7 Best Hoka Running Shoes in 2024

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Hoka Running Shoes in 2024
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If you want a pair of shoes with bottomless cushioning, Hoka is the right direction to take. With its highly popular Clifton and Bondi series, this is one of the go-to brands for extra cozy daily trainers and recovery-day shoes.

We are aware that the brand keeps evolving and introducing a wide range of speed-oriented shoes too. More than a few carbon-plated race shoes have been released by Hoka! (Look for shoes with an "X" in their name). With dozens of various Hoka running shoes on the market, how do you find the perfect match? This is where we enter.

At RunRepeat, we are constantly on the lookout for fresh Hoka releases. We put every new shoe through the wringer in our lab to come up with top picks in various categories.

How we test running shoes

First and foremost, we buy all Hoka running shoes with our own money to stay unbiased. That way, we can remain in control of our testing process and be transparent in our verdicts.

Our testing method involves multiple steps:

  • We run in these Hoka shoes for at least 30 miles to get a good feeling of them. We vary our runs by getting the miles on the road, trail, treadmill, and others. 
  • We measure every imaginable characteristic, such as cushioning softness, flexibility, breathability, and toebox space, among 30 other parameters.
  • We slice each shoe into pieces to take an even deeper look at its design peculiarities.

Best Hoka running shoes overall

Hoka Clifton 9
86
Great!

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Clifton 9 is definitely a stand-out workhorse due to its top-notch versatility, luxurious comfort, and solid landings. While our feet definitely loved wearing these shoes on our runs, the lab numbers sealed the deal and led us to award the Hoka Clifton 9 as the best overall running shoe in the Hoka lineup. 

Its versatility is unparalleled in the Hoka running stable. The shoe has enough responsiveness that makes it capable to do easy days, recovery runs, and some speedwork. Its 6.1 mm heel-to-toe drop combined with a medium stack height make it a versatile daily trainer that can take on different paces. 

True to Hoka fashion, the Clifton 9 has a prominent slab of soft midsole foam that provided 5-star comfort during our runs. Its midsole foam's remarkable softness delivers a luxurious running experience. At the lab, data corroborate that the midsole is 18% softer than the average of road running shoes. Measuring the stack at 32.7 mm at the heel and 26.6 mm at the forefoot, it has adequate cushioning that's perfect for absorbing any unnecessary strain on our legs.

Despite lacking traditional stability elements such as medial posts, this shoe is pretty stable. Its wide platform, combined with a good upper lockdown and extended sidewalls provides stability and support. The midsole is 2.8mm wider at the forefoot and 6.4mm wider at the heel–more than enough platform that made us more confident when tackling tight turns and uneven terrain.

With a 3/5 score on our breathability test, the Hoka Clifton 9 may not be recommended for long runs during hot summer days.

Pros

  • Thicker and more energetic midsole cushioning
  • Lighter than the v8
  • Easy on the knees
  • Durable upper
  • Available in wide
  • Good traction on roads and mild trails
  • Mild, unobtrusive stability elements
  • Can handle faster paces better than previous editions
  • Best for easy days and long runs

Cons

  • Narrow fit
  • Upper needs some time to break in
  • Average breathability
Full review of Hoka Clifton 9

Best Hoka trail running shoes

Hoka Speedgoat 5
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

After emerging from the trails unscathed, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 is definitely the ultimate trailblazer. Combining its performance on the trails with the lab results, the Speedgoat 5 is rightfully the best trail shoe in the Hoka range. Its insanely grippy outsole combined with featherlike weight and a stable platform makes it a marvel on the trails.

Going further, farther, and faster on the trails has never been easier because the traction on the Speedgoat 5 is unmatched. This is mostly due to the high-quality outsole rubber and lug spacing that is not too far apart.  Its Vibram outsole grips anywhere from loose trail surfaces to mud to frozen surfaces—giving us the confidence to just run and not worry too much about the surface. 

The Speedgoat 5 is quite a swift and light shoe at 277g (9.8oz)—that’s 20g (0.7 oz) lighter than the average trail running shoe. During our trail sessions, the shoes gave us a "barely there" feel, helping us conquer the trails comfortably. 

