Today’s sneaker face-off is all about figuring out whether Under Armour really stopped elevating its basketball performance line?
Is the Under Armour Embiid 1 worth spending an extra dollar, or it’s just a budget shoe wrapped around Joel’s hype? Answer down below.
UA EMBIID 1
WEIGHT: 420 g. / 14.81 oz (size 11.5)
TECH: MicroG, HOVR
FIT: TRUE TO SIZE
RETAIL PRICE: $120
BD RATING: 8/10
BEST PLACE TO BUY: UNDER ARMOUR
UA HOVR HAVOC 3
WEIGHT: 413 g. / 14.56 oz (size 11.5)
TECH: HOVR, Energy Web
FIT: TRUE TO SIZE
RETAIL PRICE: $110
BD RATING: 6.6/10
BEST PLACE TO BUY: UNDER ARMOUR
Mesh is owning the upper game here. But that doesn’t mean anything until you put that stuff to the test.
The Hovr Havoc line has been a pleasant surprise when it comes to material usage, unfortunately, everything has its end. A micro-molded mesh setup featured on the Havoc 2’s was like a tear higher option before reaching premium territory in terms of performance aspect. That stuff did tick all the boxes and made you feel like getting the most value for a dollar.
But for whatever reason things went south for the Havoc 3. What are you getting is a basic to-the-bones mesh setup which has been imprisoned by that heavy fuse in the toe box. While the back end is covered by micro molded mesh that was so freaking nice in the second Hovr Havoc generation. Yep, that makes sense. Let’s put it a more premium, flexible/pliable material option in the back, and stick some crap up in front. Because why not, right? Well… If it was done to improve containment, then why do you need support parts in a shoe then?
The Embiid 1 is like that smarter brother, you know. Instead of fusing everything, the whole upper is rocking full-length open-mesh tooling. You won’t find premium touches there, but it works like a charm. There’s no fuse in a way, just a few bits and pieces of it for durability purposes. Soft and form-fitting is what you’re getting straight from the box. And airflow? It’s air for days.
By the way, for added stability in the upper, they’re using those flaps that connect to the lacing system for hugging containment in the forefoot/midfoot region. That’s how you do it the right way.
I’m sick of saying this line every single damn time. But I’ll say it again… The Hovr Havoc 3 is packing a full-length HOVR tooling. Unfortunately, it’s far from what I have been expecting since the very first moment HOVR was introduced in a basketball shoe.
According to UA, the Hovr Havoc 3 is supposed to accommodate all types of players. Well, the cushion setup doesn’t match that description for sure. Creating a well-balanced cushion setup is not about adding just enough impact protection in the heel section for someone bigger or explosive. While caging it all out by completely killing any sensation upfront to pretend it’s been catered to guards. Although, despite the forefoot not being low enough to the ground, the court feel wasn’t that good as well.
The Embiid 1 does adapt the Hovr heel portion from its rival. But as I said, it does offer enough impact protection/compression to not brag about it. The forefoot, on the other hand, gets MicroG injection – and it’s freaking awesome.
It offers that healthy amount of bounce combined with pretty solid court feel for all players across the board to enjoy. Now that’s how you make it an all-around setup.
UA nailed it on both models, though, the Embiid 1 has a few major tricks up its sleeve. It’s one of those rare times when a “storytelling” traction pattern completely kills it on whichever surface you take it. On a dime stoppage. Multi-directional coverage. Tacky rubber compound. Widely spaced thread to avoid dust presents. It has it all.
That ”drunk herringbone” type of stuff found on the Hovr Havoc 3 equips all the same aspects, but that stellar performance can be quickly muted down by stepping on a dusty surface. Therefore, consistent wiping is required.
The Embiid 1 gets “outdoor qualified” as I didn’t spot any major wear-down signs in high-wear areas or other spots. Usually, two weeks is more than enough to get the idea, and physically spot whether rubber can take a beating from outdoor surfaces. That’s exactly what happened with the Havoc 3’s. That stuff went whole “pencil eraser” mode on me. Frying rubber left to right.
Some big man’s influence can be felt when talking about sizing on the Embiid 1. No, this isn’t aimed purely for wide footers only. The width is wider enough for true wide footers avoiding fit problems. Therefore, staying true to size for pretty much any type of sized or shaped foot owner is my recommendation. Except for those who enjoy their toes being especially close to a wall, and having some supportive pressure coming out of sidewalls. In that case, going down half a size should do you just fine.
When talking about comfort, well, I’m not going to waste my time talking about my experience with the Hovr Havoc 3. Just leave you with this… Whatever that freaking plastic’s mission is on this shoe, it made my feet feel like chicken legs put in a fryer full of hot oil. The good stuff was completely overwhelmed by the intention of reaching out my gym bag and switching to my go-to’s as quickly as possible.
The Embiid 1, on the other hand, was a whole different animal. The presents of open-mesh tooling make you enjoy great air-flow, and close to your foot fit from the get-go. Up in the toe box, you actually do have an incredibly thin plastic coating for extra durability, and improved stability. But that doesn’t prevent sufficient air circulation any bit.
The midsole toolings are similarly shaped and do cup your foot in the same fashion. The only design cues that do differ can be found in the upper in order to create rigidity. So while the Havoc 3 is using that heavily reinforced mesh, the Embiid 1 does feature flaps on the sides for lateral coverage.
Both setups do a great job of keeping your foot locked-in. But only one does that without harming the rest of the on-foot experience.
Under Armour deeply disappointed me by ruining their best performing team line-up with the release of Hovr Havoc 3. On the flip side, a completely new silhouette made me feel positive.
The Embiid 1 turned out to be one of the nicest bang for your buck signature models this year. You won’t be hearing someone saying: look, he’s wearing those Embiid ones. This is an under the radar looking model with pretty big performance presents inside. So if that rocks your boat, and you do have an extra $120 to spend – the Embiid is your solid choice.