Our verdict

We consider the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX a convincing day hiking option with backpacking capabilities. The boot justifies its above-average price point with exceptional material and build quality as well as exemplary waterproofing. We are amazed at how much support and cushioning went into the boot while still keeping it lighter than average. Even Kaha's few downsides are easily outweighed by the many benefits it offers.

Pros

  • Sky-high comfort level
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • High-quality materials
  • Pain-alleviating support
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Incredibly stable
  • Superb grip
  • Surprisingly light
  • Minimal break-in period
  • Includes sustainable materials

Cons

  • Short tongue (laces slip and cause pressure)
  • Bulky heel gets stuck in stones
  • Polarizing aesthetics

Audience verdict

80
Good!
  • Top 18% most popular hiking boots

Who should buy

In our opinion, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is a good match for hikers who:

  • want a premium-quality leather boot that will last more than a season
  • need a backpacking-ready pair of boots
  • search for the highest level of waterproofing
  • prefer more athletic-looking hiking footwear

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX review

Who should NOT buy

If you are concerned about the boot's short tongue and bulky heel, we recommend the Salomon Quest 4 instead. It is heavier but it is also free from the pitfalls of the Kaha 2 GTX.

You might as well consider the more affordable Hoka Anacapa boot. It may not have the same support and materials, but it is an excellent day hiking boot. And it costs a whole $55 less.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX lab test

Breathability

Based on both our field and lab tests, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is a 100% water-tight boot!

Pumping smoke through the boot's upper, it didn't come out anywhere except the topmost eyelet. So, on a scale from 1 to 5 where 5 is the most breathable, we rated the boot's breathability as 1.

This is all thanks to the use of a GORE-TEX membrane in addition to the sturdy nubuck leather upper and water-repellent coating. Here is what the tongue fabric looks like under our microscope.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX microscope

The water has no chance of seeping through.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX microscope upper

With so much waterproofing going on, our feet came out dry after every single creek crossing in the Kaha 2 GTX.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 1
Average 1.7
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

As the brand's top-of-the-list hiking boot, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX shows phenomenal durability.

Coming from a certified gold-rated tannery, its leather was barely scratched in our Dremel test. Where most boots end up with a see-through hole, the damage was barely even noticeable on the Kaha (on the left).

The boot gets a well-deserved 5 out of 5 in our toebox durability test.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 5
Average 4.4
Compared to 17 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Even such a sensitive area as the heel collar padding resisted our Dremel admirably. You can tell by the shifting of the tool that the material was fighting it back!

Another perfect score of 5/5 goes out to the Kaha 2 GTX!

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 17 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Hoka also went for a highly wear-resistant Vibram rubber to create a durable outsole.

We measured its hardness at 88.4 HC which is a little firmer than average and thus, more hard-wearing.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Outsole hardness
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 88.4 HC
Average 87.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
81.0 HC
Outsole hardness
92.0 HC

Outsole thickness

Measuring the rubber thickness excluding the lug depth, we got 2 mm. This is thinner than the average but is very well compensated for by a thick layer of firm foam.

It's going to take more than one season of hiking to destroy this boot.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Outsole thickness
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 2.0 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Outsole thickness
5.6 mm

Weight

For a backpacking-ready boot, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX doesn't feel heavy at all.

Putting it on a scale, we saw 18.5 oz (525g) in a men's US size 9. This is significantly lighter than the backpacking boots on average (23.3 oz/660g)!

We applaud Hoka for packing so much cushioning, support, and high-quality materials into a relatively light boot.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX water

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 18.52 oz (525g)
Average 17.92 oz (508g)
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
11.71 oz (332g)
Weight
26.00 oz (737g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

If it is from Hoka, it's got to be massive!

Using a caliper, we measured the boot's heel thickness at 39.3 mm which is notably taller than the average.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Heel stack

On the trail, this amount of cushioning feels bottomless. There is plenty of impact protection and comfort for any distance you choose to cover on a given hike. After a full day of rocking the trails, our feet remained fresh and free from fatigue.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 39.3 mm
Average 35.9 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
26.2 mm
Heel stack
46.9 mm

Forefoot stack

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is just as well-cushioned in the forefoot. Our caliper shows 28.2 mm of stack height which also turns out to be thicker than average.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Forefoot stack
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 28.1 mm
Average 22.5 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
17.0 mm
Forefoot stack
30.7 mm

Drop

According to the official product page, the Kaha 2 GTX has a drop of 6 mm. But based on our own measurements, the heel-to-toe difference is actually as high as 11.2 mm!

That's a pretty big discrepancy and the heel does feel a bit elevated. However, given that the average drop ranges from 10 to 12 mm in hiking boots, we believe that the Kaha is going to feel comfortable for most hikers. 

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Drop
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 11.2 mm
Average 13.4 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Drop
20.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

On the foot, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX doesn't feel as soft as some of the other Hoka offerings. Even though the brand categorizes it as "plush," we would describe the ride as balanced. We assume that it's because of the dual-density nature of the midsole which puts a firm carrier around the plush foam.

But the primary cushioning layer of the boot is indeed very soft. Pressing our durometer against it, we got a reading of 21.7 HA which is 29% softer than average.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Midsole softness
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 21.7 HA
Average 25.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
15.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
53.3 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.
Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Midsole softness in cold

Difference in midsole softness in cold

The most amazing fact about this boot's cushioning is that it barely firms up in low temperatures! To mimic cold weather, we put the Kaha 2 GTX into a freezer for 20 minutes. After that, we repeated the durometer measurement and got 27.3 HA which is a mere 25.6% firmer than it was at room temperature.

