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Kit review: Hoka One One trainers

Written by Fiona

April 23 2014

There’s a brand of trainers that I am most often asked about: The Hokas. In fact, with the Hoka-sponsored Highland Fling due to take place this Saturday, it seems like a good time to offer a review.

So what are Hoka One One running shoes? No doubt, if you do any kind of running, you will have seen people sporting trainers that look like they would have been fashionable in the 1970s (or the 1990s on the Spice Girls if you are as young as my reviewer!).

New Hoka Conquest Tarmac footwear

New Hoka Conquest Tarmac footwear

The typical Hoka trainer has a platform-style sole and looks kind of cartoony over-sized.

A general summing up of these unique-looking shoes is: Over-sized yet lightweight with a minimal forefoot drop (usually around 5mm) and maximum cushioning (from 1.5 x to 2.5 x the volume of a normal running shoe). The result is a range of shoes that make it easier and more comfortable to run longer distances on a more regular basis.

What Hoka say about their trainers in more detail is this:

Rolling motion: The shoes are designed to deliver superior underfoot performance. The sole features a 50 per cent rockering profile to provide a smooth, energy efficient stride transition from the heel strike through to the forefoot push off. The progressive motion will “propel you forward with each and every strike of the foot”.

Oversized: Using up to 2.5 x the volume of EVA in the midsole compared to standard running shoes, Hoka One One trainers offer outstanding impact absorption and a highly comfortable underfoot feel. This oversized approach works on smooth road surfaces and uneven trails.

Control: Hoka One One running shoes have a patented “bucket seat” design. This is recessed between 20 to 30mm into the midsole so that the heel is firmly supported.

Stability: Hoka One One shoes also have a 35 per cent wider platform that adds to underfoot stability.

Engineered uppers:  The tops of the Hoka trainers are flexible with reinforced sidewalls, precision fit and close lacing systems to enhance the feeling of stability and support.

Grip: All Hoka One One shoes are designed to synchronise with the terrain on which you are running. That is why they feature a wide variety of tactile lug constructions with a selection of depth profiles best suited to the terrain in question. The midsole is also designed to grip and provide constant contact with the ground.

Lightweight: Hoka One One running shoes are engineered with weight in mind and can match many other lightweight shoes gram for gram.

Scots ultra running queen Debbie Martin Consani is a big fan of Hokas. See her review here.

On test: Hoka One One Rapa Nui trainers

Hoka One One Rapa Nui

Hoka One One Rapa Nui

I asked ultra runner Emma Hamilton of Glasgow for her views on the Hoka One One Rapa Nui trainers. She had been longing to try a pair and she is far better placed than me (my longest runs these days are round 13 miles and interspersed with Munro bagging, swimming and cycling) to test the Hokas. Emma will be taking part in the Highland Fling this weekend.

Emma says:  “The Hokas are great although I have taken a bit of flak over the look of them!

“When I brought them home my flat mate was like, ‘Look at your huge shoes! They are like the Spice Girl platform trainers from the 90s’. She is totally right. This is actually one of the most flattering of the comments that I have received from non-Hoka wearers. But I don’t care because they are really great to wear.

“First of all,  I love the lacing system, which is a kind of system similar in my snowboarding boots. Once secured the laces stay tied and taut, which is brilliant.

“I was worried about trying Hokas because I am clumsy enough without adding another inch of sole but actually this wasn’t an issue in the slightest. They just feel so comfortable and easy to wear.

“I ran in them on a mixed terrain, road, trail and boggy route. They are not waterproof at all, but the bog water wicked away really quickly and I never felt that my feet were sploshing about.

“In general, the grip was good, and the cushioning was superb. The route included a lot of hard downhill track running and actually my feet did not suffer even half as much as they would in my usual trainers.

“I had heard so much from ultra running friends about the brilliance of Hokas and now I am a convert, too.”

New out in March were the Hoka One One Conquest Tarmac, Bondi 3 and Kailua Trail.

See Hoka One One

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