The Hoka One One Bondi 5 is the closest that you can get to running on clouds, in terms of the soft ride...and the distance off the ground.
The Bondi 5 is the most cushioned shoe on the market.
Running in an excessively cushioned shoe used to mean that you would be running in a heavy and unstable shoe. Hoka eliminated these problems with the Bondi 5.
The Bondi 5 allows runners to comfortably let their shoes absorb all of the impact of running, instead of abusing their legs.
The Bondi 5 has soft and comfortable double layer mesh upper, which is reinforced with overlays around the perimeter of the shoe.
The Bondi 5 is a semi-breathable shoe. Hoka tried to make this shoe breathable by perforating the upper in the toebox area, however, my feet felt a little bit stuffy on hot summer days.
The advantage of the thicker upper is that the shoe is more durable.
The Bondi 5’s upper did not give me any blisters. The mesh used is not stretchy, however, the shoe has a high volume toe box, which eliminated rubbing.
The heel collar and tongue are both plushly cushioned. The Bondi 5 has a very high volume fit through the midfoot and toebox.
I have to tie my laces very tightly to get a secure fit. Even when the laces are tied very tightly, the tongue prevents any pressure points forming on the top of my feet.
The Bondi 5 has a small plastic heel cup. The heel cup is angled forward towards the forefoot, which keeps your heel pressed up against the shoe at all times. This helps make the fit more secure.
The Bondi 5 uses a technology called side walls. Essentially, the midsole comes up around the sides of the foot. The side walls cause your foot to to stay put in the shoe. They also greatly increase the stability of the ride.
The Bondi 5 has a straight fit, with just enough room in the toebox so that my big toe is pointed straight forward and my toes are not squished together.
Having a straight big toe is very important for power and stability during the landing and push off stages of the gait cycle.
The midsole is where the Bondi 5 really stands out.
Underneath the sockliner, is a strobel board, and a giant slab of soft EVA foam. A strobel board is a hard piece of plastic underneath the sockliner that prevents your foot from sinking into the midsole.
This usually makes the shoe feel less cushioned and faster. A strobel board usually causes you to activate your foot and lower leg muscles because it makes you land on a harder surface, despite the shoe absorbing the same amount of shock.
The shoe’s excessive cushioning makes the Bondi 5 feel like it doesn’t even have a strobel board. Your foot feels like it sinks into the midsole whilst running.
This just goes to show how much cushion this shoe really has. There is so much cushioning that your legs will still feel fresh after a long run.
A common concern with maximalist cushioned shoes is the stability. Many people felt like they were going to roll their ankle while running in previous models of the Bondi.
Hoka has made the Bondi 5 wider than previous models. The wider design contributes to the shoes stable ride.
The Bondi 5 has a 4 millimeter drop. Usually a 4 millimeter drop is only comfortable for forefoot strikers because low drop designs slows down heel to toe transitions.
Hoka uses its Meta Rocker technology, which is essentially a rounded heel and forefoot to allow heel strikers and forefoot strikers to quickly roll through the ground contact phase of their gait cycle.
This makes the shoe comfortable for anyone with any type of foot strike. The Bondi 5 is very stiff.
This is unavoidable with such a thick midsole, however, it is not uncomfortable because the meta rocker design makes flexing the shoe completely unnecessary.
Another major concern that many people have with max cushioned shoes is that they will feel very sow. The Bondi feels slower than other max cushioned running shoes such as the Hoka Clifton, however, the Bondi does not feel slow by any means.
The stiff midsole, the Meta Rocker technology and the strobel board make the shoe even faster than a regular daily trainer.
The Bondi 5’s outsole is made of patches of hard EVA, and two different rubber compounds.
The forefoot has sticky rubber pads that provide great traction on wet pavement and dirt roads. Heel strikers tend to abuse the heel of the shoe, which is why Hoka placed more durable rubber in the heel.
The midfoot has a CMEVA outsole, becuase traction and durability are not needed there. There many small grooves in the outsole. These grooves pick up small stones.
Since the midsole is so stiff, the grooves do not widen during push off, and the stones stay put until you stop and pick them out.
I ordered this shoe because I started to develop a stress fracture in my little toe. I used the Bondi 5’s as my daily trainers and never felt my toe injury again.
I recommend this shoe to any neutral road runner who wants a highly cushioned shoe. The Bondi 5 gives you the capability to run on very sore legs and to run while nursing minor injuries.
I also recommend this shoe to anyone who wants to significantly increase their training volume.
-0.5 indicates that you should buy 0.5 sizes smaller in a different shoe
+0.5 indicates that you should buy 0.5 sizes larger in a different shoe
Hoka One One Bondi 5 vs. Asics Gel-Nimbus 19
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 19 is a normal looking shoe, with maximum cushioning.
