Hoka One One

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Why Hoka One One?

Let us first be very clear: The Hoka One One is not a niche shoe. It's a different way of looking at running, and it has the industry trying to catch up. 

While other shoe companies were following a "minimalist" trend 5 years ago, the folks at Hoka were sitting at the top of a mountain trying to figure out how they could get back down faster. They knew the pure force of running downhill was very tough on their bodies, and (having a shoe industry background) went looking for solutions. They finally settled on a couple of common sense solutions:

  1. More padding is more comfortable. Whether you're running downhill on a rock-strewn trail or out for a walk on your neighborhood sidewalks, an absorbent cushion between your feet and the ground reduces impact on muscles and joints. Today, this philosophy doesn't mean every Hoka will be a pillowy; what it means is that every shoe will have incrementally more cushion than its competitors in the market in a manner that adds comfort and protection while being tuned for the specific application. 
  2. A wider tread footprint increases stability. When the center of gravity is raised by thick cushioning, it is important to ensure the shoe also provides the additional stability necessary to compensate for its height. Hoka - especially highly cushioned models - will have a comparably wider footprint than competitive offerings.
  3. A natural footstrike is better for the body. Just because a shoe is heavily cushioned doesn't mean it has to increase stress on the foot. A low drop (less additional padding on the heel vs. the forefoot) can assist runners in a more efficient stride and promote more natural body mechanics. All Hokas have a proprietary "rocker" - a point in the shoe at which the foot is allowed to roll forward into its most efficient position.

The result? A shoe that allows new runners to avoid the discomfort normally associated with starting a new type of activity. One that allows established runners to complete a full week of workouts without sore joints and aching feet. And a way for competitors at the highest level to increase mileage and speed on any surface. We love these shoes, and love the fact the legacy shoe companies are introducing shoes that are more "Hoka-like". While they play catch-up, Hoka is busy expanding their line, creating even more solutions for racers, runners and walkers of all levels.

Hoka One One at the Ultra Running Company

We have a lot of folks come into the store asking to try the "Hoka shoe", and two or three years ago it would have been pretty easy for us to point to a single shoe and tell them it was representative of the Hoka line. Today, however, Hoka offers a full line of shoes to meet the varying needs of runners of all skills and desires. Hoka One One shoes are - by design - Low Drop shoes with Comfort Cushioning, but the similarities end there, with multiple widths, types of cushioning and application. We are excited to be the only running store in the Charlotte market - and one of the few in the country - to carry the full line of Hoka One One shoes, and we love working with folks to figure out exactly which Hoka is right for them.

A Really Important Note Regarding Stability: We'll say it here and anywhere. Stability is a marketing concept used to sell shoes, and we're not a fan of companies pretending to solve something with it. For 95-97% of the population (yes, this includes YOU...don't pretend you're special in this way!) there is no need for correction regarding pronation or supination. With that said, we do carry two shoes in the Hoka lineup that they have recently added to their "Dynamic Stability" classification. Be aware that one of these shoes was categorized as "Neutral" along with every other shoe in their lineup last year, and the only thing that has changed is where they slot it in their marketing material. The upside of this from the Hoka standpoint is that they hedged their bets by NOT using classic stability techniques such as "posting" and "shanks". For Hoka, stability means a combination of a wide footprint and variable rubber compounds that guide your foot to a neutral landing. Do we like that they now refer to this as "stability" instead of just calling it a "running shoe" like they did in the past? No, but we get that they made a decision to do what every other company in the world does, and they don't ask us for marketing advice. So in the spirit of full disclosure, the Constant 2 and the Conquest 2 fall in this category. We think they're really nice shoes that stand on their own, so we carry them. With that said, you'll never hear us talk about them in terms of stability or guidance, since the available science tells us that's a crock...


