Hoka One One

Not for everyone, but worth a try if you want something more forgiving

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
£120
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Flying in the face of the minimalist trend, Hoka’s new, ultra-cushioned shoe was designed to feel like running on air, and has already attracted a following among ultra-distance trail runners. Nik Cook finds out how it’s done…

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I must admit to being more than a little apprehensive about trying out the Hokas. Most of my running is on technical trails where stability, responsiveness and grip are paramount and my leaning is definitely towards the minimalist camp. I just couldn’t see how these hovercraft shoes could work for me.  

Biting the bullet I headed out first in the £120, trail-specific Hoka Rapa Nui Comp. I expected to feel as though I was teetering on high heels but your foot really does sit in the sole and they felt reassuringly normal. Despite the large amounts of cushioning, the heel-to-toe drop is a fairly minimal 5mm and you’re able to maintain a mid-foot strike. 

Grip is good on all surfaces except deep mud, but they really come into their own descending on hard and rocky trails. I thought back to a 60km race I’d done in the French Alps where the final 21km dropped 3,000m on hard pack and my feet had taken a real battering, I would have sold my soul for these Hokas then. All-round off-road performance is impressive and, especially for long days on bruising hard trails, I’m surprised to admit they’ll be going into my racing armoury.

If the Rapa Nui Comps intimidated me then the £140 Stinson Tarmacs were another level of ‘maximalism’, and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Spice Girls’ video. Again though, once on, your feet really do sit within the soles. The 6mm drop accommodated my mid-foot strike and, although I didn’t notice the benefit of the heel-to-toe rocker, they’d certainly suit a broad spectrum of foot-strikers and don’t require any adaptation period.  

There’s no sense of squish or energy loss running in them and, amazingly, you don’t feel too detached from the road. But 373g for a UK 10.5 is fairly weighty, so they’re definitely more suited to grinding out the miles. For sprint and Olympic racing, Hoka recommend the less beefy Bondi and Kailua shoes but the Stinsons could definitely find long-course converts, especially at the heavier and slower end of the age-group spectrum. With tired legs off the bike, they do feel good to run in and are very forgiving when your running form breaks down due to fatigue.

Both pairs of shoes are at the pricier end of the market, but construction quality is excellent and durability should be good. They certainly won’t be for everyone but if you struggle with running injuries, develop sore feet when racing long-course, are looking for some high-mileage training shoes or want something more forgiving for recovery runs, they’re worth a try. 

Verdict: Surprisingly good and, although not for all triathletes, you’ll start seeing a few pairs of these on the 26.2 miles at the end of a long-course day.

Flying in the face of the minimalist trend, Hoka’s new, ultra-cushioned shoe was designed to feel like running on air. Having already attracted a following among ultra-distance trail runners, Nikalas Cook finds out how it’s done…

I must admit to being more than a little apprehensive about trying out the Hokas. Most of my running is on technical trails where stability, responsiveness and grip are paramount and my leaning is definitely towards the minimalist camp. I just couldn’t see how these hovercraft shoes could work for me.  

Biting the bullet I headed out first in the £120, trail-specific Hoka Rapa Nui Comp. I expected to feel as though I was teetering on high heels but your foot really does sit in the sole and they felt reassuringly normal. Despite the large amounts of cushioning, the heel-to-toe drop is a fairly minimal 5mm and you’re able to maintain a mid-foot strike. 

Grip is good on all surfaces except deep mud, but they really come into their own descending on hard and rocky trails. I thought back to a 60km race I’d done in the French Alps where the final 21km dropped 3,000m on hard pack and my feet had taken a real battering, I would have sold my soul for these Hokas then. All-round off-road performance is impressive and, especially for long days on bruising hard trails, I’m surprised to admit they’ll be going into my racing armoury.  

If the Rapa Nui Comps intimidated me then the £140 Stinson Tarmacs were another level of ‘maximalism’, and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Spice Girls’ video. Again though, once on, your feet really do sit within the soles. The 6mm drop accommodated my mid-foot strike and, although I didn’t notice the benefit of the heel-to-toe rocker, they’d certainly suit a broad spectrum of foot-strikers and don’t require any adaptation period.  

There’s no sense of squish or energy loss running in them and, amazingly, you don’t feel too detached from the road. But 373g for a UK 10.5 is fairly weighty, so they’re definitely more suited to grinding out the miles. For sprint and Olympic racing, Hoka recommend the less beefy Bondi and Kailua shoes but the Stinsons could definitely find long-course converts, especially at the heavier and slower end of the age-group spectrum. With tired legs off the bike, they do feel good to run in and are very forgiving when your running form breaks down due to fatigue.

Both pairs of shoes are at the pricier end of the market, but construction quality is excellent and durability should be good. They certainly won’t be for everyone but if you struggle with running injuries, develop sore feet when racing long-course, are looking for some high-mileage training shoes or want something more forgiving for recovery runs, they’re worth a try. 

Verdict: Surprisingly good and, although not for all triathletes, you’ll start seeing a few pairs of these on the 26.2 miles at the end of a long-course day.

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Contact : www.hokaoneone.eu