There are adventure seekers needing shoes for specific purposes such as long day hikes, trail running, climbing, and scrambling, to name a few.
The Sky Arkali from Hoka One One is something new. They’ve recently introduced it to the market for a variety of outdoor enthusiasts.
Follow along for an in-depth review of the new Hoka One One Sky Arkali, and see why it is an innovative adventure seeker.
Category: Hybrid Daily Hiker / US Size: Men’s 9 / Weight: 15.24 oz / Heel-Toe Drop: 5 mm
There are some of us needing shoes with specific purposes such as casual hiking, trail running, climbing, scrambling, day hikes, and long hikes. Out of the box, the Sky Arkali displays many characteristics of all these shoes.
There is a noticeable outsole grip with toe protection present. It also has a mid-ankle height with adjustable ankle straps as well straps around the back of the heel.
The outer midsole material looks both cushioned and protected by not having any design cutouts in the foam. Any time you see Vibram displayed on an outsole, you know you’re in good shape.
The Sky Arkali has just that with quality medium-sized lugs. The contrast of colors was appealing, and overall, the shoes looked rugged enough to take in the outside elements.
Eco-conscious individuals will be surprised to know that these shoes are 100% Vegan. The bright colors of cyan and citrus contrast well with the standard black upper, which has a rigid mesh layer for protection. The outsole design is all about protection as well.
Hoka adds a subtle amount of matching color on the ankle strap, giving the shoes an overall fresh look.
For an outdoor shoe, the Sky Arkali is designed to be very lightweight as well as offer enough foot protection to serve adventurers, whether it be on a straight or vertical path.
Hoka’s Matryx® upper is a unique blend of high-tensile synthetic fibers tightly threaded across the midfoot area. Hoka claims this engineered upper material offers unparalleled strength and durability all while keeping the overall weight to a minimum.
A sweet lacing system runs from mid-ankle down just above the toe box. This allows you to dial in the upper’s fit to your liking and made things fit like a glove.
The rubber toe cap is made of very tough rubber and covers down to the midfoot for even more protection from the elements.
The main midsole feature is Hoka’s anticipated PROFLY™ dual-density cushioning. PROFLY™ has a softer heel and more responsive forefoot area for a quick push-of.
The midsole drop is on the lower end at 5 millimeters and felt cushioned over rocks and limbs while being very responsive in the forefoot.
Anytime you see the name Vibram on a shoe, you know it will seriously stand up to outdoor abuse. The Sky Arkali is fit with a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole that consists of 5mm lugs. The lugs are multidirectional and offer a ton of grip even on wet inclines and uneven debris.
After over fifty miles, there were no signs of wear on the outsole and proved, even more, why Vibram shoe technology is here to stay.
To summarize, the Sky Arkali was a top-notch performer that handled every type of terrain in testing.
The ankle and heel straps made my feet feel very supported and added a bit of structure to the entire feel of the shoe. These are especially evident when moving vertically on uneven, sometimes slick and uneven rocks.
The width of the midsole is on the wider side and offered more stability than other narrow hiking boots. Keep in mind that the weight is somewhat in the middle of a trail running shoe and a hiking boot at 15.24 ounces for a men’s size 9.
I enjoyed trekking over loose vertical rock sections and steep gravel trails, thick mud plains, and even unpathed forested areas. Stepping through water was no issue even though the brand does not claim any of its Arkali materials are waterproof.
However, the semi-ventilated upper will leave your feet wet if you find your lower legs submerged in streams. Hikers on long journeys with a variety of weather conditions may want to opt for a more specific shoe for the specific weather (waterproof, leather, etc.)
Scrambling and running ascents felt solid up to an average 10K distance through rocky inclines and loose switchback wooded trails. Longer endurance runs felt more sluggish from a running perspective but hiking this distance, or more was a breeze.
The Sky Arkali delivers in the comfort category. The multi-foam and a high stack height of the midsole offered both a plush and responsive ride that kept my feet energized through longer hikes more than 10 miles.
Running was surprisingly comfortable, although you will not feel as if you are overturning your feet with speed.
Although light for its various purposes, the Sky Arkali is no racing flat at 15.24 ounces in a men’s size 9. Compared to traditional hiking boots though, the Sky Arkali is significantly light for an outdoor adventure shoe.
