Nothing can ruin your feet faster than an ill-fitting, unsupportive pair of shoes. If you’re on your feet a lot, a good quality set is even more important.
I’ve had my fair share of bad shoes. We rely on our feet to take us everywhere, so why do we settle for uncomfortable shoes?
You’ve probably noticed that Hoka shoes have become wildly popular, seemingly overnight, worn everywhere and by everyone.
If you’re a runner who has been dealing with chronic injuries and struggling to find a shoe that feels comfortable, and you enjoy a more cushioned landing, Hoka shoes might be worth a try.
Hokas are often lauded as the most comfortable shoes ever made, and can even be the solution to runners’ annoying aches and injuries, thanks in large part to their exceptionally cushioned, lightweight foam soles.
Here are the best HOKA running shoes for every type of run:
What It’s Best For
Best for Everyday Training
HOKA Clifton 9
Best for Cushioning
HOKA Bondi 8
Best for Distance
HOKA Mach 5
Best for Road Racing
HOKA Rocket X 2
Best for Trails
HOKA Speedgoat 5
Best for Stability
HOKA Arahi 6
Best for Speedwork
HOKA Mach X
Best for Commuting
HOKA One One (henceforth called ‘HOKA’) manufactures and distributes high-quality and high-performance footwear for anybody, from professional athletes to everyday people trying to get the most out of their footwear.
HOKA sponsors several athletes, including professional runners Stephanie Bruce, Thibaut Garrivier, and Scott Fauble.
The brand has a sizable 1.4M social community and has been covered by the likes of CNBC, PR Newswire, AP News, Outside Business Journal, Triathlete, and NBC News, among several other media outlets.
Before you get ready to buy, check out this HOKA shoes Review. Ahead, I’ll take you through the latest on the brand’s best-sellers, customer reviews, FAQs, and more to help you decide if they’re worth your time and money.
What Do Experts Think?
I love the fact that I can supplement this HOKA shoes review with expert advice. Select styles of Hoka shoes bear the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance.
HOKA’s website features an impressive number of testimonials from healthcare workers across various practices that praise the brand’s shoes for their high-quality design and benefits.
Tim Dutra, DPM, MS, MHCA, and Assistant Professor/Clinical Investigator, claims that “HOKA offers a variety of shoes with a wide range of cushioning and support and width options, and HOKA shoes are a favorite of runners, walkers, and hikers.”
Robert Fridman, DPM, FACFAS, is also a fan of the brand:
“I am always faced with the task of helping my patients get through their exercise goals and activities of daily living… I feel very comfortable recommending their range of supportive and cushioned shoes for patients of a variety of activity levels and foot types…”
Some doctors even claim that the shoes have changed their own lives, such as Stephen Barnett, M.D., Fellow, American College of Surgeons:
“As a surgeon, I am constantly on my feet, standing and walking. I find that the HOKA Bondi provides excellent support and stability. Accordingly, I have happily recommended them to friends and colleagues.”
HOKA Reviews: What Do Customers Think?
No HOKA shoes review would be complete without taking a look at what customers had to say about their experiences with the brand’s products.
I’ve looked at the tech and I’ve seen that they’re doctor-approved, but how do they shape up in the real world?
I’ll take a look at the brand’s website first, and follow it up with some external takes from the likes of TrustPilot and SiteJabber. Let’s dive right in.
To no one’s surprise, individual product reviews on hoka.com are absolutely glowing. For example, the men’s HOKA Clifton 8 boasts a very impressive score of 4.5/5 stars out of 332 ratings. Many of the happy comments sound a little bit like this:
“The shoes themselves are great. True to size, although they do seem a tad narrow for a “wide” size… Definitely a shoe for a neutral arch. The shoes themselves feel like good construction so far, and they do seem to have a good amount of shock absorption and rebound.. Would definitely recommend!”
During my research for this HOKA shoes review, I found that other products are also well-received on their website.
It’s all looking great so far. Across the board, each of the brand’s shoes is a hit. But I wondered: how does HOKA fare on external review sites?
On a positive note, there are quite a few comments to the tune of, “Ordered a pair of Challenger Low Gore-Tex (£130) on Monday evening and received them Wednesday morning (DPD). The shoes are exactly as I expected, having bought the same ones (at a higher price!) two years ago from a shop in Manchester” on Trustpilot.
Moving forward, I was initially disappointed to see a lower rating of 1.7/5 stars out of 39 reviews on SiteJabber.
After some investigating, it appears that there are quite a few third-party vendors masquerading as the brand and sending wrong/poor-quality items or nothing at all!
No wonder there are so many people who have complaints about their supposed “HOKA tennis shoes.”
It’s important for me to stress in this HOKA shoes review that you should always make sure you’re buying through an official channel, like the brand’s website or Amazon.
People who ordered through the official store were much more likely to say things like, “I got exactly what I ordered 2 days after I ordered them! Very happy with my beautiful red and white shoes!” Now that’s more like it.
All in all, as long as you know what you’re ordering from their legitimate website and don’t need to bother with returns or exchanges, it seems to me that HOKA shoes are an utter hit.
Profly foam balances shock absorption and energy return for a plush feel on landing and a snappier response at toe-off.
Studies About Running Shoes
Recent research on running shoes has found several interesting and important findings. Here are a few examples:
- Running shoe heel height can have a significant impact on biomechanics and injury risk. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in 2021 found that higher heel heights can increase the risk of injuries, such as Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis, while lower heel heights can reduce the risk of injuries.
