Looking for the best Hoka running shoes that will take your runs to new heights? Look no further! Whether you're a daily trainer, a speed-seeking racer, or an adventurous trailblazer, we've got you covered. In this article, we'll dive into the top 7 best Hoka running shoes, highlighting their standout features and helping you discover the perfect pair for your running needs. So lace up and get ready to pound the pavement with these incredible kicks. Let's find out which are the best Hoka running shoes for you!
Best Hoka Running Shoes
The Expert: I started running in middle school and have been writing about running and outdoor gear for years. Running shoes are my specialty, and I have firsthand experience with various brands. To create articles like this, I communicate with brand representatives, consult feedback from Runner's World testers, and draw on my own knowledge of the running shoe industry. With guidance from Runner's World editors, I compile all this information to determine which shoes make it onto this page. The early releases of Hoka running shoes, such as the Mafate, Bondi, and Stinson ATR, proved that Hoka's design philosophy was valuable. These shoes offered enough cushioning to soften rough terrain and return energy without weighing down runners too much. The shoes became popular, and Hoka has continued to expand ever since. (For those wondering, Hoka officially dropped the "One One" from its name in 2021.)
Mermoud and Diard, the founders of Hoka, based their shoe designs on a few key principles: adding more cushioning, using lightweight materials, and creating a wide rocker midsole for momentum and a smoother ride. Although initially marketed to trail runners, Hoka now produces road shoes and even track spikes.
While some brands have moved away from EVA foam, Hoka has stuck with its proprietary EVA formulations. Our tests at the RW Shoe Lab confirm that Hoka's EVA-rubber blend is more elastic and durable than traditional EVA, offering better support and energy return. Hoka also uses different blends of compression-molded EVA (CMEVA) foam in its shoes. Some blends are designed for lightweight construction, while others prioritize energy return. CMEVA is now featured in several shoes, including the Arahi and Speedgoat.
The Arahi's J-Frame (the yellow part of the outsole) provides extra stability for overpronation.
Other key design traits of Hoka include the Meta-Rocker design and the Active Foot Frame, both of which have been integral to the company's shoes since the beginning. The Meta-Rocker combines a low heel-toe drop with a rounded sole shape, allowing for a natural stride and propelling you forward. The Active Foot Frame holds the foot securely within the shoe's midsole, providing ample support during your runs. Hoka describes this design as sitting in the secure, low bucket seat of a race car.
Additionally, Hoka has introduced new technologies in recent years. ProFly, a dual-density cushioning system, debuted in the Tracer and Clayton shoes in 2016. It combines soft foam in the heel with firmer foam in the forefoot, offering a plush landing and a responsive toe-off. In 2020, Hoka released the visually distinctive TenNine, specifically designed for sprinting down steep hills. Its massive heel absorbs shock, and the wide sole enhances stability. Hoka has continued to explore extended heel designs, such as the asymmetrical SwallowTail heel on the Kawana and TenNine Hike models. This wider crash pad with an asymmetrical beveled heel promotes smoother landings and a more fluid stride.
Like many other brands, Hoka has also incorporated carbon fiber plates into its shoes to enhance responsiveness. Models like the Bondi X and Carbon X 3 feature this technology.
The Profly foam in the Mach 4 provides a plush feel on landing and a snappier response at toe-off.
The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes
#1 Best For Long Distances: Hoka One One Clifton 8
Weight: 7.2oz, Shoe Type: Everyday Run/Walking Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
|Plush cushioning for comfort||Narrow Fit|
|Durable outsole||May feel too soft/unstable for some|
|Improved fit compared to previous versions|
The Hoka One One Clifton 8 is a highly cushioned neutral running shoe known for its smooth and comfortable ride. It is the latest iteration of the popular Clifton series from Hoka, which is renowned for its cushioning and lightweight design.
The Clifton 8 stands out with its midsole made from Hoka's proprietary EVA foam, known for its exceptional cushioning and shock absorption. This helps reduce the impact of running on joints and muscles. Hoka's Meta-Rocker technology promotes a smooth and natural stride, aiding in maintaining proper form and reducing fatigue. The shoe offers a snug and comfortable fit with a roomy toe box for natural foot movement.