The stretchy upper materials, combined with more structured material, kept the foot secure while allowing plenty of toe box space.
Overall impression & score
Considering the dense and responsive midsole, flexible upper, and lock-down upper, I give the Sky Arkali a solid 94 out of 100 score.
Like-minded outdoor adventure seekers will benefit from a shoe that checks all the boxes for a thorough outdoor shoe able to withstand any path.
If you want to scramble, climb, hike, or trail run, then the Hoka One One Sky Arkali is your do-it-all solution.
Out of the box, I wondered if this was a special dirt court basketball shoe. In 45 years of running, racing, and hiking, I’ve worn about every type of shoe.
But Hoka has built a unique multipurpose fast-running, hiking shoe.
Hiker or runner?
This shoe is at home on the trail, whether going fast or slow, as it has great traction and foot protection. The Sky Arkali brings a new possibility to a hiking shoe.
The French engineering created a unique blend of a running shoe’s lightweight and comfort with a hiking boot’s rugged frame and protection. This shoe looks ready for any challenge.
Though much lighter than any hiking boot I’ve ever worn, it is a bit heavy as a running shoe at 15 ½ ounces in size 9 ½. Most of my other running shoes average about 9 ounces. But my old leather hiking boots are 2 ½ pounds!
Hiking with the Arkali was no more challenging than the terrain, no matter what the trail conditions. The 5 mm multidirectional Vibram® lugs provided excellent traction.
Meanwhile, the tough front rubber top cap shields the toes from rocks and branches. After 55 miles of hiking and running on various terrain, there is no noticeable wear on the outsole.
The durable Vibram® outsole is aggressive. Hoka calls it Megagrip. Even after a cold, muddy run, my feet are dry.
The outsole did collect mud, but the positioning of the lugs seems to push the dirt to the sides, and it just sheds off. It also wraps around the sides for even more protection.
The multi-layered midsole gives a softer heel, and the upward curve upfront provides a responsive toe-off. Having a 29 mm of cushion in the rear and 24 mm at the front, a 5 mm drop is slightly less than my 6 mm optimal drop.
But, I’ve seen no adverse effects at this point. The midsole is denser than the average Hoka.
The Kevlar-reinforced upper brings foot protection to a new level. Stones and rocks just bounce off the abrasion-resistant toe cap.
The lacing system and the adjustable heel and ankle straps help to lock in your foot. This changes the internal foot movement considerably.
On my first run in these shoes, I laced my traditional loose fit. Down the first hill, my foot was sliding forward and side to side and shortly after they came untied. Tightening the laces helped considerably.
The special pouch
The lace pouch underneath the Velcro ankle lock stops the need for double-knotting the laces.
The lacing system starts at the toe bumper and climbs to the neoprene strap. This does give me a bit more downward pressure on my foot than I am accustomed to, though not so much to be uncomfortable.
I just wish my feet felt as at home in this shoe. Its bulkiness and weight don’t allow this shoe to feel like a runner.
As a hiker, it is probably the best I’ve ever used—no hot spots or slippage even on a ten-mile fast-packing trip.
For my final verdict on the Sky Arkali, I have mixed feelings, and therefore I’m giving it a rating as a running shoe and one as a hiking boot.
As a runner, it gets a 70, primarily positive for durability and comfort and negative for the weight and stiffness of the midsole. As a hiker, I give this shoe a 95!
Comfort, durability, protection, lightweight, and ankle protection are excellent.
This summer, I was ambitious about climbing as many of the Colorado peaks as I could. Saturday mornings, I awoke around 2 am to drive to distant trailheads and begin my epic climbs.
I'm an ultrarunner, by preferred hobby, but I found many of the 14'ers (14,000+ ft mountains) and 13'ers demanded a little something-something more than my trail running shoes provided.
Scrambles up Longs Peak, Hagues, Fairchild, The Spearhead, and more required ankle support, irresistible grip, and a midsole that could keep me going for hours on end. Although I loved my North Face Flight Trinity and my Wildhorse 5s, they were getting absolutely torn to shreds on my more challenging climbs.
After Longs Peak, I wore a hole right through the upper of my beloved TNFs—noooooooooooo!
As the shoe burial concluded, I vowed to find a shoe that would allow me to run, hike, and scramble without sacrificing speed, comfort, or safety...and then I found it! The Hoka One One Sky Arkali.