A combination of an incredibly wide base and snug upper makes for a greatly stable shoe. The Speedgoat 5 measures 116.4 mm on the forefoot–4.6 mm wider than the average; and 97.5 mm in the heel—a whopping 8.7 mm wider. Meanwhile, the upper forefoot measures 96.3 mm, 2.5 mm narrower than the average trail running shoe. These shoes gave us solid and planted landings that obliterated the trails.

One thing to be wary of: the shoe's upper is narrow and feels narrow. Trail runners with wide feet should consider alternatives for better-fitting shoes.

Pros

  • Super grippy
  • Springy ride
  • Stable platform
  • Extra durable
  • High impact protection
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Secure fit
  • Excellent heel hold

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Flared collar is not for everyone (style-wise)
Full review of Hoka Speedgoat 5

Best daily training Hoka running shoes

Hoka Mach 5
89
Great!

What makes it the best?

When the running deities dropped all the goodies, the Hoka Mach 5 caught them all. These shoes are like a culinary masterpiece—the perfect balance of the right ingredients. Its cloudlike weight, ample responsiveness, and capable cushioning make it our #1 choice for the best daily trainer among Hoka running shoes. When we ran in these shoes, every step was enjoyable. When we tested the shoes in the lab, the results were extraordinary.

At only 225g (7.9 oz), it is 53g (1.9 oz) lighter than the average road running shoe. Our paces felt weightless with this featherlight footwear, making it an awesome running buddy for both speed sessions and long runs.

The Mach 5 also has a noticeable pep in every step, which makes logging the mileage fast and fun. The meta-rocker geometry combined with the bouncy midsole foam gives it a snappy and buttery-smooth ride—whether we did easy runs, fartlek sessions, and even LSD runs.

We have the shoe's midsole to thank for giving our feet much-needed comfort. On our runs, we felt like we were stepping on clouds. At the lab, we found the midsole foam to be 39.7% softer than the average road running shoe. 

The Hoka Mach 5 has good traction on dry pavement. Unfortunately, its exposed rubber material becomes slippery when wet. Runners may have to check alternatives for grippier shoes to use on wet surfaces. 

Pros

  • Super fun and energetic ride
  • Velvety smooth strides
  • Runs and feels light
  • Comfy for easy days
  • Cushioned for long runs
  • Absorbs impact
  • Awesome fit
  • Welcomes wide feet
  • Reflective
  • Worth the money

Cons

  • Really lacks outsole durability
  • Slips on wet pavement
Full review of Hoka Mach 5

Best Hoka running shoes overall for racing

Hoka Cielo X1
90
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Extremely responsive, exceptionally cushioned, and surprisingly durable—these are the ingredients that make up the Cielo X1. The ride feels extra energetic and smooth thanks to its rocker geometry and inspires confident strides through its dual-density midsole. Proven by our feet and backed up by our lab, it’s the ultimate racer in the Hoka running shoe roster.

The Cielo X1 boasts a responsive midsole foam, complemented by a winged carbon plate for extra springiness, resulting in lively strides. Its design incorporates a central cutout to improve stability and flexibility, while the pronounced rocker facilitates smooth transitions. Lab tests showed it to be an impressive 100.7% stiffer than the average.

Additionally, its midsole foam offers remarkable cushioning, maximizing the race-legal heel height. At 39.8 mm, it’s 6.2 mm above average. It features a dual-foam setup: a remarkably plush 15.5 HA on top for cloud-like comfort, and a firmer 31.0 HA below to enhance stability. This superior combination delivers a dynamic ride rather than a squishy one.

The outsole surprised us with its incredible toughness, looking fresh even after extensive testing. Its 84.0 HC reading is harder than average while its 2.6 mm rubber is thick for racer’s standards. All results show its priority is durability.

However, its 8.8 oz (249g) weight is heavy in this era of feathery supershoes. For 5K/10K races, we recommend lighter and more agile shoes.

Pros

  • Thrilling, fun ride
  • Leg-saving midsole
  • Marathon-ready
  • Fantastic energy return
  • Enhances forward motion
  • Plush and bouncy PEBA foam
  • Excellent durability

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Some stability issues
  • Pricey at $275
Full review of Hoka Cielo X1

Best Hoka running shoes for easy/recovery runs

Hoka Bondi 8
84
Good!

