Say what you want about Under Armour as a company, but one thing they have almost always done right is training. Under Armour’s sweat-wicking apparel and shoes for the weight room or the field peform well. Last year, HOVR made its Cross Training debut in the UA HOVR Apex and the UA HOVR Rise. A year later, it’s time to test the UA HOVR Apex 2. Let’s go…
The traction is VERY turf inspired using thick rubber with forefoot lugs and deep flex grooves. The Apex 2 is built like a tank from the ground up. I trained using a squat rack, leg press, box jumps, driveway lunges, ropes and with cone drills on grass; the Apex 2 never once let me down. I experienced no slipping and outsole wear and tear is almost non-existent (a couple of the smaller nubs show some wear).
Wet pavement was the only problem. Even then, it was only while going downhill where I tend to heel strike. The pattern is smoother and flatter in the back. And yes, I did put in a few miles of running in these. Speaking of running, the transition and flexibility is more suited to lifting and training. The rubber is thick and stiff under foot. For short runs during Metcons or HIIT training, the Apex 2 is a respectable choice.
The outsole is basically the same as the original Apex. If you enjoyed it last year, you’ll get a repeat experience this year.
HOVR. HOVR is NICE when done right. So far the running and training lines are done right. We’re still waiting on basketball to be correctly tuned (that includes the HOVR Havoc 3). HOVR is a bouncy foam/rubber combo that can be tuned to different levels of impact protection or hardness depending on the netting and caging.
The HOVR in the Apex 2 is almost completely caged except the two small windows at the heels. Even with the caging, the feel is there. Soft and cushioned on impact but responsive and bouncy after the initial step or jump. The EVA carrier is soft, softer than the Under Armour Project Rock 2. Soft enough that the shoe can be a crossover runner as needed. If you’ve only worn HOVR in basketball, the Apex 2 is a different beast.
On first look, the materials don’t appear to be anything special. And on their own, they probably aren’t. Its a simple mesh upper, soft and flexible with a tight weave, overlaid with kurim/rubber in strategic places for durability. The overlays are 3D and aren’t built for stability or support. They’re the little lines or ribs on the upper that you see in the pictures. They add extra durability on the high-wear areas of the upper.
The rest of the upper is thickly padded and bulky. It looks like a bulky shoe from the 1990s. It’s just like last year’s Apex, and like the original Apex, the Apex 2 wears a LOT smaller. The tongue is like a skate shoe. It’s thick, big, and densely padded using the same micromesh as the upper. The ankle area has a quilted padding that snuggly cups the joint and fits perfect. The only other deviation from the mesh/rubber construction is the strap around the heel and ankle. It looks like it would be stiff and possibly rub or constrict but it doesn’t. The strap is a soft TPU that sits below the top of the shoe. It doesn’t rub through the padding.
One thing Under Armour has always gotten right (well, mostly) is fit. They just know how to make clothes and shoes fit. I stayed true to size. While the shoe looks bulky and like they might have a lot of empty space, the inner padding fills the space. There’s still a little bit of space above the toes but it doesn’t cause any issues. The padding just makes it so the shoes fit cozily around your feet.
The heel is really where the fit shines. The thick, dense, quilted padding forms and wraps around your foot. The heel strap works to pull the foot down into the heel. The shoe stops any lateral movement or heel slip. Honestly, if you aren’t careful, you can get them too tight. There isn’t any reason to over tighten the laces. Even laced slightly loose, the heel slip is still very minimal.
For me, support is the absolute most important detail of a training shoe. There is no way I want to be under a squat rack with a few plates on each side with a soft shoe under my foot. That said, I do plyometrics and weights in the same workouts and don’t want to worry about slamming my feet down repeatedly on the concrete floor and feeling pain radiate up my legs and back.
The Apex 2 bridges the gap and does it wonderfully. The EVA carrier around the edges is stiff and solid with some slight give but no collapsing. That’s something that’s really important when landing, pushing off, or lifting heavy. The heel is also housed inside a stiffer TPU cage where the visible HOVR windows are located. The heel works even better at keeping your foot in the up and down plane of motion and allowing side-to-side motion. Then, there’s the wing that we already discussed. In short, your ankle is protected.
Also, the base is wide. Although it sits higher than a shoe like the Nike Metcon 6 or Reebok Nano X, the Apex 2 never felt unstable or like it would roll or tip. The main reason for this is the TriBase plate under the midfoot. The support plate and the outsole’s flat, wide area contribute mightily to the solid stability and support. The forefoot can still flex naturally and doesn’t feel too much like a weightlifting shoe. The TriBase construction is an overlooked aspect of Under Armour training shoes, but it’s the keystone of another solid shoe.
It’s truly amazing that Under Armour training shoes can consistently be as good as they are. From the original Project Rock two years ago through the TriBase Reign series, and now the Apex and Rise family, Under Armour training shoes are serious business.
If you need a shoe that can go from the weights to box jumps to lateral drills to turf training, the UA HOVR Apex 2 is a solid do everything shoe. Heck, the Apex 2 can even handle an outdoor basketball game or two (not ideal but not terrible, lateral forefoot containment would be the only weak point on court).
If you do more cardio than lifting you may want to look at the UA HOVR Rise 2 (review coming soon). But overall, cross-training shoes don’t come more well-rounded and versatile than the UA HOVR Apex 2. They are also a great choice of basketball training shoes as well.
Where to buy the UA HOVR Apex 2
The UA HOVR Apex 2 is available now at Under Armour.
Thanks to Under Armour for sending pairs to test. Under Armour was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.