Our verdict

We found the Hoka Hopara to be remarkably reassuring on the trails, even on slippery ones! With its steady base and generous cushioning, it felt on par with hiking shoes! Despite being heavier and pricier than most hiking sandals, we affirm that the Hopara can make your hikes quite inspiring and surefooted. You might even start a gorp-core trend wearing it back in your area!

Pros

  • Excellent water drainage
  • Odor-free interiors
  • Very well cushioned
  • Extra wide and stable platform
  • Secure foothold
  • Plenty of toebox space
  • Supreme wet-surface traction
  • Highly resistant to abrasion

Cons

  • Flimsy heel strap
  • Not a light sandal

Audience verdict

79
Decent!
  • Top 9% most popular hiking sandals

Who should buy

The Hopara has what it takes to be your next go-to trail or all-day wear companion. You will appreciate this Hoka offering if you want a sandal that is extremely versatile. it can handle easy-to-moderate hiking, camping, walking, fishing, paddling, swimming, among other activities that involve water.

There is a good reason why "Hopara" is a Maori word for “explore.”

Hoka Hopara review

Who should NOT buy

If you'd like to explore a similar closed-toe hiking sandal that is more plush and has a stronger heel strap, we recommend checking out the KEEN Newport H2!

And if you feel like doing some beach/water hiking, you may want a lighter and more laid-back style like the Teva Hurricane XLT2.

Hoka Hopara lab test

Durability

Toebox durability

Hoka takes toe protection very seriously in its closed-toe Hopara sandal. It's hard to ignore the humongous toe bumper and extra thick overlays of this model.

To test exactly how resistant the Hopara is to abrasion, we resorted to our trusty Dremel. After 12 seconds of drilling the toebox at a consistent speed (5K RPM) and pressure (3.2N), we were thrilled with the result!

It not only looks aggressive but is also ready to hold the blow! Looking at the minor damage on the rubber, the Hopara made us more confident about bumping into rocks and other immovable hazards.

Compared to what the same Dremel test can do to other types of outdoor shoes, the Hoka Hopara deserves a maximum 5 out of 5 for toebox durability.

Hoka Hopara Toebox durability test

Test results
Hopara 5

Heel padding durability

The sandal also showed off its sturdy lining inside the heel strap. Drilling it for 4 seconds at a 5K RPM speed resulted in just a tiny scratch.

If we only consider the lining, it deserves a high score of 4 out of 5.

Hoka Hopara Heel padding durability test

But there is a caveat....The stitching on this heel strap is not very reliable which is very likely to result in an unfortunate tear. This risk is especially high if you pull the finger loop too hard when getting the Hopara on. 

Hoka Hopara heel strap

If you don't want to come across this potential problem, you may want to go for the better reinforced KEEN Newport H2.

Test results
Hopara 4

Outsole hardness

Even though the Hopara is only partially covered with rubber, the quality of that rubber is on par with some hiking boots!

Just by feeling its hardness, we can anticipate a longer-than-average life for this Hoka sandal. Our durometer shows 81.0 HC, which is notably firmer than average.

Hoka Hopara Outsole hardness
Test results
Hopara 81.0 HC
Average 79.8 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
50.5 HC
Outsole hardness
85.5 HC

Outsole durability

Indeed, the outsole of this sandal showed tremendous results in our Dremel durability test.

Having applied the tool for 22 seconds at an unforgiving speed of 10K RPM, the damage was nearly cosmetic! Where most sandals lose at least 1 mm of rubber, the Hopara only lost 0.5 mm, based on our tread gauge.

Hoka Hopara Outsole durability test

This finding proves that the Hoka Hopara is a trail-ready option and not just a beach flip-flop!

Test results
Hopara 0.5 mm
Average 2.1 mm
Compared to 5 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

As our caliper shows, the rubber layer of the Hopara is also thicker than the average of hiking sandals. At 3.0 mm without the lugs, it has a lot of outsole to wear through before this sandal screams for replacement.

Hoka Hopara Outsole thickness
Test results
Hopara 3.0 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
3.6 mm

Weight

The Hoka Hopara is a burly sandal for sure. It even feels off to refer to the Hopara as "sandal." Just like most closed-toe sandals, it is basically a hiking shoe with drainage.

Tipping the scale at 12.6 oz (357g) in a men's US 9, it sure is heavier than most sandals. But to be fair, its close competitor, the KEEN Newport H2, is even heavier at 13.4 oz (381g).

Hoka Hopara Weight
Test results
Hopara 12.59 oz (357g)
Average 10.51 oz (298g)
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
6.31 oz (179g)
Weight
14.60 oz (414g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

What helps to justify the Hopara's above-average weight is the amount of cushioning that it packs. This sandal is loaded with comfort and to say we are addicted is an understatement!

A generous stack of 26.8 mm under the heel makes it a real joy to wear all day long. Compared to other sandals we've tested, the Hopara is an actual shoe!

Hoka Hopara Heel stack

Stepping on almost anything that poked underfoot was never a problem in this Hoka sandal.

Test results
Hopara 26.8 mm
Average 25.2 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
15.9 mm
Heel stack
30.9 mm

Forefoot stack

Is this sandal just as massive in the forefoot? Oh, yeah!

With our caliper showing 22.6 mm of stack height, the Hopara once again proves that it is a true Hoka. The brand is famous for its extra-cushioned hiking and running footwear.

