Hoka One One Huaka – review

Strava tells me I’ve just reached 118 miles in my Huakas, that means its time to tell you all about them.

The prompt is that a couple of days ago, I did a little coast path run, and well, my legs are feeling a little beat up today, so I wore them on the school run, as you do.

So officially, that makes it 120 miles!

I was pretty pleased to be sent a pair of Huakas to review so thanks Hoka One One Europe for them. A lot of my fellow RSGs have been raving about the Huaka for quite some time, and they are a shoe I had on my wish list for a while.

Artists impression of my Huakas

Like many runners I know, I started out running in fairly standard running shoes. I then discovered the minimalist trend, and carefully followed a combination of an Altra and Inov-8 transition plan, worked on my form over several months in the Inov-8 Road X 255, and then the Road X 233. I then read about the Skechers GoBionics and found some online for £25. I liked them, went back to buy some more and they had dropped to £15. I bought several pairs! I ran over a thousand miles in these 12mm, zero drop shoes. They were awesome. BUT, as I moved to more long distance running, I couldn’t manage more than 25 miles in them without everything hurting.

Its funny how much manufacturing trends affect things. People think that they okay, I mean I think that I am being all objective and rational, whereas I in reality I’m carefully guided along a well marketed path! Just as I began to wonder if minimal shoes were for me, along came the maximal trend!

That said, being part of the RSGs club has helped me not to get too hung up on drop and stack, which are in fact really quite minor things when it comes to a good pair of shoes. So while I think I prefer a 3-9mm drop range, not being hung up on this means I have some awesome shoes in my cupboard such as the New Balance 1400v2 or the Pearl Izumi Trail EM N1, and well, now the Hoka One One Huaka.

Technically speaking, the Huaka weighs in at just over 250 grams per shoe and has a 25mm in the forefoot and 27mm in the heel. This, I think makes it a racing flat.

What, I hear you think, how could an oversized, maximal ultra shoe be a racing flat. No one could possibly run fast in such a shoe…

If only I could run a 2:20 marathon 1

But I’ll tell you what, when I wear the Huaka I feel like I could2

What is that makes me want to run so fast in the Huaka? Is it the light, flexible, responsive and fast RMAT midsole? The rocker? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that they are a complete awesome shoe.

The firmness, but bounce of the midsole make for a fast and stable shoe on the down hill, even on untechnical trails. Sam has run them as a hybrid road trail shoes out in Utah, and told me as much – I have run about 50 road/trail runs, and agree, they are pretty good on the trail, unless its muddy, or a bit wet, and then I don’t find them so good on the up hills. Recognising this limitation means I generally don’t wear them on the trail unless its dry and ‘buffed out’3

The sole is wearing down, but I think it should be fine for another 200 miles at least – at that point, I might take the belt sander to them, even it all up, and start again with what would then be a 24/22 heal toe drop.

Running Buffed out trails

The upper is quite minimal, that is, there are not many support overlays, but it seems to be standing up well to the Devon lanes and trails. I am sure if I washed them they would look good as new. The fit works well for me, although I went up 1/2 a size.


So, by way of summary

I love these shoes. They are one of my favourite pairs road shoes, and for downhills – they are simply the best! They are also good on dry trails, working really well on the kinds of urban tracks and trails I run. Once before I compared a shoes to a mattress, well, If I was to do that this time, the Huaka would be like an expensive memory foam model to say a pocket sprung one.

I wasn’t really sure about Hokas to begin with, but I am now a convert and am definitely saving up for a pair of Challenger ATRs, and I hear the Clifton 2 is pretty darn good.

1) I did manage a sub 20 5K in them the other day. does that count?
2) okay, not today, those 44 miles and 7000 feet of climb have left me feeling quite slow.
3) I love this expression, in all its glorious american-ness