For an athletic brand like Under Armour, considered as the “new kid” on the block when it comes to basketball footwear, breaking ground into an industry run by competitive giants such as Nike and Adidas is going to be a monumental challenge to say the least.
Last year, Under Armour upped their shoe game introducing the Spawn Anatomix basketball shoe. A model that proved to be a solid performer on the basketball court, and one that was well received by both their sponsored NBA athletes, and the regular Joe’s that wore them throughout their respective basketball season.
Building upon that success, Under Armour has taken their shoe game up to yet another level with the introduction of the ClutchFit Drive.
According to Under Armour, ClutchFit has been built upon the company’s latest form-fitting compression R & D, designed to wrap around the athlete’s foot like a “second skin” to provide lightweight support and a natural feel.
From the initial lace-up, the ClutchFit Drive provided a glove-like fit, running true-to-size, and built upon a standard D width last.
Our testers that were fortunate enough to put on a pair of Spawn Anatomix last year, remember the great traction experienced as a result of the foot-mapped traction design pattern. Although Under Armour chose to utilize a multi-directional herringbone traction pattern for the ClutchFit Drive, we were pleasantly surprised that this model performed just as well if not better than any of UA’s previous basketball models. The full-length, solid-rubber outsole performed like a beast on pristine indoor courts, and better than average on dusty indoor and outdoor courts. Whether you were stopping on a dime, making quick cuts, or shuffling laterally to stop your opponent in their tracks, the ClutchFit Drive’s consistently kept you exactly where you needed to be. Outsole durability also doesn’t seem to be an issue, as the solid-rubber outsole has held up through our weartests with minimal degradation. It should be noted that the outsole is absent of a substantial lateral outrigger, nevertheless, the shoes overall stability is compensated for by the construction of the ClutchFit Drive’s midsole as described below.
RATING: 9.5/10 on a good indoor court, 9/10 on a dusty indoor/outdoor court
Under Armour has outfitted the ClutchFit Drive with the ever-impressive Micro G foam cushioning system. Utilized full-length from heel to forefoot, the Micro G cushioning felt lightweight, plush, yet very responsive. While firmer and not as much bounce-back than previous Micro G iterations, this model served to provide no-nonsense cushioning, with an added level of stability felt by our weartesters.
FIT & LOCKDOWN
Under Armour’s newest innovation driving this new performance model is ClutchFit, a synthetic upper that has been designed to fit and wrap around the contours of the foot like a second skin, and as advertised – to fit even better the more minutes you log while playing. While we can’t say with definitive knowledge that the upper moulds to your foot even better as you approach crunch time, what we can say is – right out the box, the ClutchFit Drive fits better than many of the models we’ve weartested this year. It just holds you where you need it, is without any hotspots, and just feels good. But, with a full synthetic upper, the compromise is that breathability/ventilation may take a hit. Although not an issue brought up by any of our testers, breathability could easily have been better served if the upper were a combination of mesh and synthetic overlays vs. a full synthetic upper.
Upon first look, the increased height of the molded collar immediately brought upon thoughts of the slightly restrictive movements experienced from earlier models of the Under Armour Charge basketball shoe. Fortunately, this was the furthest from the truth. The cushioned collar and integrated 3-D molded tongue felt comfortable, and with the heel portion of the collar cut low, restricted movement quickly became an afterthought, having been immediately replaced by sensations of supported mobility.
Lockdown was also rated high with our weartesters. Once laced up, the combination of the Micro G full-length sock liner and newly designed synthetic upper provided great midfoot lockdown keeping the foot solidly in place above the foot bed.
Midfoot support and stability were on point, even with the absence of a visible midfoot shank, the shoes still provided a decent amount of torsional support and rigidity.
The ClutchFit Drive utilizes a rubberized external heel counter, locking in the heel, and minimizing ankle movement. For those wary of ankle injuries, the rear foot lockdown and the proprioceptive support provided by ClutchFit Drive’s higher than normal collar height is highly recommended.
Final Thoughts: It goes without saying Under Armour’s plan to be the next big player in the basketball shoe game is going to be an uphill battle. Yet, creating well-designed products that perform as advertised, that contribute to an athlete’s performance on the court is what will ultimately keep them moving in the right direction and create that brand loyalty. With the ClutchFit Drive, Under Armour has done exactly that. Developing a solid basketball shoe, that fits great out-the-box (with little-to-no break-in period) and provides great traction and court feel on a variety of court surfaces. Utilizing a cushioning system that is both plush and responsive, the sneaker is supportive and stable enough to handle the rigors of the game, and with a newly designed upper, scores on a fit & lockdown level on par with any of its competitors. Lastly, if you’re a versatile player, looking for an all-around performance shoe that won’t hold back your game, you may have found one in the Under Armour ClutchFit Drive.