This versatile and comfortable running shoe is suitable for runners of all levels. Its responsive and smooth ride makes it ideal for speed work and shorter runs.
#2 Best For Road Running: Hoka One One Bondi 7
Weight: 10.7 oz, Shoe Type: Everyday Run/Walking Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm
|Excellent cushioning for comfort||Heavier than some others|
|Wide toe box||Limited color options|
|Durable outsole||Not budget friendly|
The Hoka One One Bondi 7 is a highly cushioned running shoe designed for road running. It is well-known for its maximum cushioning and support, making it one of the best Hoka running shoes.
The Bondi 7 features a full-length EVA midsole, offering excellent shock absorption. The Early Stage Meta-Rocker promotes a smooth stride, while the wide base enhances running stability and balance. The shoe provides a roomy toe box and has a durable outsole made of high-abrasion rubber for longevity. This outsole also features zonal rubber placement for improved traction and durability where needed most.
If you prioritize cushioning and support, and want a comfortable and durable shoe, the Bondi 7 is an excellent choice for long-distance running and daily training.
#3 Best For Speed Work: Hoka One One Mach 4
Weight: 8.2 oz, Shoe Type: Every Day Run/Racing Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
|Responsive and comfortable||Limited support for overpronation|
|Lightweight||May be too narrow for some|
The Hoka One One Mach 4 is a lightweight and responsive running shoe designed for speed and agility. It is versatile and capable of delivering high-performance.
A standout feature of the Mach 4 is its PROFLY midsole, made from lightweight foam that provides a responsive and bouncy ride. The midsole incorporates an Early Stage Meta-Rocker, promoting an easy and natural feeling stride. The shoe also features a thin and breathable tongue for reduced bulk and improved ventilation.
The outsole of the Mach 4 is designed with a unique pattern for enhanced grip and stability on various surfaces.
This fast and versatile running shoe is suitable for runners of all levels. Its lightweight design makes it popular for speed work and race days.
#4 Best for Road Racing: Hoka One One Rincon 2
Weight: 7.7 oz, Shoe Type: Everyday Run/Racing Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
|Super lightweight||Less durable than other Hoka models|
|Responsive Cushioning||May be too narrow for some|
The Hoka One One Rincon 2 is a lightweight and highly responsive running shoe meant for various running activities. It excels as one of the best Hoka running shoes for road racing.
Equipped with a full-length EVA midsole, the Rincon 2 provides cushioning and shock absorption to ensure a smooth and effortless ride. The shoe's midsole also benefits from Early Stage Meta-Rocker technology, promoting comfortable uphill and downhill terrain running.
The Rincon 2 offers a roomy toe box, as well as a padded tongue and collar for added comfort. It features a high-abrasion rubber outsole to withstand the wear and tear of long-distance running. The outsole also includes zonal rubber placement for enhanced traction and durability where it matters most.
If you are seeking a versatile and lightweight shoe that prioritizes cushioning and support, the Rincon 2 will meet your needs. It is a popular choice for long-distance running and daily training.
#5 Best For Technical Trails: Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6
Weight: 10.5 oz, Shoe Type: All-Terrain Running Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
|Versatile for various terrains||Less supportive than other Hoka models|
|Excellent traction||Limited color options|
The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is a versatile trail running shoe that offers comfort, protection, and stability on a variety of terrains. It is particularly suitable for off-roading adventures.
The shoe features a dual-density CMEVA foam midsole known for its superior cushioning and shock absorption, making it ideal for rocky and rooty trails. The midsole incorporates unique geometry and a Late Stage Meta-Rocker for added comfort on uphill and downhill terrain.
The Challenger ATR 6 provides a roomy toe box to allow for natural foot movement on unpredictable trails, reducing the chances of losing toenails. The shoe's tongue and collar are padded and supportive, reducing pressure points and improving overall comfort.
The multidirectional lugs on the outsole offer excellent traction and stability on various surfaces, including rocky, muddy, and sandy trails. The outsole is made of durable and sticky rubber to withstand long-lasting wear and tear, making it one of the best Hoka running shoes for trails.
For a versatile and durable trail running shoe, the Challenger ATR 6 is an excellent choice. Its multidirectional lugs make it suitable for long-distance trail running and hiking.
