Performance Review: Under Armour Fireshot

Prose: Jake Sittler (@thegymratreview)


When I headed to the mall to pick up the UA Fireshot, I did so for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a fan of Micro G and hey, that’s what these are built on so I figured I’d be guaranteed a good ride. Second, the CompFit sleeve gave it a unique silhouette and bore a slight resemblance to one of my favorite UA silos – the original Micro G Juke, which was the first shoe to ever use CompFit. I have a pair I break out from time to time and I’ve always loved its sleek, clean lines.

What I found after putting in the hours with the Fireshot on-court is a shoe that’s lacking in a lot of areas. The word that kept coming to mind throughout my wearings was unnatural. More on that to come.

I will do my best to remind myself that this shoe ultimately wasn’t really built for a foot type like mine, so I’ll try to separate personal preference from overall performance at the end of this section. I went with a size 11, a half-size down from my true size of 11.5. Honestly, I think I could have gone to a 10.5 – there was that much room in the toebox for me. There was really too much volume all over for me in this shoe. My narrow foot was not built for this upper at all.


The major portion of the upper is a Fuse-like synthetic mesh with overlays strategically fused along the interior of the upper (you can see the pattern they create in some of these pictures). In this aspect, the reinforcement was a great idea as it strengthened the upper without coating the whole thing in another layer of material.


However, the synthetic mesh itself flexed extremely weird and unnaturally for me. The toebox creased funny because of how far down the tongue was stitched to the top of the toebox – it really needed to be a full inner sleeve. The odd flexing created hot spots (for me) at a couple of points along both medial sides of the shoes.

Now I could see how many players could like the Fireshot – if you have a wider foot, it’ll probably fill up the interior nicely. For me, I had to lace tighter in order to get good lockdown and it created all kinds of bad flexing. There was a little bit of room all over, from heel to toe, and I didn’t really care for its ability to lock my foot in. It didn’t make me nervous or anything, but I the extra room was consistently noticeable.

The CompFit sleeve is basically a neoprene bootie stitched to the vamp. It works with the tongue to form a plush collar when laced to the top, and it’s very comfortable. There’s some Achilles padding, though a nicer memory foam compound would have been better.


The biggest thing I can stress with these is to try them on before you buy, if you at all possible. I could see this being a great upper for someone with a wider foot but it just didn’t work for me.

Heel-Toe Transition
Transition was definitely not the smoothest. It’s a full Micro G midsole (despite what the UA website says) but something about the shape of it makes it less than completely smooth. It’s not terrible, and bigger forwards may not mind it. I just happen to put a premium on natural movement in my shoes.

For what it’s worth, I think the shape of the last itself is a little clunky – the outrigger feels too far forward and I don’t care for the sculpting of the midsole.


Again, the UA site has it wrong. It’s a Micro G midsole underneath a rather unfortunate Ortholite insole. The Ortholite insole is cheap and soft, and makes it feel like you’re sinking into the midsole rather than giving you the familiar responsiveness of a Micro G insole + outsole. I swapped insoles a couple different times to see if it would fare better, and it certainly did. The Micro G insole from my barely-used Jukes fit well and improved the feel slightly.


Support is average, but I found my arches getting more and more tired as games went on thanks to the lack of a midfoot shank. Court feel was a little muted thanks to the Ortholite, and thus responsiveness was less than enjoyable. There was nothing glaringly bad about it, but it didn’t feel like traditional Micro G. I’m a huge Micro G fan, but I didn’t like the application of it in the Fireshot. Stability was not a problem in any direction, as the wider base and outrigger took care of any lateral stability issues.


I slipped on my old Jukes and the difference is remarkable. The Micro G in that setup is firmer and noticeably more bouncy than the Fireshot.

This shoe is actually real comfortable to just slip on and wear around – the softness of the insole/midsole is great for that use – but on court it’s lacking in responsiveness and overall cushioning performance. I hate to say it, but the Fireshot felt cheap and unrefined on court.

