About a week ago now, Under Armour flew myself, as well as a load of other media and influencers out to Baltimore, MD to launch their new brand directive #TheOnlyWayIsThrough. During our time there, we stayed at the Four Seasons and were wined and dined at some of the nicest restaurants Baltimore had to offer – all on Under Armour’s dime. That means writing a review for a shoe they just launched is hard to do without sounding like too much of a shill, but I’ll do my best.
Past the booze and food, Under Armour unveiled to us a bunch of their upcoming technologies, spoke more about current ones, and sent us home with a literal suitcase full of gear. One of the pieces in this suitcase was a brand new shiny pair of TriBase Reign 2’s, which over the duration of the trip, became my go-to pair of shoes. Yeah, they’re training shoes, but I felt just as comfortable walking around all day in them as I did using them to workout in. A true testament to the changes that Under Armour made compared to the original Reign’s. (tl;dr?)
It’s hard to even tell that the Reign 2’s are a descendant of the originals because of how much the materials have changed over. Typically with manufacturers, we see a two year life cycle on a model before they completely revamp it; but in this case they changed up almost everything on the shoe. There are some materials that carried over from the previous model, but you’d be hard pressed to tell just by looking at the shoe.
The biggest departure from the originals is the upper material – The original Reign’s used the Speedform upper, which was great for certain foot shapes but was a little rigid when it came to overall flexibility. The new upper is a “stretchy” knit material with TPU film for durability in high wear areas and a bootie to give you a more customized feel. The new upper now completely conforms to your feet without any kind of weird creases anywhere when you move and inside the shoe there’s a nice amount of cushioned lining which makes the shoe a lot more livable day in and out. (Think Nano 8)
While it looks a little different, the Micro-G midsole compound makes it’s way back over to the Reign 2’s. Not surprising as it’s their most dense, responsive and shock absorbing materials – as the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, I would have loved to see them use the HOVR midsole in combination with the compression web like they used on the Project Rock 2’s. Thankfully, they also still kept the 2mm drop, making these one of the best options for a more minimal training shoe.
The platform of the Reign 2’s still rides on the TriBase designed coined on the original shoe. In the new model, the sidewalls had been reduced to increase overall flexibility of the shoe without detracting from it’s durability. A welcome change because I thought just visually, the sidewalls from before were a bit too high. The TriBase itself acts basically like a tripod for your foot, with more stability at points of the triangle without detracting from flexibility throughout the shoe. In this iteration, the TriBase a a little bit larger, covering more of the underside of the shoe and even rising up to the lateral sidewall.
In the new iteration, the heel counter has been supersized and covers up a large portion of the back of the shoe. Cushioning has also been beefed up at the back, inside of the shoe to mitigate heel slip. The Reign 2’s are improved in that area but I still find there is some mainly while doing burpees, but isn’t an issue with anything else I’ve done.
The biggest complaint that I heard about the original TriBase Reigns was that they were too narrow, and for those of you hoping for a wide shoe, I hate to break it to you but the Reign 2’s are not the ones. They are however, a little bit wider and the new upper is much improved so they feel much better on your feet than the last models.
Despite being on a new last, the Reign 2’s fit pretty similarly to the last model. They are a little bit longer compared to other trainers, but I wouldn’t recommend sizing down because you’ll probably run into width issues; also, beware if you planned on sizing up for width because of that extra length. Thankfully, unlike the original Reigns, the sidewalls on the 2’s don’t press into the sides of your foot. That alone should accommodate people that had width issues with the original models.
Another nice change to the fit of the shoe is that the insole is removable. It’s still glued in, so you’ll have to rip it out, but at least it’s not sewn in anymore. This should allow for custom orthotics if that’s your thing but I personally find the in-shoe feel to be leagues better than before because of the new Ortholite sockliner.
The lacing system on the Reign 2’s is far superior to the last model as well. Lacing the original shoes up was a pain in the ass because of how hard it was to adjust the top eyelets but on the new model, the tops are loops. Getting a secure fit is much easier to do on the newer model, but the laces are the same crappy laces. Expect to tie them at least once a workout if you don’t double knot them.
To be completely honest, I didn’t think original Reigns were all that terrible for flexibility; I also realize I might be the only one that thinks that. For me personally, the Speedform upper fit fine and I never really took too much issue to the sidewalls since I don’t have narrow feet. Even still, the Reign 2’s are on another level compared to the originals when it comes to flexibility.
