Our verdict

The Solimar is a completely new shoe from Hoka, and a different one, given that it sits at the intersection of different sports—just like the Hoka Kawana. We found it to be a compelling hybrid that can easily switch from a gym session to a 10K run on the road, or even just a walk in the city. It’s partly made with recycled materials and considering that it’s a Hoka, even the relatively low price tag is unusual and very welcome.

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

Audience verdict

86
Good!
  • Top 9% most popular running shoes

Who should buy the HOKA Solimar

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Get it if you are after a good quality shoe that can do a bit of everything. Being both light and stable, it’s perfect if you are a gym goer who does some running, as long as you keep your runs to short distances and you don’t mind a firm feel underfoot, as we found.

Who should not buy it

We think you shouldn't consider this shoe if you:

  • like softer shoes. Get the HOKA Clifton 9 instead
  • run long distances. In that case, the more cushioned HOKA Rincon 3 is a better choice for you.

A jack of all trades

Contrary to what Hoka has done before, in this case, we have a shoe that is categorized as a cross-training model, for running, walking, and gym workouts.

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Without being exceptional in any of these areas, we found it good enough to tackle all these tasks, and also an excellent lifestyle shoe. Probably, one of the best do-it-all shoes in the market right now, if not the best.

Incredibly tough, breathes easy

Whether you're sweating inside at the gym or outside in the summer heat, the Solimar has got you covered.

Our eye-popping breathability test verified this shoe's excellent breathability level. Despite the use of thick and comfortable knit, the Solimar evacuates hot air straight through the toebox with surprising efficiency. The difference when compared to the run-of-the-mill Adidas Runfalcon is truly remarkable.

With the light test, it becomes clear just how Hoka nailed it, delivering top-notch breathability even with a plush upper. There's a clever design here, letting air flow around freely while keeping your feet cozy inside, making this shoe a true all-season workhorse.

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As you can observe in our microscope shots, there's an alternating pattern of thick blue knit and thinner black knit arranged diagonally. It's fascinating to examine it up close and to understand why it's so breathable.

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But hang on to your hats, because it's about to get even better. Let's talk durability.

In our standardized Dremel test, where we apply the same abrasive force to each shoe for 4 seconds, the Solimar demonstrated it's second-to-none in terms of durability among versatile daily trainers.

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Hoka Solimar vs. Hoka Kawana

When compared to the Hoka Kawana (pictured on the right), the difference is simply astounding. A large hole is noticeable in the latter, while it's pretty clear that the knit used in the former is in a league of its own.

The heel also demonstrated remarkable durability. It's evident that this shoe lasts as long as possible and withstands a variety of workouts.

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Snug and short, yet comfy

The knit in the toebox is stretchy and the interior padding is very comfortable. We experienced zero rubbing during our field tests.

After our manual exploration, we can confirm that Hoka went all-out to provide comfort. It's rare to see that amount of padding in the heel for a low-weight shoe. It looks like a pillow!

On the other hand, we had no doubts about this—the fit is really narrow in this shoe! Even a bit cramped, to be honest.

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Measuring the toebox of this Hoka shoe with a caliper, we weren't surprised with the results at all! 

To gauge the fit of this shoe, we'll compare its dimensions to those of other daily trainers on the market, some of which are known to be part of the NUC or "Narrow Upper Club."

Shoe Upper - Max width (mm) Upper - Big toe (mm) Tapers by
Hoka Solimar 93.1 71.0 31%
Nike Pegasus 40 100.8 75.7 33%
ASICS Gel Cumulus 25 98.3 74.4 32%
Hoka Kawana 93.9 68 38%
Saucony Axon 2 96.9 67.6 43%

In any case, for those who might find it not large enough, there’s a wide version available. So, if you often find yourself torn between sizes, it might be a smart move to go a half size up this time.

Solimar feels smooth, but a tad too firm

As mentioned before, this is not a typical HOKA shoe. When running, it gives a rather firm feel underfoot. That's because Hoka is not using ProFly+ foam like in the Mach 5, but a cheaper and firmer CMEVA midsole.

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However, even though the shoe's midsole lacks some energy return, it felt quite balanced and suitable for picking up the pace a little bit.

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We measured the midsole at 24.6 HA—that's what we think balanced cushioning is. However, it's noticeably firmer than most Hoka shoes. For instance, it's 21% firmer than the Clifton 9 and 15% firmer than the Kawana. As a result, Hoka aficionados might perceive this as a moderate-to-firm shoe.

But the good news is that the Solimar has a regular softness compared to the average of road running shoes.

