The Embiid 1, Joel Embiid’s first signature shoe, is a solid performer that’s outdoor ready. It is actually one of the better performers of 2021-22 and one of the top available Under Armour models. I think it’s overall performance will surprise people. Thanks for coming to WearTesters to read the full review before purchasing. We’ve got all the details you need to decide if the Embiid 1 is the right shoe for you.
I was expecting great things from the traction as it reminds me a lot of the Nike Kobe 9 traction pattern. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t quite at that Kobe 9 level of grip. Granted, I set these up for failure by putting them up against what I consider to be one of the greatest tractions of all-time, but, alas, the Embiid 1 still held its own on-court.
The only area I found to be problematic was at the center of the forefoot where the pattern design is almost like a block. It was a bit too square and the grooves were a bit too thick, so there would be certain plants and push-offs where I could feel the outsole slide from under me. Luckily, the rest of the outsole was solid so while I would have an initial slip, or jerk, the rest of the outsole would catch and I’d be fine.
Outdoors was a different story. This was where I never had any problems. Just straight up great grip. Yes, the rubber has started to fray, but even the best of rubbers will do that outdoors. Especially when you take them on multiple abrasive surfaces.
Full length Micro G and a HOVR heel puck are in place for cushion. The last time we saw Micro G and HOVR together was in the UA Curry 7 — and I was excited as hell to try it out. Like most Curry models, the cushion left a lot to be desired, which I felt was a major letdown. The marketing of the combination of the two cushioning systems raised my anticipation and hopes to a point where if it wasn’t at least OG Clutchfit Drive level of cushion, I’d be severely disappointed. Well, we all know how that went and I was annoyed with the cushion in the Curry 7.
The Embiid 1, however, feels like a return to the good ‘ol days of Micro G where you had a super comfortable, yet stable, shoe underfoot. Perfect for a big man like Embiid, but still made for players like myself who enjoy a well-balanced ride.
So, while the Micro G still wasn’t super bouncy like the Clutchfit Drive, they were at least on par with the old Brandon Jennings models like the Black Ice and Bloodline — both really solid models in UA’s early years in the basketball category. With the cushion being as good as it is, and the traction being as good as it is, the Embiid 1 is a really solid shoe on court, especially if you hoop outdoors.
Materials are pretty basic, and somewhat standard nowadays. The primary material is mesh. There are a few thin TPU panels in high-wear areas and stress zones, but the majority is mesh. For a signature shoe, I would like to have some premium touches. Some leather or suede placed somewhere. At the top of the tongue, around the heel, at the toe…anywhere. Yes, this is a personal preference of mine, but it’s the era I grew up in. Where signatures and non-signatures alike were made with good to great materials.
Now, the mesh performed well. So, with that in mind, Under Armour did a good job. The mesh is very breathable, something lacking when using raw materials like leathers and suedes. And on top of ventilation, the mesh required no break-in time at all. They were ready to go right out the box.
So, performance wise the materials are solid. But, for a signature shoe, I need some signature touches. Storytelling isn’t a premium touch to me. Materials are the only area that can check that box for me.
I went true to size and I feel they fit perfectly. My toes are right at the edge, and for a textile-based shoe, I feel this is perfect. Some people do prefer to have a thumbs-width of space within their shoes, but I feel this leaves too much room. And when the shoe has a softer build that leaves too much room for error. Your foot can, and likely will, shift inside the shoe which would make them dangerous to wear. Usually when I see people complain about fit with a shoe made of textile it’s because they went up at least 1/2 size to achieve the thumbs-width of space instead of going with their true measured size.
Lockdown was great. From heel to forefoot I had no complaints at all. There are two lockdown wings for some midfoot containment, and they help keep your foot on the footbed where it belongs. The medial lockdown wing on my right shoe did run into some durability issues as the stitching ended up failing after some use. Funny enough, I actually preferred the stitching not be there. I felt it allowed for more flex up front without losing any of the containment they offered. It might be considered a fail to some or a hack to others. I suppose it depends on your perspective.
I felt the support was solid. Under Armour has done well in the support category over the years and the UA Embiid 1 is no exception.
The base is fairly wide, but does offer a slightly rounded edge for players that may be a bit shifty. There is a midfoot shank along with a sturdy midsole build that cups the foot in the rear. Add in the lockdown wings and you have yourself a shoe supportive enough for 7 foot center, but nimble enough for a smaller under 6 foot rec player.
Overall, Under Armour did a very good job with the Embiid 1. Traction and cushion are standout features, while the lockdown wings offer that extra layer of protection to keep you snug and secure on the footbed. Materials could be a bit nicer for a signature shoe, but the performance was there. Functionally, I can’t complain too much.
If you were looking for a solid all-around shoe that can be worn by any player and position then the Embiid 1 might be what you’re looking for. If you play primarily outdoors then these would also make for a great pickup. They’re moderately priced, will likely see discounts soon, and offer the cushion and traction required to ensure you can enjoy these for longer than the typical modern day basketball shoe.