Our verdict

If you need a break from stiff leather boots, the Hoka Trail Code GTX is one of our top picks for plush comfort. This lightweight hiker is filled with padded goodness from the collar to the sole. But when an obstacle comes our way, the boot also shows its teeth in order to grip, support, or keep us safe from water and debris. We are amazed at how much value the boot offers at such a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Mind-blowingly comfortable
  • Fantastic waterproofing
  • Lighter than average
  • Excellent impact protection
  • Very stable and supportive
  • Superb grip
  • Reflective elements
  • Sustainable materials
  • Head-turning looks

Cons

  • Awkward on descents
  • Not for tough hikes

Audience verdict

81
Good!
  • Top 26% most popular hiking boots

Who should buy

We believe that the Hoka Trail Code GTX is an excellent boot for hikers who:

  • want a lightweight alternative to the burly hiking boots (it is 4.8 oz/135g lighter than average!)
  • look for an excellent value for money (the Trail Code GTX is £20 cheaper than average)
  • enjoy a very plush and cosy in-boot feel

Hoka Trail Code GTX review

Who should NOT buy

The Hubble heel of this Hoka boot may not be for everyone. If you want a more streamlined silhouette that doesn't catch rocks and debris, we recommend the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX instead.

The Trail Code GTX is also not the best pick for backpacking, demanding terrain, or extreme weather conditions. For that purpose, the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX proved to be a much more reliable option.

Hoka Trail Code GTX lab test

Breathability

The Hoka Trail Code GTX is 100% watertight! Hiking in wet conditions is not a problem for this Hoka boot at all.

In the video below, we perform a smoke-pumping machine test to see if the smoke passes through the material. As you can see, not even a tiny streak of vapour is coming out of the Trail Code. That's why it gets the lowest score for breathability - 1 out of 5.

We recommend this boot for colder months as it is going to get pretty toasty in summer. You can see from our microscope shots that the toebox material is super tightly woven.

Hoka Trail Code GTX microscope

In addition to the waterproof Gore-Tex lining, the upper fabric itself is a water-resistant one.

Hoka Trail Code GTX microscope 1

With the boot's tall heel collar, the waterproof membrane also extends higher up the ankle. This makes the Trail Code GTX more effective for deep puddles and stream crossings.

Hoka Trail Code GTX high collar

Test results
Trail Code GTX 1
Average 1.6
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Outsole hardness

It seems like the Trail Code GTX uses the same Vibram rubber outsole as in the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX.

This rubber compound is quite hard with a durometer measurement of 86.6 HC. That is a direct indication of its abrasion resistance. It takes much longer to wear out a hard rubber outsole.

However, the areas with exposed foam make us a bit concerned with the boot's durability long-term. It does help to keep the weight down but is not as sturdy as a full-length outsole (like that on the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX).

Hoka Trail Code GTX Outsole hardness
Test results
Trail Code GTX 86.6 HC
Average 87.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
81.0 HC
Outsole hardness
92.1 HC

Outsole thickness

Measuring the thickness of that outsole with a calliper, we got 1.8 mm (excluding the 4.7-mm lugs). That is a millimetre less than average. While not critical, it is another tiny indication that this boot may not be ideal for the most demanding hikes.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Outsole thickness
Test results
Trail Code GTX 1.8 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Outsole thickness
5.6 mm

Weight

The highlight of this Hoka boot is its light weight.

The Trail Code GTX comes in at 15.5 oz (440g) which is about 20% lighter than the average weight of our lab-tested hiking boots!

On the trail, it feels more like a running shoe with a high-top collar and added protection.

Hoka Trail Code GTX style

Test results
Trail Code GTX 15.52 oz (440g)
Average 18.45 oz (523g)
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
11.71 oz (332g)
Weight
28.29 oz (802g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Our calliper shows that the boot's stack height is 36.9 mm in the heel. That's a pretty standard amount of midsole for this type of hiking footwear.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Heel stack

But there is more. The boot features the brand's renowned Hubble heel which makes the midsole more extended at the back.

From our experience, it makes landings a bit more stable and helps with smoother heel-to-toe transitions. The only problem is that it tends to get stuck in rocks and roots, especially when going downhill. But that's not an issue on the less technical trails.

Hoka Trail Code GTX heel cushioning

Test results
Trail Code GTX 36.9 mm
Average 36.3 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
26.2 mm
Heel stack
46.9 mm

Forefoot stack

We also found that the boot remains generously cushioned in the forefoot as well.

At 25.7 mm, it is a little thicker than average.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Forefoot stack
Test results
Trail Code GTX 25.7 mm
Average 22.5 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
17.0 mm
Forefoot stack
30.7 mm

Drop

Hoka claims that the heel-to-to-toe drop in the Trail Code GTX is 6 mm. But based on our own measurements, it turns out to be much higher - 11.2 mm!

That's a pretty big difference if you expect a lower drop.

A 6-mm offset makes you feel like the heel and toes are nearly on the same level whereas an 11-mm drop has a very pronounced heel elevation. The latter is actually not a bad thing. Most hiking boots have a drop of 10-12 mm, which is optimal for feeling well-cushioned as you land on the heel.

It only becomes a problem if you expect that lower-drop feel based on the brand's description.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Drop
Test results
Trail Code GTX 11.2 mm
Average 13.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Drop
20.9 mm

Midsole softness

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

Each landing feels amazingly soft in the Hoka Trail Code GTX. Even though the brand tags the shoe's cushioning as "balanced," we actually found it to be on the soft side.