#6 Best For Ultra Running: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
Weight: 9.0 oz, Shoe Type: Trail Running Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm
|Lightweight||Heavy weight compared to other Hoka models|
|Excellent traction for various terrains||Limited color options|
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is a highly cushioned trail running shoe designed for rugged terrain and long distances.
Named after ultramarathon runner Karl "Speedgoat" Meltzer, the Speedgoat 4 is known for its durability, comfort, and versatility. Its full-length EVA foam midsole and Early Stage Meta-Rocker make it adaptable to unpredictable terrain. The wider midsole platform offers increased stability and support.
The Speedgoat 4 features a reinforced toe cap for protection against rocks and other trail debris. The shoe's tongue and collar are padded and supportive, ensuring comfort during intense runs.
A standout feature is the Vibram Megagrip outsole, providing outstanding traction on various terrains, including wet and slippery surfaces.
This durable and versatile trail running shoe is highly regarded for obstacle course and trail racing. Its aggressive outsole makes it suitable for all types of trail running and hiking, regardless of speed.
#7 Best For Trail Racing: Hoka One One Torrent 2
Weight: 7.4 oz, Shoe Type: Trail Running Shoe, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
|Lightweight||Limited support for overpronation|
|Responsive||Not as durable as other Hoka models|
|Excellent traction for various terrains|
The Hoka One One Torrent 2 is a lightweight and responsive trail running shoe designed for fast runs on technical terrain.
Renowned for its nimble and agile performance, the Torrent 2 features a PROFLY midsole that balances cushioning and responsiveness. Its unique geometry and multidirectional lugs on the outsole provide an effortless stride on uphill and downhill terrain. The shoe offers excellent traction on rocky, muddy, and sandy surfaces.
The Torrent 2 also boasts a durable and sticky rubber outsole designed to withstand long-term wear and tear. Its lightweight construction makes it a great option for quick-paced trail running.
If you crave a lightweight and responsive shoe for technical terrains, the Torrent 2 is an excellent choice. It offers the perfect blend of maneuverability and comfort.
Best for Daily Training: HOKA Clifton 9
HOKA Men's Clifton 9
HOKA Women's Clifton 9
A daily trainer is a runner's go-to shoe for everyday workouts. A quality daily trainer is typically durable, lightweight, comfortable, and cushioned. The Clifton is one of HOKA's most popular shoes, and the Clifton 9 is an enhanced version of its predecessors.
Compared to the Clifton 8, the Clifton 9 offers an extra 3mm of cushioning and boasts an extremely lightweight construction. It weighs just 8.7 ounces for a men's size 9 and 7.3 ounces for a women's size 8. The compression-molded EVA foam provides responsiveness, and the early stage MetaRocker™ ensures smooth transitions.
Reviewers have praised the Clifton 9 for its exceptional comfort, delivering a smooth and cushioned ride. Apart from being one of the best HOKA running shoes, it is also ideal for walking or as an everyday sneaker for those seeking unparalleled comfort in a cushioned running shoe.
Best for Racing: HOKA Rocket X 2
HOKA Unisex Rocket X 2
SHOP NOW 1 Color
HOKA Unisex Rocket X 2
SHOP NOW The HOKA Rocket X 2 is an excellent shoe for racing. It is equipped with a carbon fiber plate sandwiched between two layers of incredibly responsive peba foam. This unique combination, along with the rocker geometry and strategically placed foam cutouts, offers a highly propulsive and ultra-responsive ride. The outsole features durabrasion grip for traction without adding extra weight.
Racers prioritize comfort and speed, and the Rocket X 2 delivers. Its technical synthetic mesh upper provides a snug and breathable fit, ideal for hot or wet race days. With a 37mm heel stack and 31mm toe stack, this shoe offers ample cushioning for a energetic and cushioned ride.
Our reviewers loved the roomy toe box, which ensures comfort during fast-paced runs. Many also noted that they felt they could run at a faster pace thanks to the propulsive carbon plate and responsive foam.
