HOKA entered the running shoe market just as minimalist shoes were hitting peak popularity. Instead of following the crowd, however, HOKA decided to run in the opposite direction by designing a maximalist shoe.
HOKA embraced a “bulky” design in order to pack extra cushioning into their shoes, and many runners were quick to embrace this ultra-plush experience. Ultramarathon runners in particular flocked to the pillowy softness of HOKA running shoes. Once word got out beyond long-distance runners and the general public started trying them out, HOKA running shoes exploded in popularity.
What separates HOKA running shoes from the rest
Every shoe company finds little ways to set themselves apart from the competition. But the founders of HOKA weren’t content to just be a little different. They decided to take the running experience and flip it on its head. In order to be such a positively disruptive brand in the market, HOKA strives to:
Intentionally go against the status quo.
Easily the first thing you will notice about HOKA running shoes is their unique design. The oversized sole definitely stands out… and that’s the point. The shoes are geared toward runners looking for ultra-plush cushioning under their feet with every step.
Focus most of their tech in the midsole.
Since their primary objective is designing shoes with thicker midsoles for extra cushioning, they focus the majority of their engineering in this area. From the Meta-Rocker™ and Active Foot Frame™ to the J-Frame™ and Profly™, every HOKA innovation is designed to work seamlessly with their legendary cushioning.
How HOKA running shoes can improve your run
HOKA Clifton series
A legendary shoe among avid HOKA fans, the release of the first Clifton model was a redefining moment for the company. With that initial release, the company proved that a high-cushion shoe doesn’t have to be overly bulky. When you run in HOKA Clifton running shoes, you’ll notice:
While the midsole is more streamlined than other shoes in the HOKA lineup, Clifton running shoes still offer plenty of cushioning. Your body will thank you for choosing this light, soft shoe with every step.
You won’t feel the need to slow down on wet surfaces thanks to the evenly distributed rubber pads on the outsole. They’ve been redesigned so you won’t have to worry about slipping on hills or slick streets.
HOKA Bondi series
The Bondi is HOKA’s flagship running shoe. It’s the most cushioned shoe in their already highly cushioned lineup, and some say it’s like running on marshmallows. It was originally adopted by elite ultramarathoners due to its unbelievably luxurious cushioning, but it’s since been embraced by people who love comfortable shoes as well as injury-prone runners. When you run in HOKA Bondi running shoes, you’ll notice:
Some luxury shoes can give a sinking feeling to your feet. But the Bondi 6 was engineered to give the feeling of floating. And Bondi’s unique combination of materials work together to retain this floating sensation mile after mile after mile.
The Meta-Rocker’s geometric design guides your step from heel to toe for a smooth roll. After longer runs, your legs and feet won’t feel as taxed as they would with other shoes. You’ll also notice a difference in your calf muscles because they don’t have to exert as much effort to push off.
HOKA Mach series
A springy speedster, the Mach running shoe gets lighter and firmer (in a good way!) with every generation. The midsole is made of Hoka’s popular ProFly material. ProFly strikes the perfect blend of responsiveness and the ability to absorb impact.
Meta-Rocker technology delivers a seamless heel-to-toe transition. And the upper is designed to provide breathable, practically weightless support that keeps your foot in place and never hinders your stride. When you run in HOKA Mach running shoes, you’ll notice:
Lightness and speed
Made with a lightweight, breathable fabric and a unique cushioning system, the HOKA Mach is geared toward performance. Your feet feel lighter and your steps feel springier—both of which can make you run faster.
The newly designed ProFly midsole is lighter—yet firmer—than previous models. This allows the shoe to be responsive and absorb impact, giving you a soft landing and a propulsive toe-off.
HOKA Running shoe technology
Easily Hoka’s most recognized shoe technology, the Meta-Rocker is their innovative, slightly curved sole design. The geometric shape acts as a fulcrum, naturally guiding the foot just like rocking in a rocking chair. This rocker shape helps you keep your natural form while promoting smooth, efficient transitions.
There are two different types of Meta-Rockers. The late-stage rocker provides more stability for the forefoot, and is found in models like the Gaviota and Stinson. The early-stage rocker is strategically placed for a speedier transition and can be found in many models, including the Bondi, Clifton, Rincon, Carbon X, and more.