The forefoot cushioning in the Nimbus doesn’t even come close to the forefoot cushioning in the Bondi, but the heel cushioning in the Nimbus is quite substantial. The Nimbus has much more dense cushioning than the Bondi.
The Nimbus has a 10 millimeter drop, which makes it more of a heel striker shoe. The Nimbus is about an ounce heavier than the Bondi. The Nimbus is also less responsive.
Hoka One One Bondi 5 vs. Hoka Stinson 3
The Stinson is the shoe that most closely resembles the Bondi.
The Stinson weighs about an ounce more than the Bondi. The Bondi has softer cushioning than the Stinson, however, the Stinson is more responsive than the Bondi.
The Bondi has a more comfortable upper than the Stinson. The Stinson has a 6 millimeter drop, compared to the 4 millimeters in the Bondi.
Hoka One One Bondi 5 vs. Adidas Ultra Boost
The Adidas Ultra Boost is the ‘fashionable’ max cushioned road running shoe.
The heel has substantial cushioning, however the forefoot has little cushioning due to the 10 millimeter drop. The knit upper is more comfortable on the Ultra Boost.
The Ultra Boost is also more durable than the Bondi. The Ultra Boost is more responsive than the Bondi due to the Boost midsole material. The Bondi has more cushioning and is lighter than the Ultra Boost.
Hoka One One Bondi 5 vs. Saucony Triumph ISO 3
The Bondi is far more cushioned than the Triumph.
The Triumph is heavier and more durable than the Bondi. The Triumph has a more responsive midsole foam than the Bondi.
The Triumph has an 8 millimeter drop, compared to the 4 millimeters in the Bondi. The Triumph has better traction than the Bondi. The Triumph is also much more flexible.
Buy ½ size down in the Triumph.
Hoka One One Bondi 5 vs. Altra Paradigm 2.0
These two shoes are very similar. The Paradigm has almost as much cushion as the Bondi.
Both shoes weigh the same amount and provide similar amounts of traction. The Paradigm is a zero drop shoe, which makes it best for forefoot strikers.
The Paradigm has a very wide fit in the toebox. The Bondi is stiffer than the Paradigm.
Both shoes are equally responsive and durable. Buy ½ size down in the Paradigm.
Overall, the Bondi 5 is a great maximum cushioned shoe.
I took off points because on very hot days my feet were uncomfortable, and because the outsole picked up so many little stones. Hoka has finally made a max cushioned beast that is both lightweight and stable.
If you're looking for a shoe that will treat your feet and legs to the most highly cushioned ride possible, without sacrificing too much speed, then you need a pair of Bondi 5s.
In recent years, I have jumped on board the “minimalist” running movement. I do not limit myself to only minimalist (thin-soled) shoes, but much of my training is done in minimal or zero drop running shoes.
This is mainly because I like the wider toe box and the way that they force me to have more focused and form oriented running. I also want to feel the ground a bit as I run.
When I saw friends and colleagues in the field of fitness and physical education starting to wear Hoka One One's, I noticed that these were exactly the opposite of what I had been wearing. Yet, I was interested in giving it a try.
Because of their unique look and good reviews from friends, I decided to jump in the water and get a pair of Hoka One One Bondi 5's, despite being a bit pricey.
My main areas to test them would be as running shoes and as active day to day shoes for my work as a physical education teacher.
I was immediately impressed by the Bondi 5’s comfortable and plush soles that made me feel like I was walking on pillows. I liked that the high soles gave me some extra height and made me feel a bit taller.
Finally, I was impressed that despite the massiveness of the shoe, the weight was still light and not affected much by the bulkier size.
I did immediately notice that they run narrow and I tried on several Hoka models in the store that felt too narrow. So I went with extra-wide, which I don't usually get, and bought the Bondi 6’s.
The running experience
What most obviously makes this shoe unique right off the bat is its crazy thick sole (33 mm in the heel and 29 mm in the forefoot for the men’s version). This is far thicker than most running shoes.
This unique element makes any running enthusiast who wants to experience a smooth and comfortable run excited to try them out. I was impressed that despite its massiveness, it is lightweight. Thus, I applaud the engineering of this shoe.
The cushion is very nice and spongy. This thick sole is not just for show and really makes the shoe well-cushioned.
The back of the shoe cups the heel nicely and makes the foot feel secure and has good support, allowing a smooth change of direction and support on sharper turns.
The design looks aesthetic, and there are some bright and funky colors available, as well. Even without the brighter colors, this shoe is bound to draw attention with its unusual height.
Despite it being lightweight, one should be prepared to be running in a bulky shoe. Some may be okay with this, and others could potentially be bothered by it.