- The mass of running shoes can affect running economy. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2021 found that lighter shoes were associated with improved running economy, meaning that runners used less energy to run at a given speed.
- Maximalist running shoes, which have thick and cushioned soles, can improve running economy and biomechanics. A study published in 2021 found that maximalist shoes improved running economy and reduced impact forces compared to traditional running shoes.
- The comfort of running shoes may not always be a reliable indicator of their effectiveness. A study published in 2021 found that runners who rated their shoes as more comfortable did not necessarily have better running economy or lower injury risk compared to runners who rated their shoes as less comfortable.
Hoka Shoes Pros and Cons
Before you lace up and start running through this HOKA shoes review, take a second to look over some pros and cons of the brand:
- Excellent cushioning: Hoka shoes are known for their thick and plush midsoles, which provide excellent shock absorption and can help reduce impact forces during running.
- Lightweight: Despite their thick midsoles, many Hoka shoes are surprisingly lightweight, which can make them feel more comfortable and natural to run in.
- Versatile: Hoka shoes are available in a variety of styles and designs, including road shoes, trail shoes, and racing flats, so runners can find a shoe that suits their needs and preferences.
- Good for long distances: The cushioning and support of Hoka shoes can make them a good option for runners who are training for long-distance events, such as marathons or ultra-marathons.
- May not be suitable for all runners: Some runners may find the thick midsoles of Hoka shoes to be too bulky or heavy for their liking, which can affect their running form and performance.
- Expensive: Hoka shoes tend to be on the pricier side compared to other running shoe brands, which can be a drawback for runners on a budget.
- Limited ground feel: The thick cushioning of Hoka shoes can reduce the amount of ground feel that runners experience, which some runners may find less enjoyable or less natural.
- May take some getting used to: Due to their unique design, Hoka shoes may take some time for runners to adjust to and find the right fit and feel.
Hoka is a popular brand of running shoes that is known for their distinctive design and technology. Here are some key features of their shoes:
- Maximum cushioning: Hoka shoes are designed with thick and plush midsoles that provide excellent shock absorption and cushioning. This can help reduce impact forces during running and provide a more comfortable and enjoyable running experience.
- Meta-Rocker technology: Hoka shoes feature a unique rocking motion in the midsole called the Meta-Rocker, which is designed to provide a smooth and efficient ride. The Meta-Rocker encourages a natural and efficient gait cycle and can help reduce fatigue during long runs.
- Lightweight construction: Despite their thick midsoles, many Hoka shoes are surprisingly lightweight. This can make them feel more comfortable and natural to run in, and can help reduce the overall weight of the shoe.
- Versatile design: Hoka shoes are available in a variety of styles and designs, including road shoes, trail shoes, and racing flats. This makes them a versatile option for runners who want a shoe that can handle different types of terrain and distances.
- Wide base: Hoka shoes often have a wider base than other running shoe brands, which can provide a more stable and secure platform for the foot. This can help prevent ankle and foot injuries and provide better overall support.
- Upper construction: Hoka shoes often have breathable and flexible uppers that provide a snug and comfortable fit. Many Hoka shoes also have padded tongues and collars for added comfort and support.
Overall, Hoka shoes are designed to provide a unique and comfortable running experience with their thick cushioning, Meta-Rocker technology, and versatile design.
Hoka shoes are made with a variety of materials, each chosen for its specific properties and intended to enhance the shoe’s overall performance. Here are some of the materials commonly used in their shoes:
- Midsole foam: Hoka shoes are known for their thick midsole foam, which provides cushioning and shock absorption. Hoka uses a proprietary foam called EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) that is lightweight, durable, and provides a responsive ride.
- Upper materials: Hoka shoes use a variety of materials for the upper, including mesh, synthetic fabrics, and leather. These materials are chosen for their breathability, flexibility, and durability.
- Outsole materials: The outsole of Hoka shoes is typically made from rubber or a rubber-like material that provides traction and durability. Some Hoka shoes feature specialized outsoles designed for specific types of terrain, such as trail running or road running.
- TPU overlays: Hoka shoes often feature thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlays on the upper, which provide support and structure to the shoe. These overlays can help prevent the foot from rolling inward (pronation) or outward (supination) and can improve the overall fit and feel of the shoe.
- Meta-Rocker geometry: Hoka shoes use a unique midsole design called the Meta-Rocker, which features a rounded heel and toe shape that promotes a natural gait cycle. This design helps the foot roll smoothly from heel to toe and can reduce stress on the joints and muscles.
Overall, Hoka shoes are made with high-quality materials that are chosen for their specific properties and intended to enhance the shoe’s overall performance.
The thick midsole foam, Meta-Rocker geometry, and supportive overlays are just a few of the features that make Hoka shoes a popular choice among runners.
How We Tested
We tested these Hoka shoes on runs, hikes, and walks. We ran hundreds of miles on trails, gravel roads, and paved surfaces. And we hiked on trails of varying terrain and steepness and walked through airports, restaurants, and neighborhoods with dogs. We tested shoes for comfort, fit, durability, traction, and overall performance.
What to Look for in Hoka Shoes
Fit and Comfort
One of our favorite things about Hoka shoes is many often come in wide and extra-wide versions. Meaning it’s a more inclusive shoe brand with options for a wider range of foot types. And one of Hoka’s best selling points is the comfort the shoes provide. Maximum cushioning and softness give an incredibly comfortable wear.