Best for Cushioning: HOKA Bondi 8
HOKA Men's Bondi 8
SHOP NOW 1 Color
HOKA Women's Bondi 8
SHOP NOW HOKA is renowned for its cushioned running shoes, and the Bondi 8 is no exception. It features some of the lightest and softest foams in the industry. The Bondi 8 also boasts a new heel geometry for softer landings and smoother transitions. The shoe's billowed heel crashpad provides excellent impact protection and a lively, energetic ride.
The HOKA Bondi 8 is designed for runners who prioritize plush cushioning and a soft, energetic ride. It serves as a reliable everyday trainer, thanks to its breathable upper and plush memory foam collar that ensures optimal comfort mile after mile.
Our reviewers appreciated the spacious fit, making it a great option for runners with wider feet. It also provides ample shock absorption, making it suitable for those with plantar fasciitis, joint pain, or injuries that require a softer and more plush ride.
- New lightweight midsole
- Streamlined upper
- Not the best for speedwork
|Weight||8.9 oz (M), 7.2 oz (W)|
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- New extended heel absorbs more shock
- Softer midsole foam
- Men’s model is heavier than the Bondi 7
|Weight||10.8 oz (M), 8.9 oz (W)|
Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
Carbon X 3
- New upper for improved fit
- Lightweight and responsive
|Weight||7.8 oz (M), 6.6 oz (W)|
Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s
- Slightly curved sole paired with ProFly foam promotes a propulsive ride
- Incredibly lightweight and plush
- Less grip in wet conditions
|Weight||8.6 oz (M), 7.1 oz (W)|
Shop Men’s | Shop Women’s | Read Full Review
- More spacious fit
- Lightweight and responsive
- Improved placement of lugs for greater durability
- Slim tongue sometimes goes off-kilter mid-run
|Weight||7.7 oz (M), 6.5 oz (W)|
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Best for Technical Trail Running: HOKA Mafate Speed 4
HOKA Men's Mafate Speed 4
SHOP NOW 1 Color
HOKA Women's Mafate Speed 4
SHOP NOW The HOKA Mafate Speed 4 is an excellent choice for technical trail running. It is equipped with advanced features for breathability, protection, and speed. Similar to the Rocket X 2 super shoe, the Mafate Speed 4 features HOKA's ProFly™ midsole, which is lightweight, responsive, and offers cushioning without being bulky or too soft.
The Mafate Speed 4 is specially designed for trail running with features like a reinforced heel collar and rubber toe cap. The single-layer woven jacquard mesh is thinner than the Speedgoat 5, reducing weight and maximizing breathability. Additionally, the shoe has a gusseted tongue to protect feet from trail debris.
This trail shoe utilizes Vibram Megagrip with Litebase construction, providing exceptional traction while keeping the shoe lightweight. The five-millimeter traction lugs offer unbeatable grip on loose or wet surfaces.
Our reviewers noted that the Mafate Speed 4 bears resemblance to HOKA's racing shoes, with added features specifically tailored for trail running. It is favored by those who enjoy leisurely runs or races on technical terrain.
- Lighter than previous version
- Added protection and grip
|Weight||10.3 oz (M), 8.5 oz (W)|
Shop Men's | Shop Women's
- Comfortable for all-day wear
- Plush, well-balanced ride
- Heavier than Hoka's other workhorse trainer, the Clifton
- Not ideal for speedwork
|Weight||10 oz (M), 8.4 oz (W)|
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Challenger ATR 6
- Supportive cushioning
- Comfortable fit
|Weight||9.8 oz (M), 8.1 oz (W)|
Shop Men's | Shop Women's | Read Full Review
The Best Features of Hoka Running Shoes
Hoka running shoes have gained a reputation for their cushioned and supportive design, making them popular among runners of all levels.
Thick midsoles are a common feature in Hoka running shoes, providing superior cushioning and shock absorption. This helps reduce the impact on joints and prevents injuries.
Despite the thick midsoles, Hoka running shoes are surprisingly lightweight. This allows for faster and more efficient running, as the shoes won't weigh you down.
Many Hoka running shoes have a wide base and a low heel-to-toe drop, which enhances stability and balance while running. This helps prevent ankle rolling and other injuries.
Hoka offers a range of styles, from minimalist to highly cushioned options, making them suitable for various running styles and terrains.