The ultimate shoe test
Boy, did I put these shoes through the grinder. I opened my Arkalis and immediately wanted to put them to the test.
Yes, they felt extremely durable and well made, but these shoes were being marketed as a lightweight running and hiking solution—how would they hold up on the trails?
I went on a fairly easy 5-mile run to break them in and get a feel for their running potential—and I was left quite satisfied.
The shoe can't hide the fact that it's 15.2 oz., so I noticed immediately that it was a bit heavy. But not enough to impact my running form or endurance.
No, I'm not going to be setting any PRs in the Arkalis, but it'll definitely provide the running experience I crave. So, I put a big ol' checkmark next to the running box. Next: hiking and scrambling.
With only 5 miles on the shoes, I laced them up for a long day hike.
Me and my buddy would be doing the Mummy Mania route in Rocky Mountain National Park, a point-to-point route that would summit 5 13,000+ ft peaks and 1 12,900+ ft. peak, going for ~18 miles and accumulating ~6,500 ft of elevation gain and ~8,000 ft of descent. Yeah, it was gnarly.
The shoe held up fantastically! Even without adequately breaking it in, the shoe felt great right from the get-go.
It was relatively easy to dial in the fit, and the velcro ankle lock around the heel and on top of the foot worked perfectly.
The path was rugged, and we often were walking straight up steep mountains or skirting along their base, putting my foot in a constant state of pronation, supination, and flexion—no problem!
I felt like the Arkalis gave me an amazing amount of support, and although I've struggled with ankle issues in the past, I had a flawless day out in the wilderness.
The kevlar upper protected my foot from rocks and roots, and even through gravel and sand, I never had to remove the shoe because of debris. It kept everything out without making my foot too hot or uncomfortable.
While on the Mummy Mania route, we had to do a good bit of Class 3 and even Class 4 scrambling (just for kicks). The Vibram outsole stuck to the rocks confidently, and I never worried about slipping.
The shoe offers a great amount of support, but the lacing system also gives you the flexion you need for basic climbing. I love how the laces extend all the way to the toebox because this allows me to get my full range of motion when stretching for a ledge or jumping from rock to rock.
When descending, I felt like the lugs did a great job of securing my footing. I didn't feel like my feet were sliding around everywhere inside the shoe, either. I didn't use trekking poles on this outing, but I always felt secure on wet grass, slick rock, and other potentially treacherous surfaces.
The Hoka One One Arkali slew the mummy.... now what?
After the massive success on the Mummy Mania route, I took the Arkalis on a few more short runs (nothing past 6 miles) and hikes—only good things to say.
This past weekend, I went and celebrated my birthday by hiking Grays and Torreys peaks, two 14'ers in Colorado that can be linked up easily in a single hike.
I started off in the chilly morning to find the mountains had received a bit of snow overnight. Just a couple miles in, the trail was covered in 2-3 inches of snow and kept getting deeper as I neared the summit.
The Arkali performed as well as I could have hoped—I felt secure on the wet snow and never lost my footing. Also, despite sometimes being buried in the snow, my socks stayed completely dry, and therefore my feet stayed happy and warm. Win-win.
Only great things to say about this shoe. The only complaint I have, and it's hardly a complaint, is that I often have to adjust the velcro straps to resecure the perfect fit. After scrambling for a few miles or descending a steep slope, you need to tighten up the straps again.
Fortunately, the straps and big and durable and I'm able to readjust them with my gloves on. I'd be disappointed if this was a problem with the laces, but it's not. That's the reason this shoe gets a 98 instead of a 100—otherwise, it's perfect.
TL;DR? I Got You Covered
To summarize my love story as honestly and authentically as I can, here are the pros and cons list. *Spoiler* there's a lot more pros than cons...because I love this shoe.
- Fantastic grip provided by the Vibram outsole and lug placement/depth.
- Perfect fit made possible by extended lacing system and velcro adjustment straps.
- Lightweight and breathable for a great running, hiking, or scrambling experience.
- Dare I say, sexy? These are some gooooood looking hiking shoes, in my opinion.
- Great support—no rolled ankles.
- Pricey. 200+ dollars for a shoe is just a tad bonkers. Relative to other shoes, it's well worth the price...I just think shoe prices, in general, are inflated.
