Best known for making shirts using the same moisture wicking material as in compression shorts, American sports apparel brand Under Armour has set its sights on redesigning running shoes.
The first thing you will notice about the Speedform RC is the lack of seams all around, compared with other brands that stitch together a variety of parts to make a shoe.
Here, the shoe's upper is crafted from a piece of material that is soft to the touch, yet firm enough to hold its shape on its own.
Once worn, the soft material clings to your skin in a firm yet non-rigid grip. The comfort is extremely noticeable in the heel, where the single-piece rear cup grabs your heel in a position that offers both comfort and support.
The interesting bit is that the heel cup takes its foundation from bra making, in which the apparel brand says the understanding of fit and support are important.
Worn pretty much like a pair of socks, the Speedform RC is a cross between the toe-shoe Vibram Five Fingers with its flexibility, and regular padded sneakers.
The soles are flat and stiffer than regular Vibram ones and should appeal to minimalist runners who want the flexibility of barefoot running but with marginally more protection on their soles.
Additional padding on the rear works for heel strikers, although runners with front and midfoot strikes should note that the sole padding of the rest of the shoe does not offer nearly as much cushioning as conventional running shoes.
Even with the new design and material, a breaking-in period was necessary. While the soles were easy to get used to, the new uppers took several runs to break in. In my first two runs, the underside of my second and third toes developed blisters.
At first, I thought it was because my size 11 pair were too tight. But after I used them for a while, the material expanded a little and the blistering stopped.
So if you are used to a certain size and find that the equivalent Speedform RC size a tad tight to begin with, I would recommend sticking with it as the material does expand slightly with use.
The only problem with the thinness of the material and the breathable holes in front is that it takes just one puddle to get your shoes and socks soaked immediately, as the material offers no protection from liquids.
Offering comfort and the essence of barefoot running with a thicker sole, these shoes are a good alternative to established brands such as Reebok and Nike.
Heel drop: 6mm
Heel grip: Silicone
Value for money: 3
This article was first published on July 09, 2014.
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