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Under Armour’s footwear department has come a long way. Back in 2013, footwear only made up 13% of Under Armour's total sales. In 2020, Under Armour's footwear sales totalled $934 million (22% of total sales) compared to just $299 million in 2013.
As far as every day, multipurpose running shoes go, Under Armour is among the most popular. Under Armour running shoes transition seamlessly from the gym, to road running, to casual wear. Their stylish colourways and comfortable designs make them the perfect all-round athletic shoes.
The Phantom 2 belongs to the HOVR cushioning family in Under Armour's performance running range. HOVR was launched in 2018 in two UA shoes, the Sonic and the Phantom.
The HOVR cushioning system was designed to make runners feel and perform better with less fatigue. According to Under Armour, HOVR is the perfect combination of cushioning plus energy return and responsiveness to essentially lift you up.
In the HOVR lineup, the Sonic (now on its 4th iteration) is the light and responsive trainer whereas the Phantom (also on its 5th iteration) is the highly cushioned trainer.
After the original Phantom was launched, Under Armour launched the Phantom SE (Sport Edition), the Phantom RN (also an upper only update) and the Phantom 2 (with a new midsole, outsole and upper). This version, the Phantom 2 IntelliKnit is a minor update. It has the same midsole/outsole as the Phantom 2 but with an updated upper.
- Price: $229
- Weight: 327 g (men's US 9), 262 g (women's US 8)
- Drop: 9 mm
- Surface: Road
- Pronation control: Neutral
The upper of the Phantom 2 is a relaxed, knitted upper which is stylish enough for casual wear. The fit is true to size and the stretchy upper makes it suitable for runners with wide feet.
The IntelliKnit is an engineered flat knit which delivers a super soft, sock-like feel. IntelliKnit is a thicker knitted material than the ones used on the Adidas Ultraboost 21 and the Nike Invincible Run so it's warm and more suited to cool climates.
The knitted collar of the Phantom 2 comes up higher than on most shoes. If you wear long socks, you won't have any chafing issues but if you go sockless or you wear hidden socks on runs, you might experience some rubbing around the ankle area from the collar. Hopefully UA will change the collar setup on the Phantom 3.
The midfoot section consists of soft, material panels which offer midfoot support. There are also 5 midfoot wires which form the lace loops and are attached to the sides of the midsole, underneath the panels. The wires provide additional midfoot lockdown.
On the heel is a thick, external plastic clip which locks your heel in place. Heel lockdown is fantastic and there is no heel slippage. A large heel pull tab is also provided for convenience.
The midsole of the Phantom 2 consists of two different foams: HOVR and regular EVA foam.
HOVR is the softer of the two foams and was made in partnership with Dow Chemical which is one of the 3 largest chemical producers in the world. HOVR is infused with Olefin which is a wax-like, synthetic material- very strong and very resilient.
Energy Web is the mesh fabric that wraps the HOVR cushioning core. The Energy Web gives the super soft HOVR foam support and structure.
The Energy Web covering the HOVR foam has a rough, “snake skin” texture to it and it feels soft and squishy to the touch. However, when standing or running in the shoe, the cushioning is a lot firmer than you'd expect.
The firmer EVA carrier foam is concentrated under the forefoot and tapers off towards the back of the shoe. This EVA foam is more durable so it protects the soft HOVR foam.
There is no insole in the Phantom 2. Instead, you get Under Armour’s Speedform 2.0 which is a soft, squishy layer that sits directly underfoot. When you step on it, your foot sinks down into the soft layer.
Unlike some of the other UA performance trainers, the Phantom 2 doesn't have a sensor built into its midsole so you're going to have to bring your phone or GPS watch along on your run if you want to track distance, pace, cadence etc.
There are not many trainers on the market that have more outsole rubber coverage than the Phantom 2. It's also full ground contact, which means that there is rubber along the entire length of the shoe, from the heel, right to the toe.
There are 4 chevron-shaped flex grooves on the forefoot which extend from end to end. These grooves improve flexibility and make the ride feel more natural.
The surface of the outsole rubber has a “cracked stone” texture which helps to grip the road. Traction is great on a variety of surfaces, whether they're dry or wet.
Durability is excellent. You can expect the outsole of the Phantom 2 to last at least 800 km due to its thickness and hardness. Unlike other trainers that use softer rubber on the midfoot and forefoot, with only harder rubber on the heel, the Phantom 2 uses the same hard rubber throughout the entire outsole.
A deep channel starts under the heel and extends forward into the midfoot. This decoupling groove smoothes transitions by acting as a guidance line and increases cushioning under the heel and midfoot. The channel also saves weight because it isn't covered with heavy outsole rubber.
As a max-cushioned trainer, the Phantom 2 has a well cushioned but firm ride. As your foot sinks into the soft SpeedForm top layer, it's then met by the firmer EVA which wraps around the HOVR foam.
When walking or running slowly in the Phantom 2 you can feel the squishy SpeedForm layer directly under your feet but as soon as you speed up, you forget that it's there.
The Phantom 2 is best suited to relaxed runs: easy or recovery runs because of its hefty weight. At 327 g for a men's 9, the Phantom 2 is no lightweight trainer and it makes it a chore to pick up the pace.
Ride transitions are very smooth in the Phantom 2. Even though there is more of the softer HOVR foam under the heel, the firmer EVA carrier foam does a good job in keeping the heel and the forefoot similar densities so footstrikes feel consistent from heel to forefoot.
With the midsole being so firm, the ride is very stable. Footstrikes feel very planted without much lean bias so the Phantom 2 is suitable for light over pronators.
You get very little ground feel in the Phantom 2 because of how thick and how firm the midsole is. The thick layer of outsole rubber also contributes to the low level of ground feel.
The 9 mm drop of the Phantom 2 makes it perfect for heel strikers because of the mass of midsole foam under the heel. It also provides a gentle forward slope which assists your foot through transitions.
If you're looking for a trainer for mostly relaxed runs that will stop you from running too fast on your easy days, the Phantom 2 is a good choice.
The Phantom 2 has a cushioned ride, an insanely tough, durable outsole and a comfortable upper (as long as you wear long socks).
The Under Armour HOVR Phantom 2 falls into the same category as the Adidas Ultraboost 21 and the 4DFWD. All of them are heavy but stylish, multipurpose trainers which can be used for gym, running or casual wear.
What sets the Phantom 2 apart from the others is that its IntelliKnit upper is softer, more stretchy and molds to your feet better. Foot lockdown is also better in the Phantom 2 and the squishy SpeedForm toplayer provides a pleasant sinking-in feeling.
Reviewed by Brandon Law.