Hoka One One Road


Hoka One One Conquest 2: A Low Drop, Comfort Cushioned Road Shoe. The original Conquest was the purest vision of where Hoka appeared to be headed this time last year - a highly responsive shoe that redefines what it meant to have "oversized" cushion. By switching to a proprietary new material for the midsole and most of the outsole, Hoka was able to keep weight down while provide a bit more spring than previous models. The Conquest 2 takes that formula and smoothes out the rough edges: a softer feel to the cushion, while keeping it responsive; an adjustment to the shoe-top material (the "upper") that makes it softer while maintaining light weight; an update in colors to spice up our lives. This shoe feels faster than the other models in the lineup, and avoids the feeling of sinking into the shoe that is either loved or hated in the original Hoka lineup - this would be our max cushion choice for folks who want a bit more rebound from their shoe or just want to look plain awesome

The R-MAT sole of this shoe provides some of the best tread wear in the industry. Our opinion is this shoe fits just a touch slimmer on the forefoot than the previous model, and significantly narrower than alternative offerings such as the updated Bondi 4 or the all-new Constant, although that depends so much on individual foot shape it should not be used as an eliminating factor prior to trying it on in person.

The Conquest 2 is Currently Available ($170). The Conquest Remains Available in Select Sizes.

Hoka One One Vanquish 2: A Low Drop, Comfort Cushioned Road Shoe. The original Vanquish was the crown jewel of Hoka's ill-fated attempt at striating the market as they tried to gain shelf space with mass merchandisers (OK, bottom line? It was nothing more than a Conquest knock-off...), and since it really didn't add anything to the lineup, we didn't bring it in. Imagine our surprise when we saw this shoe on the preview circuit: a completely new approach to comfort cushioning with - dare we say it - a unique sense of style. Well, we're happy to say the anticipation we felt then was nothing compared to the reality of the shoe now that its out in the market. 

The Vanquish 2 has emerged from the shadow of the Conquest as an offering all to itself. It's the lightest weight "Max Cushion" shoe in the world, and the midsole has a feel that separates it from anything else in the lineup. This is big brother/big sister the Clifton has been waiting for: all the pillowy goodness, with the addition of just the right amount of structure. What does that mean to you? Well, first of all, your feet will feel great mile after mile. Second, it has the same "fast" feeling we get from the Clifton's rockered sole, plus the confidence for folks who hit the ground a bit harder to know the shoe will give them a supportive, consistent ride throughout the life of the shoe. And finally, we think it looks awesome. So there's that.

If you think you've tried everything Hoka has to offer in their highest volume shoes, the Vanquish 2 will have you second guessing yourself. Come on in and give it a shot. You'll be happy you did.

The Vanquish 2 is Currently Available ($170).

 

Hoka One One Constant 2: A Low Drop, Comfort Cushioned Road Shoe. The original Constant was a direct result of Hoka's mission to listen to its customers (existing and potential) and create products that truly match their expressed needs. It was also a result of them listening to consultants who told them they needed more of a presence in the "Stability" category. We applaud them for the first action and wish they'd tell the consultant to pound sand on the second. If there was a knock on the line in the past, it was that none of their shoes accommodated folks with wider feet. While the Hoka folks would argue this, we did see customers who simply felt better in a shoe with a wider toe box. The Constant 2 effectively addresses this concern, with a last specifically designed to offer more width. 

In our early evaluation, we are impressed with the Constant 2's roomy feel, highly cushioned midsole (much like the Bondi 4, but with the slightest increase in springiness due to Hoka's use of R-MAT cushioning rubber as the outsole in certain areas of the sole. We perceive the arch to be slightly more prominent than in other Hoka products - perhaps a function of a higher volume of R-MAT directly underneath that area. The "burrito" tongue is a welcome feature for those who have trouble with sliding in that area (and is unique feature on this shoe vs. the rest of the lineup). We think the update to the Constant 2 has been a solid one - a slight adjustment in the fit above the toes has most people preferring this version, and the addition of extra eyelets gives us the ability to secure the shoe around our ankle area a bit more than we could in the previous version. Decide for yourself by coming in to give this great addition to the line a shot.

The Constant 2 is Currently Available ($160). The Constant Remains Available in Select Sizes.