Pressing a durometer against the foam, we got a reading of 23.4 HA. That's 20% softer than our lab-tested hiking boots on average.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Midsole softness

The platform remained marvellously comfortable throughout our test hike. Our feet also experienced a pleasant aftertaste once the boots were off. This is a perfect boot for all-day hikes, making those a little more effortless.

Test results
Trail Code GTX 23.4 HA
Average 27.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
15.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
53.3 HA
Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Difference in midsole softness in cold

But what about winter conditions? Will this Hoka boot remain as plush?

After keeping the boot in the freezer for 20 minutes, we can say "no." But here is the kicker - in its "frozen" state, this Hoka boot only gets as firm as the other hiking boots get on average, which is 28.3 HA.

Even though it's not considered push, it is not brick-like either.

Repeating the durometer measurement after the freezer, we found that the Hoka Trail Code GTX got firmer by 20.9%. That's a little less than the average difference across the board.

Test results
Trail Code GTX 20.9%
Average 19.1%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Insole thickness

A padded insole complements the boot's cushioning. It has an average thickness of 6 mm.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Insole thickness
Test results
Trail Code GTX 6.0 mm
Average 6.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.7 mm
Insole thickness
10.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Trail Code GTX is not a sturdy leather boot, but it supports like one!

There is plenty of stability from the ankle cuff all the way to the bottom of the sole. This Hoka boot made us feel very surefooted and we could even recommend it for moderate backpacking trips.

Torsional rigidity

Despite the plush midsole, this Hoka boot has enough structure to keep the foot steady at all times.

Assessing its torsional rigidity in a manual test, we gave it a rating of 4 out of 5. It's nearly the stiffest!

Test results
Trail Code GTX 4
Average 4.3
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The Trail Code GTX also comes with a super stiff heel counter. It makes your heel and ankle feel like they are locked in a death trap (in a good way!). No awkward slipping or sliding of the heel in this boot.

On a 1-5- scale, where 5 is the stiffest possible, we rated it as 5/5.

Test results
Trail Code GTX 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The Hoka Trail Code GTX tops it all off with a reasonably-sized platform. Nothing crazy, just an average-width landing surface for a hiking boot.

We measured the widest part of the forefoot at 112.5 mm, which is right at the average.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Trail Code GTX 112.5 mm
Average 111.6 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
96.3 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
124.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Same thing in the heel. Our calliper shows 91.7 mm in the widest part.

That's just enough for a regular day hike. But for anything more serious, you will need a wider base.

If you do plan to purchase a Hoka boot for backpacking (35+ pounds), we definitely recommend the Hoka Kaha GTX instead.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Trail Code GTX 91.7 mm
Average 87.9 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
71.7 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Pretty cool to see that the Hoka Trail Code GTX still has some good flex to it!

Bending the boot to a 90-degree angle, our force gauge showed that it took 26.1N. This is a whopping 60% less than it takes a hiking boot on average!

That's another characteristic of this Hoka boot that makes it feel more like a running shoe.

Test results
Trail Code GTX 26.1N
Average 44.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
16.6N
Stiffness
84.7N

Difference in stiffness in cold

But the caveat is that the boot gets significantly stiffer in low temperatures.

After 20 minutes in the freezer, the force gauge showed 44.6N. But then again, for most hiking boots, that's the regular stiffness they have at room temperature.

For reference, the Hoka Trail Code GTX stiffened up by as much as 70.9%!

Test results
Trail Code GTX 70.9%
Average 25.4%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Based on our calliper measurement, the lugs on this Hoka boot are a little toothier than average - 4.7 mm.

The lugs are strategically spaced-out and bite various terrain really well. Loose trails, wet rocks, mud - whatever scenario a waterproof hiking boot could possibly get into.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Lug depth
Test results
Trail Code GTX 4.7 mm
Average 4.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.0 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The Trail Code GTX fits our medium-width feet as expected but could be a little restricting for wide feet or thicker socks. In that case, we advise going up half a size.

The toebox is not very spacious in this boot. Measuring the widest part of the forefoot, we found that it is only 97 mm wide, which is a few millimetres narrower than average.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Trail Code GTX 97.0 mm
Average 101.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
95.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
110.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The boot also tapers slightly around the toes. Measuring its width at the big toe, we got a reading of 73.3 mm. That is, again, a couple millimetres narrower than average.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Trail Code GTX 73.3 mm
Average 78.4 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
91.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Trail Code GTX comes with a fully-gusseted tongue. It makes sure that the boot remains watertight at all times, protects the interiors from small debris, and also helps to secure the foothold.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Trail Code GTX Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Measuring the boot's tongue with a calliper, we found it to be 9 mm thick. It is a little less padded than average but still offers plenty of comfort and buffer from the laces

Hoka Trail Code GTX Tongue padding
Test results
Trail Code GTX 9.0 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
5.9 mm
Tongue padding
22.3 mm

Heel tab

The Trail Code GTX would've been incomplete without a finger loop. We found it essential for putting on the boot.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Heel tab
Test results
Trail Code GTX Finger loop

Removable insole

If you need to use custom orthotics with the boot, it is not a problem at all. The default insole is easily removable.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Removable insole
Test results
Trail Code GTX Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Hoka Trail Code GTX features reflective panels at the front and back to help you stay safe in low-light conditions.

Hoka Trail Code GTX Reflective elements
Test results
Trail Code GTX Yes

Sustainable materials

Nearly every part of this Hoka boot was made with responsibly-sourced materials.

  • Ripstop upper textile, laces, and interior lining: 100% recycled
  • Strobel board: 80% recycled
  • Gore-Tex membrane: 71% recycled
  • External collar mesh: 68% recycled
  • Moulded PU sockliner: 50% soybean oil

Hoka Trail Code GTX collar