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92 / 100 based on 11 expert reviews
Hoka One One Sky Arkali: What kind of shoe is this anyway?!More photos
Out of the box, I wondered if this was a special dirt court basketball shoe. In 45 years of running, racing, and hiking, I’ve worn about every type of shoe.
But Hoka has built a unique multipurpose fast-running, hiking shoe.
Hiker or runner?
This shoe is at home on the trail, whether going fast or slow, as it has great traction and foot protection. The Sky Arkali brings a new possibility to a hiking shoe.
The French engineering created a unique blend of a running shoe’s lightweight and comfort with a hiking boot’s rugged frame and protection. This shoe looks ready for any challenge.
Though much lighter than any hiking boot I’ve ever worn, it is a bit heavy as a running shoe at 15 ½ ounces in size 9 ½. Most of my other running shoes average about 9 ounces. But my old leather hiking boots are 2 ½ pounds!
Hiking with the Arkali was no more challenging than the terrain, no matter what the trail conditions. The 5 mm multidirectional Vibram® lugs provided excellent traction.
Meanwhile, the tough front rubber top cap shields the toes from rocks and branches. After 55 miles of hiking and running on various terrain, there is no noticeable wear on the outsole.
The durable Vibram® outsole is aggressive. Hoka calls it Megagrip. Even after a cold, muddy run, my feet are dry.
The outsole did collect mud, but the positioning of the lugs seems to push the dirt to the sides, and it just sheds off. It also wraps around the sides for even more protection.
The multi-layered midsole gives a softer heel, and the upward curve upfront provides a responsive toe-off. Having a 29 mm of cushion in the rear and 24 mm at the front, a 5 mm drop is slightly less than my 6 mm optimal drop.
But, I’ve seen no adverse effects at this point. The midsole is denser than the average Hoka.
The Kevlar-reinforced upper brings foot protection to a new level. Stones and rocks just bounce off the abrasion-resistant toe cap.
The lacing system and the adjustable heel and ankle straps help to lock in your foot. This changes the internal foot movement considerably.
On my first run in these shoes, I laced my traditional loose fit. Down the first hill, my foot was sliding forward and side to side and shortly after they came untied. Tightening the laces helped considerably.
The special pouch
The lace pouch underneath the Velcro ankle lock stops the need for double-knotting the laces.
The lacing system starts at the toe bumper and climbs to the neoprene strap. This does give me a bit more downward pressure on my foot than I am accustomed to, though not so much to be uncomfortable.
I just wish my feet felt as at home in this shoe. Its bulkiness and weight don’t allow this shoe to feel like a runner.
As a hiker, it is probably the best I’ve ever used—no hot spots or slippage even on a ten-mile fast-packing trip.
For my final verdict on the Sky Arkali, I have mixed feelings, and therefore I’m giving it a rating as a running shoe and one as a hiking boot.
As a runner, it gets a 70, primarily positive for durability and comfort and negative for the weight and stiffness of the midsole. As a hiker, I give this shoe a 95!
Comfort, durability, protection, lightweight, and ankle protection are excellent.
Hoka One One Sky Arkali: run, hike, scramble—what can these shoes NOT do?More photos
This summer, I was ambitious about climbing as many of the Colorado peaks as I could. Saturday mornings, I awoke around 2 am to drive to distant trailheads and begin my epic climbs.
I'm an ultrarunner, by preferred hobby, but I found many of the 14'ers (14,000+ ft mountains) and 13'ers demanded a little something-something more than my trail running shoes provided.
Scrambles up Longs Peak, Hagues, Fairchild, The Spearhead, and more required ankle support, irresistible grip, and a midsole that could keep me going for hours on end. Although I loved my North Face Flight Trinity and my Wildhorse 5s, they were getting absolutely torn to shreds on my more challenging climbs.
After Longs Peak, I wore a hole right through the upper of my beloved TNFs—noooooooooooo!
As the shoe burial concluded, I vowed to find a shoe that would allow me to run, hike, and scramble without sacrificing speed, comfort, or safety...and then I found it! The Hoka One One Sky Arkali.
The ultimate shoe test
Boy, did I put these shoes through the grinder. I opened my Arkalis and immediately wanted to put them to the test.
Yes, they felt extremely durable and well made, but these shoes were being marketed as a lightweight running and hiking solution—how would they hold up on the trails?
I went on a fairly easy 5-mile run to break them in and get a feel for their running potential—and I was left quite satisfied.
The shoe can't hide the fact that it's 15.2 oz., so I noticed immediately that it was a bit heavy. But not enough to impact my running form or endurance.
No, I'm not going to be setting any PRs in the Arkalis, but it'll definitely provide the running experience I crave. So, I put a big ol' checkmark next to the running box. Next: hiking and scrambling.
With only 5 miles on the shoes, I laced them up for a long day hike.
Me and my buddy would be doing the Mummy Mania route in Rocky Mountain National Park, a point-to-point route that would summit 5 13,000+ ft peaks and 1 12,900+ ft. peak, going for ~18 miles and accumulating ~6,500 ft of elevation gain and ~8,000 ft of descent. Yeah, it was gnarly.
The shoe held up fantastically! Even without adequately breaking it in, the shoe felt great right from the get-go.
It was relatively easy to dial in the fit, and the velcro ankle lock around the heel and on top of the foot worked perfectly.