I wish I had some better things to say, but I really didn’t care for the traction setup either. It’s an injection molded outsole with a geometric pattern for most of the surface of the shoe. There’s a little bit of herringbone, but of course it was put on the lateral side of the shoe (instead of the medial) where it really does no good at all.


The midfoot, ball of the foot and toe area are all this shattered glass-ish pattern and it really fails to grip the floor well unless you play on a very clean surface. The YMCA courts I play on are generally in average to good condition, but if there was any dust at all I wound up sliding all over. Not a good feeling.

It’s not difficult to do traction the right way and UA has some incredible traction setups with the Curry 2 and Curry 1 already. The full herringbone of the first Curry sig would have been perfect.

As you may have gathered, I didn’t care for the materials used. Micro G insole instead of the Ortholite slab, better Micro G midsole setup, and an upper that flexed more naturally would have changed things (I mean that’s basically the entire shoe). The CompFit sleeve is comfy, it’s just stuck in a shoe that doesn’t mirror its natural feel. It doesn’t integrate well into an upper that doesn’t allow for natural movement.


I’m not gonna dwell on it much longer – I just didn’t like playing in the Fireshot. Wide footers go ahead an give it a shot, especially if you’re looking for a plush cushioning feel. Other than that, leave it on the shelf or rock the Maryland colorway casually…


Performance Review: Under Armour Curry 2 Low

Jake Sittler (@thegymratreview)


(Review can also be found at Tackl)

With Stephen Curry’s popularity among NBA fans reaching DEFCON levels, his signature shoe line has been a major driver of Under Armour’s emergence as a real competitor to Nike in the basketball market. The Curry 1 debuted with a slow burn of fanfare from both casual wearers and competitive hoopers, and the Curry 2 dropped late last year to almost universally positive reactions.

While they aren’t tricked out with technology, the shoes’ clean designs lend themselves to great colorways, and an accessible price point combines with Micro G/Charged cushioning and vise-like lockdown to make each of the first two Curry shoes into excellent on-court performers. Because the Curry 2 was heavily covered in its mid-top form, I waited for the Low version to drop in early February. I’m a fan of lows and was looking forward to giving these a thorough breakdown.

And while the shoe certainly has aspects that a guard like myself can appreciate, it has an undeniably fatal flaw that makes it tough to recommend.

I went with my true to size 11.5 in these, rather than my preferred 11 in my on-court shoes. In the case of the Curry 2 Low, this forced me to make compromises that really affected how I felt with these on court. The toebox is very tight and narrow – normally not a problem for me – but I just couldn’t see playing in an 11 with the toebox already feeling too tight and uncomfortable in store.

The Curry 2 Low uses a Speedform upper for 2/3 of the shoe much like it’s mid-top predecessor. The Speedform here is thin and conforms well to the foot, but you can feel the tensile strength and its reluctance to stretch thanks to an extra layer of construction. It’s a nice example of a reduction in materials while still retaining its containment and support abilities. An additional synthetic layer is found at the toe and along the forefoot.


The midsole also extends up the lateral side of the midfoot while the medial side also extends up high to provide additional support.

The rear 1/3 of the shoe uses Speedform as you’ve seen it in UA running shoes and that’s where the serious problem comes in. It’s basically neoprene – Speedform was born in a bra factory – with a low slung external heel counter. The collar of the shoe is extremely low cut as it is, but the heel counter doesn’t extend up high enough to give the heel full lockdown (side note: the heel counter is gorgeous). With no additional interior padding or Achilles notch to aid with the lockdown, you get a very slippery heel fit. In a low top especially, that is absolute disaster.


The poor heel fit made me very nervous in full-speed game situations. A few specific movements stand out as dangerous in my mind: curling a screen into a jumper, going from lateral slides to sprints, and one spin move in transition were pretty precarious. I definitely felt slippage in all directions, which basically means the heel area was just not able to contain my foot. If you have a wider foot that takes up more volume in the heel area, these may work but I couldn’t deal with the heel slip.