I knew that I was trying a more massive shoe. But, I thought that the extra cushion comfort could outweigh the issue of bulkiness and provide me with a nice training shoe.
Even as I get more used to them, the bulkiness has still been something that I like less about these shoes.
My other big issue with them is the width. They run narrow like some other Hoka models. There is also a bit of excess pressure on my toes and also in the midfoot.
Despite getting a wide size, some discomfort from pressing has not seemed to lessen significantly as I break in the shoes.
The front of the shoe curving up is also a bit of an adjustment for me, and it seems to mess a bit with my balance while running since the sole is so thick and sloped.
The right shoe for the right runner
I am a firm believer that the proper running shoes will significantly impact a person's running. With different body builds, running styles, foot shapes, experience levels, and many other factors, people have different footwear needs.
In my opinion, the Bondi 5 is not an ideal match for me. I am a slim built, wide footed, forefoot runner, who often likes to incorporate sprint training into my running workouts.
For sprinting, as we can see from track spikes, a more minimal shoe is preferred rather than lugging around a bulky shoe (even if the weight manages to be as impressively light as with Hoka's).
The thick sole, especially stacked in the heel, is more conducive to midfoot or heel running. And, I have trained myself to become more of a forefoot runner.
Upon purchasing, I figured that if these shoes would not become my ideal running shoes, they could be a comfortable day to day shoe for me.
However, the tight fit and stiffness make this a bit problematic for me as well. I have tried different insoles in them, and have still not managed to make them fit me as comfortably as I would like.
I should briefly add that I am not such a fan of the lacing system. Thin and extra-long laces tend to be difficult to tie, need to be tucked away, and come untied more easily.
For other runners
Could I see the Bondi 5’s being suitable for other runners? Absolutely! They could be suitable for:
- A heavyset runner who needs the extra cushion and knee joint protection
- Someone with leg injuries and needs an extra cushion on the joints
- Someone with narrower feet who may be comfortable in shoes that run a bit narrow
- A beginner runner who usually tend to run more on the heels and may want some extra spring in their step as they are starting to get into running
- Someone who likes to sit back on their heels while running
As mentioned, I would have reservations recommending these shoes for those like me who prefer:
- Less massive and bulky feeling shoes
- Like to sprint train
- Have wide feet
- Occasionally use running shoes for sport and different fitness training
Analogy to tennis
Growing up playing a lot of tennis, I remember how the beginners' rackets are light and have lots of spring. So, when you touch the ball and flies off the racket, it allows beginners to clear the net.
As a player advances, they move on to a racket that is heavier and has less springy strings because the player is stronger and needs more control and spin. If an advanced player uses one of these beginners rackets, their shots will sail off the court.
This is a little bit of an analogy to how I feel with these thick pillow soles of the Hokas. A more advanced runner will likely want to have more control and will feel like this shoe messes with their form.
But, a beginning runner may need that extra comfort and spring to start to make running enjoyable for them.
How they fit into my training
The main thing I do like to use my Bondi 5's for is for walking, largely because walking is done less on the balls of the feet. I prefer them as a walking shoe rather than for running.
So, this could also be a good shoe for avid walkers like my mother, who enjoys Hokas greatly for this.
The Bondi 5’s are low top and with a thin mesh upper, so I wouldn't want to take them on too serious terrain. But, I would be interested to try Hoka's new line of hiking boots that are made of tough leather and are high tops and are made for offroad walking and hiking.
Good to know
- The Bondi 5 features an updated upper that provides breathability. The Comfort Frame hugs the foot with maximum comfort with a sock-like feel while the padded tongue delivers added comfort while enhancing the fit.
- The midsole of the shoe was also modified to deliver enhanced underfoot protection and durability for neutral pronators. It offers a more responsive ride while running on the road.
- The outsole was also updated. The shoe features an updated lug pattern and new rubber material to improve traction and durability.
The outsole unit of the shoe has an updated lug pattern that delivers enhanced traction while running on the road. The shoe also features the Zonal Rubber Placement that is designed for improved durability.
The Hoka One One Bondi 5 also utilizes the moderate Heel Bevel that is specifically designed not only for a smoother heel to toe transition but also for added durability and enhanced ground contact.
The midsole of the Bondi 5 features the improved full-length EVA cushioning that gives a durable and responsive cushioning for a more satisfying running experience. Aside from the technical updates, the midsole unit also has an updated design for a fresh look.
The Hoka One One Bondi 5 comes with a breathable upper coverage that keeps the foot dry and comfortable all throughout the run. The Comfort Frame delivers maximum comfort and the 3D Puff Print Frame offers a lightweight and added support.