The new upper really makes all the difference here, while the old upper wasn’t terrible, the Reign 2’s conform to your feet much better. There’s a much more sock-like feel in comparison with cushioning throughout the upper and not just under foot. You’ll notice this the most at the metatarsal area of the shoe. And since the higher sidewalls are gone, there is more torsional flex throughout making the shoe feel a little more natural when you take a step.
Keep in mind that there is definitely a good amount of break-in time for these shoes to feel more natural. Give them about 3-4 days of consistent wear and they should be good to go. If you only wear them to the gym, expect that time frame to be much longer. After breaking them in, I’m perfectly fine wearing these to and from the gym, to coach, and to workout in. Comfort wise, they’re not slippers, but they’re good enough to wear daily without wrecking your feet.
I’m still not the biggest fan of running in the Reign’s but it’s doable and for any runs I’m doing at the box, they’re fine. I do prefer the minimal drop as I think it’s a little easier on my back than higher ones, but the outsole design is clunky, especially where I touch down. I find that making myself heel strike is the best way to run in the Reign 2’s – transition is smoother and the Tribase feels like it’s working with your stride to propel you forward like a midfoot shank. To each their own though, because I heard James Newbury loves to run in these.
The toebox is extremely flexible, like almost too flexible; I felt the same way with the originals. Either the toespring angle is too aggressive or the break in the outsole is too deep (or both), but you’ll definitely notice that you can get toes-y pretty easily in these shoes. For things like burpees and double unders, its absolutely fantastic; but for lifting, it can get a little hairy. Thankfully the flat drop makes it easy to correct this or my review of this shoe would be completely different.
Last year, I lauded the original Reigns for being one of the most stable training shoes around. Though the changes to the overall livability of the Reign 2’s make them a little less rigid, those changes are for the best and my thoughts about the shoe haven’t changed much in the liftability of these shoes. (Yes, I made up a word.)
Still riding on the Micro-G midsole means you’re getting the most responsive material Under Armour has to offer. Power delivery is direct and you’ll never feel bogged down by too much cushioning. The Reign 2’s sit lower to the ground by design – Under Armour wanted to give people a shoe that was just as capable as the others, but that does it in a different way. It’s 2mm drop is one of my favorite features because I can really get a good feel for the ground with the Reigns. Also keep in mind that my ankle mobility is very good, so sometimes I find taller drops to be detrimental to me. Heel-toe offset can be a very subjective thing.
Underneath the shoe, the next generation TriBase has been extended to further match up with the points of your foot that make the most contact with the ground: the heel and outside metatarsals. On the lateral side of the shoe, the TriBase also rises up to support your foot as well. Basically, the way its supposed to work is that each point of the triangle acts like a tripod for your foot giving you support in each area. The triangle design aids in torsional flex for your foot, giving you more control and a grounded feel.
Tech talk is one thing, but when put into actual use, the Reign 2’s platform is one of my favorites because of the amount of ground feel you get from them. You never get the feeling of being disconnected from the ground, which makes lifting in them a joy. The shoe is very neutral from the metatarsals to the heel of the shoe and heel support is much better than before thanks to the extended TPU counter. The toebox sits a little higher off the ground than I’d like because of the aggressive toespring angle, but you can pull it down easily with your toes to grab the floor if you need to because of the added control the TriBase gives you.
During my time testing the Reign 2’s, I haven’t shied away from any lift that I would typically run to my Nano 9’s to do. From powerlifting to Olympic weightlifting movements, the Reign 2’s are top tier, but they’re also great for plyometrics, kettlebells/wall-balls, and unilateral movements. They’re stable without feeling overbearing on your feet, which is a refreshing take on training shoes.
Even though the Reign 2’s cost $120, which is slightly less than the staple Metcon’s or Nano’s, I’d still consider them all to be at the same price point. There are a few things to consider when picking between the three, but the most important one is foot anatomy. If you have Morton’s toe and a normal/narrow shaped foot with normal/skinny ankles, the Reign 2’s are the best bet for you. Not trying to discourage wide footed people from being able to use the Reign’s, try them out anyways, they might just fit you because of the much reduced side walls (ask John Glaude a.k.a. Obese to Beast).
With the Reign 2’s, Under Armour put together a highly competent training shoe that can accomplish any workout that the current top tier trainers can, but in a different way. They don’t feel (or look) anything like Nano’s or Metcon’s, and that’s a good thing. Being able to see the end goal from a different perspective is great, but achieving that goal is the most important thing and I think they managed to do that as well. That being said, the Reign 2’s won’t be for everyone, as no shoe is, but at least it’s a lot less polarizing than the first shoe was and I think the majority of people that give it a shot will end up liking it.
Options are great and in the training sphere where we’re generally pretty limited, it’s nice to see another one I can recommend.