The Curry 2 Low uses a notched eyestay lacing setup, which I love. Through the first four eyelets, they lace up very tight and forefoot lockdown is just fine. But that top eyelet, the crucial one for heel and ankle lockdown, simply can’t be pulled tight enough because the heel area is too stretchy. Again I had not issues in the forefoot, but the lack of lockdown in the heel area compromised the rest of the shoe.


As I tried on the 11 and 11.5 at the same time, the 11 did feel much better in the heel. But I don’t see very many players being able to go down a half size to possibly get better lockdown because that toebox is so tight. The heel area simply doesn’t inspire confidence and in fact takes away some focus from the game you’re playing.


Heel-Toe Transition
Now that the disappointing part of the Curry 2 Low is out of the way, I felt pretty good about the rest of it. The transition is very good, especially for a decoupled heel and toe outsole. The large TPU plate provides plenty of support underneath but the transition is still good once you get through a slight break in period. It’s a good combo from a performance standpoint.


You get full length Charged foam for the midsole and it’s a step up from the version found in the Curry 1. It’s still firmer than pure Micro G, but I think the impact protection and responsiveness has improved. In the Curry 1, I felt the Charged foam was great right away but quickly became too firm and eventually had a harsh bottomed-out feel like a lot of Lunar foam setups (I still thought the Curry 1 was one of the best shoes of last year).


In the Curry 2 Low, you get great court feel and stability (from the midsole anyway – the upper pretty much ruins that) and responsiveness is adequate. A forefoot outrigger helps in the lateral stability department although again, the upper doesn’t make things any better. Charged foam is a good all-around compound. It’s not as responsive as Boost or Micro G, but it is more firm and feels closer to the floor. It gives a consistent feel from heel to toe and speaking from a purely personal perspective, I really like it.


The TPU plate is much appreciated and adds to the support underneath. The heel is also split, so you get good contact in every direction. All around, the cushioning platform combines some excellent elements in each of the areas I focus on: court feel and midsole stability is fantastic, responsiveness is good, and it falls on the firm side of the cushioning scale but is (subjectively) very good.

It’s called organic herringbone by the marketers at UA and it simply works. You get the reassuring squeak and you get great traction in all directions on any movement you can think of on a basketball floor. The grooves are deeper than many shoes I’ve recently tested and the thinner blades don’t attract any dust. Good courts, bad courts, even a weird tile-ish surface in one league – the Curry 2 Low is great on all of them. The traction setup saves the poor heel fit from making the shoe truly dangerous on court.


 I like the feel that Speedform provides – basically a one to one fit all around. However the aforementioned heel area just does not use Speedform the right way. It can’t provide the necessary support and adding additional layers like the forefoot Speedform would have solved that, in my opinion. The synthetic overlay meant to protect the toebox also gets scuffed and torn up very quickly – not a good sign this soon.


As a fan of Curry’s beautiful brand of basketball and a fan of low top shoes, I was admittedly pretty pumped to give these a run. But the heel fit and the fact that I was consciously worrying about my ankles during the game make it difficult for me to recommend or to even continue playing in these. Like I said above, the cushioning, forefoot fit, traction, and pretty much every other aspect was great – it’s a beautiful silhouette and design too. If you have a wider foot these may work for you, but the lack of security is a deal-breaker for me and I’m not trying to roll any ankles with a new league starting up. I’ll probably end up snagging the mids on sale or reviewing the 2.5 when it drops.

ua curry 2 low guide

Performance Review: Under Armour Curry One

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


No disrespect to Brandon Jennings and the Bloodline Under Armour models of years past, but the Curry One was likely the most anticipated and most marketed UA hoops shoe since the company broke into the basketball shoe market. Curry is the hottest name and best player on the NBA’s best team, and populates Sportscenter almost daily with an array of pull up threes, slick ballhandling and Steve Nash-ian court vision. In other words, it was time for Under Armour to capitalize.