For reference, other hiking boot foams firmed up to 33.9 HA after the same test.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 25.6%
Average 21.5%
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Secondary foam softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

To prevent the boot from being too squishy, it was put into a cradle of firmer foam. We measured its firmness at 31.6 HA which is 46% harder than the plush foam.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Secondary foam softness
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 31.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Insole thickness

Complementing the main cushioning is a well-padded insole. Based on our caliper measurement, it is 6.4 mm thick which is about the same as the average.

It offered a pleasant step-in feel from the beginning and later helped our tired feet push forward.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Insole thickness
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 6.4 mm
Average 6.0 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.7 mm
Insole thickness
10.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

From our hiking experience, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX proved to be a very supportive companion for multi-day hikes with backpacks up to 40 pounds.

There was no ankle rolling or nasty wobbling along the way. The platform felt very stable while the collar did an amazing job keeping the ankle in place.

Torsional rigidity

As one of the key stability components, torsional rigidity can tell a lot about the boot. As you can see from our manual test below, it is nearly impossible to get that twist from the boot with bare hands. We rated the Kaha 2 GTX with a maximum score of 5/5 for stiffness.

The boot has a very sturdy and structured build.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 5
Average 4.2
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel collar has a peculiar design in the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX. Trimmed down at the back, it is also not as rigid as in many other hiking boots. We actually rated its heel counter stiffness as only 2 out of 5.

Interestingly enough, this approach to heel hold didn't compromise ankle support and even helped to shave a few ounces off the boot.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 2
Average 3.4
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

This Hoka boot has a footprint of a beast!

In the widest part of the forefoot, we measured the sole at 117 mm, which is a few millimeters wider than average. This broad base made us feel very planted and surefooted in a variety of scenarios.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 117.0 mm
Average 112.2 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
96.3 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
124.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

But the boot's heel is where things start to get crazy. Our caliper shows a whopping 106.1 mm in the widest part of the heel! This is almost a centimeter wider than average!

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Midsole width in the heel

In addition to that, the Kaha 2 GTX also has a pretty voluminous sole design at the back. While it works wonders on long hikes and when descending, it turned out to be a nuisance on the more technical stretches of our route.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX heel cushioning

On rocky terrain, we ended up catching nearly every stone with this extended heel! This was a real nuisance as it made us feel like a clumsy behemoth. Maneuverability is definitely not to be expected from this Hoka.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 106.1 mm
Average 88.3 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
71.7 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is just as stiff as the rest of our lab-tested boots.

It took a good deal of force to get the boot to a 90-degree angle. Based on our force gauge, it required 41.6N, which is even a little more than the average. It also tells us that the Kaha 2 GTX is 32% stiffer than the Anacapa Mid GTX!

In combination with a rockered sole, it felt like we were propelled to the next step by this Hoka boot.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 41.6N
Average 40.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
16.6N
Stiffness
84.7N

Difference in stiffness in cold

But do keep in mind that the Kaha 2 GTX will get about 50% stiffer in cold weather. After 20 minutes in the freezer, the force it took to bend the boot went from 41.6N to 64.2N.

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 54.3%
Average 29%
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

As a waterproof boot, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX knows that you will be getting into slippery situations. That's why it is equipped with some pretty deep lugs that worked amazingly on soft and wet ground as well as on wet rocks.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX in water

Measuring the lugs, we found that they are 4.9 mm deep. A little toothier than average!

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Lug depth
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 4.9 mm
Average 4.1 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.0 mm
Lug depth
5.7 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

This Hoka boot has a fairly accommodating fit for our average-sized feet.

We measured the widest part of its toebox at 97.3 mm which is a couple of millimeters narrower than average but is still within the solid medium range.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 97.3 mm
Average 102.1 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
95.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
110.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

But when it comes to the tip of the toe, the boot turns out to be pretty spacious.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX fit

Based on our caliper, it is 79.8 mm wide which is about 4 mm wider than average. That means plenty of space for swollen feet.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 79.8 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
91.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The boot is fully guarded against water and debris with its fully-gusseted tongue. Not only is it crucial for keeping those at bay but it also creates a highly secure foot containment.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

We have both good and bad news about the tongue.

The good news is that it is super well-padded, having as much as 12.5 mm of thickness based on our measurements.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Tongue padding

But the deal-breaking problem with it is that it is way too short. When we laced up the boot fully, the knot appeared to be at the very edge of the collar. Given that the padding is not very abundant there, it resulted in a good deal of pressure on the shin. And when we tried to loosen up the knot, it compromised the ankle hold.

A pair of thicker socks can do the trick but we just didn't expect a "fixer-upper" for $240.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX laces

Test results
Kaha 2 GTX 12.5 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 21 hiking boots
Number of shoes
5.9 mm
Tongue padding
22.3 mm

Heel tab

With the boot's intricate collar design, we were glad that Hoka attached a finger loop at the back for easier on-and-off.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Heel tab
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX Finger loop

Removable insole

The boot's insole is removable and welcomes custom orthotics easily.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Removable insole
Test results
Kaha 2 GTX Yes

Misc

Sustainable materials

Hoka is taking some serious steps towards sustainability and it shows in the Kaha 2 GTX as well. The part of recycled polyester in different parts of the boot varies from 50% to 100%. Even the GORE-TEX membrane is made with 71% recycled content.

Hoka Kaha 2 GTX hiking