Performance Review: Under Armour ClutchFit Drive

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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Under Armour has been all over the news lately. From hosting the nation’s top high school hoopers in the Elite 24 event in Brooklyn, to making a wild run at Kevin Durant’s endorsement (which may have been a buzz-generating ploy if nothing else), to most recently surpassing adidas as the No. 2 company in the U.S. in combined footwear and apparel sales. While UA certainly would have loved to add Durant to its stable of athletes, the past few months can generally be considered a success for the Baltimore-based brand.

That’s all well and good but as a hooper, I’ve been interested in UA’s latest technological innovation – the ClutchFit uppers that have been turning up across a variety of UA footwear. Designed as a second-skin, the rubbery textile overlays are intended to flex naturally with the foot and provide support via a kind of web/weave when force is applied. The result is supposed to be a closer-to-the-foot fit and better flexibility.

I’m always curious about new shoe tech, whether it’s cushioning systems or different textiles and support structures for the upper, and the ClutchFit Drive piqued that interest. Even better, the shoe – and the technology – delivered.

Fit
As you know, everything starts with fit when it comes to performance hoops shoes, and the ClutchFit Drive is pretty close to perfect when it comes to overall fit and lockdown.

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I went with an 11.5 and didn’t feel the need to drop down to an 11 for a more snug fit. The width is average (some shoes, like the Kobe IX, seemed very tight under the midfoot – not so with the ClutchFit Drive) and should suit most players. There’s adequate room in the toebox too.

As mentioned before, ClutchFit was designed as a second skin for the foot. It’s supposed to deliver a thinner upper while the webbed structure provides dynamic support when it’s needed. And it does exactly that. There’s no slippage at all when laced up – thanks also to a full-length, high ankle inner bootie – and the upper flexes naturally through the foot strike. I felt secure and locked in at all times.

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The high cut is probably a love/hate feel for most players, and I am somewhat of a fence rider in that discussion. I honestly prefer lows and love the mobility of a lower collar, and at first I didn’t like the feel of the padding and inner sleeve all the way up my ankle. It didn’t affect me in any way, other than me just noticing it, and after awhile I wasn’t aware of the high cut because of the fantastic flexibility of the upper. Still, I’d probably prefer the low version if/when it drops in some capacity.

It is also surprisingly well-padded, especially around the collar, and the stretchy, dynamic fit of the upper was a joy to play in.

Heel-Toe Transition
Full-length Micro G with no midfoot shank provides an extremely responsive and smooth ride. You’ll feel like you’re gliding from heel strike to toe off. The lack of a shank does have its minor drawbacks (covered later) but the quality of Micro G foam and thicker outsole rubber provide some of the smoothest transitions you’ll find.

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Cushioning
I’ve long been a fan of Micro G cushioning and it’s fantastic on court once again. I think it’s the best foam compound on the market today, and it’s utilized perfectly here. Cushioning is consistent thanks to full-length Micro G, and plays extremely low to the ground and stable. It’s highly responsive and simply feels natural underfoot.

It scores well on each of our three scales, but cushioning is always going to have a personal element. For me, I like my shoes to have some support built in. I’ve played competitively in high school, college, and dozens of local leagues, and had both hips reconstructed after my freshman year of college ball. I know my body well, and I know that I need a certain amount of midfoot support to keep me feeling good after a competitive game or hour-long workout.

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The KD7 is the most recent shoe to meet that need (I also felt the Anatomix Spawn and Crazyquick were good in this area), but the ClutchFit Drive gave me a surprising amount of support given the way it is built. It’s built to be flexible and doesn’t have any kind of midfoot shank. But the firm Micro G setup and high-quality rubber outsole give it enough support that I can hoop in these all day.

Traction
Full-length herringbone with deep tread and various flex grooves give it a natural flex and near-perfect traction. I went through a workout on a pretty poor YMCA floor tonight and I was still squeaking on my change of direction

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Materials/Durability
So far, so good. Under Armour once had a rep of not building the highest quality shoes, but the Anatomix Spawn held up well for me last year and these show no early signs of wearing out. In a way, it’s a pretty simple shoe as far as construction goes, so there’s not a whole lot to nitpick. The upper is thicker than I would have expected, and the collar is very well padded. Micro G is a durable compound and holds up under heavy use.

I don’t necessarily love the shiny, plastic-y, rubbery finish of the shoe as a whole and I think it knocks the shoe down some in the eyes of a lazy consumer. I wish there were some different premium textures/materials used in one way or another. I know neon is in for the youngbloods, but I also wish you could actually find a simpler colorway in stores. That’s my old man soapbox.

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The shoe instantly raises questions from other hoopers and when people have asked me what I thought of the shoe overall, and I describe it like this: it’s what the Kobe IX should have felt like. I think the IX was a very good shoe in its own right, but it fell seriously short in the cushioning department with the gimmicky drop-in midsole. The ClutchFit Drive simply felt more natural to me and the cushioning was near-perfect.

