The following review of the Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 cross-training shoes looks at how effective they are while doing HIIT sessions, lifting weights and running.
Under Armour has built a reputation for the quality of its cross-training shoes, and here at T3 we are fans, with the Under Armour TriBase Reign 3 gaining five stars, and the previous version of the shoes, the Under Armour HOVR Apex 2, was awarded four stars.
UA’s Hovr technology is now built into most of the company’s workout shoes (and running shoes) due to its boost in energy return and the ability to effectively repel impacts. The brand is building a reputation for engineering comfortable trainers that feel secure and stable while remaining breathable while you build up a sweat, whether in the gym or pounding the pavements.
So how does the all-new Apex 3 compare with its previous iteration? And is it a case of style over substance? Find out in our review of the Under Armour Hovr Apex 3.
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Price and availability
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Design and ergonomics
Make no mistake, these are the opposite of minimal trainers. On first look, you can’t miss the chunky, oversized midsoles, almost matching Hoka One One midsole size, with a rubber TPU strap coming up over the ankles to provide extra stability when twisting the ankle. The tongue is also unmissable, designed to rise high for added support and cushioning.
The heel-to-toe drop is a big 8mm, which some users might find uncomfortable. However, it’s the same drop as the previous model, the Under Armour Hovr Apex 2, so if you were comfortable in those, you’ll be fine in these.
And let’s talk about the proprietary Hovr foam. The whole idea behind Under Armour’s Hovr foam in the midsole is to produce a “zero-gravity” feel and energy return. In practice, you won’t be floating around like William Shatner on Blue Origin’s New Shepard, but the idea is to give you more explosive bounce for when your workout demands jumps or burpees.
The sole features Under Armour’s Tribase technology, which is designed to increase stability by providing a fixed triangular ‘tripod’ base, with flexibility outside these areas, in particular, two grooves towards the front to aid flexing of the forefoot. The Tribase sole is flat with minimal grip, making it perfect for lifting and jumping. This lack of grip doesn’t make it that suitable for running outside though, especially in wet or icy conditions.
The upper toe box features a 3D mesh print with a durable Haptic pattern that’s designed to resist abrasion, so your toes won’t wear through from repeated floor scrapes. At the same time, it remains flexible enough to bend at the toes through exercises like press-ups and mountain climbers.
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Aesthetics
My first thought on seeing the Apex 3 is that I’ve somehow travelled back in time to the (future) Hill Valley, 21 October 2015 and I’m about to strap on a pair of Marty McFly’s Nike Mag shoes.
There’s a definite Back To The Future II vibe about the Apex 3 aesthetics, bar the extra-high-hi-tops and the giant Swoosh, obviously. They look similar to the Apex 2s, as you’d expect, but have a few new features. These include the lightweight mesh upper, which replaced the rubber 3D print in the Apex 2 to save weight and aid flexibility. The TPU wrap is redesigned around the lace eyelets too but still has the potential to result in friction to the laces via rubbing on the holes over the long term.
Colour-wise, I tested the Concrete/Black colourway which is relatively understated with pops of orange to offset the pavement vibes and add a bit of life, and there’s also a monochrome Black/Halo Grey version. But the standout is the White/High-Vis Yellow. These look sharp and on-point and would work well outside of the gym, too. Not that the others don’t, it’s just the pops of bright red, blue and neon lime contrasting with the blinding white make a statement (admittedly, not for everyone).
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Workout performance
If you’re looking for super-light shoes for your workout sessions, these aren’t the ones for you. At 340g for the men’s, they weigh more than some of the more minimalist cross-training shoes out there, but they’re not the heaviest – the men’s Nike Metcon 7, for example, weighs in heavier at 354g. But that added weight on the Apex 3 comes into its own in terms of support and bounce (plus it’s lighter than UA’s previous Apex 2 model).
They are, without question, stable. When you’re standing on a mat lifting weights or doing squats, your feet feel well-planted and stable on the floor, and you can also feel the extra ankle support. The tongue provides a surprising amount of support when leaning forward from the ankles, for example when performing squats.
Jumps do feel explosive. The energy return provides a definite kick which, if you’re taking part in a tough HIIT session and you can’t face more burpees, helps get you through the final set.
Although they’re not designed for long runs, testing them on the treadmill I found them to be supportive and did the job fine over a 3km warm-up jog, even if they feel a little ungainly and “clompy” on the belt. I wouldn’t want to run much further than that in them, though.
Sizewise, they were spacious enough in the toebox to result in no rubbing or blisters, with room for my toes to move without feeling too spacious.
A problem that’s been reported in previous models of the Apex is that the rubber eyelets in the TPU that the laces pass through ends up fraying the laces. I’ve not worn the trainers long enough to experience any issues with the Apex 3s, but I can see how it could potentially become a problem over the long term and require replacement laces at a later date.
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Verdict
If you’re after a versatile pair of all-around cross-training shoes, the Apex 3s will have you covered. They’re particularly good for HIIT workouts or other workout classes, and indoor gym workouts mixed in with short sessions of treadmill running.
Weight could be an issue for some despite the fact that they are lighter than the Apex 2, and perhaps the higher price might put some off (although you can find discounted models online), but they also double up well as a casual pair of trainers outside of the gym as well as making you feel like you’ve just walked off the set of Back To The Future II.
Under Armour Hovr Apex 3 review: Also consider
The new version of the Inov8 F-Lite 260 V2 cross training shoes are endorsed by CrossFit athlete Scott Panchik – he even tested them and provided feedback and insights into the design of the shoe, requesting protection around the toebox and midfoot, moving the cage forwards for improved comfort and designing a new colourway with blue to pop out from the white.
Don’t discount the Nike Metcon 7, too. With added stability and handy lace lockers that stop that age-old problem of your laces coming loose mid-workout, the stalwarts of Nike’s cross training range won’t let you down. As ever, they also do the business aesthetics-wise off the gym mats, too.
Finally, there’s the Under Armour Tribase Reign 2, T3 Platinum Award winners no less, rated highly by us due to the fact that the shoes perform well in whatever type of workout you do. The understated design and colours don’t scream, “Look at me!”, which for many gym-goers is exactly what they’re looking for.