Under Armour Micro G® Charge Volt

The Under Armour Micro G® Charge Volt

Introduction

Under Armour Basketball has slowly made their way up the industry in a few short years, arguably ranking just below Nike and Adidas for supremacy on the NBA courts.  They have a solid roster of young stars bolstered by the acquisition of Stephen Curry this Fall.  It is well documented in this Black Lotus Blog that UA has done spectacular when it comes to crafting a high quality build and on court performer.  The only aspect they were missing was breaking a barrier in terms of concepts & designs.  They took a big step forward last year with one of the more unique shoes to come along in years with the Charge BB.  The high cut boot design was a shock to the industry, and although it may not have had widespread commercial success, it showed what Under Armour was capable of.  To prove that the design was not a shot in the dark the follow up to the Charge BB comes with the same boot design.  In our latest Performance Review, we give the Under Armour Micro G® Charge Volt a try.

Following up their boldest effort in the Charge BB is the more refined Charge Volt.  The features include the following:

  • Two piece synthetic upper for light weight performance, efficient fit, and flexibility
  • Cushioning provided by low profile Micro G® midsole and sockliner
  • Minimal clear rubber outsole with cored out areas and herringbone traction sections
  • Stability provided by TPU shank at the midfoot
  • HeatGear® materials for comfortable performance

Aesthetics and Styling

When the Charge BB was first introduced, it was met with more confusion than excitement.  Under Armour took a big risk in releasing a shoe that seemed more like a concept design than an actual production model.  The Charge Volt takes the same spirit in a more refined sense.  Most of the construction is left in tact from the Micro G® foundation to the two-piece upper.  Refinement comes with a more integrated and light weight collar to lessen the bulky feel.  With the design stylish on its own, the initial run of color schemes favored the military look – appropriate for the Maryland area.  The choice for this Performance Review is the multi-grey colored Volt.

Under Armour Micro G® Charge Volt

Just like the predecessor, the Charge BB, the Volt is just as bold in design

Rising up high is the back end of the Volt.  It sets the tone for the shoe standings stiff and high over the tongue.  The wavy Micro G® midsole is a perfect compliment to the boot cut look.  We start our evaluation with the foundation that comes from the Charge BB/Charge BB Low.  It has the forefoot/heel rubber outsole with cored out sections and a mid foot TPU plate.  Two herringbone portions add traction at the forefoot.  The outsole is supported by a dual colored wavy Micro G® midsole for comfort and low profile performance.

Although the upper looks busy, the two-piece synthetic construction is efficient.  The first layer of the upper is a thick leather based synthetic material which runs along the base of the shoe forming a toe cap along the way.  It is stitched on to the main mesh based layer.  The front of the toe box has a reinforced cap with a “UA” logo on the medial side.  Meanwhile, the sides are marked with small perforation holes for ventilation.

The highlight of the Charge Volt is the high cut collar.  It begins on the back end with a ribbed plastic heel counter.  A “CHARGE” decal runs vertically along the back.  The collar makes up the second portion of the two part upper.  It has an alien-like, padded/embossed look to it.  The top of the collar flares out to wrap around the ankles and has a rounded shape.  It then dips low and creates an opening on the side before being stitched close to the tongue.  Branding finishes off the collar in the form of “UA” logos on each side.

A system of 8 eyelets and lace hoops tightly hold the standard oval laces.  The lace hoops and eyelets alternate before they reach the collar portion where there are four eyelets punctured through the side wings and high back end.  On the upper, the lace hoops are stitched on while the eyelets have a thick synthetic leather reinforcement.  To keep the upper efficient, the tongue is stitched on to the mesh upper base.  It has two laces holders and a very high quality feel.  Last but not least is a high quality, contoured Micro G® insole.  The insole fits the low profile foundation and is marked with the “Micro G®” logo printed through the heel.

Comfort and Fit

Bending over the high cut back end is the first task before entering into the Charge Volt.  The plastic heel counter may provide some resistance, but overall, getting the foot through is not as difficult as the aesthetics may suggest.  If the player decides to lace the shoe all the way to the top eyelet, the tongue must be pulled up.  This is so that when tightening the laces, the laces do not slide under the tongue and around the shin.  Fit is a relaxed true to size when all the laces are locked in.  The shoe has a bulky feel from the collar down around the middle of the foot, but the materials, luckily, do not bear down heavy.  Most of the lace pressure is felt right at the top, around the bottom of the calves.  It is not recommend that the laces are tightened to the max as it might create some discomfort during play.  Up front, the toe box has plenty of comfortable room.  It does not have a suffocating feel which is great for those with wider feet.  Next, the high cut design brings very good ankle support & protection without a restrictive feel.  The player can still move the ankles comfortably even with the high support.  Those who like their ankles free may have to look elsewhere as this set up feels like the ankles are taped.  For lock down, the counter cups the heels at a slight ankle.  This pushes the player forward and offers more support when the toe flexes and push the heels back.  Moving to the foundation, the Micro G® base is comfortable, dense, and low profile – excellent for basketball.  The high quality materials are felt here as it is solid, but with very good soft comfort.  Adding to the solidness is the midfoot TPU plate.  It keeps the foot from sitting flat, but is wide enough not to dig into the sides of the foot.  Pronounced ankle support and a solid foundation are the prominent areas when fit is evaluated for the Charge Volt.