Behind a slick “Charged by Belief” marketing campaign, the Curry One was rolled out in mid-February. I was pretty stoked to my hands on a pair and I copped mine the weekend they released. I was expecting a solid, if unspectacular performer, cushioned with “Charged” full-length Micro G foam. The AnaFoam upper was also something new on a UA shoe, so with a pretty high degree of excitement I laced them up in all three of my leagues the first week.

Now a month later, I continue to be blown away.

I mentioned the AnaFoam upper already, and it’s been fantastic from a lockdown and comfort standpoint. AnaFoam is built of (obviously) a foam layer but also a stretchy textile that gives it some flexibility and malleability which separates the material from stiffer Fuse uppers that you’d compare it to. I found it to be a very adaptive fit that molds quickly around the foot. There are also perforations throughout the shoe, reducing weight and adding breathability (although I never notice breathability when I’m playing, some may feel differently).


Combined with seven lace loops, the fit is vise-like. I loved the way it laced up – no frills and serious lockdown. I had no movement or slippage anywhere inside the shoe, no matter how hard I changed direction or how quickly I’d stop and pop a jumper. The external heel counter is larger and more rigid than the Clutchfit – a definite improvement for me.


Fit is the most important aspect of a shoe to me and the Curry One was perfect for all intents and purposes. Supportive, yet flexible and super light (one of the biggest initial impressions of the shoe is how light it plays on-court), UA has something very good going with AnaFoam.


Heel-Toe Transition
Borrowing the outsole tooling from the Clutchfit Drive combined with a Charged Micro G midsole, the transition is buttery smooth. There’s a plastic TPU shank also, not beefy by any means, that adds some support but the shoe flows extremely well from heel to toe.


If you’ve read any other reviews on here, you can probably figure out that I love Micro G. It’s the best foam cushioning on the market, period. adidas hasn’t quite dialed Boost in all the way and Lunar foam, in a basketball shoe, is laughably inferior in my opinion. Firm, responsive, consistent and low to the ground, Micro G is everything a foam cushioning platform should be.

In the Curry One, the Micro G is “Charged,” which basically amounts to UA adding a layer of the Charged foam on top of the Micro G unit. Charged foam is supposed to feel softer under less force (i.e. standing around during a free throw) and then firm up and be super responsive under higher forces. I will say that it does perform as it’s intended to, and while it’s not a drastic difference from pure Micro G, it is better from a firm, responsive standpoint.


I already talked about the fantastic transition, but court feel and responsiveness also rate very highly for me. I think it’s better cushioned than the HyperRev 2015, Rose 5 and Clutchfit – and those shoes were all pretty darn good for me too.

Full herringbone and the same setup as the Clutchfit Drive. It’s a very good pattern, but the rubber is pretty soft and I’ve found it to be a little slick on less than perfect floors. As long as you keep swiping you won’t have any issues, and on clean floors it’s squeaky good. But most of us probably don’t play on the most pristine court surfaces so it is something to keep in mind. It’s nothing to deter you from buying the shoe, though.


Early on you could ding UA for some shoddy craftsmanship, but that’s no longer an issue in my opinion. The last 5 pairs of UAs I’ve had (Spawn 1, Charge Volt Low, Spawn 2, Clutchfit, and now the Curry One) have held up extremely well for me and for the buddies I’ve passed them on to when I’m through with the review. All pairs have taken a beating and responded well.


I’m seeing some scuffing and wear on the toecap of the Curry One, but that’s to be expected with any shoe. Other than that, the construction is pretty well done throughout and so far I’ve not had any issues whatsoever. UA did manage to throw in that shiny, plastic-y finish on parts of the midsole that I don’t like aesthetically but it’s nothing to criticize from a performance standpoint.

