Under Armour's latest shoes are moulded closely to your feet, but aren't chunky and heavy despite being built for distance running on hard asphalt terrain. They've got cushioning where it matters, but lightweight uppers — and this wasn't something I cared about in the slightest until I actually wore them.
Buying a new pair of running shoes is, universally, a pain — especially if you're like me and have the flattest feet the earth has ever seen. I have a nice pair of Nike LunarEpic Flyknit shoes that I usually jog in, but they're a year old now and have seen a lot of use — so something new has been on the cards for some time. Running shoes get fancier and more intricately designed with every iteration, and these ones are no different.
If you want to get fit, having the right gear is half the challenge. You can supercharge your gym session, your afternoon run or your weekend trip out on the trail with a new pair of high-tech footwear — and there's a lot to learn before you even go and try on your first pair.
I took Under Armour's new Charged Bandit 3 shoes out for a few runs and walks over the last couple of weeks, and I've come away impressed. These aren't especially expensive running shoes at $150, but that doesn't mean they're not very well put together and designed to get out of the way while you're exercising.
The first thing I noticed was that for a size 10, the Charged Bandit 3 is quite small and snug around the toes — this is definitely one to go up half a size if you've got a wider foot or if you're on the upper side of your shoe size in the first place. I can usually fit a shoe somewhere between a 9.5 and a 10.5, and this is one that I'd opt for the larger end of the spectrum on.
They're comfortable for my foot despite being quite structured, too. Where my old Nikes are soft from the sole up, the Under Armours have a hard plastic heel section that feels firm when you land against it while running, as well as a closely woven top knit. The sole itself is firm in sections — like the insole and the heel — but there's a lot of flexibility in between, especially in the midsole. I jog on dodgy pavement so the flexibility really helps.
I have only one worry about the Charged Bandit 3, and that's that the tops are quite perforated. This'll come in handy while I'm out jogging in summer (like that's going to happen, ha) but the trade-off for that comfort is the fact that they'll let water in during rain, especially from puddles. Running in wet shoes and socks is Very Not Fun — take it from someone who's slogged through a couple of Tough Mudders with the blisters to show for it.
But more than anything else, they're light — like, really, surprisingly light. It doesn't engender confidence when you take them out of the box, but if you put them on your feet and walk around, you really do notice. The weight of the shoes I'm wearing has never been something I've given serious thought to, but when presented with that as a selling point, I can now realise its importance.
And that lightness is paid for by the fact that they feel — in my early impressions, at least — like they'll last. I'm very tough on my shoes, but the Charged Bandit 3 barely look a day old after a solid 30km of running and walking. I'm looking forward to putting more miles on them and seeing how they stand up to the punishment. [Under Armour]