If you don’t like Hoka’s, you won’t like this review. I am a huge fan of the Hoka brand having become a convert in late 2014.
I ran the Brazos Bend 100 in December in a pair of Rapa Nui’s for the first 75 miles and then swapped out to the even more cushioned Stinson Evo’s for the last 25. During that race, in heat and humidity, I developed just one blister and had no foot pain at all the day after the race. Even flying back long haul to the UK 36 hours after finishing the race I had no leg pain even, everything just felt tired but not beaten up.
Sadly, only the Stinson’s flew back with me and the Rapa’s were gifted to the Houston dump. There was nothing wrong with them physically, but the stench. That stench couldn’t come home with me, even wrapped in sixteen carrier bags. Sadly I had to say my farewells to the best pair of shoes I have ever owned.
I will be orderding a new pair soon from The Ultramarathon Running Store as I build up to races in the Spring, but for now I wanted to stick with Hoka but try something a little different.
As I recovered from Brazos and as the evenings are still dark very early on, I am less out on the hills and footpaths, but more using the canal and road to get my miles in. I have never found a pair of road shoes that I love, so thought maybe some of the Hoka road designs might work. The model I opted for were the Huaka.
Now, if you are going to get ‘clown shoes’ you might as well get the clown colours- and these don’t let you down. Let’s face it, you’re not going to pull these off with a pair of jeans in Wetherspoons. On the flip side; what a shoe.
Since chucking the Rapa’s and until these arrived, I was back in my beaten up pair of Pearl Izumi Trail N1’s, which I still love. But I was really missing the support and cushioning I had grown accustomed to in the Rapa’s. To the extent that I felt I was potentially developing some mild Plantar Fasciitis. However, as soon as I converted back to the Huaka’s recently, that pain has gone away. Immediately.
It is not as if I am compensating for the cushioning with an aggressive heel strike either. The Huakas, much like the N1’s, offer a rolling motion, which they brand ‘rockering’. The cushioning is thinner than some lines of Hoka’s but I find the level to be just right and combined with their lightness (just 239g), you do feel you can run to your potential on the road.
In addition, the outsole is much more heavily lugged than many road shoes and would work equally well on trail. I got a bit excited when they first arrived and took them for 18 miles of bog running on the saturated Cotswold Way- not a good idea, but they will be a great dry trail shoe in summer. The level of grip means they do not slip on wet tarmac and as I write this, I ran to work this morning on an icy canal path and they held up well on this (as much as any shoe can).
As with other Hoka’s, they come with a quicklace system but also standard laces in the box. I don’t like the quicklaces so cut these out and put the standard ones in.
If, like me, you are resigned to slightly more dull, road running and canal running for the next couple of months before spring arrives and you want to try a Hoka, I can’t recommend these enough. You can also get them in some adults colours too.