The UA HOVR Phantom 2 is a complete redesign from the first UA HOVR Phantom, Phantom SE, and Phantom RN. Under Armour got really good use out of that original tooling. But all good things must come to an end…to make way for the latest and greatest. Or something like that. Let’s see how the Phantom 2 stacks up to it’s three predecessors.
Bryan: The Phantom 2 is slimmed down and flexed up for 2020. As mentioned above, Under Armour finally introduced new tooling to the Phantom line. The nubs are gone, replaced by a thick and durable cracked stone pattern. Wet and dry roads were no issue except for going down the extreme hills in my neighborhood on a severe weather day. Treadmills and stair steppers were a piece of cake. There are some LARGE flex grooves cut across the forefoot, exposing some of the HOVR. The midfoot and heel have high volumes of exposed foam as well, but the rubber is thick enough that I wasn’t worried about wearing through. This makes the Phantom 2 transition better than previous versions. It also feels a little lighter on foot.
Drew: The cracked stone pattern didn’t have any problems but I’m a little worried about durability. I’ve already shaved off some nubs where I toe off at the very front of the shoe. The rest of the pattern looks good though so it might just be my stride.
Jodi: I was super excited about the full rubber outsole. Usually Under Armour (and, honestly, most other brands) skimp on firmer rubber to cut weight. But full rubber is more durable which typically means extra miles, aka a longer lasting shoe. Now, I haven’t had the chance to push these guys to the limit so I can’t say what mileage is possible. But I will say that after 50+ miles my traction still looks practically brand new. The majority of my UA running shoes have a ton of blown rubber. Blown Rubber is much softer and wears down quickly. The traction worked great in both wet and dry conditions on concrete, asphalt, gravel, and sand.
Bryan: This is where the magic happens. HOVR is the best cushioning Under Armour has ever had – in running. I’m still waiting on this formulation of HOVR to make it to the hardwood. It’s both soft and responsive, feeling fast and cushioned at the same time. I won’t get into HOVR’s makeup but the elasticity and durability have kept even my two year old Phantom 1’s feeling fresh. The HOVR is a little soft for sprint work or heavy lifting days, but has a versatile feel on easy to moderate runs. When lifting weights it works and works well. Oh, and the insole. In the original Phantom, Under Armour completely changed the insole game by eliminating the insole and giving us a Speedform insole. Now we get Speedform 2.0 with strategic padding in high impact areas and a contoured footbed. The downside is that it isn’t removable.
Drew: I test a lot of running shoes and HOVR is a middle of the road cushioning. Sort of firm, without the plush feel of something like New Balance’s FuelCell. The HOVR on the Phantom 2 is best at the heel and too firm in the forefoot. It works for runs under 5 miles. I see it as the right cushioning level for a gym workout and then hopping on the treadmill for cardio.
Jodi: This was probably my least favorite experience with HOVR cushioning. The cushioning felt almost non-existent underneath my forefoot once I started running. I’m not sure if it was the built-in SpeedForm 2.0 sockliner, but it didn’t matter what socks I wore, every time I ran in the Phantom 2 my big toes got obliterated. I felt the my foot’s padding rubbed raw while I ran. At the end of each run, I took off my socks to see two lovely blisters. I kind of wonder if this is where having the full rubber build for traction back fired. Blown rubber is cushy and airy, which gives you an extra bit of…well duh, cushion. Combine all of that and it made the Phantom 2 really hard to keep testing.
Bryan: Using what Under Armour calls a “flat knit” upper, the Phantom 2 feels like a sock on foot, because it literally is. The forefoot and tongue are all knit and feel great on foot. The Phantom 2 can be worn with no socks without issue (I didn’t, but I could have). The knit also lets the textures and patterns shine through, giving the Phantom more depth than a normal knit. The molded midfoot panels flow into the heel counter. The heel counter runs up into the knit ankle collar. Nothing but comfort everywhere.
Drew: Stretchy knit makes for the best uppers and Under Armour knows it. The more molded midfoot panel cups the foot nicely. The laces are unfortunately a rougher, crinklier nylon-like material. I much prefer the laces from the UA HOVR Machina. Those suckers are the best.
