Under Armour set out to create the equivalent of a fat tire ride for the runner; and has succeeded.
Beginning with fashion before we get to the function:
The selection of the somewhat formal black materials of the upper was a wise move given the almost clownish look of the rest of the shoe. Upon opening the lid to the box, my first impression was that my favorite moon-boots had been made into a low-top. Like the different looking fat tire bikes, there is no doubt as to the function of this shoe. You can judge this book by its cover. In short, the shoe is certainly an attention getter. The aqua brings back memories of the 80’s color pallet, but nonetheless, I still found the look appealing.
As for function, moving from the bottom to the top. The Michelin rubber looks like the low profile tread popular as of late for cyclists. The aqua color hasn’t yet caught on in the cycling world but who knows . . .? Twin tipped skis weren’t all that popular before snowboards either. As for performance of the tread, I’ve taken the shoes on trails with steep stretches of exposed granite and was very impressed with the traction. It reminded me of some of the approach shoes I’ve used when climbing. They perform remarkably well on frozen/irregular/pre-stomped snow as well. There is some very minor peeling on the knobs after just 50 miles; too early to tell on the longevity of the rubber but the performance is an 9 out of 10 despite the color.
The “guts” of the shoe are substantial. In fact, the first wearing around the house left my toes feeling a bit numb from the upward pressure. The next morning I took the shoes on an 18 miler up the canyon with similar results to my appendages. But after the 5 mile mark or so the toe box expanded enough to still keep a snug fit while still provided a comfortable cushion between the trail and myself. Since that “break-in” the shoe has fit quite well. Of all the features of the shoe, the most impressive I feel is the GIGANTIC shock absorbing mass. Much like switching from a standard front suspension mountain bike to a full suspension 29er (or the fat tire option) the cushioning quality of the ride is remarkable. There is a sacrifice on the highly technical trails but there are no stability issues. Under Armour has achieved what they set out to achieve. 9.5 out of 10.
I’d give the guts of the shoe a 10 were is not for the strange squish that happens when walking. At first things were very cushioned but solid below my foot. After 20 miles or so, the left and then the right shoe developed a sort of spongy feel when walking. Almost like running in wet shoes but without the moisture, just the sensation. It’s not noticeable when running but when walking I found it a bit irritating.
By way of a short comparison, I’ve been thoroughly impressed over the past couple years with the Salomon Fellraiser. It’s been my go-to shoe. While I remain a fan, the Storm has brought a whole new level of performance into the realm of possibility. I’ve found myself defaulting to the Fat tire low top unless the run is highly technical or sloppy. Perhaps it’s the (uh-hum) first sign of old age where I’m willing to sacrifice a minimal amount of performance for a whole lot of comfort.
The upper has held up well thus far. The toe box is comfortably wide and reinforced around the big toe. From experience, the added reinforcement will not reduce the pain of a stubbed toe but it won’t rip either. The black color of course shows dirt very quickly so if you’re trying to keep your shoes looking pretty, 1) find another hobby 2) don’t get the Under Armour fat tire low top. I’m also curious to see how the black, durable material performs in the summer. For the winter and spring weather I’ve experienced, the breathable yet substantial upper has been great.
For all the effort Under Armour put into the shoe from selecting the materials, to the fit, to the color scheme, I was disappointed by the lacing system. It was nothing to get excited about. Same old laces as I learned to tie in 5th grade, I mean 1st. Regardless, it seemed a shame to create such a remarkable shoe then instead of finishing it off with a quick, auto adjusting lace or at least some gimmick, to simply throw in the same old shoe string. Upper – 7.5 out of 10 (downgrade based primarily on the lacing)
Overall I’d give the shoe a 9 out of 10, may an 8 if I want to drive home the sub-par laces. The comfort is terrific, the tread is top notch, the soul/guts of the shoe are truly remarkable, particularly on the punishing downhills. Here’s a shoe that can take whatever you can dish out.