When we first previewed the Under Armour Charge RC in August, I was intrigued by the bold colors and style. It seemed that Under Armour was releasing a shoe that was different and reflected the hard-hitting image of the brand. Upon receiving and testing the shoes, I found that the UA Charge RC’s bold image was supported by equally impressive performance. Under Armour has produced its first real winner.
Weight – This is a lightweight shoe from top to bottom. It feels minimalistic on your foot and provides an almost barefoot feel. The Heat Gear material and neoprene-like MPZ (Modular Protection Zone) material used in the upper feel extremely light while the Micro G foam used in the midsole is one of the lightest midsole materials in the industry.
Sizing – The fit is near perfect with a feel that is closer to a neoprene bootie than a traditional running shoe. The molded MPZ material in the toe and tongue is stretchy so your foot doesn’t feel confined.
Fit/Lockdown – The Zonal UA compression hugs the front of the foot while 4D Foam in the collar, heel, and insole conforms to your foot’s shape. The front and rear portions of the shoe’s upper are two different pieces which allows for excellent flexibility. The lacing system connects with both the front and back pieces of the shoe so they seamlessly work together.
Comfort – The upper features the comfort of a neoprene bootie while using materials that allow for good moisture management. The tongue has zonal cushioning that prevents lace pressure. The front portion of the upper utilizes a mesh underlay to protect the foot from any seams or potential hot spots. Your heel will sink into the luxurious 4D Foam in the heel and collar. It’s a different kind of comfort from any other shoe on the market and a welcome variation from the traditional padding.
Durability – The various textile materials that Under Armour uses in the upper and the thick rubber used for the outsole will last for months. The cushioning is probably the weakest link but is still very resilient and will have a normal 500 mile life cycle.
Looks – Hands down the most eye-catching running shoe of 2011. It’s a very polarizing design with its subtle navy blue and black pseudo-camo pattern, pink laces (it also comes with black), neon yellow midsole, and toes that point upward like elf shoes. Though polarizing, I think the design elements come together well and leave us with a shoe that will eventually be viewed as a classic.
Outsole/Traction – The carbon spring plate built into the outsole is very bouncy and adds an extra bounce that previous Under Armour shoes were missing. The carbon and blown rubber used on the outsole is thick and durable. The flex grooves are large and enhance the flexibility of the upper. The vents that promote airflow to the bottom of the foot are ingenious and don’t negatively affect outsole performance.
Breathability – The aforementioned vents on the bottom of the shoe add a touch of breathability to the underside of the foot that is much appreciated. The Heat Gear on the forefoot and the well-ventilated tongue also enhance airflow to the foot. It is not the most breathable running shoe available but provides great ventilation for a shoe with such a close, conforming fit.
Cushioning – Under Armour’s Micro G cushioning is improving but still leaves you wanting more. Under Armour has nailed the responsiveness of the cushioning but still leaves you wanting a little more protection, especially for the underside of your forefoot. The cushioning is consistent with what is expected from a lightweight runner but is very minimal compared with traditional running shoes (especially in the forefoot).
Average: Stability, Colorways
Orthotics/Insole users: This shoe works well with aftermarket insoles or orthotics but they may nullify some of the great flexibility that the UA Charge RC provides.
Value: The $120 price tag for something this new, different, and groundbreaking is well worth it.
The Under Armour Charge RC is one of the most innovative, interesting, and coolest looking running shoes on the market. It performs well and elevates Under Armour to a serious contender in the footwear industry.
This video provides an in-depth look at the UA Charge RC and how it was built:
Buy the Under Armour Charge RC at Under Armour (Available in December)