What makes it the best?

The perfect shoe for easy runs delivers a plush and forgiving ride, and that’s exactly what Bondi 8 delivers among Hoka’s running shoe roster. Its heavenly cushioning is nothing short of extraordinary, ensuring our legs get all the TLC (tender loving care) we need to recover. With an added boost of bounce and stability, the mile markers melted away.

Bondi 8 serves as a place of solace, keeping our feet in a comfortable position at all times. No matter where we land, a massive cushion awaits, with 36.2 mm in the heel and 30.0 mm in the forefoot. The foam composition feels buttery smooth, and our durometer confirms our sensation with an 18.0 HA reading, 15.5% softer than average. 

Even with all the pillowy goodness, Bondi 8 gives a little spring in our step to make the ride more effortless and enjoyable. The rocker geometry promotes smooth forward transitions, maintained by the shoe’s stiffness. Our flex test reveals the midsole is 68.3% more rigid than average, helping with its stability and preventing leg fatigue during longer runs. Further boosting an anchored feeling is its vast landing base of 126.5/100.9 mm.

However, the upper doesn’t mimic the wide base and feels quite tight in the midfoot area. Those with medium-to-wide feet should check alternatives with a more accommodating fit.

Pros

  • Oozing with comfort
  • Gliding ride
  • A touch springy
  • Feels stable
  • Breathable
  • Upper is soft as hell
  • Highly durable

Cons

  • Tight midfoot
  • Narrow toebox
  • It's still heavy
Full review of Hoka Bondi 8

Best budget Hoka running shoes

Hoka Solimar
86
Great!

What makes it the best?

At a wallet-friendly price of $125, the Solimar is certainly one of Hoka's more cost-effective shoes. However, with a level of versatility and comfort that rivals that of some of their more premium models, which normally range from $135 - $150, picking the Solimar as the best budget Hoka running shoe was certainly a no-brainer. 

Putting on the Solimar, we are immediately welcomed with luxurious levels of comfort in this generously padded shoe. From the plush heel counter that snugly and securely holds our foot in place, to the beefy tongue which we measured to be 1.7 mm thicker than average. It pampered us around the instep and effectively shielded us from lace bite during our test runs. 

With only 20.6N of force needed to bend the shoe 90 degrees in our stiffness test, the Solimar is 32% more flexible than the average road shoe. This level of flexibility allows the shoe to easily bend with our foot during landing and toe-off, giving the shoe a ride that feels natural and extremely comfortable, whether out for recovery runs or going the distance.

The Solimar’s toebox is a blister magnet for runners with wide feet. Measuring 93.1 mm at its widest point and tapering to 71 mm at the big toe, it is 5 mm and 6.1 mm less roomy than average, respectively. Runners with broad feet should size up as the shoe also runs short for a men’s size 9 (256.2 mm vs the average of 265.3 mm).

Pros

  • Versatile for different activities
  • Breezy upper
  • Comfy interior padding
  • Grippy even on wet
  • Smooth and pleasant ride
  • Great stability
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable for being a Hoka

Cons

  • Too firm for some
  • Narrow toebox
  • Lacks cushioning for longer runs
Full review of Hoka Solimar

Best stability Hoka running shoes

Hoka Gaviota 5
83
Good!

What makes it the best?

Hoka Gaviota’s 5th iteration exceeds the standard by smartly combining comfort with stability. Its wide base and H-Frame maintain a steady ride while the plush foam and breathable material make our runs more enjoyable. With stellar results in our lab, we’re confident this is Hoka’s best stability shoe.

Gaviota 5 offers a massive platform measuring 125.1/106.6 mm in the forefoot and heel. That’s an incredible 11.9/16.5 mm wider than average, giving more than enough space for stable landings. Coupled with the new Hoka H-Frame, it's harder to twist and helps keep the feet centered.

Its 12.9 HA midsole is one of the plushest we tested, standing 46.5% softer than average. To avoid bottoming out, Hoka integrated a firmer 22.0 HA secondary foam for additional support in the arch and heel areas. The forefoot surprisingly holds a great amount of cushion at 32.7 mm (vs 24.5 mm average), making it an ideal stability shoe for forefoot strikers.

