Under Armour are back with another extremely futuristic, space-age looking design and this one also packs an extremely lightweight punch. The UA Spine Blur Carbon III is a boot full of flair and some quite unique angles – yes, I said angles. There are certain things about this boot that will immediately create intrigue and entertain the tastebuds of boot fanatics. It starts when you open the box and see the shiny upper and it continues to when you lace them up for the first time. I reviewed the initial Blur release before skipping the almost exact replica second version. Taking on this 3rd edition was a much more positive experience and I can tell you that there are many positive upgrades. Just from visuals alone these were worth testing.
For testing, I had to move up to a size 9.5US, so immediately you can tell there is something different about them. For those interested in picking up a pair, they can be currently found at soccer.com.
You can still find select pairs of these boots available at soccer.com.
Everything from the box to the colorway makes them look extremely futuristic. I do like the box and appreciate the extras that UA add in, as seen in the image below. The boot itself has off center lacing on a tongue that is only open on one side, while the ankle has been completely trimmed down. I’m interested in seeing how this fits and if it is actually comfortable.
Out of the box, there is a definite stiff feel about the soleplate and if you don’t have quality time available to really ease these boots in you might encounter some problems. It is the area right between the wishbone and forefoot bend that seems to hold an extra firm feel. It took a few wears before it really loosened up and produced the flexibility needed. The upper is decently soft, although it definitely has the feel of a synthetic. If you don’t have any problems with the actual size (see “how do they fit”), then they shouldn’t create any issues. I found they were slightly tight on the outside of the boot and my toes were definitely tight to the upper. It wasn’t quite plain sailing and it did take some time to get them going, but after all is said and done, the end result is a comfortable boot.
I’m trying to avoid using words like futuristic and space age on this one, but when you look at the boots it is hard to avoid. The one other description I can think of is Christmas wrapping paper! There is a definite reflective pattern that runs through the red upper and the end result is an extremely metallic finish. The tongue design also gives them a non-traditional appearance. There are no seems along the inner portion of the lacing, which is very unusual to look at. From certain angles, you get the impression that it is actually a one piece upper. One other aspect that is immediately apparent is the lack of material around the ankle. Initially, I was concerned that this angled design was going to create comfort issues but thankfully it leads to a comfortable, tight feel around the ankle.
On the lateral side of the boot, you will notice UA has added a Carbon Fiber wing – it is the black area. This is truly a unique addition to the market and I’ve never even contemplated adding to a boot. In a sense, it serves the same type of purpose as we saw with FlyWire on the Superfly – SUPPORT. The addition of FlyWire on a soccer boot never seemed right to me and I am glad it has been retired to the boot technology archives. But a Carbon Fiber wing has a different type of functionality, especially since it comes as part of the soleplate. It makes sense to have additional support from the foot-bed, where your weight is being dispersed.
Lets start with the soleplate, which is one area where UA has really focused on changing. The initial Blur series offered longer, more random and seemingly sporadically positioned studs. This time around, you get a more standardized set of conical studs with several blades added in specific areas. One thing to note is that they are thinner and have a lower profile. They are intended to penetrate the surface faster while keeping you stable, allowing for quicker acceleration from all types of twists and turns. In play, you can definitely feel a difference in how they break the surface and in a positive way. It is almost like they remove any feeling of drag and as much as they can improve your acceleration, they do. It might have a lot to do with the mental side of things, but if it helps in terms of confidence it is a winner.
Then there is the microfiber upper that UA employ. It is extremely thin and plays a role in the boots lightweight make-up, coming in at 6.3oz. Even so, it still has a more compact feel than you would expect. The final product is extremely smooth, which actually proved to be a negative in wet conditions. There is nothing to aid in control and in a sense it is like running the ball along a wet piece of plastic. On the positive side, you have a lightweight boot that feels nice to strike shots and is going to provide an extra durable life span. I have no doubt that these are one of the best boots in terms of durability for their weight range. I did notice some scuffing but it comes off pretty easily with a wet rag. And the soleplate to upper is cemented in place with no separation in any area right through testing.
Checking Out the Lacing System
Under Armour has gone with a design that I haven’t seen before. On the inner side of the lacing system, they have cut out the lacing panels. So, rather than having punched out holes where the laces slip easily through, you get a much tighter set of panels that hold the laces in place. Immediately, you might be asking will they tear or split? I have testing them to the max by pulling and seriously trying to tear them – and they passed all the tests, with absolutely no inclination they were set to give. Positives all round thus far, until…….you try to tighten them. Because each lace panel is so tight, it makes it tough to tighten the boots as you need them to. And when you try to loosen them, it is equally as difficult. It actually makes you feel like you have working boot laces in your boots, I’m sure you get my drift on that one. Added to that, when you spend a few minutes lacing up to the standard requirements, the inner portion of the tongue tends to rub against the inside of the boot resulting in a squeaking sound. This doesn’t effect performance and there is no comfort issues that result, but it is annoying to have what sounds like a mouse in your boots as you sprint. The solution for this one is some Vaseline and that does the trick. But should it really come to that?
How do they Fit?
It seems to be a continuing trend for the Blur range, these fit a half size tight. You are going to need to go up in order to get the right fit. I normally wear a 9US but needed a 9.5US on this one. Also, they are anatomically tight through the forefoot and they are not an option for wide fitting players.
The Blur Series
This is without a doubt the best looking Blur we have seen so far. I personally found that previous versions looked overly futuristic and more like mechanical boots than soccer boots. There is no doubting that new latest version also took on a similar theme, but Under Armour manage to keep things within the borders and the final product is something that is pitch ready.
I feel like I have been extra critical in this review, yet I feel like Under Armour are getting so close to creating an absolute winner. There are so many positives to this release and you have to praise UA for their attempts to reinvent certain aspects of the boot. This is the “almost” release, the boot that continues to pave the way for Under Armour to make a real dent in the market.
“…this doesn’t change the direction of your game, it changes the direction of THE game.”
Under Armour Soccer
For me, the real negative talking point is the lacing system. I am all for the off-center design and the visual appearance looks decent. But as a player, you need to have full control on how you lace your boots up – something you don’t get with these. Other than that, you have the initial stiffness in the soleplate, I can get by that without complaining too much especially if you expect it before going into testing. I guess the final thing is the Christmas wrapping paper style aesthetics, they do have a pretty funky appearance!
You can still find select pairs of these boots available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A solid effort from Under Armour that takes on a futuristic design, plenty of revolutionary updates and a high level of game changing performance.
Category: Lightweight and designed for players who want a boot designed for fast change of direction.
Weight: 6.3oz, which is much improved from the 8.6oz Blur II.
Would I Buy Them: Out of interest, I probably would. Having tested them, I wouldn’t invest in an additional pair but the time spent with these gave strong indications that UA are on the right path.
Player Position: Of course, they are another obvious option for wingers and pacey attacking players. Because of the slick nature of the upper, I don’t see them as a boot that will suit the center mid general or his compatriots in the center of defense.