- Velcro straps often need to be readjusted to re-secure the perfect fit. Velcro straps also don't secure as well when wet, which was a little bit of a problem for me in the snow.
And that's it. All-in-all, I love the Hoke One One Arkali. We have hundreds of more miles and peaks to claim together, and I'm looking forward to slipping my foot into this shoe every time.
I have several friends who swear by the Hoka One One brand as their shoe of choice for running. So, I felt the need to try out a potentially good trail running shoe if given the opportunity.
I am usually an On Running person, so this would put me in shoes I’m not intimately familiar with, so to speak.
The Sky Arkali costs about 200 US dollars and shoes accentuate that the money is well-spent on this footwear with the durability, materials involved, and overall style design.
I took these shoes running, hiking, cycling, and even wore them at work for a day.
Design and aesthetics
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali picks the better features of trail running shoes and hiking boots and merges them to form a conglomerate shoe that looks like it means business.
I have never owned a pair of Hoka shoes, but my wife loves the pairs she owns and several of our friends are avid fans of the Hoka brand. I am more of an On person, and when it comes to trail running or hiking, I normally reach for my Cloudventure shoes and take off.
The Sky Arkali’s design implements a Matryx upper, a Profly midsole, and a Vibram outsole to create one hi-tech shoe.
The Matryx upper is a strange issue for me. It comes from Mavic and the Matryx upper is comprised of thin polyamide fibers along with Kevlar laces to create a light, breathable weaved upper—at least, according to the Mavic website.
When I saw that the Matryx upper included Kevlar, I was immediately torn in opinion. From my former military days, I know firsthand that Kevlar is durable and long lasting. But, from those same experiences, I also know that Kevlar is not breathable when weaved into tight, interlaced patterns.
The Sky Arkali’s upper is not as tightly woven as military gear. But while running, I could feel my feet getting hotter when I ran over three miles, and this happened several times. However, with hiking, I experienced no heat build-up.
The Profly midsole seems to match what I usually hear regarding wearing Hoka shoes: very soft, yet supporting.
It might be too soft, though, because I did have a few times where it was difficult for me to feel things on the ground below me, such as a few branches, some roots, and various rocks.
Still, I did not have to worry that the cushioning would disrupt my running and definitely not during my time hiking in the woods.
As for the outsole, this is where I was truly impressed. I am a huge fan of Vibram from my Army days. And, I can attest to their prominence in gripping capabilities. Vibram outsoles are easily among the best—if not the best—outsoles I have ever worn.
I used to do 12-mile ruck marches or move about in field environments more often than I would like, and my Vibram outsoled boots were my preferred choice for those days. And, the Hoka Sky Arkali’s outsoles feature 5 mm rubberized lugs for great grip with excellent durability.
My pair of Hoka Sky Arkali are gray and black. Hoka offers this shoe in one other color scheme. However, according to some people, it is a hideous color splash of black, neon blue, bright sun yellow, and a small mixture of green threading in the upper.
Personally, I like to rock loud colors when it comes to my running shoes. But, I can see why others were not thrilled with this particular color scheme.
The Sky Arkali has a 5mm drop. As I stated before, I am a big On person, thus I am used to a 6 mm drop in my shoes, such as with my Cloudventure. So, a 5 mm drop is not a big jump for me.
My other pair of trail shoes are from Altra, and that brand is well-known for its zero millimeter drop. Hence, the runner most likely would have to adjust, even if just slightly, how they hit the ground with their feet.
Since I was already training for an ultra trail race with my Cloudventure, I did not have to do anything different with how I ran when it came to the Sky Arkali’s 5 mm drop shoes.
The midsole and outsole definitely provided me with some of the most comfortably cushioned running. I did have a little bit of an issue feeling the ground below me as I went over trails.
The Velcro straps really help keep the shoes where you want them on your feet. The Sky Arkalis stayed on my feet every time I used them.
Only once did I trip and the front Velcro strap unfastened. The rest of the time, both sets of straps stayed true to where I set them.
Miscellaneous but important
Out of my four weeks and 45 miles or so being on the trails, the majority of that distance and time was spent running. I want to quickly break down how each activity went with the Sky Arkali.
Hiking: I took these out during sun and the rain. The Vibram outsoles did such an excellent job.