It may take a few miles to get used to the new way your feet land, but once you’re used to the smooth, soft transitions—you’ll wonder how you ever ran without a Meta-Rocker!
- Comfortable support and gentle enhancement of your natural gait—the Meta-Rocker works with you, not against you!
- Smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off in one smooth, rolling motion.
- Improved stride efficiency lets you make the most of your energy.
In the running world, HOKA has practically become synonymous with cushioning, and it’s obvious why. They’re always seeking out lighter cushioning materials to enhance athletic performance while also keeping your feet happy. As a result, they’re constantly adding faster, more pillowy, and yet somehow even lighter shoes to their already impressive lineup.
When innovating their latest midsole tech, they’ve always got a clear goal in mind: Marshmallow-like cushioning that doesn’t skimp on speed.
Maximum-cushioned midsole benefits:
- Unbeatable shock-absorption that’s surprisingly light.
- Comfort that is second to none. If you want premium plushness—it doesn’t get much better than HOKA.
- Designed to handle a variety of surfaces, running styles, and distances.
Active Foot Frame
The Active Foot Frame design keeps your foot hunkered down inside the midsole instead of simply letting it sit on top of it. The whole idea is similar to the bucket seating in a race car, cradling and supporting your foot without the need for constrictive elements like posts.
Active Foot Frame benefits:
- Built-in stabilization requires no additional clunky elements.
- Accommodates a vast array of run patterns and foot types.
- More comfortable than traditional support posts.
Utilizing a denser and firmer foam, HOKA J-Frame™ technology supports the foot in a way that is lighter and less rigid than traditional support mechanisms like posts. As its name implies, the J-Frame is a J-shaped piece that starts at the outside of your heel, wraps around your heel, and then runs up the inside of your foot all the way to the toe box for a stable ride that’s never intrusive.
- Prevents overpronation (excessive rolling inward of the foot during a run).
- Guides your feet into an efficient stride without hard, unforgiving materials.
- Stabilizes your foot comfortably without adding excessive weight.
This intelligent dual-density midsole cushioning system provides the precise responsiveness you need where you need it. Focusing on the unique needs of each area of your foot during the gait cycle produces a smoother, more efficient ride.
- Plush heel cushioning offers better heel protection and softer landings.
- More propulsion thanks to firmer forefoot material.
- Improved athletic performance and maximum comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do HOKA shoes run true to size?
According to most runners, HOKA running shoes tend to run mostly true to size. When selecting a pair for yourself, it would be smart to start by trying on your usual running shoe size to see how it feels. Don’t forget to wear your running socks when you try them on!
Is there a minimalist HOKA running shoe?
While HOKA is known for maximalist shoes, the EVO Rehi is light and fast enough to satisfy the needs of most minimalist runners. Unlike any other shoe the company has released to date, the EVO Rehi features a cored-out rubberized foam sole that feels practically weightless. This ultralight design provides you with a just-right amount of cushion, explosive push-offs, and faster run times.
What’s the best way to clean Hoka running shoes?
Due to their massive midsole cushioning, we don’t advise putting HOKA running shoes in the washing machine. Wash them by hand using cold water and a mild detergent or soap.
Air dry them out of direct sunlight and don’t expose them to heat.
Does HOKA make more than road running shoes?
The company initially set out to flip the road running shoe industry on its head, but they didn’t stop there. HOKA also makes walking shoes, hiking shoes, trail running shoes, recovery sandals and slides, and training shoes.
Which HOKA running shoes are best for me?
HOKA running shoes fall into three categories: plush, balanced, and responsive. The type of shoe you prefer will depend on a number of factors, including your arch height, your gait pattern, and your typical running distance.
Plush: As the name implies, shoes in this category have the squishiest, most marshmallowy midsoles available. Plush shoes are a great choice for runners who want extra comfort and don’t mind a little added bulk to get it.
Balanced: Striking a happy medium between the cushioning of the plush collection and the energy return of the responsive collection, balanced shoes offer a “just right” ride for runners looking to tackle a variety of distances.
Responsive: Focusing on speed, shoes in this collection have the least cushioning in order to keep the shoes light. While still quite comfortable, responsive shoes offer the most energy return in the HOKA lineup.Back To Top