Hoka Arahi 4 review
You’ll see throughout this review that I’m conflicted. On one side, these shoes certainly deliver what’s needed and more but at least for me, a pretty big downside.
These shoes are aimed to provide plenty of cushioning, enough support for mild overpronators yet still be snappy and responsive when you need them to be.
Where is Arahi 4 in my rotation
To give some context to what I’m comparing the Hoka Arahi 4 with, the shoes I currently switch between are:
- Nike Pegasus 35, for speedwork and shorter distances
- Addidas Boston 8, for speedwork and races under half marathon distance
In the past, I’ve heavily relied upon support shoes. But as shown from above, I’m slowly moving towards a lighter support level. The Arahi aims to replace my ASICS Metaruns as my long run and race shoe where I need that extra support.
When it comes to fit, these shoes are a real mixed bag. We’ll get onto the aforementioned caveat but for now, let’s stick with the good aspects.
Overall these shoes are good at making your fit feel secure without a tightness on the top of the foot. They also give plenty of space in the toe box giving your toes enough space to splay.
It looks like we’ve gotten to the caveat already. The main issue with these shoes is that something (and I’ve not able to pinpoint exactly what it is) causes rubbing along the midfoot. Enough rubbing that as you pass the 5-mile mark, you can feel blisters forming.
I’ve tried different insoles and varying degrees of tightness for the laces, but to no avail. The hope is that this stops after some time. Maybe it could be that I need a wider version but not something I’ve ever experienced in other shoes.
Things to like about the Arahi 4 upper
Of all the Hoka’s, these are probably my favourite in terms of looks and the closest to a pair of “normal” looking trainers (which might be why they are my favourite).
The upper is filled with cool features and nods to the Hoka branding. The reflective logo at the bottom of the laces, the Hoka name emblazoned on the side along with the model name, and a dotted design along the edges all makes for a great overall look (especially when twinned with a dual colour outsole).
The heel loop synonymous with the Hoka running shoes, and they are a great addition, especially if, like me, you don’t often want to undo your shoes once you’ve found the fit that’s right for you and also adds a bit of colour to these.
Towards the end of the shoe, there is plenty of room, enough for your toes to splay, and a decent amount of space for any size increases you may see in the long run.
These are also very breathable shoes. There isn’t an abundance of padding, meaning that your foot can breathe, and if you’re unlucky enough to get caught out in the rain, these won’t have you feeling like you’ve got a pair of lead weights attached to your feet.
They’re a lot closer to a mesh fit next to your foot compared to other running shoes.
More subtle approach to stability
The midsole is really where Hoka has gone against the status quo for support running shoes. The usual arch support and the big external heel counter isn’t there. Instead, Hoka relies upon their unique J-Frame, which aims to guide your foot and provide support.
This means the Arahi 4 doesn’t come with the usual challenges of a support shoe. They’ve been able to cut down the weight and offer a real mix of firmness in the areas where it’s needed and softness, allowing a forgiving experience when tired.
The support provided is made for mild overpronators or those looking for a bit of support during their weekly miles. Unlike some other support shoes, the overall experience in the midsole is responsive.
You feel protected but connected to the surface. This shoe feels comfortable on slow runs but also when you’re up the pace. Firm enough to provide a decent snap, the meta-rocker style also helps push you forward, which helps drive the pace.
Personally, although these shoes can be used at all paces, I prefer them at a faster pace just because of the snappy feel and meta-rocker, but that’s very much a personal preference.
There is some time needed to get used to a 5mm drop compared with the standard 8-10mm you’ll get with most other running shoes. But once you get used to this, they feel great apart from the issues mentioned previously. The support and cushioning is more than enough for longer runs.
Not so safe on wet roads
What’s strange is I didn’t actually slip whilst wearing these, but they felt slippery. It was as if the grip was enough to keep you standing but not quite enough for you to feel entirely secure.
It’s a strange feeling which takes some getting used to.
This feeling is only apparent on wet concrete. On all other surfaces, these shoes felt great, able to corner at speed and provide enough grip on trails.
The addition of durable rubber on key wear areas is a great touch to ensure longevity. So far, for the first 50 miles, I did not notice durability issues, and there are no issues with stones or mud getting stuck into the bottom, weighing the shoe down.
Are the Arahi 4s good enough to retire my Metaruns?
Yes and no.
These have effectively filled the void I was concerned about my Metaruns regarding support and ability to go the distance.
They also give me essential support on long runs whilst still being light and responsive, opening the doors for them to be used as race shoes. However, with the hotspots mentioned above (unless these start to abate post 50 miles), I’m not sure they’re going to be good enough in the long run.
What makes this a tougher call is that all other shoe parts are great - the upper, look, overall performance truly is superb. If it weren’t for the arch tightness causing blisters, these would score much higher.
Hoka shoes have always intrigued me. With the larger stack height and plush cushioning, I’ve always been interested in trying them.
I never wanted to make the leap. When it finally came time to retire my ASICS Metaruns (600 miles later), I came across the Arahi 4, which seemed to tick all of the boxes - support, cushioned, and lightweight.
So I made the jump, and I didn’t feel disappointed until I started to feel something just above my arch on my midfoot.
As you can see throughout this review, I’m conflicted. If you’re not someone who feels the same pain and rubbing I have along the inner part of my midfoot, I have no doubt you’ll love these shoes, especially if you need some support in a lightweight, responsive package.