You ever have those shoes you love at first sight – they look sleek, the colors are nice, and you just know they will perform great? Yeah…
With a pattern that looks like an EKG reading and a soft rubber, the traction should be killer – and it is. The grooves are REALLY wide, so dust moves out as soon as it settles and if it doesn’t, one quick wipe and it’s most definitely gone. The rubber is soft and pliable causing a wiper-blade motion and stopping on a dime – running straight and stopping, laterally on defense or drives and coming off curls for jumpers. One thing Under Armour has been getting right since almost the beginning is traction and holding onto the floor.
Durability is not going to be nice. Indoors, yes, there has been no peeling or fraying after two months of playing (granted, I have been rotating, but these have seen at least 6 days of full-court games). Outdoors is the issue as the soft rubber and really shallow pattern will be gone before that ball leaves the net.
I almost left this category blank since Under Armour obviously forgot to put cushioning in. EVA makes up the midsole and it is stiff, dense, low-riding and offers no cushioning feedback or feel at all. After the last wear, the midsole still feels as stiff and hard as day one. My knees and ankles were achy after about 4 games, something I didn’t experience in the Curry 6 or the Spawn (coming soon). The Curry 4/5 feels better than the M-Tag.
On the positive side, the shoe does provide fantastic court feel, giving an almost barefoot feel while playing (your foot sits where the indention of the midsole comes together). It does feel fast as there is NO compression to slow you down going into your next move. See, I did find a plus.
The upper is a compression mesh and microfiber construction with elastic straps running between the lace loops for improved fit. The compression mesh is no joke – this shoe has to stretch a loooong way to get my slightly wide foot in (more on that in Fit). The mesh feels great on foot – smooth and comfy and a little thicker than your normal “team/budget shoe” mesh.
The microfiber, however, is just as cheap and bad as it is when Nike uses it on the Kobe Exodus and AD mid and when adidas uses it on the Dame 5 and Pro Vision. It feels cheap, looks cheap and it doesn’t flex or break in like a mesh or suede would. This junk needs to go to the bottom of the ocean and stay there – deep, deeeeeeep down.
Once on foot, this is one of the best fitting shoes I have ever played in. The laces aren’t needed, like most sock-shoes, but they do a good job of, well, tying. The forefoot and midfoot fit with no movement within the shoe at all. The heel locks in and has no slip whatsoever. The length is perfect – just about a half-inch between my toe and the end of the shoe. So what happened here? Well…
This is the single hardest shoe I have ever tried to get on my feet, EVER. I had to pull, tug, stand up, sit down, stand up again, and finally… got my forefoot through the collar. Then I did it all over again and got my heel in – not a fun adventure. The band around the heel is not stiff at all and the way it cuts across the shoe makes the upper restrictive while playing and while trying to get on. I almost cut it off to see if the process would improve, but no go. I have had plenty of shoes be difficult to put on such as the KD9, Jordan XXXIII, N3XT L3V3L, to name some recent ones, but these take first place – and not in a good way.
Besides the wide base and the great fit (if you can get them on), there isn’t much support to talk about. There is no raised midsole around the forefoot like the Spawn or a stiff heel counter (more like the Curry 4). If there is a midfoot shank, it is the best hide-n-seek player ever and the lacing doesn’t really help at all. The fit was good, yes, but I could feel my foot moving off the footbed on almost every cut. The wide base does help on landings and jumpers but the cushioning hurt so bad on landings that I didn’t want to jump at all. Sorry.
The Under Armour M-Tag is just not a shoe I can recommend for almost anyone. It lacks cushioning and containment and the materials are not worth the $110 retail price. Traction and court feel transition are definitely strong points and are playable but when combined with the rest of the shortcomings, they just can’t overcome. If you are a lover of slight cushioning and great court feel (Kyrie 2 comes to mind) and are light on your feet, you may find the M-Tag fits your game. If you don’t enjoy pulling your shoulder out of socket getting your shoes on, keep looking. It’s no wonder the Under Armour athletes switched to the Anatomix Spawn for the most part – that shoe dunks all over this one. Good effort – see you next time Under Armour.