When it comes to exercise, I underestimated the value of a good-quality sneaker for an embarrassingly long time. Irrespective of how regularly I hit the gym, my interest in sneakers never really went beyond: Do they look cute? And do they feel comfy enough?
Once I began running more regularly, however, I became acutely aware that my knees were a little more selective than I was in the shoe department. So, when I was offered a chance to try Under Armour’s most recent addition to their sneaker suite: HOVR Machina 2, I (gingerly) jumped at the chance.
The shoes are presented as the perfect Frankenstein’s monster; blending the “speed of a racing shoe with the comfort of a long-distance trainer”. But more than that, they also have Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to live-track your run with Under Armour’s Map My Run app.
So, were UA’s HOVR Machina 2 sneakers as good as they claim to be? And do we really need high-tech runners? Here’s where I landed:
First off, here are the important deets:
- What type of shoe it is? Neutral
- What’s it best for? On-road long runs
- Midsole heights: Heel – 26 mm, Forefoot – 18mm
- Weight: M – 290g, W – 231g
- Offset: 8mm
The sneakers have also been designed with:
- External heel counter for added stability & a locked-in feel
- Sprint spike-inspired Pebax® speed plate for increased return & more powerful push-offs
- Carbon rubber pods under the heel deliver greater traction & durability at high-impact strike zones
These sneakers are incredibly comfortable. I have worn them a number of times for a number of hours and they never cease to feel like little hugs for my feet. There’s none of that too-tight foot numbness folks (like me) sometimes get with runners, and they’re delightfully light. UA credits their high-ventilation mesh fabric for the impressive breathability and reduced weight and I have to say, I noticed the difference.
The ‘zero-gravity feel’ these shoes boast also made an impact on me (rather than on the ground). My shitty knees which love to give me grief during a run, have not experienced any pain with these shoes.
Admittedly, I haven’t run with the sneakers at distance, but I did take them on a (leisurely) 5.5k hike that involved a stupid number of stairs and I had no troubles there.
I’m also not mad at the sunset-hued colour scheme. I usually go for a classic white sneaker but these guys have won me a bunch of compliments, and the predominantly black design means they go with most outfits still.
When it comes to the tech, the shoes were pretty easy to set up. I made the mistake of doing this in the middle of a cafe, however, which meant I was tapping my shoe (which activates a chip) and waving my phone near my foot in public. I looked like a weirdo, but after a few attempts they synced up.
I like that the app (which is free, by the way) uses maps to track exactly where your run is taking place and that it gives you a tidy little summary of your workout afterwards with details like distance, duration, heart rate and calories burnt.
Getting feedback on your workout in real-time is also a nice motivator, I find.
What’s not so good?
On the other hand, if you already use a fitness app like Fitbit or Apple Fitness+, which I do, it can feel a little like you’re doubling up on data. There are added details in the Map My Run App that you won’t find in those apps, like foot strike angle and average ground contact time, but the relevance of those features will depend on your level of investment in your training.
For me, it’s not something I need. Though I will say the live coaching is clever, and an improvement on other running apps like my old fave Couch Potato to 5K.
For now, I’ve kept the app on my phone, but I don’t think it’ll become a regular part of my workout routine.
I really love these shoes. They’re easy on the eye, they’re ridiculously comfortable to wear and while I’m not gaga over the added tech features, there is something exciting about being able to connect to your shoes via Bluetooth.
The price point of $220 also feels reasonable considering the sneakers perform both on your morning jog and in the gym.
My only regret is that I didn’t jump into a pair earlier. I could’ve saved my knees a lot of misfortune.
And if you’d like to test out your new sneakers with a group, UA and Rebel Sport are in the middle of a Run Tour across the East Coast of Aus, with the next event hitting pavements on April 13 at Centennial Park, Homestead Fields from 7 am.