Comfort is a priority in Hoka's design. The shoes feature soft materials and a snug, supportive fit, which reduces the risk of blisters and discomfort during long runs.
Let's explore the 7 best Hoka running shoes so you can choose the right pair to suit your needs and help you achieve your fitness goals.
What to Know About HOKAs
HOKAs are known for their cushiony soles, ample support, and versatile style. Before investing in a pair, there are a few things you should know about this beloved sneaker brand:
HOKAs are best known for their plush cushioning. These shoes offer significant midsole cushioning, which absorbs impact during running and reduces strain on joints and muscles.
"Some runners may worry that the chunky midsole of HOKA shoes would make them heavy, but they are actually quite lightweight," says Helming. HOKA achieves this through innovative midsole foams that reduce weight while maintaining cloud-like cushioning.
However, it's important to get fitted and try on different shoes to find your preferred level of cushioning. Some runners prefer soft, pillowy cushioning, while others prefer a firmer, more structured feel.
HOKA shoes are not only great for running but also versatile enough for various activities that put strain on your feet. Thanks to their ample cushioning, they are also recommended for walkers and those who spend long hours on their feet.
HOKA shoes feature a meta-rocker outsole shape, which helps with the transition from heel to toe. There are early-stage meta-rockers for running fast and late-stage meta-rockers for everyday activities. The early-stage meta-rockers promote quicker and more aggressive toe-offs, while the late-stage meta-rockers provide comfort for slower running, walking, and standing.
When recommending shoes, Bell considers arch height. Those with lower arches benefit from more support and stability, while those with higher arches do better with neutral, flexible shoes.
HOKA shoes are available in both low volume and high volume options to accommodate different foot sizes. Unisex shoes fit differently based on the last they are built around. As a rule of thumb, men can stick to their regular shoe size, while women should subtract 1.5 or 2 from the men's sizing. For example, a women's size 7 would likely fit into a men's or unisex size 5 or 5.5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which HOKA shoe is best for me?
Choosing the right HOKA running shoe for you doesn't have to be complicated. The best way to determine which features you need is to get fitted at a specialty running shoe store and learn about your foot length, width, and arch height. This information will help you decide whether you need a neutral running shoe like the Bondi or Clifton, or a stability running shoe like the Arahi or Gaviota.
HOKA shoes can feel roomy for runners with low-volume feet, and unisex shoes fit differently depending on the last they are built around. Men can stick to their regular shoe size, while women should subtract 1.5 or 2 from the men's sizing. For example, a women's size 7 would likely fit into a men's or unisex size 5 or 5.5.
Where can you buy HOKA shoes?
HOKA sneakers are available in a wide range of retailers, both online and in stores. You can find their full range of shoes, including limited editions, on the official HOKA website. They are also sold in sporting goods stores, specialty running shoe stores, and online retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Fleet Feet, Amazon, and Zappos.
Expect to spend between $140 and $220 on a pair of HOKA sneakers.
Which HOKA Running Shoes are Best for You?
Every runner is unique, and so is their perfect pair of HOKAs. Our reviewers have put these HOKA running shoes to the test, considering factors like comfort, durability, responsiveness, and fit. They have selected the shoes that truly go the extra mile to meet these criteria.
Ready to find your perfect stride? You can find all the best running shoes either in-store at Marathon Sports or online. Let's get you moving!
In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best Hoka running shoes, you truly have a wide range of exceptional options to choose from. Whether you're looking for reliable daily trainers like the Clifton 9 or seeking that extra edge in your races with the Rocket X 2, Hoka has you covered. And if cushioning is your top priority, the Bondi 8 and Clifton 8 are sure to deliver unparalleled comfort mile after mile. But let's not forget about the superb performance of the Carbon X 3, Mach 4, and Rincon 3, which combine speed, agility, and durability. For those who prefer technical trail running, the Mafate Speed 4, Speedgoat 5, Kawana, and Challenger ATR 6 offer superior traction and stability on rugged terrains. With Hoka running shoes, you can trust that each pair is carefully crafted with the best features to enhance your running experience. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned runner, take the time to find the Hoka shoes that best suit your needs, and get ready to conquer the road or trail with comfort and style.