Hoka One One Bondi 4 ($150): This is the shoe we started in: "ultrasized" cushion, a wide, stable base, and tread designed for the road (but capable of being used when you need to step off the tarmac). This shoe provides the comfort and performance necessary to complete your longest races while maintaining a smooth transition capable of everyday use. The Bondi 4 provides the soft, absorbent feel that has built a fan base across the country and around the world, balancing just the right amount of cushion with a unique foot framework that ensures stability on par with the highest referenced model in the industry. In addition, a completely new tread design should eliminate the (in our minds superficial but nonetheless) rapid mid-foot wear pattern that dogged the first three iterations of the shoe, making legions of runners happier about the way a part of the shoe they will never see looked.

We tend to fit the Bondi 4 on folks who have slightly wider feet, as the forefoot volume is as high in this shoe as any in the Hoka lineup - not quite as wide as the Constant but with more hight above the toes. With that said, we know plenty of folks with narrow feet who love it as well, so take that with a grain of salt and try it on in person!

The Bondi 4 is Currently Available ($150). The Bondi 3 Remains Available in Select Sizes.

Hoka One One Clifton 2: This is what a shoe would look and feel like if it were made entirely of a government black-listed narcotic. These shoes are the gateway to the Hoka universe, and - unlike the previously mentioned narcotics - they're 100% legal. The Clifton 2 is exceptionally light. The Clifton 2 is unbelievably cushioned. The Clifton 2 is exceptionally light (see what we did there?). The Clifton 2 has a comfortable and secure upper that provides a solid fit for just about everyone who puts it on. Did we mention its super light? Because it is. The original Clifton was voted 2014's shoe of the year by just about everyone who votes on that sort of thing, and the 2nd versions updates included only minor variations to the tongue (more padding), reinforcements on the upper (to make it hug the foot a bit more) and slightly adjusted tread placement (we can't even tell). So even if its not the shoe for you, its probably a darn good place to start.

There. That's what you'll read everywhere else (maybe not the narcotics part, but the gushing praise...). Here's our take: The Clifton 2 has one of the most comfortable and compliant rides of any Hoka product. Every store in the country that carries Hokas will suggest this shoe to you because its a really easy thing to do, and as a general rule you will leave the store very happy. But there's nuance to that we want to make sure you don't miss. It has slightly less cushion than most of the other offerings, but because that cushion is so soft, it feels like a lot more. This is a shoe that makes us want to run, although the softness of the cushion means some longer-distance runners could end up wanting more structure underneath their feet. Finally, we don't think its a secret that in trying to make this shoe light there are some really high quality features of the other Hokas that simply couldn't be included in the Clifton lineup. Once again, some folks may feel the need for these features, and that's why having a full and robust line of options is such a great thing. Last note: the more padded tongue is undeniably more comfortable, but it does take up a bit of room inside the shoe. This leads to a more snug fit than the original Clifton, and customers around the country have been split on which version they love more. Like seriously split. So come on in and give them both a try - as long as we have stock, we're happy to talk through the nuance with you!

The Clifton 2 is Currently Available ($130). The Clifton Remains Available in Select Sizes.

Hoka One One Mixed Use

 

Hola One One Huaka (Classic Design): This is the Hoka that slipped under the radar. Introduced at the same time as the Clifton, the Huaka weighs less than an ounce more and offers a significantly more responsive ride due to its low heel-to-toe drop and use of Hoka's R-MAT rubber throughout the cushion and tread area. We like to think of this as a racing flat with a ton of cushion, and it has become one of our go-to Hokas when we want to get in fast, comfortable miles. We notice a pronounced difference in under-toe spring in the Huaka (it really gives us some additional "pop" we don't see in most other shoes), allowing for high turnover and energy retention throughout a run.

So why doesn't the Huaka get as much press as its fraternal twin, the Clifton? Well, first of all, it does fit a bit differently. Wear testers (and folks who shop on the internet) tend to get their shoes delivered in a pre-specified size, and this means some shoes fit really well and some leave room for improvement. In the Huaka's case, we find some variation in fitment depending on foot shape, but once its dialed in this is an extremely comfortable shoe. Second, the Clifton feels pretty amazing off the shelf - its only when put to the test that the Huaka really shines. That means most local running stores don't even stock the Huaka, finding it easier to throw a pair of"comfy" shoes without discussing the nuance of what that will mean down the road. We think that's too bad, because they're missing out on a great option.