This shoe also strikes a fine balance between flexibility and rigidity. It's flexible enough for everyday training during slow and easy runs, yet rigid enough to provide stability during gym workouts or casual hikes. As demonstrated in the video above, we rated it a 3/5 for torsional flexibility and 2/5 for longitudinal flexibility.

Disclaimer: we take an average of 4 measurements and remove any outliers. This video shows just one of our measurements.

Moreover, in our 90-degree bend test, the Solimar required 60% less force than the median.

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Unfortunately, the Solimar shows catastrophic behavior under cold temperatures. Nor that we weren't expecting that, being an EVA-based foam.

After spending 20 minutes sitting in our freezer, it gets a bone-chilling 75% stiffer and 41.5% firmer. For instance, the Saucony Tempus does it by 23.3% and 14.9%, respectively

Pick another one for the long runs, please

From our experience, this shoe provides a good amount of impact protection when used at the gym or for walking. But when used as a running shoe, it didn’t feel particularly protective. The CMEVA midsole it's just not good enough.

Our legs clearly didn't feel their best after a 10K run in this Hoka shoe.

Some may be misleading because of the 24.0/30.4 mm stack height, but as we explained in our in-depth guide about midsoles, the quality of the foam plays a greater role in leg protection. The Solimar doesn't have that feature, which is totally reasonable given its MSRP.

If you want a summer-ready shoe that's capable of being used for long runs, casual wear, and gym workouts, pick the ASICS Novablast 3.

It’s light and feels even lighter

On a positive note, the Hoka Solimar does a terrific job in the weight department. Tipping the scale at 8.2 oz (232g) in a men's US size 9, we consider it a fantastic result! That's because it's more than an ounce lighter than road shoes on average!

The Solimar is also a whopping 23% lighter than its main competitor in the Hoka lineup, the Kawana. That's a truly out-of-this-world figure, as we aren't accustomed to seeing such significant weight differences.

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Plus, when running it does feel like a lighter shoe.

Secure lockdown despite non-gusseted tongue

The Solimar delivered a nice and solid lockdown through the midfoot section and the heel.

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Being a versatile shoe, it's totally reasonable to get a non-gusseted tongue, although it will mean that for some runners the lockdown won't be as good as in other shoes.

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And speaking about the tongue. It's classic Hoka—super thick and cozy. In fact, we clocked it at 7.5 mm, making it a whopping 29% thicker than your average shoe tongue!

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Solimar is a stable and slightly rockered shoe

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The landing platform of the Solimar is fairly typical and does not specifically provide a race-ready or ultra-stable ride. In fact, it's only 1% narrower in the heel and 2% wider in the forefoot compared to the average road running shoe.

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This is a Hoka we're talking about, so there's gotta be a bit of that rocker action, right? While it's not off-the-charts crazy, we verified that's definitely noticeable, especially for a laid-back daily trainer.

Unusual drop for a HOKA shoe

The heel-to-drop (or drop) is the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot. HOKA, until today, has always used a measure between 4 and 5 mm for this kind of shoe, but in this one, we have a taller 6 mm!

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Kudos to Hoka on this one! After our precise measurements, we conclude that the Solimar has a 6.4-mm heel-to-toe drop. That's 0.4 mm away from the official number, which is pretty close!

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With its 6-mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe boasts more versatility than your typical 4- or 5-mm options from Hoka. Plus, it eases up on your Achilles, steering clear of the issues that can be caused by low-drop shoes.

On the other hand, if you're thinking that 6 mm it's too steep for you, give Altra shoes a look.

Different even in the look 

We enjoyed the lean design that separates this shoe from many others of the same brand, which usually look bulkier and more cumbersome.

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Good grip in the Solimar

We were worried about the grip, because, unlike many other shoes, there’s quite a lot of exposed foam and not much rubber. But eventually, the outsole got the job done on the road.

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We found it good enough even on wet, despite sporting a harder-than-average rubber.

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Disclaimer: We average four measurements and eliminate any outliers. This image depicts only one.

However, the shoe's exposed foam did not minimize our concerns about the shoe's durability.

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It isn't just the substantial amount of foam in contact with the ground that's worrisome for us. In an effort to minimize weight, Hoka opted for an exceptionally thin 2.6 mm rubber layer. This is one of the thinnest outsoles we've ever measured in our lab, and it's likely to decrease the shoe's durability.

Solimar is wallet-friendly 

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At $125 the Solimar is on the cheaper side if we consider that it’s a Hoka running shoe, which usually has a price that ranges from $140 to $200.