There are also a lot of cool details throughout the shoe and packaging that add to the story and experience with the shoe. You’ll see “4:13” stitched on the tongue in reference to Curry’s favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, and “I can do all things…” shows up on the inside of the tongue. Personally, it’s great to see a brand embrace a player’s faith in that manner. Props to UA and Steph for that one.

Inside the box, you’ll find an extra set of laces (I swapped these in immediately) and a card thanking you for purchasing the shoes. The extra attention to detail is something I really enjoyed about the shoe.

I typically receive questions about the Curry One at least once a night in the various leagues I’ve played in, and my standard response is this: it is pound for pound the best shoe out there right now. It’s not fancy, not tech’d out, but it’s super light, the fit is incredibly good and cushioning is pretty perfect in all categories. Again, I’m a guard and this is a guard’s shoe, but I think most players would enjoy the shoe regardless of position. At $120 retail, it’s pretty affordable too.


Performance Review: Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn 2

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


The original Anatomix Spawn was one of the surprise shoes of this past season and happened to be one of my favorites along with the Crazyquick 1. The fantastic support and lockdown were two of the best aspects of that shoe, along with trusty Micro G underneath for a well-rounded cushioning setup.

The sequel to that shoe is, obviously, the Anatomix Spawn 2. It doesn’t look strikingly different, keeping roughly the same midsole/outsole tooling and same silhouette. Like its predecessor, the Spawn 2 has a lot of positive aspects that make it a good option, but I can’t say it’s an improvement over the original because of two key areas: fit and flexibility.

The Spawn models are some of the few shoes you don’t have to lace all the way to the top eyelet in order to get the security you need. In fact, I’d recommend not lacing them all the wa up in order to give your ankle just a little more mobility. Lockdown is simply fantastic from heel to midfoot to toe.


Despite that, I still have some issues with the upper. Whereas the Spawn 1 featured fused layers of mesh and synthetic overlays, the Spawn 2 uses a layered synthetic upper (the material I think is called Flexgear) that feels sort of rubbery. You can see the layers contrasted against thinner panels, and some spots have padded, raised portions that give the upper some texture and detail. And while the flexibility of Flexgear is good, it leaves too much volume in certain areas when laced up. Rather than contouring to your foot when it moves and flexes, it bulges out and creates unnecessary room. You can see it most noticeably in the toebox, which I felt had too much volume, but you’ll also notice odd flexing when you’re walking around with it laced up.


Is this a dealbreaker? Not really, but it doesn’t achieve the 1:1 fit of the best shoes out there.

Heel-Toe Transition
I didn’t love the heel-toe transition in the first model, and not much is different with the Spawn 2. It’s not bad and I loved the TPU support piece used to give the midsole more structure anyway. The outsole is laid out almost exactly the same in the 2.


But where the Spawn 1 had several deeply recessed channels to aid flexibility, the Spawn 2 has a more traditional flex grooves and wasn’t quite as flexible at toe off. Is it going to be noticeable to anyone besides a nerd like me? Probably not, but I did find a slight difference there.

Like always, Micro G is one of the best cushioning platforms in the industry. The Spawn 2 checks all the boxes: low, cored-out court feel, responsiveness through the footstrike and fantastic stability. It also features that unique TPU support cage, which is wraps up around the lateral side wall for arguably the best midfoot support in the industry.


As long as the shoe isn’t too narrow for you, I’d recommend the Spawns to any bigger player or anyone with injuries looking for added support. The cushioning setup is unchanged from the Spawn 1, so if you liked it then the Spawn 2 won’t disappoint.


This was probably the worst area for the Spawn 1, as the shoe was pretty much only useable indoors on a good surface. The Spawn 2 didn’t change much besides the flex grooves I mentioned before, so I can still only recommend for indoor play. It’s not a danger or anything, just not as good as other shoes out there. A deeper herringbone pattern would be much appreciated.


