Stephen Curry has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the NBA while being under contract to Under Armour. In return, the Baltimore-based company has been able to parlay Curry’s popularity into a successful sneaker line. In some ways the success Curry’s shoes have overshadowed other quality UA products – namely the ClutchFit Drive, the shoes Curry wore before his signature series. The good news is that Under Armour is back with the third edition of the ClutchFit Drive, which we took straight to the court.
The outsole of the ClutchFit Drive 3 is crafted with herringbone. UA strategically placed shaped insets on the outsole to provide ultimate traction control – ultimate being the operative word. The traction was excellent on indoor courts, regardless of condition. The outsole translates well on both indoor and outdoor courts and the level of detail on the traction pattern bodes well for longevity. Simply put: you will not lose a step in these shoes.
The ClutchFit Drive 3 features Charged cushioning – the same cushioning technology used in the Curry signature line. Performing in a predictably similar manner, the cushioning provided a stable surface to absorb the pounding on the basketball court. We also noticed an extra pocket of cushioning around the ankles in particular which gave the shoe a solid court feel. The ClutchFit Drive 3 went away from the very popular Micro G cushioning that was used in the original model, which was disappointing. While Charged cushioning does its job, Micro G may have been the better choice.
Upper Materials & Fit (8.5)
As the name suggests, ClutchFit is back. There was a lot of backlash with the previous model, as many felt Under Armour ironically didn’t use enough ClutchFit. This issue was rectified as this latest model is fully equipped with its namesake upper. ClutchFit provides a breathable upper while being malleable enough to support the movements of your feet on the basketball court. While the upper does do a great job of reacting to the foot’s movement on the court, it still fails to address the breathability problem that has plagued UA footwear since day one. After a brief wear test, the inside of the shoes were atypically warm and damp – problems that would be remedied with better ventilation.
Support and Stability (7)
The ample cushioning provided by the Charged technology serves as a good base for support. Whether you are an explosive leaper, or a ground bound vet with a book full of moves, you can rest assured that this shoe will support your feet regardless. The major issue however lies with stability. UA opted for a bear-trap style of lacing system and an Achilles pillow to keep feet in place while jumping and running at high speeds. The wear tests proved these features to be unsuccessful when it comes to providing stability. There was plenty of slippage, especially when planting or moving forward quickly. While the shoes claim to run true to size it may be of benefit to go a half size lower to possibly reduce slippage, or wear a thicker sock to create more friction.
Final Thoughts (33/40)
These shoes are by no means perfect, however it’s important to judge them on what they were created to be: a value shoe. This is not a top tier performance shoe but it is also not priced that way. The Curry 2.5 employs much of the same technology, (e.g. Charged) however there are intricate design details in the Curry models that the ClutchFit doesn’t have. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though – the shoe is aesthetically pleasing, has good cushioning, adequate responsiveness, and fantastic traction and is an excellent value play at its price point. If you are looking for a capable performance shoe but don’t want to pay performance prices, then this is the shoe for you.