We enjoy the breeze in this pair. Upon checking with our microscope, it has a thin mesh with hundreds of ventilation holes. This confirms the perfect score of the upper on our breathability test in the lab.

With a low 2.2 mm heel-to-toe drop, we find that Gaviota 5 isn’t the best fit for extreme heel-strikers or runners prone to calf or Achilles tendon issues.

Pros

  • Remarkably stable
  • Breathable and comfortable upper
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Plushier than ever
  • Good stability option for forefoot strikers
  • Ideal for wide feet
  • Excellent for long runs

Cons

  • Low drop might pose issues for heel strikers
  • Performs poorly in colder conditions
  • Not for narrow feet
Full review of Hoka Gaviota 5

Overview of Hoka running shoes

Hoka-Bondi-8-review

Hoka running shoes are famous for their highly cushioned and extremely comfortable design. While most Hoka shoes stay true to the brand’s maximalist roots, their product line has expanded significantly. It now includes everything from ultra plush trainers to light and responsive race day weapons.

Roads, trails, or a bit of both?

Hoka has some pretty solid options in both road and trail running shoe lines. Not to mention some excellent "road-to-trail" hybrids.

Hoka road running shoes

We recommend getting a Hoka road shoe if at least 80% of your running is done on the pavement, asphalt, tarmac, treadmill, or other hard surfaces.

Hoka-Bondi-8-heavy-weight

Example of a Hoka road shoe outsole

If you want to mix in some runs in the park or on light trails, consider road shoes with thicker rubber on the outsole.

Hoka trail running shoes

You definitely need a trail shoe if you mostly hit forest and mountain trails or run in the country. 

Even though Hoka is most popular for its road shoes, the brand's trail-ready Speedgoat series has been a best-seller for years! And the company only keeps expanding its trail shoe selection.

hoka-speedgoat-5-durable

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 lugs

Example of a Hoka trail shoe outsole

Always pay attention to lug depth and design in trail running shoes:

  • Choose deeper lugs (at least 3.5 mm) for softer surfaces like grass, mud, and sand. There should also be a good amount of space in between lugs to effectively shed mud and debris.
  • Choose shallower lugs (less than 3 mm) for easier, hard-packed trails made of gravel or dirt. These shoes can also be worn for short distances on the road (i.e. from door to trail).

Learn more about lugs, grip, and running shoe outsoles in our science-backed guide.

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 Lug depth

We use a caliper to measure the lug depth on each Hoka running shoe.

Hoka shoes for everyday runs and race days

Even though Hoka is one of the youngest brands on the market (est. 2009), it boasts a substantial selection of shoes for every type of run.

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There is a spectrum, from plush everyday workhorses (Bondi and Clifton), to balanced all-round performers (Rincon and Carbon X), all the way down to responsive speedwork and race day specialists (Rocket X and Mach).

We are here to help you find the right Hoka shoe to match your athletic goals.

Daily running shoes from Hoka

If you are just starting out on your running journey, this category of Hoka shoes is right up your alley.

The brand's huge selection of daily training shoes has enough variety to meet the needs and preferences of most runners. They also make for fantastic walking shoes with their heavenly comfort.

Here is what makes these Hoka shoes so popular and lovable:

  • generously cushioned midsole (30-40 mm of heel stack, 35 mm on average)
  • variety of heel-to-toe drops (from 3 to 7 mm, there is one for every type of strike pattern)
  • plush yet balanced cushioning

The only drawback of daily trainers is that they compromise weight in favor of more comfort and cushioning. But luckily, Hoka found a way to keep some of its daily running shoes below the average 10 oz (283g)!

Speed trainers from Hoka

A small bunch of everyday running shoes from Hoka is made of lighter and speedier options.

Weighing only 7-8 oz (200-225g), these trainers feel much more nimble, snappy, and responsive underfoot. They also tend to have a better energy return than daily trainers.

Consider these shoes for your tempo runs and fartleks on shorter distances up to 10K.

TIP: Lighter shoes are essential for shaving seconds off your personal best. Studies show that every 100g added to a running shoe slows you down by 1%.

Race shoes from Hoka

Competitive runners looking for their next race shoe will enjoy the latest technologies packed into these Hokas.