I’d sure like to get my hands on a low-top version and sometimes I want the support of the KD7. But the fit/flexibility, traction and cushioning have made the ClutchFit drive a favorite of mine and contender for shoe of the year.

UnderArmourClutchFitDrive_review_guide

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52 responses to “Performance Review: Under Armour ClutchFit Drive

  1. Grest review . Took the words right out of my mouth . The transition in these is fantastic . I liked the kobe ix but turned the crap out of my ankle in them .
    Plus drop in insoles pinch when I cut hard(kobe ix was decent at containing foot though ). Clutchfit does everything well esp sticking to the floor . You’d enjoy the lows. Feel similar to kobe vi . Slightly better lockdown for me than the kobe vi

    • Glad to hear someone else felt the same haha it’s just a great all-around shoe. A Kobe VI comparison for the lows is about the highest form of praise you can give a shoe IMO

      • Ha I never got along with the kobe vi like others did. Traction was only ok to me and heel slipped a little more than I liked in my left foot. Ua cf low fits slightly better and traction is awesome as you know . I’m sure more colorways will come out

  2. Good stuff. Your reviews are definitely my favorites! I’m a little surprised by the marks these got. I knew they were good but not that good. The review makes me want to pick a pair up. Do you think they are better than the spawns? From the marks it looks that way and they look like a better overall guard shoe.

    • Thanks man. I really liked em, as a point guard I like em if they fit like a glove and are smooth from heel to toe. And as a true guard shoe, yeah they probably are better than the original Spawns (I should be picking up the Spawn 2s soon) even though that’s not a knock against the Spawns at all. The Spawns were definitely more supportive both underfoot with that really unique TPU shank and just overall support in the upper. Clutchfit is smoother, better traction; Spawns have more support. But the Clutchfit is a smoother, true guard shoe if you ask me.

      • Sweet! Thanks for the info. Really intrigued by these. nothing better to me than a great fit that has a beautiful smooth transition. and to top it off it has excellent traction too. Its looking like possibly the best guard shoe out right now. another one that i can’t wait for is the hyperrev 2015. that shoe looks like it is going to be near perfect for me.

  3. Would the micro g in the clutchfit be more responsive than the micro g in the spawns? because when i tried on the clutch fit, the cushioning was much firmer than the ones on the spawns. I am currently trying to pick between the clutch fit, kd7s or the cp3s…i just don’t know which one is more responsive.

    • I think the transition is smoother in the Clutchfit, so it’ll feel slightly more natural and responsive than the Spawns (at least in my opinion). Spawns are still very responsive, just a little more structured. I can’t speak for the Spawn 2 because I haven’t bought em yet, but I did try them on at the same time as the Clutchfits and the smooth transition of the Clutchfit should make it feel more responsive.

      All three of the shoes you mentioned are very responsive – marginal differences in responsiveness. Try em on and see which one fits your foot best, which is the smoothest and feels lowest to the ground.

  4. Thanks for the information! But could i have your opinion on one more thing, i tried on all of those 3 shoes and i still couldn’t decide. You mind putting the clutch fit, cp3 7s and kd7s in an order from your most favourite to least?

    • I would probably go KD7, Clutchfit, CP3.VII. I liked the support I got from the KD7 and while I love playing in the Clutchfit, I’d rather not have a shoe that high. CP3’s actually became one of my go-to shoes off court because they’re so durable and well cushioned, but it just didn’t fit my foot right to hoop in.

      • Just my .02. Could not get kd 7 to hold heel in place but cushioning traction was great . Cp3 great too but didn’t fit right for me either . . I like high cut /miss shoes more than lows so I would go clutchfit first, kd 7 a distant second . Cf traction isnjust as good as kd and cushioning is close enough . Plus cf is way cheaper .

      • Yep I could see all of that too – I had some heel slip with the KD7 initially but it seemed to go away as it broke in. Then it just all comes down to preference pretty much, I don’t think guys could really go wrong with either. Both are two of my favorites this year, though I am liking the XX9 the more I hoop in em

  5. Would you recommend the Clutchfits or the Anatomix Spawn Lows for a PG/SG who is mostly a shooter? And how is the durability on the Spawn’s, will it rip in the toe area quick?

    • Honestly both are good performers across all our categories, and some of it will come down to what you like in a shoe. But I would give the nod to the ClutchFit just because it’s smoother and the cushioning is a little softer/bouncier. As a guard, responsiveness is huge to me and the ClutchFit is great in that area. You’ll get really good fit with both, though I’d say the ClutchFit was more comfortable to me. The Spawn is going to give you really good midfoot support (important if you’ve had injuries or anything like that), flexibility and lockdown. As far as the durability, I played in my Spawns for months and never had any issues come up. I’m actually a little more concerned with the Spawn 2 durability that I was with the original.

