THE BEST HOKA RUNNING SHOES 2021 – TIME TO FLY
If you have been running for any period, you have probably heard of HOKA. They’re no doubt a household name in the running scene with an incredibly loyal fan base. What may surprise you, however, is the fact that the brand has only been in existence since 2009.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Founded by Nicolas and Jean-Luc Diard in Annecy, France as a result of their desire to craft a shoe more capable of running downhill, the original prototypes featured significantly oversized outsoles and more midsole foam than other traditional running shoes of the era.
At first, HOKA gained traction with the ultra-running crowd due to the maximalist cushioning and impressive stability characteristics. Before long, the brand was embraced by runners of all colours and creeds and with famed release of the original Clifton 1 in 2014, popularity skyrocketed. 7 years on, HOKA show no signs of
WHICH HOKA SHOE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Now we know a little more about the HOKA story, let’s take a closer look at some of the pinnacle performance shoes in the ever-growing line up. From every day, to race day to the wildest of off-road adventures, there’s a HOKA shoe to fill a gap in anyone’s running shoe rotation.
Long time lovers of the original Clifton may have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the years as the shoe adopted some changes that not all runners appreciated. However, the Clifton 8 is a true homage to the classic OG model bringing you a durable, versatile, incredibly comfortable neutral daily offering.
Named after world famous surf spot in California, the Rincon originally debuted as an incredibly lightweight daily trainer, more than capable of picking up the pace when commanded to do so.
The Rincon 3 is back and better than ever with subtle refinements to make this one a true tempo day trooper. Not only did it launch in some of the boldest colour-ways you’re ever likely to see, the Rincon 3 also packs a serious performance punch.
In such a lightweight package with more minimal outsole rubber coverage, the Rincon may not soak up the same quantity of mileage as its bigger Clifton sibling but goodness me, the ride is smooth as butter whilst it lasts.
It would be fair to say that previous versions of the Mach slipped under the radar somewhat and launched with little fanfare. However, that all changed with the Mach 4, receiving high praise from Shoe-Tubers and independent reviewers from here to Timbuktu.
It feels like only yesterday we were watching the legendary Jim Walmsley’s gazelle like stride in a bid to break the 100k world record for the launch of the original Carbon X.
At the time, HOKA were one of the first brands to enter the carbon plated road racing arena with a shoe specifically designed for longer distances. The Carbon X 2 improves on an already popular performance model with subtle changes that make a big difference.
The full length carbon fibre plate is now positioned closer to the ground within the midsole for maximum efficiency gains, the upper more refined, and the midsole comprises of a softer foam to its predecessor.
The Rocket X is HOKA’s current pinnacle performance road racing weapon. Dropping just prior to the US Olympic Marathon trials, the shoe featured on the feet of eventual women’s winner, Aliphine Tuliamuk.
You can think of the Rocket X almost as a stripped back version of the Carbon X 2. It’s got the carbon plate but, it’s also got an unbelievably lightweight and breathable upper, responsive EVA midsole and just the right amount of outsole coverage for a dedicated racer.
A perfect balance of cushioning and traction, it’s easy to see why the Torrent 2 is a fan favourite.
More than capable of off-road racing and long-distance training alike, the Torrent 2 features a multi density ProFly midsole which is softer in the heel to absorb impact and firmer in the forefoot for an extra pep in your step.
The HOKA ZInal is somewhat of a departure from the typical higher stack shoes people have come to expect from the brand. Designed for ultimate versatility and lightweight speed on a variety of terrain, the ZInal features a minimal upper with just enough protection.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fun off road option to tackle mixed terrain at speed, this could just be the one.
We couldn’t write an article about HOKA shoes without mentioning the Speedgoat. Adored by many and inspired by ultra-running royalty, Karl Meltzer, the Speedgoat has long been off road enthusiasts one stop shop to trail ready performance.
A gold standard Vibram MegaGrip outsole combines with a light yet highly protective upper and maximalist midsole stack for a stable, durable and highly versatile package.
If you’re yet to try out HOKA for yourself, we hope this article may have inspired you to refresh your rotation with one of the French brand’s high performance options. As always, you can shop the latest HOKA footwear here!
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