Hoka Hopara Forefoot stack
Test results
Hopara 22.6 mm
Average 18.0 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
13.8 mm
Forefoot stack
22.6 mm

Drop

According to the official stats, the heel-to-toe drop of the Hopara is 5 mm. Based on our own measurements, it is even less - 4.2 mm.

In real life, this means that your foot sits nearly parallel to the ground inside the sandal. No significant elevation in the heel.

  • The benefit is that you feel more grounded and in control of the footing.
  • The drawback is that beginner hikers may feel muscle fatigue faster in low-drop footwear.
Hoka Hopara Drop
Test results
Hopara 4.2 mm
Average 7.2 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Drop
11.9 mm

Midsole softness

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

At first look, the Hopara may appear soft and cozy but its rubberized EVA midsole proves otherwise.

Pressing our durometer against the foam, the tool showed 33.6 HA. This is on the firm side of hiking sandals and, for reference, 56% firmer than the Teva Hurricane XLT2!

Some people may wish for a plusher underfoot experience but only until they step on the first sharp rock.

Hoka Hopara Midsole softness
Test results
Hopara 33.6 HA
Average 28.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
21.6 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
35.1 HA

Stability

Lateral stability test

Apparently, this hiking sandal from Hoka has never heard of ankle rolls. It made us feel exceptionally stable all throughout the hike test, especially on rocky and uneven terrain.

Torsional rigidity

It took a little twist with our hands to reveal the sandal's fairly stiff platform. Thick, firm, and wide, it can't be bent so easily!

This convinced us to rate this Hoka sandal's torsional rigidity with an above-average score of 3/5. No wonder the Hopara feels so stable and supportive underfoot!

Test results
Hopara 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 5 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Next time you see a Bigfoot's footprint on the trail, don't get too excited. It probably came from a fellow Hoka wearer.

The sandal's landing area is absolutely massive. Measuring the widest part of the forefoot with a durometer, we got 125.1 mm which is much wider than average.

Hoka Hopara Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Hopara 125.1 mm
Average 118.8 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
112.6 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
125.1 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Meanwhile, in the widest part of the heel, our caliper showed a whopping 100 mm! That's a whole centimeter wider than average.

Having so much sole to fall back on made our steps surefooted when going downhill and hopping in between rocks.

Hoka Hopara Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Hopara 100.0 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
81.6 mm
Midsole width in the heel
100.5 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

You can probably tell by now that it's not easy to bend your foot all the way in the Hoka Hopara.

Using a force gauge, we found that it took 25.1N to get this sandal to a 90-degree angle. This is 40% more than it normally takes a hiking sandal!

Wearing the Hopara, you certainly compromise ground feel and natural movement. But you do get plenty of cushioning and protection in return.

Test results
Hopara 25.1N
Average 21.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
7.0N
Stiffness
36.8N

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The Hopara undercuts many of its competitors from Teva, KEEN, and Chaco by having some pretty aggressive lugs. According to Hoka, they are 5 mm deep and it was (almost) confirmed in our caliper measurement (4.8 mm).

Hoka Hopara Lug depth

We were ecstatic to finally find a sandal that gives more bite on loose soil. Slippery stones, lava rocks, smooth surfaces - it handles them all, based on our trips.

Hoka Hopara outsole

Test results
Hopara 3.8 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Lug depth
4.1 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

We were elated by the fact that the Hoka Hopara had enough room in the toe area. There is absolutely no squeezing or pinching.

In the widest part of the toebox, our caliper showed 109.4 mm which is significantly wider than average.

Hoka Hopara Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Hopara 109.4 mm
Average 100.7 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
89.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.4 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

There is also no tapering in the Hopara's toebox! At the big toe mark, our caliper measured nice and wide 84.9 mm.

We believe that there is enough space for wide footers and even those with bunions to feel comfortable.

Hoka Hopara Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Hopara 84.9 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Although the sandal comes across as very loose-fitting, it is actually quite secure on foot. That is thanks to its gusseted tongue construction which implies that the tongue is fully attached on the sides.

Made of neoprene, it is very form-fitting, provides a secure lockdown, and reduces friction when wet.

Hoka Hopara Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Hopara Both sides (full)

Quick-lace

To further cinch up the upper, The Hopara used a quick-lace (or bungee) system. We love this type of lockdown mechanism as it is so quick and effortless to adjust.

Hoka Hopara quicklace

It also comes with a handy lace storage to tuck excess laces away.

Comfort

Upper material thickness

The neoprene tongue of the Hopara is quite thin. We measured it at only 2.7 mm.

This is a welcome bonus for those who don't like too much material on top of the foot in their sandals.

Hoka Hopara Tongue padding
Test results
Hopara 2.7 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 8 hiking sandals
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
8.2 mm

Heel tab

The sandal comes with two finger loops - one on the tongue (with the HOKA logo) and the other one on the heel strap.

But do be careful with the back loop. We found that pulling it too hard can result in ripping the strap altogether!

Hoka Hopara Heel tab
Test results
Hopara Finger loop

Water drainage

Ready for some serious plunges, the Hopara features wide cutouts on the sides and at the back for the water to escape.

Hoka Hopara heel cushioning

We found the drainage to be very effective in this sandal and were also pleased that it remained odor-free.

Misc

Reflective elements

This Hoka sandal features very small yet important reflective strips on the heel loops. You can see them reflect the light back in the dark.

Test results
Hopara Yes