Since I started wearing HOKA’s many of you have asked “what do you think?” or “I’ve been considering them, should I?” “Can you give me a Hoka shoes review??”
I wanted to wait until I’d been wearing them a significant amount of time before providing any feedback. That way I can ensure it’s not just marketing speak, but my feet, my legs, and my knees telling the whole story!
In fact, I’ve now been able to test out a variety of models over the last 8 years and I’m going to give you a run down on many of those! This started as just a review of the Cliftons, but has evolved since I’ve tried more models.
Switching running shoes is a TERRIFYING prospect, but I was in need of a change. My knees had been aching for months and my chiropractor had started to point out how my foot was rolling in pretty hard on my old shoes.
Sooo the idea of some extra cushion and a little more support sounded like a good thing, but would I really like them?
They were so big!! They were so different!
Maximal running shoes vs minimal is a whole topic that required a specific post, so read that to figure out if it’s right for you. Here we’re just diving in to some models.
HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON REVIEW
What I noticed right away was that they did feel different, but they weren’t awkward or heavy. In fact, they were so light I was absolutely shocked. And when I tried to go back to my old shoes they felt like rocks.
The knee pain that I had been battling in 2013 quickly got better as I transitioned to the HOKA Cliftons. Of course I was also doing all of the PT hip and IT band exercises that I continually recommend for all of my runners as well. So I can’t credit the shoes 100%, but I believe they have played a factor by likely helping to improve my stride or slightly correcting an inward foot roll.
I’ll did separate detailed post comparing maximal and minimal shoes in the future, but for now here is what HOKA has to say about their shoes: “maximum cushioning material is designed for excellent shock absorption and an inherently stable ride.”
Fit is the one thing that has bothered me a little as I have a more narrow foot and so sometimes my foot has felt a bit like it was too small for the shoe. However, I have read many other reviews that state it’s a very average fit, so this you’ll need to test out for yourself. I wear the same size 11 in these as I have in all other running shoes for many years.
The Clifton has continued to morph over the years and I wasn’t a fan of a couple models, but I think the most recent is back to what I loved, but with the additional of a nice padded tongue.
I would consider these a Hoka Neutral Running Shoe.
Weight/Heel Drop (women’s):
Clifton 8oz, 5mm
If you have been wearing a shoe with a larger heel drop you may notice more of a difference. My personal preference is towards less of a heel drop as I think it gets our foot in better alignment, it also mimics the idea of a minimal shoe, but with the cushion!
Clifton original in pink and Clifton 2 in purple.
The standard saying is replace your shoes every 500 miles and these shoes are the same. Whatever you have found to be your sweet spot in the past will be roughly the same here. I.e. larger runners, big men, etc often find they need to replace shoes quicker due to breakdown, others find that more treadmill runs means maybe their shoes are good for 800 miles.
PICKING A HOKA ONE ONE SHOE
The one thing I was unsure of when switching was how to pick a shoe in this totally new to me category. With the help of the folks at HOKA I decided to start with the Clifton as it was the most similar to the shoes I had been wearing based on heel drop, neutral running and weight.
After the success of that shoe, I was open to trying a few other styles. As with any shoe brand there are some that I loved and some that I could do without. A few more Hoka running shoe reviews to help as you select.
Hoka Bondi B Review
I swear I had tried this shoe previously without much love, but this time the first run and I knew we were going to be long term buddies.
Maybe it’s because they went back to their 2011 model and started from there (noting that the original Clifton was also my fav). The Hoka Bondi is now going to be making more appearances here!
The first comment I received on social was that they looked heavy and the follow 4 were OMG I love how cushioned these shoes are! I admit when I first considered Hoka’s weight was on my mind, but looks are definitely deceiving in this case.
Fit: These shoes felt fabulous thanks to the huge amount of cushion and yet not too heavy for a nice long run either at just 8.6 oz for the women’s. While they’re also listed as a neutral shoe, I was thrilled to see my foot didn’t drop in one bit when I put them on which is common in other shoes without as much support.
Heel drop: 4.5mm which means they’re my perfect idea of a low profile shoe combined with cushion!
Usage: I’ve just started wearing these, so I will have to update. But right now can say they will be in my weekly shoe rotation.
Hoka Cavu Review
A maximal shoe doesn’t have to be heavy or overly cushioned, which is proven out by the Camu.
I’ve written previously about Maximal shoes, so I won’t cover that here. Instead, I’m going to give you my thoughts on this new Hoka One One shoe.
Having run in the Clifton’s previously, my mind was ready for one thing and got something slightly different. These shoes are designed to be VERY light, which reduced the total cushioning (though they are listed at 6.6 oz, they feel lighter). And let’s be honest, I’ve come to really like that soft ride.
These aren’t hard by any means, but they aren’t a cushioned shoe. They’re a light, fast maximal running shoe for those who have found that style works best for them.
I opted for the Fly By Night all black, which are super fun because when the light hits them they become completely reflective! These never quite felt like the shoe for me, so I appreciate them, but you probably won’t see me in them a ton.
Hupana I tested in their more casual slip on shoe and it’s absolutely love at first slip!! These are cute enough to wear on those long walks we take on vacation and yet I also know I could probably run a couple miles in them, which just makes me happy! And in fact, that’s exactly the need they were trying to fill with this shoe!
Huaka 2 is the lowest profile shoe, with a 2mm offset and a more narrow fit and tread that makes is suitable for road or trail (which is what has my attention!). This style also has a full RMAT midsole, which is a firmer and responsive ride compared to single density EVA, which is used in a majority of HOKA shoes. It wasn’t my favorite and I think the fact that they aren’t making more models means others felt the same.
Have you tested out HOKA’s yet?
What convinces you it’s time for new shoes?
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
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- Best running shoes (yup I’ve gone through 5 pairs now)
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This is not a sponsored post, though I have received Hoka’s free over the years for testing.