Hoka One One released one of the most expensive shoes I’ve seen for that brand. The Sky Arkali combines elements of a trail running shoe with a durable hiking low-cut boot.
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