      It’s hard for me to pick against a lowtop, and I don’t necessarily like how high the ClutchFit goes, but it’s the better shoe in my opinion. IF you could track down some ClutchFit lows, that would be ideal.

  6. Hey Jake,
    Im having troubles deciding between these clutchfit drives or the kobe ix elites (hi tops). I cant try them out as i have to order them online so i just wanted to get a final opinion. I also have wide feet :D. Also really appreciate the reviews.

    Thanks

      • I don’t play in braces and both are pretty high so I’m not sure how they’d work. The clutchfit upper is a little stretchier or more dynamic in terms of flexibility, so I’d maybe lean towards them.

    • I didn’t play in the Kobe IX highs, but they have the same tooling underneath as the lows and that’s where your issues are. The Kobe’s are definitely narrower and offer very little support or impact protection. The flexibility and traction is nice, but the ClutchFits do the exact same thing plus a better overall cushioning system. The fit is awesome, and so is traction. Neither is built for real wide footers, but the Clutchfit should be roomier for sure. Plus, you can get them significantly cheaper. I would go with the Clutchfits without question. Thanks for the question man

  7. Hello I am thinking about getting the hyperdunk 2013 or the clutchfit drive. How would you compare the two,and which one would be best for a guard? Also, is the poor ventilation in the clutchfit drive a problem only during the break in period, or all the time? Thanks for replying.

  8. Great review again. I am looking for my next cop as the narrowness of the cp3 vii toe box caught up to my aging feet. I am going to go with the KD VII since there are no lows yet in the CFD.
    One awesome addition to your reviews is that you answer specific questions. It helps clarify a lot of areas reading your responses. Not to knock other reviewers as their time, effort, and cost is greatly appreciated though the response to questions of “whatever suits you best” is not helpful as we know that part. I love that you take the time to make your best guess to questions as it adds significantly to the review. Please keep up the great work!

    • I wish there were more clutchfit lows available too – would be near perfect for me in a low. It’s a great shoe but the super high collar isn’t really what I prefer. When going to the KD7, I’d definitely go with your normal size; I went down a half because I like a more snug fit but they were a little short length-wise in that half size down.

      Thanks for the feedback too man – I like the conversation because a lot of times those specific questions are ones that are hard to cover in the reviews. Always good to hear from the people to check us out. There is an element of personal preference to any review, but I do my best to take that out of it with the scale that we use. CP3.VIII review should be written by tomorrow sometime!

      • UA is releasing the lows in January from what I’ve heard . And like I said earlier feels a lot like the kobe vi but with better traction 🙂

      • Can’t wait! Copping a pair just to have in the bag if I’m playing in a big game and don’t wanna risk some random shoe haha

  9. Hey @jtsittler , thanks for the great review. I have two questions. First, have you been able to get your hands on a pair of the spawn 2’s? Second, I am in between the Clutchfit Drive and the Spawn 2; which would you recommend for a 2-3 player and which would you recommend for ankle support? Thanks!

    • I have also reviewed the Spawn 2, it’ll be under the Performance Review tab if it’s not visible on the main page.

      Both shoes would be great for a wing but the Clutchfit is smoother/more flexible whereas the Spawn 2 is a little more structured in terms of the midsole and heel – toe transition.
      For ankle support, I found the Clutchfit to hug my foot better and thus I felt more stable in it. But I gave my Spawn 2s to a friend after I finished the review and they fit him perfect; he loves the ankle support and overall fit. My foot was probably just a little too narrow for it.

      Both are good shoes for what you’re asking about, I just liked the Clutchfit better

      • Thank you for the speedy reply! Much appreciated. I think I’m going to go with the clutchfit drive’s. They seem to fit the mold for me better and I like how the outsole/traction is one flat surface. I feel like that is huge for protection and landings. Also, if the CF Drives and the Spawns are so similar, I’m going to choose the drive’s off aesthetics (spawns need a facelift if they want to truly break into the Nike, Jordan, Adi market. IMO). Anywho, I’ll get back to you once I get them and try them out. Thanks again!

      • No problem. I’d say the similarity is that they’re both good performance shoes, but they do go about it in different ways and have different strengths. Based on what you’ve said you prefer though, Clutchfits are the way to go. I’m hoping to get my hands on Clutchfit lows sometime – I think that would be a near perfect shoe. Good luck with em.

  10. The lows have dropped at last! and in “oldblood” colors!
    they are available in all sizes on Under Armour’s website.

  11. This was a great review and has me very interested in these shoes!

    I play point and occasionally 2 guard. My still of play is very cross-over based and traction is the most important thing for me. We usually play on a very dusty indoor court and I can’t figure out what my best long term option would be.

    Right now I’m hooping in the UA Spawn 1’s and a, surprisingly grippy, pair of retro T-MAC 2’s.

