Friday, November 10, 2017

Under Armour UA Charged Bandit 3 Review: Handles Biz!

Article by Peter Stuart

The Under Armour Charged Bandit 3 weighs in at 8.4 oz/238 g for a men's size 9, 7.6 oz/215 g for a women's size 8. 
They have an 8mm offset according to Under Armour. Running Warehouse measures the shoe at 29mm heel and a 19mm forefoot for a 10 mm offset while Runner's World puts it at 10mm with a heel stack height of about 32mm and forefoot of 22mm. Regardless of which measurement is correct, likely differing in how each treats the sock liner in the measuring mix, for sure we have a lot of cushion stack for the light weight.

First Impressions and Fit
I haven't had great experiences with Under Armour shoes before, so my expectations here weren't high. The Gemini was meh and I found the Velociti pretty much unrunnable. Imagine my surprise when the Bandit 3 sneaked to the front of the line in my running shoe rotation. My first run in them was, surprisingly, one of the more fun runs I've had this year.

I was fine in my normal running shoe size, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people might feel the need to size up. The toe box is a little snug, but it has quite a bit of stretch to it. I didn't have any blisters or irritation up front, but I didn't have a ton of room either.

The upper is made of an engineered knit mesh and features what Under Armour calls a SpeedFit upper. It's seamless and holds the foot really well. There's almost no ankle collar, but fear not, there's almost no heel slippage either. 
There's an external heel counter that helps keep everything in its right place. Foot is held well and the upper looks good. Some knit shoes look a bit like they might have been sewn by a grandmother in a back room, but these are sleek, well finished and very breathable.

While the upper is good, it's not without room for improvement. The ankle collar--as little as there is there--curves into the back of the achilles just a bit. I didn't get any real irritation, but there are times during my runs in the Bandit 3 that I noticed the top of the ankle collar touching the back of my achilles. I think it helps that I run in crew length socks, as a bare ankle might take more abuse.

The tongue on the Bandit 3 is a good thickness and stays in place. It's quite wide though--and if you're not careful it's easy for the outer edges of the tongue to fold over and cause some rubbing on the top of the foot. This would be easily solved by sewing the sides of the tongue in to make it more of a bootie fit or by narrowing the tongue just a hair. This is not a huge problem, but it does take an extra couple of seconds to make sure the tongue is flattened out. The lower 3/4 of the tongue is perforated and helps the shoe stay breathable. The tongue is also angled at the top, which is a nice touch. I'm not sure it does anything, but it's nice.

There are 3 rows of fabric eyelets and one row of more traditional eyelets up top for the lacing, so it might be a bit challenging for some people to dial in the fit. It's not bad, but it doesn't have the precision of something like the flywire lacing from some Nike shoes. I found the fit to be great with almost no playing around, but it would be nice to have just a bit more ability to dial it in.
Under Armour used a revamped version of their Charged Cushioning n the midsole of the Bandit. I don't know what the've done to it, but it sure as hell worked! Charged foam is a compression molded foam and this iteration of it is a rare and enjoyable combination of cushion, firmness, responsiveness and protection.

The Outsole of the Bandit 3 is a combination of a carbon rubber in a circular pattern on the heel of the shoe and blown rubber in a pattern of horizontal lines broken up by flex grooves in the front of the shoe. Road contact is good, traction is solid--though a tiny bit slippery in fresh rain on oily streets-and durability seems to be no issue at all with over 50 miles on them.

The ride is the thing in these. I realize that ride is subjective, and it can be really hard to explain why one shoe works for me and others don't. That said, I'll try to describe these. They're fun. The ride is transparent in the best possible way. I put the Bandit 3 on and instantly forgot about them--I found myself speeding up on my first run because I was having fun and was getting a really nice energy return from the shoe without giving up any comfort or speed. They are a terrific long run shoe and do well at tempo--though they wouldn't be a race shoe for me, they're great at just eating up miles. I don't tend to land on the heel so I can't speak to how well they transition off the heel, but I would guess that the 10mm drop helps them move easily through the gait cycles for most runners. The Bandit 3 is just the right amount of flexible, bending as you contact the ground and then snapping back as you toe off. They're easy to run in. In some ways they remind me of the Nike Pegasus, but are less stiff and have a smoother transition.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The Charged Bandit 3 is a genuine jack of all trades. It's the rare shoe that I want to take out on long runs, fartleks and tempos. It's not quite at the top of my list of shoes for the year, but I think it lands in the top 3. I find myself reaching for it nearly every morning. It is just so well balanced. In terms of daily trainers I think the Bandit 3 is the gold standard. There are a couple of minor tweaks that I think would help the shoe--the tongue, the ankle collar and the slightly narrow toe-box--but none of those things get in the way of the Bandit 3 being a thoroughly enjoyable shoe for all occasions. I think they'll work for any runner and are reasonably priced as well.

Bandit 3 vs. Skechers GOMeb Razor (RTR review)--These are pretty close. I think the Bandit is a tiny bit more forgiving and a little less stiff. For that reason, the Razor feels a little faster, but I'd go long in the Bandit. 
Bandit 3 vs. Nike Pegasus 34 (RTR review)--I'd put the Bandit 3 and the Pegasus in the same category. Great daily trainer that can handle lots of miles and also handle some tempo work. The Nike feels a little stiffer and a little more built up in the arch area. Essentially it feels like the Pegasus is slightly more shoe. It may have a TINY bit more pop at toe off than the Bandit, but I prefer the ride of the Bandit 3. 
Bandit 3 vs. New Balance Zante V3 (RTR review)--The Bandit feels a touch more cushioned in the forefoot and a little smoother overall.
Bandit 3 vs. New Balance Fuel Core Sonic (RTR review)--The Bandit is smoother, more cushioned and a more balanced feeling ride. 
Bandit 3 vs. Saucony Liberty ISO (RTR review)--The Bandit 3 works better with my natural form and the forefoot feels better to me. I prefer the foam in the Bandit.

For Peter's bio see our Reviewers Bio Page here
The  Bandit was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

Nice review. I have tried UA shoes in the past (Gemini, Bandit 2) and the cushioning just didn't do it for me. How is the cushioning different from the Bandit 2 to this Bandit? (I know it might be hard to describe, but I appreciate the help).

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Anonymous,
Thanks for writing. We did not test the Bandit 2. What didn't you like about the Bandit 2 and Gemini cushioning? What other shoes have you run where the cushioning worked for you? Knowing this we might be able to better assist with some other choices.
Sam, Editor
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Anonymous said...

Hey Sam thanks for the reply. The charged cushioning just didn't feel as responsive as other shoes, felt a little firm and a little dead. I have been running in the Skechers GRUR2 and love the bounce in those shoes. Also the Reebok Harmony Road has a nice bounce to them. I am sort of torn between those 2 right now. I am pretty much a shoe nerd and have run in anything from Asics to Zoot, LOL!!!!!!

Again thanks for the reply and keep the reviews coming, love your site.