You don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on fancy basketball shoes that your kid will outgrow in a matter of a few months. Under Armour has come out with a solution
The Drive 4 is a shoe that’s been on most player’s wishlist for the last few years. Now that they make them in junior sizes, the demand is even higher. But what makes these shoes so popular among basketball players of all skill levels and positions? Are they really as comfortable and supportive as Under Armour claims? Let’s find out.
Our Verdict: The Drive 4 may not offer the full Micro G interior cushioning like old models of the past, but it still offers a better than average fit and support for a style of shoes that are notoriously known to be uncomfortable. While the addition of EVA foam in certain portions of the interior is a downside for some, I found that the shoes remain comfortable, supportive, and equipped with impressive traction. I’d recommend these shoes to any player on a budget looking for high-tops that will keep their ankles safe and their feet comfortable.
Read on to find out about the other changes made to this classic design and what type of fit and feel you can expect from these best-selling shoes, when you’re out on the court.
Overview and Features
The first version of the Drive shoes came out about five years ago. The included Micro G cushioning is what made them the best basketball shoes for ankle support. Over the past few years, Under Armour made some changes to the original design, now with the release of the Drive 4, you can expect to find that this new and improved version is bigger and badder.
In the last five years, the manufacturer released the Drive two and three. But one thing that has remained consistent over the course of the Drive line is the type of sole used. The sole is the classic herringbone style, but this manufacturer managed to get it right.
The herringbone sole is deep, thick and designed to last. Regardless if you’re playing on an outdoor or indoor court, you won’t drift or slide. You can always expect to have solid footing on old wood, concrete, or rubber. The soles are thick and hard enough that they can hang in there for at least two years for outdoor play and twice as long if you’re playing on an indoor court. One change you’ll notice in the sole’s design is the waves located under the herringbone. This addition is cut for flex and more cushion placement under the forefoot.
While the original Drive sneakers had a somewhat flimsy feel to them, the Drive 4 is all about fluid movement. The interior is equipped with Micro G cushioning, which is said to be the best type of foam to use for basketball shoes. The foam itself is durable, rides low, is responsive, and incredibly dense. The foam also absorbs impact and can best be described as very stable.
Unfortunately, the forefront of the shoe does not contain Micro G like Drive shoes from the past. The front portion of the shoe is basic EVA, which is why the shoe rides pretty low in this area. A thick layer of Micro G would easily solve this problem and could help with impact protection and improved response. While EVA isn’t exactly bad, it just doesn’t compare to Micro G.
The upper is made out of tightly-woven mesh around the medial midfoot, midfoot, and lateral toe. This material is both stiff and soft without any give. However, the panels flex plenty when you’re playing. This material doesn’t conform well to the foot, so there will be some empty space located around the arch and toe box area, however, when you’re playing you won’t have to worry about any stiffness or discomfort. There are padded panels covered with the same type of neoprene material as the ankle collar, located underneath the weave. These pads are meant to take up some of that empty space that’s caused by material overlays, however, they don’t do a good job of it in the forefront of the shoe. On the medial side, there’s a thin nylon overlay on the toe box, complete with three millimeter piping for a little detail around the midfoot and laces. This version of the Drive doesn’t really offer anything new, however, the combination of the materials used make for one comfortable, supportive shoe.
Considering all of the overlays, padding, and lace holes, these shoes should make your feet totally secure, especially when you’re practicing dribbling. You can definitely feel the straps and laces when you have them laced up tightly, which you’ll need to do in order to feel that the shoes are locked in the forefront correctly. However, if you don’t lace them tightly, then the wide forefoot may have your feet sliding across the footbed.
Since the shoe’s sole offers excellent traction, you won’t have to worry about your feet slipping and sliding when you’re playing on an indoor court. he forefoot lace holes and spacing are a little farther down on the side panels compared to past versions of this shoe.
The spacious fit flows into the shoe’s ankle collar. In order to really prevent the heel slip, you’ll need to ensure the laces are pulled very tightly. For some, this can lead to too much pressure across the front of your ankle. However, for most players, doing so will provide the perfect fit.
Some players may still notice a little empty space located around the forefoot because the overlays are not able to fit and conform to the foot like woven material. However, this issue doesn’t make the shoes unplayable.
These shoes offer top of the line support. While the empty space often leads to instability, the overlays work hard to keep you upright. These midsoles contain a plate that runs from the midfoot to the heel. This design prevents too much flex.
The base of the shoe is pretty wide, while the cushioning feels stable, so you won’t have to worry about heel landings. The steel cut is cut out around the bottom of the show for improved flexibility, however, it still wraps neatly around the heel for better lockdown.
Surprisingly, the real issue with these shoes is the ankle collar, which looks like a standard padded, soft collar but in reality feels more like a stiff, uncomfortable ankle brace. There’s just no give or stretch in this area at all. The collar simply wraps up tight and high, making the shoes feel very restrictive.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Thick outersole
- Mesh uppers
- Affordable price
- Variety of color options
- Micro G interior
- Addition of EVA foam
How it Measures Up to the Competition
If you want a shoe that offers a nice fit and one that’s comparably as comfortable as the Nike Lebron Soldier XI Men’s Basketball Shoes, but for a fraction of the price, then these shoes are a great alternative. They offer plenty of ankle support, which is crucial if you’re dealing with a current or past ankle injury, and they’re equipped with thick, supportive soles that offer top of the line traction for both indoor and outdoor courts. The addition of the EVA foam is somewhat of a letdown, however, compared to other shoes in this price range, these shoes are a steal.
Conclusion and Rating
The Drive 4 is a shoe to be reckoned with. It features a high-top design that most players will appreciate if they’re looking for a shoe that can provide all the ankle support they need and then some. Bottom line, these shoes are a great option for the player on a budget in need of serious ankle support. I gave them a rating of four and a half out of five stars.