    I really wanted the XX8’s but with all the popping issues, I think I should stay away from them.

    So, I’ve been considering the Kobe X, Kobe 9em, XX9 and the Clutchfit Drives. Can you give me a quick comparison regarding traction is dusty environments?

    Also, I saw the new Nike HyperChase’s and they look incredible! Based off of what has been revealed, how do you think the Hexagonal traction pattern will hold up?

    Thank you so much,
    Timothy

    • Thanks man. As far as your question goes, I have to say I don’t have any info on the Kobe X yet, other than Nightwing’s review where he gave them a pretty good score in the traction section. But the other 3 I have played in recently, and are reviewed on this site. At the end of each of the reviews there is a sliding scale rating the traction.

      Of those three, I think the Kobe 9 EM is probably your best bet because of the sticky compound and the amount of flex in the midsole (that flex did cause me issues in other areas and was why I didn’t particularly like playing in them but for traction purposes, it was crazy good). I’d put the CF next, with a simple, tried and true pattern with good flexibility. The XX9 I’d rate after those two, but it was also very good. Either of those will be good for you in my opinion, and the CF is probably the best all around shoe – now available in a low too if you don’t want the super high feel.

      I’d want to see the HyperChase in person and get a feel for the type of rubber compound they used for it. It’s actually pretty similar to the adaptive traction that is on the bottom of the Zoom Revis, and the Revis was surprisingly nice on court for a trainer. My biggest concern with the HyperChase is if it’s really going to have a nice snug lockdown given that it relies a lot on Flywire at the forefoot. Awesome looking shoe though, hopefully will pick them up after I’m done with the HyperRev 2015

  12. 3 different low top colorways drop on Eastbay tommorow JT. the black ones have been on Under Armour for a few weeks now but their are 2 more. Also i’m pretty sure you can use the Eastbay promo codes on them to get the price down even further from the $110. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Under Armour shoe excluded from further discounts besides the Curry, brand new or not. I’m more than likely going to grab me a pair. Just thought i’d give you a heads up in case you didn’t know.

  13. Hey man i have a question about this shoe,i finally gave in and bought the clutchfit ,i usually use sz 11.5 but since they do not available ,i ended up buying sz 12(i buy it online so trying it on is not an option)my question is how much the fit will change??i do have thick/wide foot

    • I went true to size, can’t really help you beyond that though. I never go up in size because I have a narrow foot anyway, but I’d rather have a tighter fit if I’m gonna hoop in em. Might work for you if you have a wider foot, but the CFD wasn’t super narrow to begin with either. Just have to wait and see.

      • They are arrive,thank god the fit does not compromise,there is an extra lenght on the tip of the toe but its expected for going half size,but so far they do not bother me

  14. Hi me again gonna play in the clutchfits tommorow after not playing in them for a long time. And what do yall mean by a foam being responsive? Still debating if i should get the kd 7’s,the low top clutchfits, a kobe x or the lunar hyperquickness. Do you think you can review the hyperquickness or have you tried the low top clutchfits? Not forcing you or anything i know you have more important stuff to do….

    • Only reason im asking again/ debating again is because of a nike outlet and i can get the shoes there i can also maybe send a pair your way if i can….

    • Responsiveness is like energy return – when you apply force to the cushioning, how much does it return to you and feel bouncy and explosive. Firmer cushioning like certain Zoom units or Charged Micro G (or even regular Micro G) are probably the most responsive setups out there. A shoe’s flexibility, court feel and heel-toe transition help responsiveness.

      I haven’t done the Hyperquickness, and Clutchfit lows share the same cushioning platform as the high version so the upper is the only difference. I tried on the Kobe X before I got the Crazy 8s and personally couldn’t justify the $180 based on how the shoe felt initally. I’ll probably stick with the Crazy 8s for the next review then decide from there where to go. I definitely appreciate it – but don’t need to send me any haha

      • Oh ok. I just asked if you wanted haha because there were the hyperquickness there for around $50-60 if you convert it cause i live in the philippines and shipping to yall are usually around 20-40 dollars converted of course. There were also kd 7’s there for half the price, lebron 12’s for 40% off, the aj 29 was there for around 125-150 converted. The melo 11, cp3 8, superfly 3, superfly 2 po, cp3 7 ae, flightposite, air raid, lunar raid, the maison du lebron 11’s were there too for $100 they reached the 50 off because they were there last year too. The bron 11 elites were ther too for only 100. All i need is your size and your colleague’s sizes and i can work something out if you have trouble getting something there in the states because shoes are easy to get here.

  15. It doesn’t hurt that we get every release too and some of the shoes here arent even available in the states like the ambassador 7 for example. No hate or anything

  16. Hey bro, do you recommend for outdoor?
    The outsole will last if I play outdoor?
    Thanks!

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