Here are the most prominent features that make these Hoka running shoes perfect for race days:

  • lightweight (7-8 oz/200-225g)
  • ultra-responsive and plush cushioning (Pebax-based foam)
  • aggressively rockered shape (for fast and smooth heel-to-toe transitions)
  • stiff carbon plate (for added propulsion on each step)

Did you know that thanks to carbon-plated running shoes, athletes managed to break every woman and man record on every distance since 2016? In our comprehensive research on carbon-plated shoes, we explore how this unique shoe feature helps to boost running performance.

Carbon plates in Hoka running shoes

Carbon plates help maximize energy return and propulsion on every stride. They can have a noticeable effect on performance and are now fixtures in the “super shoes” of various brands, including Hoka.

TIP: Beginner runners do NOT need carbon-plated shoes as they are most beneficial on faster paces and are more expensive.

hoka-carbon-x-3-inside.JPG

Carbon plate on the Hoka Carbon X 3 (black components in between the white foam and the red rubber)

Hoka shoes with carbon plates include the Bondi X (high-cushioned propulsive trainer), the Carbon X (all-around road racing shoe), and the Rocket X (Hoka’s premier super shoe).

Hoka even has a carbon-plated trail shoe—the Tecton X. Unlike roads, where terrain and gait stay fairly consistent, carbon plates are not always as advantageous on trails. The propulsive effect can feel destabilizing on steep descent or uneven and technical terrain. Carbon-plated trail shoes like the Tecton X are best reserved for races on buttery singletrack through rolling hills.

How to choose the right cushioning in Hoka shoes

At first glance, all Hoka shoes look the same: thick-soled, extra comfy, and brightly colored. But try dipping your foot inside each one, and you will see how different Hoka shoes can feel!

Hoka Mach X foam

If you want to get a Hoka that works in perfect harmony with your foot and not against it, consider the following cushioning parameters:

  • heel stack height (how high is the heel placed off the ground)
  • heel-to-toe drop (how steep is the slope from the heel to the toes)
  • midsole softness (how plush is the cushioning foam)

Heel stack heights in Hoka shoes

We don't even need a caliper to prove that Hoka shoes have some of the tallest stack heights among running shoes.

Hoka Transport X Heel stack

We measure stack heights in compliance with the official guidelines from World Athletics.

We even came across a potentially "illegal" Hoka shoe! With a heel stack of 40.2 mm, the Transport X exceeds the allowed 40 mm which means that it could be disqualified from a competition!

Based on our lab measurements, the heel stack in Hoka shoes ranges from 30 to 40 mm, averaging 35 mm. This is a few millimeters thicker than running shoes on average.

hoka-clifton-9-heel-part.JPG

But thicker doesn't necessarily mean better. Especially for beginner runners.

To avoid straining your feet and tendons, we recommend Hoka shoes with a moderate heel stack of 30-35 mm.

A heel height beyond 35 mm is typically seen on Hoka shoes that are best for:

  • slow recovery runs
  • marathon and ultra distances
  • elite race shoes

Hoka Rocket X 2 Heel tab

Heel-to-toe drop: a quick guide

The drop makes such a big difference that Hoka even added a filter for it on their official website.

Hoka Rocket X 2 Drop

When measuring drop, we follow the exact same protocol for every shoe, no matter what brand it is. This results in some discrepancies with what the brands officially state in the specs.

Referring to the difference in height between the heel and forefoot stacks, the drop can make or break your running experience.

As a beginner runner, you will most likely feel comfortable with a higher drop (at least 6 mm) because:

  • it accommodates a heel-striking pattern (when your heel lands first followed by the midfoot and forefoot)
  • it takes some load off the Achilles

On the other hand, seasoned runners are more likely to go for the lower drop (less than 6 mm) because:

  • it accommodates their midfoot/forefoot striking pattern
  • it has the potential to improve cadence

If you have further questions about the drop and how it affects performance, check out our extensive research on the topic.

Cushioning softness: plush or balanced

Hoka doesn't have firm shoes!

Having measured dozens of Hoka running shoes, we found that even their firmest models are only in the "balanced" category. Overall, Hoka shoes turn out to be 13% softer than running shoes on average.

Hoka Mach X Midsole softness

We use an HA durometer to measure foam softness. The tool is pressed against the shoe's half-cut midsole from the inside.