The path was rugged, and we often were walking straight up steep mountains or skirting along their base, putting my foot in a constant state of pronation, supination, and flexion—no problem!
I felt like the Arkalis gave me an amazing amount of support, and although I've struggled with ankle issues in the past, I had a flawless day out in the wilderness.
The kevlar upper protected my foot from rocks and roots, and even through gravel and sand, I never had to remove the shoe because of debris. It kept everything out without making my foot too hot or uncomfortable.
While on the Mummy Mania route, we had to do a good bit of Class 3 and even Class 4 scrambling (just for kicks). The Vibram outsole stuck to the rocks confidently, and I never worried about slipping.
The shoe offers a great amount of support, but the lacing system also gives you the flexion you need for basic climbing. I love how the laces extend all the way to the toebox because this allows me to get my full range of motion when stretching for a ledge or jumping from rock to rock.
When descending, I felt like the lugs did a great job of securing my footing. I didn't feel like my feet were sliding around everywhere inside the shoe, either. I didn't use trekking poles on this outing, but I always felt secure on wet grass, slick rock, and other potentially treacherous surfaces.
The Hoka One One Arkali slew the mummy.... now what?
After the massive success on the Mummy Mania route, I took the Arkalis on a few more short runs (nothing past 6 miles) and hikes—only good things to say.
This past weekend, I went and celebrated my birthday by hiking Grays and Torreys peaks, two 14'ers in Colorado that can be linked up easily in a single hike.
I started off in the chilly morning to find the mountains had received a bit of snow overnight. Just a couple miles in, the trail was covered in 2-3 inches of snow and kept getting deeper as I neared the summit.
The Arkali performed as well as I could have hoped—I felt secure on the wet snow and never lost my footing. Also, despite sometimes being buried in the snow, my socks stayed completely dry, and therefore my feet stayed happy and warm. Win-win.
Only great things to say about this shoe. The only complaint I have, and it's hardly a complaint, is that I often have to adjust the velcro straps to resecure the perfect fit. After scrambling for a few miles or descending a steep slope, you need to tighten up the straps again.
Fortunately, the straps and big and durable and I'm able to readjust them with my gloves on. I'd be disappointed if this was a problem with the laces, but it's not. That's the reason this shoe gets a 98 instead of a 100—otherwise, it's perfect.
TL;DR? I Got You Covered
To summarize my love story as honestly and authentically as I can, here are the pros and cons list. *Spoiler* there's a lot more pros than cons...because I love this shoe.
- Fantastic grip provided by the Vibram outsole and lug placement/depth.
- Perfect fit made possible by extended lacing system and velcro adjustment straps.
- Lightweight and breathable for a great running, hiking, or scrambling experience.
- Dare I say, sexy? These are some gooooood looking hiking shoes, in my opinion.
- Great support—no rolled ankles.
- Pricey. 200+ dollars for a shoe is just a tad bonkers. Relative to other shoes, it's well worth the price...I just think shoe prices, in general, are inflated.
- Velcro straps often need to be readjusted to re-secure the perfect fit. Velcro straps also don't secure as well when wet, which was a little bit of a problem for me in the snow.
And that's it. All-in-all, I love the Hoke One One Arkali. We have hundreds of more miles and peaks to claim together, and I'm looking forward to slipping my foot into this shoe every time.
The SKY Arkali from HOKA ONE ONE is a shoe like no other.
I give the shoe a 95 comfort durability protection it's lightweight and ankle protection are excellent.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is a mid-top hiking shoe which integrates running and climbing footwear innovations to render performance and comfort on the trail. Its upper is made of Matryx, a lightweight synthetic material that offers durability.
The Sky Arkali uses Hoka One One’s patented Profly midsole to generate a cushioned ride for the wearer. It’s Vibram Megagrip outsole provides ample traction on most types of terrain.
This mid-top hiking shoe from Hoka One One caters to male and female outdoor lovers. Its length selection is composed of whole and half sizes while width options are limited to standard only. The closure system, which employs adjustable heel and ankle straps, grant a secure and personalized lockdown. Moreover, it runs relatively true to size.
Empowering users to tackle rugged trails is the Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Vibram outsole. It’s made of a durable Megagrip rubber compound to endure constant ground contact. The outsole’s aggressively-shaped 5mm lugs deliver multi-directional grip when used on wet and dry surfaces. Its front end extends towards the shoe’s forefoot area to provide extra protection from stubbing.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Profly midsole allows hikers to negotiate tricky and uneven terrain with ample cushioning and support. It consists of two layers, one made of lightweight ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) on top and another composed of durable Rangi foam at the bottom. The former creates a cushioned landing while the latter material is firmer to give the responsiveness needed for a propulsive toe-off.
This sturdy hiking shoe from Hoka One One is equipped with Active Foot Frame technology. It allows the wearer’s foot to settle comfortably into the midsole rather than sitting on top of it, yielding added stability without excessive weight. Its default footbed generates extra underfoot comfort for the wearer.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali’s Matryx upper integrates Kevlar strands into its construction to promote durability without adding weight to the gear. An abrasion-resistant rubber toe cap extends to the upper’s midfoot section for extra protection and robustness.
This Hoka shoe features a synthetic lace and set of eyelets for managing the fit. Velcro straps on the top of the closure and running along the back of the ankle create structure and deliver proprioceptive support.