Jodi: I’m always a fan of sock style shoes, especially when it comes to running shoes. I’m an EARLY morning runner. My half asleep brain prefers not to have to mess with tieing laces. The Phantom 2s engineered “flat knit” upper allowed me to tie them once, double knot, then never deal with them again. Unfortunately, the way the collar fits around my ankle did make me have to think about what socks I wore each morning. If my socks were too low, the collar would rub underneath my ankle bone. Ouch.
Bryan: One thing Under Armour almost ALWAYS aces is fit and the Phantom 2 is no different. Going true to size fit me perfectly. If you want a really snug, tight fit, go down a half. The upper is soft and didn’t cause any chafing or pain. The Phantom 2, just like the first version, could actually be worn without laces for the most part, but something about a shoe with lace loops and no laces just seems… off. Heel slip is almost non-existent and the midfoot panels lock you into the heel and rearfoot with no lace pressure.
Drew: Bryan didn’t have any chafing but I got a hot spot on the inside of my right foot’s arch where the midfoot panel meets the toe’s knit. It went away after a couple runs but it’s something to consider. I also heard reports of hotspots where the heel tab meets the ankle collar. I didn’t experience this but I’m also not going to tempt fate by wearing no shows with a stretchy knit collar that angles towards the achilles. That’s just asking for a blister. Other than those issues, the sock-like fit felt nice.
Jodi: I went up a half size from my normal casual shoe size and my wide feet fit comfortably. The stretchy upper and the wide forefoot is probably what made that possible.
Bryan: The one downside to knit uppers, at least with this type of construction (no overlays for support) is stability and support. While I mentioned traction going downhill, the containment was my real issue. I could feel my foot sliding forward in the shoe and while it didn’t cause any pain or discomfort, I did have to slow down a little to keep from feeling off.
The midfoot and lacing system do lock the heel in nicely, with little to no heel slip. The stiffer midfoot panels do help, but the soft forefoot materials allow movement unless you are in linear mode. Also, on some longer runs, I did start to feel some stretching and discomfort in my arch. The Phantom 2 needs a midfoot support plate instead of relying on the midfoot foam panels. This only occurred on runs over 5 miles (for me that’s long) but anything in the 2-5 mile range and normal gym activities was good.
Drew: Due to the knit construction, don’t do cone drills in these. You’ll regret it. It does better as the Speedform 2.0 insole molds to the foot but it never gets great. Trail runs are also a no go. The Phantom 2 is best as a straight line road runner.
Jodi: I will give the Phantom 2s props for its wide forefoot and sturdy heel counter. Both keep you securely strapped into the shoe. And even though the upper is built to be a sock shoe, the way it’s structured keeps it from overstretching. So if you are taking any sharp turns or do find yourself in any questionable conditions, you stay locked in.
Bryan: The UA HOVR Phantom 2 is exactly what a second version should be – a progression of the first with improvements on problem spots. With a slimmer, lighter midfoot and a new knitted upper, the Phantom 2 is perfect for runs, light weightlifting, and extracurricular activities. Most “athletes” are looking for a shoe that can go anywhere and do anything, and the Phantom 2 checks all the boxes.
Drew: The Phantom 2 is a little bit too much of a “do everything” shoe to be a great everyday running shoe. If you’re just looking for a running shoe, you can do much better at the $150 price point. If you’d like a cool looking gym and treadmill warrior, this shoe is for you.
Jodi: The Phantom 2 is more of a miss then a hit for me. I’m sure if this was the only running shoe I had, I could make it work. That’s how much I love running. In the past, I have put up with blisters on top of blisters ON TOP OF blisters. But unfortunately (or I guess fortunately for me) I do have other running shoes to choose from, and none of them eat my feet up the way these do. So I will be retiring the Phantom 2 early. Luckily, they’re cute enough to be a lifestyle shoe. If we had a looks category, I’d use it to praise the UA Phantom 2.
Thanks to Under Armour for sending test pairs. 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, weightlifting, casual wear, and more.