I mentioned Flexgear before as a major material change and while I didn’t like it as much as the original in terms of fit, I do think it’s a more durable synthetic than the mesh combo used for the original. It is really skin-like and feels like it will withstand flexes and abrasions fairly well. No complaints with the finish or build quality either – Under Armour’s top models can be compared with any other brand out there.


The last two UA models I’ve done – the ClutchFit Drive and Spawn 2 – are fantastic performers and have the potential, at least from a performance standpoint, to compete with Jordan/Nike/adidas. While the two former names on that list absolutely dominate market share, Under Armour is making high quality basketball shoes.

The Spawn 2 overall is a very supportive shoe suitable for all positions. You get great cushioning across all three categories, pretty good overall fit and durability, and decent traction on the right surface. For my playing style, I’ll take the ClutchFits, but the Spawn 2 is one that definitely merits consideration when you go to cop your next pair.


Performance Review: Under Armour ClutchFit Drive

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


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.


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.


Performance Review: Under Armour Micro G Charge Volt Low

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


There are plenty of reasons why you probably haven’t hooped in the Under Armour Charge Volt Low before. The first is, well, they’re not in stores anywhere. Under Armour didn’t get these to major retailers (at least not that I’ve seen) thus keeping the shoe largely out of the public eye. Besides that, any promotional material UA did on a major scale revolved around the Anatomix Spawn – and even that shoe barely registered with consumers.

But, I was curious about the Charge Volt Low for a couple of reasons. I was primarily interested in the construction of the shoe, built with a HeatGear one-piece, bootie-like upper with a synthetic overlay wrapping roughly 3/4 of your foot. (The mid top version, by the way, is even more unique with a tall lace-up sleeve in sort of a slimmed down version of last year’s Charge BB disaster.) I also wanted to see how the shoe played underfoot with a familiar Micro G midsole, wider base, and large TPU shank – very similar tooling to the Charge BB.

With promotion absent and almost no on-court presence, the Charge Volt Low went under the radar. Our job at TGRR is to review as many shoes as we can regardless of how popular they may be, so I’m excited to present a shoe you may not have seen or played in.

I mentioned before that the shoe has a fairly wide base, so it’s a solid option for those of you that need more room in the midfoot/toebox area. Despite my narrow foot, I still felt comfortable with the fit of the upper because of the HeatGear bootie that adapts to most foot sizes. If you’ve tried on or bought any of the Charge running shoes, it’s going to feel a lot like that. In fact, the construction of the upper is pretty similar to the original Charge runner.

The bootie is well-padded across the top of the foot and around the collar/heel area, making for a comfortable initial fit. The shoe feels a lot like a trainer when you put on for the first time. When laced up, the synthetic piece that wraps most of the upper provides decent lockdown but I still found some slippage. It was especially noticeable in the heel area, where you won’t find a sturdy heel counter like the Spawn had. The midsole does wrap up around the heel nicely, mitigating the slippage on the interior to a certain extent.


On hard cuts or moving laterally on the defensive end, there’s some movement all over the shoe. Part of that can be attributed to the wider base and my foot shape, but it’s just difficult to get a completely secure fit with the way the Charge Volt is constructed.

The eyelet closest to the toe and then the 3rd eyelet up are stitched directly to the inner bootie. This feels like a snug fit because you can feel it pull the material tighter, but the bootie is so stretchy that it loses its support on any kind of movement made at moderate speed. The synthetic overlay makes for a comfortable and unique construction, but simply doesn’t provide enough support.


Overall the fit is decent (this will become a common theme) but it’s nowhere near as secure as other lows I’ve tested.

Heel-Toe Transition
The transition through the footstrike might be the most disappointing area of the Charge Volt Low. When you wear a shoe on court, it should feel like one smooth motion from heel to toe when you take a step. With the Charge Volt Low, there is a distinct heel strike and then toe strike – a two-piece movement that you can both hear and feel. In my opinion, this is due to the large TPU shank that gives you fantastic support, but makes for a firm and clunky heel-toe transition. It also simply felt heavier on court overall due to the poor transition.


