Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN review
The Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN is built for the runner who wants to feel nothing as they're pounding the pavement. It is meant for easier efforts and aimed at runners who value comfort above all.
The shoe features the HOVR foam technology, which promises a "zero-gravity feel" through its energy-returning responsiveness.
Feature: MapMyRun app
The Under Armour HOVR Phantom RN allows you to connect your running shoes to MapMyRun, which provides personalised coaching to better your results and reduce injury.
It records your running performance, such as stride length, pace, and splits so that you can chart your improvements and form.
So, I downloaded the app, and it didn't work the first time. I downloaded it again and had to sync the app a few times so it could recognise the trainers.
After starting the run, I then had comments like "warm-up pace for 3 minutes ... looking good, and increase your stride length."
After about a dozen of these runs, I did get "bored" of hearing the "increase your stride length" every few minutes when I was pushing as hard as I could. So, I stopped using MapMyRun. They do, however, provide regular blogs on running tips.
The Phantom visuals
Anyway, let's get back to the UA HOVR Phantom RN. The Phantom comes in four colours: red, white, black and black/white.
I've got the black/white version. The red is too bold and bright for me while the white will pick up stains if you just wanted them to look good for going out.
I prefer a two-tone colour combination rather than one. The black/white version has black for the upper and white for the midsole and outsole.
There are four logos on the RN—a black HOVR on the white layer:
A grey HOVR and white Phantom RN on the tongue:
A black UA symbol on the upper:
And a white UA on the outsole which is part of the HOVR cushion element.
I'm not keen on having four logos, just one for me is enough—the black UA HOVR on the upper is the best one for me as it stands out
You never know when buying a pair of running shoes, whether they are true-to-fit or not—each person's feet are different.
I'm a UK size 7.5, and the running did not feel tight or loose—just right, and the speed foam sockliner meant no sliding of the feet and the mesh upper meant breathability. This led to no blisters.
Knit upper comfort
The upper section of the RN is built into three parts: the knit at the front:
to the tongue:
And then to the ankle collar. I like the use of the ankle collar to put your feet in the shoe, and once the laces are done up, it does provide a tight fit.
The second part is a more durable element that also attaches to the laces has airlets for breathability (which look like croc shoes) and attaches to the knit.
The third part seems to have a harder material attached to around the ankle part of the RN, which has the black UA logo.
Maybe this provides durability or is just aesthetic looking? The knit has two layers for the laces, which makes for a tighter fit and also adds more breathability.
There were no problems with the laces—they did not come undone when running. The insole is non-removable and fits your feet really well.
It has a sock-like fit and a soft, comfortable SpeedForm™ 2.0 sockliner. The soft foam in the upper and a molded 3D footbed provided shock attenuation and comfort to support the midsole of the shoe.
Cushioning and protection on the UA HOVR Phantom RN
The white middle section of the RN has two functions. The EVA foam which is used to propel you forward and the heel with an odd-like mesh colouring (black/white) of what looks like pebbles.
This is the HOVR cushion element which provides a good return.
The outsole of the RN has some dimples (shaped like snowflakes) and some white round circular inlets.
The dimples protrude outwards so should provide a little bit more grip than the inlets. The dimples run from the middle of the outsole and then a narrow strip to the top of the toe-box whereas the circular inlets are predominantly at the front of the toe-box and the back.
I found that there was an adequate grip on asphalt and trails in dry conditions. In wet conditions, there were some slippery moments, but these are not trail shoes.
Running also on wet grass, my feet were more soaked than trail shoes in the past and did not keep out splashes. The HOVR seems to have compromised breathability more than dryness (or is that a contradiction?).
There is also a UA symbol, which forms part of the HOVR cushion element and perhaps where the synching happens for MapMyRun.
I like the thickness of the outsole (when compared to zero-drop running shoes) as this adds more cushioning which for me doesn't seem to be compromised on weight and the HOVR cushion element does provide a good energy return.
This is enhanced by a full-length platform of the UA HOVR foam, and when combined with the dynamic mesh energy web, it creates a zero-gravity feel. The durable rubber runs the full length of the outsole, for comfort and abrasion resistance from the road.
Overall the design/appearance I wouldn't say is stylish to look at as the rear of the RN has three protruding parts, not in line with each other: the odd-like mesh colouring; the durable element and the ankle collar.
I tried the Phantom on many runs: 25 runs in total for 5 miles (130 miles) each on different surfaces - treadmill, asphalt and on trails and also on the flat, uphill and downhill.
Supinator wear after 130 miles
I was most surprised by how springy it felt when I decided to work on my sprints, especially because it felt cushioned during the subsequent slow section of the run.
I didn't feel as is if it was a "heavy" shoe to wear. On the contrary, it did feel surprisingly light since it is not a zero-drop running shoe.
The retail price is £120 (excluding sale prices and including the use of the app), which I think with or without the app is overpriced.
The RN performs just as well as the Brooks Ghost 12. The Ghost does not let in as much water, which I prefer when compared to the RN. But, the RN is more breathable, and the Ghost was at £100 not in a sale.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the HOVR as you can get it for £80 in a sale, which I would buy but not if I was asked to pay £120 even with the app.
Final thoughts on the HOVR Phantom
The HOVR lost 5 points for the app, which didn't benefit me (but probably would have been more beneficial if I could spend the time reading the blogs and seeing where can I improve).
It also lost another 5 points because it didn't keep out enough of the water, especially on wet grass, and it wasn't currently raining!
Tip: see the best running shoes.