If you’re anything like us, getting the right pair of gym shoes for your workout routine is a little more involved than simply picking up whatever Dick’s has in your size. You’re looking for a shoe that lets you lift how you want to lift, or maybe crush HIIT sessions just that little bit harder. But what about rope climbs, sprints, box jumps, and plyometrics?
Under Armour’s pitch for the TriBase Reign 5 is simple: it can do it all. I wore a pair for a month to find out if there’s any truth to it.
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What Is the Under Armour TriBase Reign 5?
Mimicking the brand that makes it, the TriBase Reign gym shoe has grown in popularity slowly over time. The shoe’s fundamental design principle is that your foot—and body—performs better when rooted firmly to the ground.
This first manifests in the flatness of the shoe, which resembles NoBull’s popular trainers. Once you put them on, you feel the midsole as well, which is firm and nearly unbending for solid support during heavy lifting sessions. The upper and base grip are also rigid, making the shoe feel even more secure. From the ground up, the shoe is designed to stabilize.
What’s Good About the Under Armour TriBase Reign?
After a month of stress testing, what took me most surprise about Under Armour’s TriBase Reign 5 was its versatility. Looking at it, I assumed it’d be something of a one-trick pony—good for weightlifting, not good for much else. That’s what you get from a lot of flat-footed gym shoes out there, so that’s what I expected. The reality is the shoe is a solid 7.5/10 at virtually every gym activity.
I started with weightlifting, because that’s what I enjoy the most and what I thought the shoe would be best for. The minimal drop from toe-to-heel combined with the ultra-supportive midsole makes for solid stability during lifts. For reference, I had no wobbling or balance issues squatting 315 pounds or deadlifting significantly more than that. On lighter lifts, the shoes worked about the same. Bulgarian split squats (pictured above), weighted lunges, and RDLs were all stable and secure.
During an athletics-focused session, I tried out their ability to stabilize while moving. Box jumps, sprints, cossack squats, and light cardio came and went without incident (though, because of the firmness of the insole, I wouldn’t jog for very long in them).
This may sound minor in comparison to the shoes strong all-around performance, but it’s not minor to me. My feet get very, very hot when I workout in any way. When I wear my Nike Metcons, my feet are sweating like I’m in a rainforest. When I wore the TriBase Reigns for testing, things were far less swampy. Even my partner noted the lack of dank gym shoe smell coming from them when I got home.
This is largely thanks to what Under Armour calls the WARP upper, which is super airy and light. If your feet run hot, these shoes are worth considering.
Excellent exterior grip
The grip on the base of a shoe doesn’t usually get attention, but it’s fundamental to the shoe’s safety and performance in the gym. At any gym that’s not brand new, there will be equipment that’s aging. This means leg presses with peeling push pads, for example, which can be extremely dangerous if your foot doesn’t remain suction-cupped onto them. This is one of the strengths of the TriBase Reign 5. The grip sticks to gym floors, old push plates, and well-worn deadlifting platforms with ease.
What’s Not Good About the Under Armour TriBase Reign?
Narrow toe box
The narrowed the toe box, the more crammed your toes are. The more crammed your toes are, the less they can spread out. The less they can spread out, the smaller your base is for lifting big weight. The smaller your base is for lifting weight, the less weight you can lift.
Forgive the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie storytelling technique here, but this is the quick-and-dirty on why wider toe boxes are important. Brands have bamboozled us into thinking all performance shoes should be slim and streamlined, but when you plan to lift weights, you need as much ground control as you can get (this is part of the reason folks often deadlift or squat barefoot).
The TriBase Reign 5 sports a relatively narrow toe box. It’s not the most offensive toe box I’ve slipped my foot into, but it’s probably the shoe’s single biggest miss from a performance perspective. Here’s to all training shoes giving room to our toes going forward.
I’ll keep this brief because it’s the only pro or con I’ll address that is more opinion than fact: these shoes look a bit like bricks on your feet. I acknowledge aesthetics should always take a backseat to performance in the performance footwear category, but the flatness of the shoe combined with the shape it cuts just makes for a very boring, Under Armour-looking product (apologies to all 12 of the Steph Curry shoe fans).
Poorly designed tongue
The tongue and laces of this shoe baffle me. The tongue is almost not attached to the upper, for one, which means it easily (and often) folds under itself and creates pressure points on your foot. This usually happens when lightly jogging or doing some kind of walking warmup, so it doesn’t pose a serious issue, but it is frustrating.
Less annoying but still an everpresent threat to piss me off are the shoelaces. For one, the top eyelet is significantly higher up on the foot than most lifting shoes, making the shoe feel quite tight around the ankle. The laces themselves are also too thin, which makes them a flighty risk for coming undone for seemingly no reason. It’s odd to me that an otherwise well-made shoe would drop the ball so hard on the basics, but here we are.
Nike’s Metcon line is the king of the gym shoe, but it’s not for everyone. If you want a more versatile shoe, I’d recommend the TriBase Reign 5 over it. The Metcon is great for weightlifting and some athletics or plyo work, but it’s largely a weightlifting shoe. Both are $130 as well.
NoBull Trainers are the most similar comparison I can think of for the TriBase Reign 5. Both are versatile, flat-footed, and provide unerring stability. They’re also the same price, more or less. I like the grip on the Under Armour shoes more but the tongue and laces are superior on the NoBull. It’s your call.
If you want a more athletics-focused shoe that can also hang around the weight room, get the Nano x2. You can comfortably put a few miles on the treadmill in them, pop off, and go deadlift to your heart’s content. Few shoes have that kind of range.
The Bottom Line
Under Armour’s $130 gym shoe is stability-focused and reasonably versatile in the gym. If you’ve got feet on the flatter side, they’re probably perfect. But the looks and smaller design details—like the tongue and laces—leave something to be desired.