilizes Threadborne upper material to give a coverage that is breathable, comfortable, and lightweight. Threadborne is meant by Under Armour to be a premium material, having been made from engineered, microsized threads that allow maximum mobility and functionality.
For additional details, there is an external heel counter made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) provides additional support and structure for a more secure run, as well as a unique tongue construction that augments the snug fit of the HOVR Sonic 2.
The Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2 highlights the Record Sensor as one of its, if not the most, significant feature. From the get-go, it is easy to mention that this shoe is capable of leveling up the running experience in a technological aspect. Here we mention how the Record Sensor aids the HOVR Sonic 2 in its performance.
The Record Sensor needs a smartphone or another device that can download the accompanying Under Armour app, which, in turn, allows the user to view the running data being tracked by the device. As the runner wears the HOVR Sonic 2, the device gathers data related to movement, such as steps, pace, distance, and calories burned. These data are stored in the app and can be viewed when the user wishes.
Aside from the HOVR Sonic 2, which is a running shoe, the Record Sensor is also employed in other Under Armour products, like their headphones. The Record Sensor is durable enough to withstand rainy-day runs and it is designed to last longer than the running shoe itself when used properly.