Micro G might be the best on-court foam compound on the market today (we’ll see how adidas’ Boost challenges this later this year) and it’s the one constant that makes the Charge Volt Low a viable option. Court feel is excellent and stability is pretty great too. If you value court feel and stability, you’ll love the wide base and low to the ground midsole. This is especially important in a low top, because there’s less shoe to give you support in the event of an ankle rollover. Ankle support comes from the heel fit and stability (the heel fit is a little sloppy) but the Charge Volt Low inspires confidence because of the low and wide midsole.

Responsiveness is another issue. Normally, Micro G is a very responsive cushioning system – I threw on my Anatomix to hoop in outside and was amazed at how bouncy they felt even on concrete. I played in the Anatomix pretty consistently for several months in between other reviews, and they still felt great.


Because of the large TPU shank and two-piece footstrike, I think some of Micro G’s responsiveness is sapped. Rather than rolling smoothly from heel to toe and pushing off the foam with each step, the foam spends a lot more time absorbing the harsher impact of the toe strike rather than helping propel you forward. Obviously no cushioning setup is going to really “propel” you, but the best technologies make it more effortless to move in.

The Charge Volt Low features a few small herringbone pods, but is primarily a dimpled, harder rubber outsole. The traction is below average on a court with any kind of dust because there’s too much surface area touching the floor on the dimpled portions. The grooves aren’t especially deep, and neither area the pseudo flex grooves. On good floors, the traction markedly improves but is nothing special. The lesson, as always: more herringbone.


I feel like some players will be concerned especially with the toebox area, constructed entirely of the HeatGear bootie with some toe overlays fused on. After repeated use, I could see how a heavier player or an explosive type of slasher getting a blowout on the side of the foot simply from the lack of support/containment. I’m always a little leery of the bootie construction in areas where you need a lot of lateral support.


Micro G will hold up well underfoot and the general construction isn’t bad. The synthetic piece is stitched on fairly heavily and the padding on the interior of the shoe is awesome. In my personal opinion, the shiny synthetic looks a little plastic-y on the colorway I have – though I can’t speak for all over the models.

This turned into a pretty intensive review because a lot of pieces of this shoe required some explanation. There was good and bad with every aspect, and it led to a fairly mediocre on-court shoe overall. If you value support and have a wider foot, definitely add these to your list of options. I think for a guard/wing and a wide-footer, you’d like the way the shoe fits.

Unfortunately, the sloppy fit of the upper, below average traction and clunky transition really drags the shoe down. It’s not a bad shoe, and once it hits the outlets or the deep clearance rack go ahead and try them out. Just don’t make them your first option unless you need a wide shoe. In addition, the fact that it’s nearly impossible to try these on in store is enough to make me not recommend them.

Let us know what you think in the comments, especially if you’ve seen these in store anywhere.


Performance Review: Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


The Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn is not built to blend in. Its name is loud, it begs to be stared at and when you put it on your foot, it stands out as one of the best all around shoes of the year.

It’s not a new concept, but Under Armour bills the Spawn as a shoe that becomes part of your foot (Jason Petrie, the legendary Nike designer, said this about the Flightposite I way back when). There’s a certain organic quality to the shoe – I think you can tell it and the Flightposite were similarly inspired yet executed in an entirely different manner. I was initially intrigued by the shoe because I felt it looked like a shoe that someone had sketched out on a piece of paper, then was taken straight to production in that same raw, organic form. Creatively, I felt like I connected with the shoe and it only got better once I put it on.

With Stephen Curry’s recent signing with Under Armour, look for him to raise the profile of the shoe on court this season as well.  His Golden State colorway worn during the preseason may be one of the best yet.