But which one should you choose? Here is a brief overview of both types:

Plush (soft) Plush shoes offer maximal impact protection and are usually high-stacked.
Best for long runs, recovery runs, marathons, and ultras.
Balanced

Perfect balance between comfort and performance. Usually used in workhorse shoes (used for daily running, tempo runs, and racing).

Also great for beginners.

Learn more about the effect of shoe softness on running performance in our science-backed research.

Example of a plush Hoka shoe (10.6 HA)

Example of a balanced Hoka shoe (24.6 HA)

Arch support in Hoka running shoes

You are likely to need a pair of stability shoes from Hoka if you experience the following:

  • you have flat/fallen arches
  • your feet tilt inwards a lot (overpronate)
  • your shoes wear out more on the inner side

If you are not sure, consult a podiatrist or have a look at our detailed guides on pronation and arch support.

Example of a stability Hoka shoe with arch support

Example of a neutral Hoka shoe without arch support

There are two long-standing stability shoe series from Hoka: the Gaviota and the Arahi.

Hoka Gaviota A max-cushioned mile eater, the Gaviota spares nothing when it comes to stability and cushioning. It is a super comfy daily trainer for overpronators, suitable for short recovery runs and very long training sessions.
Hoka Arahi The Arahi is lighter and nimbler than the Gaviota but shares its chunky aesthetic. Despite its looks, this stability shoe is surprisingly responsive and fun to run in.

To assess the amount of stability and arch support in a shoe, we perform the following tests:

  • Torsional rigidity: manual twist-and-bend test, rated on a 1-5 scale where 5 is the stiffest.

Shoes with high torsional rigidity create a steady platform and don't let the foot roll over the edge of the shoe.

  • Heel counter stiffness: manual push-and-squeeze test, rated on a 1-5 scale where 5 is the stiffest

Shoes with stiffer heel counters have a better heel and ankle hold. They don't let the rearfoot slide inwards and prevent heel slippage.

  • Midsole width: measured with a caliper in both the widest part of the forefoot and the heel

Shoes with extended contact points create an extra stable base to prevent the foot from rolling over.

Hoka Gaviota 5 Midsole width in the forefoot

Get the right size and fit in Hoka shoes

In general, Hoka shoe sizing tends to be consistent with other major brands like ASICS, New Balance, and Brooks. But if you're ordering shoes online, you want to be extra confident to avoid returns.

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First of all, we highly recommend measuring your foot length precisely. You might be surprised to find out that your feet keep growing! Then, check your corresponding Hoka size in the brand's official size chart.

In addition to getting the right size, or length, you also need to make sure that the Hoka shoe you chose has enough toebox width for your feet.

hoka-clifton-9-measurements.jpg

We measure each Hoka shoe's toebox in both the widest part and near the big toe using a caliper.

Based on our lab measurements, Hoka shoes don't have particularly wide toeboxes but they do fit as expected for a medium width.

On the bright side, the brand offers some of its running shoes in wide and extra-wide options.

hoka-clifton-9-tongue.JPG

In addition to measuring each Hoka shoe's toebox dimensions, we also check how thick is the tongue and whether it's gusseted or not. These parameters also have an effect on the overall fit and feel of the shoe.

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We also take a closer look at the upper material and how padded and stretchy it is on a given Hoka shoe.

Rain or shine: Hoka has shoes for both

Knowing how much breathability can affect your running experience, we take it just as seriously as the shoe's cushioning.

Each Hoka shoe is thoroughly scrutinized in our smoke-pumping machine test where we rate the amount and speed of smoke passion through its upper material.

The smoke test is followed by a transparency check and a microscope inspection which reveal the shoe's most ventilated areas.

Hoka Rocket X 2 microscope

You sure want the most breathable Hoka shoes for a hot summer day. We have filtered out the airiest ones in the table below:

On the other hand, if you are braving the cold season, you may want a warmer Hoka with a thicker upper to keep you cozy:

Some Hoka shoes are endowed with a waterproof GTX (Gore-Tex) membrane. This world-class technology has outstanding waterproofing capacity without suffocating the feet.

You will need this feature if you frequently run in rain, puddles, snow, slush, and other wet conditions.