My feet felt very comfortable, and Hoka’s claim that these shoes’ upper are breathable stand up to what I experienced. The high top area kept any and all dirt, rocks, and debris out from getting in the shoes.
Running: I took these out in clear and rainy weather. The Sky Arkali are heavier than my other trail running shoes, but I did not feel it until about 3 miles into my runs.
After three miles of trail running, my feet felt hot. In fact, when I took the shoes off after each run, my feet felt about 10 degrees cooler being out of the shoes.
The upper may be breathable, but it does not work well in heat and humidity. I do not recommend going more than eight miles straight when it comes to running with these shoes.
Cycling: I took these shoes for a few bicycle rides while camping. I did not include the distance I rode in the 45 miles I accumulated, but I did do an eight mile trek and short three-mile stint.
I love trail shoes while cycling because their soles provide such a firm grip to my bike’s pedals, and the Sky Arkali are no exception to this.
Kayaking: I went kayaking once on the same camping trip. And, while the Hoka Sky Arkali are not waterproof, they provided me with great footing when I got in and out of my kayak.
Walking: I wore the Hoka Sky Arkali for a full day at work. While they are not light compared to normal office shoes, I could easily stay standing all day in them.
I work in a building that has eight flights of stairs, and in any given day, I use those stairs from top to bottom and then some for various tasks. I had no discomfort from wearing the Sky Arkali while performing my job.
This is my first pair of Hoka shoes. The cushioning I felt lived up to the hype and expectations I have heard about for years regarding the brand.
These shoes are well constructed, and it shows that Hoka puts a lot of effort and time into designing and manufacturing this shoe.
However, I am a little surprised that Hoka did not make the Sky Arkali more running friendly. I feel this is a good shoe for short distance running (up to five kilometers), but it needs a feature to make it more breathable for longer distances due to heat buildup while running.
Regardless, as a hiking shoe, the Hoka Sky Arkali is going to be my go-to shoe for walking the trails and mountainous areas as I visit the state and national parks around me.
- Plenty of cushioning
- The outsole uses the Vibram Megagrip
- Two Velcro straps to assist with adjusting overall comfort
- Durable upper
- Reinforced toe areas
- Excellent for hiking
- Heavier than other trail running shoes
- Holds in heat and sweat after running several miles
- More expensive than other Hoka models and other trail running shoe brands
- Very limited color choices
Good to know
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is a mid-top hiking shoe which integrates running and climbing footwear innovations to render performance and comfort on the trail. Its upper is made of Matryx, a lightweight synthetic material that offers durability.
The Sky Arkali uses Hoka One One’s patented Profly midsole to generate a cushioned ride for the wearer. It’s Vibram Megagrip outsole provides ample traction on most types of terrain.
This mid-top hiking shoe from Hoka One One caters to male and female outdoor lovers. Its length selection is composed of whole and half sizes while width options are limited to standard only. The closure system, which employs adjustable heel and ankle straps, grant a secure and personalized lockdown. Moreover, it runs relatively true to size.
Empowering users to tackle rugged trails is the Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Vibram outsole. It’s made of a durable Megagrip rubber compound to endure constant ground contact. The outsole’s aggressively-shaped 5mm lugs deliver multi-directional grip when used on wet and dry surfaces. Its front end extends towards the shoe’s forefoot area to provide extra protection from stubbing.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Profly midsole allows hikers to negotiate tricky and uneven terrain with ample cushioning and support. It consists of two layers, one made of lightweight ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) on top and another composed of durable Rangi foam at the bottom. The former creates a cushioned landing while the latter material is firmer to give the responsiveness needed for a propulsive toe-off.
This sturdy hiking shoe from Hoka One One is equipped with Active Foot Frame technology. It allows the wearer’s foot to settle comfortably into the midsole rather than sitting on top of it, yielding added stability without excessive weight. Its default footbed generates extra underfoot comfort for the wearer.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Matryx upper integrates Kevlar strands into its construction to promote durability without adding weight to the gear. An abrasion-resistant rubber toe cap extends to the upper’s midfoot section for extra protection and robustness.
This Hoka shoe features a synthetic lace and set of eyelets for managing the fit. Velcro straps on the top of the closure and running along the back of the ankle create structure and deliver proprioceptive support.