Fit: 9

The first thing that stood out to me when researching the design and technology background of the shoe was that Under Armour says that the upper of the Anatomix Spawn supports the tendons and structure of the foot. This is primarily achieved through a fused, layered upper very similar to Nike’s Hyperfuse technology (though UA calls the process a “hot melt” and it’s “a way of layering synthetic.” There’s a base mesh layer (grey in this colorway), two different levels of overlays that get progressively thicker (the maroon portions around the edge of the mesh) and a final outer layer (orange) that is placed around the foot in varying degrees of thickness in areas where the most support is needed.


Spawn designer Ross Klein provided some sketchwork in a SoleCollector interview that revealed some of the creative process behind designing those layers in a way that would support the muscles, bones and tendons of the foot.


All in all, the process worked and I felt like the upper provided great fit. The heel counter is rock solid and when laced up the fit was snug from toe to collar – no weird flex points once it was broken in. Personally, I don’t necessarily love having a shoe laced up so snug and so high on my ankle, but the fit was great in terms of lockdown and security. It was slightly stiff on the first few wearings and at 10.7 ounces it’s not heavily padded on the interior and can feel a little harsh. The tongue had targeted padding, but was pretty skimpy as far as comfort goes. But the lockdown, especially in the heel and through the midfoot (it runs narrow), is excellent.

Heel-Toe Transition: 9

The midsole is highly sculpted and is designed to mimic and fit the foot tightly, and it definitely does. There’s a sizeable gap from forefoot to heel which can lead to a slappy transition, but the outsole and midsole are cored out at various points throughout the shoe. This makes it flexible at exactly the right spots and makes the transition pretty effortless.


It’s especially cored right around the big toe area on the outsole, making that area independently flexible and allowing the wearer to really plant and push off of the toe. It’s a nice touch and an anatomically beneficial design aspect.

Cushioning: 9.5

Micro G is one of, if not the best foam cushioning platform on the market in my opinion, and the Anatomix Spawn features the technology from heel to toe. Micro G is more responsive than most foam systems and, to me, has a longer shelf life than others such as Lunarlon. The shoe also plays low to the ground and the court feel is excellent – again Micro G with its responsiveness allows for a low-profile midsole yet still provides impact protection. It does sit slightly higher in the heel than the shoes I’d been playing in (adidas Crazyquick, Crazy Light 3) but I think that sensation was just due to the fact that those two models play extremely low to the ground.


Perhaps my favorite aspect of the shoe though, was the TPU support frame. The solid TPU piece runs along the lateral side of the shoe (providing lateral support) and wraps underneath the foot where it’s cut out in certain areas to provide firm support without extra weight. The orange frame runs from near the ball of the foot all the way through the midfoot to the middle of the heel. This is one of the biggest midfoot frames I’ve ever seen and it provides some of the best torsional support I’ve had in a basketball shoe. It was both engineered and executed very well.


Traction: 9.5

The Anatomix Spawn uses full length herringbone on each of the pods of the outsole, and it provides tried and true traction. The rubber compound used is firm and the herringbone pattern is tightly placed. If we’re nitpicking, sometimes I like to see a wider-grooved pattern in the herringbone but it’s nothing major. No complaints from me in the traction department.


Materials/Durability: 8.5

The upper is a full synthetic hot melt, so I don’t foresee any issues with the materials separating or coming apart, but the upper isn’t the most luxurious thing you’ve ever worn. It’s not bad, but like all fused materials it never truly flexes naturally. The toe flex is fine as it’s mesh all the way across the toebox, but the repeated creasing of the mesh creates a point on the inner part of the toebox where I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tear develop eventually. Other than that, the outsole traction has held up well on various floors, cushioning has remained responsive and the upper seems to be holding up well to this point.


The Anatomix Spawn is a shoe that I frankly loved playing in. The fit was excellent and the support, thanks to that TPU frame, was the best I’ve found in a shoe this year. I can’t stress how nice it is to play in a shoe that’s both light and still supportive through the midsole, and the Spawn strikes a great balance. Traction and cushioning were both very good if not great. With pictures of a low top model, this may not be the last Spawn that I purchase this year.

Overall: 45.5/50