The Best HOKA Running Shoes – Time To Fly
If you have been running for any period of time 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.
Founded by Nicolas Mermoud 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 stopping...
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.
Road Running Shoes
Boasting incredible versatility, the new Mach 5 can work as a daily trainer or a race day speed machine, thanks to its lightweight but durable, and immensely responsive ride.
Using ideas debuted on the Mach Supersonic limited launch, the Mach 5 improves on the hugely popular Mach 4 in part due to the new Profly+ midsole. Even lighter and more responsive than before, it takes this everyday trainer up a gear.
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.
Offering up maximum cushioning and comfort, the Bondi 8 has long been loved for the extra help it gives your legs over long runs.
The 8th version has managed to increase the cushioning underfoot, and decrease the weight, thanks to a new, even lighter foam used in the midsole.
Now the ultimate recovery run shoe has got lighter, and a little firmer underfoot, you can take it out more often. Putting your body through more miles with this level of cushioning can only be a good thing.
One of the first long distance carbon plated running shoes on the market, the Carbon X has already hit its 3rd update, and with a new, more energised midsole foam, encasing that all important carbon plate, it is ready to blast you past your competitors.
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.
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.
Structured Running Shoes
With a high stack of surprisingly lightweight foam, the Arahi 6 offers comfort underfoot, as well as improved stability. Making this a mile munching machine that is perfect for over pronators, offering “stability without limits”.
A structured shoe, it features a J-frame underfoot for a stabilised feel, with minimum additional weight. Recent changes tweak an already perfected formula to give an extra comfort boost.
Trail Running Shoes
Named for the nickname of Karl Meltzer, the man who has won more 100-mile ultra-marathons than anyone else, the Speedgoat is a trail running shoe with enough cushioning to carry you the full 100 miles, or whatever distance suits you best, with total confidence.
The latest version updates the fit, with improvements to the upper to allow for foot swell, and improved grip underfoot thanks to the Vibram Megagrip Traction Lugs. The midsole uses a new lighter foam that still offers the signature smooth ride.
A highly technical trail shoe the Mafate Speed offers a more responsive ride to take you over tricky ground with confidence. The latest version has only kept the silhouette, improving on the upper, midsole and outsole, to step its performance up a level.
A dual density layered midsole provides a comfort based soft top layer, with a responsive, energetic layer beneath, adding a touch of speed to your off-road adventures. The outsole uses Vibram Megagrip rubber for incredible traction, and a Litebase construction that saves weight thanks to its zonal build. Add in traction lugs for improved traction on loose ground, and you have super reliable traction across any surface.
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.
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.
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