Hoka Challenger 7 GTX Heel tab

The best technologies in Hoka running shoes

All Hoka running shoes feature three core technologies, each finely tuned to offer different levels of speed, stability, and support.

Lightweight cushioning foams

Thick, highly cushioned midsoles are what most people think of first when they think of Hoka shoes.

The brand’s most recent cushioning offerings can be split into two categories:

Standard Premium

used in daily runners and speed trainers

used in race-ready shoes

ProFly (EVA) ProFly+ (EVA) unnamed PEBA-based
  • bouncy
  • durable
  • comfortable
  • snappy
  • more bouncy
  • softer
  • exceptionally bouncy
  • neither too soft nor firm (in between Nike ZoomX and ASICS FF Turbo)
used in Mach 4 used in Mach 5

first introduced in the brand's debut super shoe, the Rocket X 2

Based on our lab durometer measurements, the ProFly+ foam in the Mach 5 is 29% softer than the Profly in the Mach 4.

Hoka-Mach-5-foam-softness

Meta-Rocker design

Hoka soles are engineered with a curved Meta-Rocker design to encourage quick and efficient heel-to-toe transition. The rounded soles and a relatively low drop (most Hoka’s have a 4 mm to 5 mm drop) create a snappy stride and prevent that “flat” feeling you get in some running shoes.

We have put together everything a runner needs to know about rockered running shoes in this research.

Performance-oriented Hoka running shoes have an “Early Stage” Meta-Rocker, with the rocker point located under the balls of the feet to promote fast transitions. To put it simply, the toe tip is lifted higher up in these shoes.

hoka-clifton-9-meta-rocker.JPG

Example of the Early stage Meta-Rocker in the Clifton 9 (toe is curved higher up)

Hoka's stability trainers, walking shoes, some trail shoes, and hiking footwear all use the “Late Stage” Meta-Rocker, with the rocker point placed closer to the toebox for added stability.

hoka-gaviota-4-late-stage-meta-rocker.JPG

Example of the Late stage Meta-Rocker in the Gaviota 4 (toe is curved but lower)

Active foot frame (J-Frame) for arch support

Some Hoka running shoes all have a deep, molded foot frame that cradles the foot comfortably. Embedding the foot frame deeper into the midsole adds to the security of Hokas and helps the shoes feel stable, even with their characteristic ultra-high stack heights.

Hoka-One-One-Arahi-6-06.jpg

J-Frame is used in the popular Hoka Arahi 6 stability shoe. It is less intrusive than traditional stability technologies.

FAQs

Do Hoka shoes prevent injuries?

The thick midsole cushioning in Hoka shoes aims to provide excellent shock absorption and reduce impact on joints. High-cushion shoes may potentially lower the risk of certain injuries, but the scientific evidence is not as conclusive as shoe brands would like you to believe.

Individual biomechanics, running form, and smart training play bigger roles in injury prevention than any particular shoe.

Hoka-Mach-5-lightweight

Why are Hoka shoes so expensive?

Based on our database, the average price of Hoka running shoes is $160 which is $20 more than running shoes across all brands on average.

We believe that Hokas are generally priced on the higher end for a few reasons:

  • The brand invests heavily in research and development to create innovative designs and technologies, which contributes to higher production costs.
  • They also prioritize quality materials like high-grade cushioning foams—and their shoes include a lot of cushioning.
  • Finally, Hoka shoes have exploded in popularity over the last decade, contributing to their premium price tags.

Stretching in Tecton X

Are Hoka shoes durable?

Hoka shoes are generally reputed for their solid durability. The brand utilizes high-quality materials and construction techniques.

Hoka’s proprietary EVA midsoles hold up well over hundreds of miles. The outsoles of Hoka shoes feature durable rubber compounds and their trail shoes have Vibram lugs: the industry standard for both performance and durability.

In our lab, we put each Hoka shoe through a series of demanding tests to give you a better idea of which shoes excel in durability.

A Dremel durability test performed on the Hoka Solimar

Here is the overview of the most durable road and trail running shoes from Hoka:

*Toebox and Heel padding durability are evaluated on a 1-5 scale where 5 is the most durable. As for the outsole, it's durability is measured by the dept of the dent caused by the Dremel - the lower number means more durable.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.