Under Armour Micro G® Charge Volt

The boot cut design brings excellent ankle support & protection without too much restrictions

Performance

A comprehensive feel is felt from the top down to the foundation once the player steps on the hardwood.  The ankles have very high support, while the foundation feels solid yet with a sense of soft comfort.  Court feel and profile are very good as the shoe has a natural, contoured feel.  Once up to speed, heel to toe transitions flow well.  Those who have not played in the original Charge BB may find it awkward to play with such a high cut shoe, but the Volt plays more flexible.  The shoe pushes the heels and ankles in place when moving forward, while the foundation gives the natural movement on the court.  And although the shoe may have a bulky feel, the weight feels balanced fitting the natural movement & flexibility felt.  For performance, the Charge Volt is fit for the player who likes versatility and balance.  First off, the foundation of the shoe is great for natural movement and responsiveness.  The Micro G® set up brings a sense of low profile cushioning comfort while providing the responsiveness of a shoe that would normally have a stiff midsole.  This is great for swing men who like to run up and down the court  as well as the power forward who needs a little bit more support when working on the inside.  Granted, the shoe is not the most nimble, but the low profile foundation can play quick & fast for those who can get a feel of the shoe.  Also, the flexibility of the two-piece upper helps to lessen the feeling of bulkiness on the court.  For jumps, the Micro G ® foundation again comes into play.  The responsiveness and comfort felt are have a consistent feel whether jumping from a static position, or jumping in rhythm.  Landings are handled just as well, with the outsole bringing the player close to the court and ready to fly once the rubber hits the court surface.  With performance similar to the Charge BB, the Charge Volt brings a comprehensive fit with very good balance and court feel.

Stability performance for the Charge Volt is very good.  The most prominent aspect of stability performance that must be evaluated is with ankle support & protection.  The major change from the BB to the Volt is the fact that the collar is less bulky and more flexible.  What results is high support with good protection.  The designers made a great effort in giving all the support needed without the restrictions on movement and they have succeeded.  No, it does not feel like a low cut shoe, but for a shoe that has this high of ankle support, the articulation, and the fact that it is non-intrusive, it really does not get any better.  Moving to the upper, the two-piece design brings a comfortable, relaxed feel, but holds up well.  Mentioned in the performance above, the upper does have some what of a bulky feel.  It is not form fitting like most of the performers today, so it allows for the player to have a sort of bumper when pushing laterally.  The upper does fit comfortably around the foot and does not have any excessive movement allowing the player to push hard whenever needed.  In all, it just feels very balanced.  Fitting well with the upper is the efficient foundation.  The midsole and outsole push for natural movement.  In doing so, it works well with the upper by giving the player a better feel of the court, keeping balance and allowing the mid foot TPU plate to offer all the stability when the player torques the shoe side to side.  Bringing a balance from the fit, ankle support, and foundation, the Volt does a little bit of everything with respect to stability.

Just like the Charge BB, traction is based on movement & feel over sticky grip.  The minimal foundation, from the low profile midsole to the cored out sole is deigned for more natural movement on the court.  Because of this, the player will not get stop on a dime traction.  More so, the shoe pushes for more balance and movement.  Playing with a heavy step gets the most traction out of this shoe.  Most of the sticky traction comes when the foot pushes down on the herringbone sections of the forefoot.  This helps for first step bursts and pull ups.  At the rear, the heel is based more on not getting the player stuck in place.  The cored out area helps the player be a bit more agile and quicker on the court.  One area of concern is on dusty courts.  In this case, the player will have to be very conscious of debris build up as it effects traction performance significantly.  So, those looking for smooth, movement based traction will find it the Charge Volt.  Ventilation performance is excellent.  The shoe has a natural opening around the collar to help the with air flow.  To help with moisture, the HeatGear® materials do a great job in keeping the foot comfortable.  Ventilation performance is definitely a high area of performance for the Volt.

Conclusion

The Charge BB was no doubt the biggest surprise, in terms of design and aesthetics, for any basketball shoe on the market last year.  Even though the aesthetics may not have been commercially friendly, the performance of the shoe was very good.  In the Charge Volt, the designers have worked on the high cut collar.  The result is more efficient, light weight support around the ankles.  Performance is just as versatile as the Charge BB with excellent court feel, responsiveness, and comfort.  This is a worthy option for those looking for a shoe with high ankle support and versatile performance.  Under Armour basketball is slowly making their mark.  Unlike some of the smaller overseas brands that are trying to break into the market, UA is well established in the athletic apparel/accessories market which makes them able to compete on all levels with the top companies in the country.  Designs like the Charge BB/Charge Volt shows their willingness to push boundaries and creates excitement for what is to come in the near future.  Released last month, the Micro G® Charge Volt is now available at the Official Under Armour Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Under Armour Micro G® Charge BB Low
Under Armour Micro G® Charge BB