One word of caution: Both we and Hoka categorize the Huaka as a mixed-use product - meaning it works well on road and on trail. While this is true to an extent (Hoka sponsored athlete Sage Canaday wins a ton of races on both surfaces in this shoe), we tend to favor it for road use and light trail use only. Our impression is the tread design struggles to provide the level of traction necessary to instill confidence in muddy or exceptionally rocky terrain, so we suggest more technical trail runners consider other offerings as well when making a purchase. We'll talk through that and other nuance with you in the store, so run on by and give the Huaka a test run!

The Huaka Remains Available in Select Sizes ($150).

Hoka One One Challenger ATR2: A Low Drop, Comfort Cushioned Mixed-Use Shoe. The Challenger ATR2 is a natural evolution of the exceptionally popular Challenger ATR: designed to combine light weight with off-road traction, this update provides a slightly more snug feel around the foot. The Challenger has continued to follow the design philosophy of the Clifton/Clifton 2, but adds a more aggressive tread and, we feel, a slightly more responsive midsole (the cushion, basically). We had originally categorized the Challenger as a trail shoe based on our early feedback, but our experience with the shoe for almost a year now tells us it's tread is durable enough on hard surfaces that it is a solid performer there as well.

So While not as durable as shoes like the Stinson ATR and Mafate Speed, both of those shoes give up a solid 3oz. of weight to this excellent racer. While not quite as light as the Clifton 2, its going to do a heck of a lot better when you step onto muddy or soft ground. So...if we're on a gnarly trail run into the outback of the Carolina hills? We're sticking with the more robust products. A local 5k? Let's keep it application specific there, champ. But a fun run on lightly groomed single track like the USNWC or Beatty, a race favoring speed over technicality or even a light jog on a greenway that includes escapades onto the grass or hidden spur trails? This is your new favorite ride.

The Challenger ATR2 is Currently Available ($130). The Challenger ATR Remains Available in Select Sizes.


Hoka One One Stinson ATR (Classic): Stunning "ultrasized" cushioning delivered in a shoe with just the right amount of traction and control. While classified as a trail shoe by Hoka, we love the fact this shoe provides a soft, stable ride on pavement or off-road without sacrificing tread life and durability. While Hoka offers a "Stinson Lite" version of this shoe as well, we feel the multi-surface benefits of the trail version far outweigh any upside to a flatter, thinner tread. Our experience tells us the Stinson ATR has the tread to last equally long as the Stinson Lite on the road, while giving runners the confidence to tackle the toughest terrain with ease (the Lite -while capable on the road - is not a suggested option off of it, as even wet grass provides traction issues with its road-specific tread). The truly exciting aspects of this shoe are the soft, almost cloud like feel of the midsole and the manner in which the shape of the outsole (the bottom of the shoe) allows you to roll forward into an active stride.

We call this shoe the "problem solver" - a cushioned ride for runners and walkers alike. We find this shoe to better suit those with a narrow foot, although the shape of the foot may have more of an impact than the width. We are excited to share this shoe with customers who mix road and trail running and want one shoe to meet their needs on both. You'll be happy you tried this one on!

The Stinson ATR Remains Available in Select Sizes ($160).

Hoka One One Trail

 

Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2: When we tried on our first pair of Hokas in 2011, we couldn't believe what we were feeling. The cushioning was unlike anything we had ever put on our feet, and we just had to share the experience. Fast forward to 2015 and we have now worn dozens of pairs with different looks, varying treads, new materials and more. In all that time, though, none of the shoes have caught us off guard and returned that smile to our faces quite like the new Mafate Speed.

First thing's first with this shoe: It's made to be run in on trails and off road, and it does this exceptionally well. By combining Hokas traditional super-pillowy cushion with a layer of their newer R-MAT for durability and springiness, the Mafate Speed delivers an astonishing amount of protection from ground impact while maintaining a very stable and responsive ride. The tread - which we thought at first blush would be torn up the second it hit its first snarl - provides a surprising level of durability and even adds to the plush feeling of the shoe. It is safe to say we pull this shoe out on our toughest, most technical runs, and continue to be impressed with the smooth, even wear. 

The Mafate Speed is Currently Available ($170)

 

Hoka One One Challenger ATR: The Challenger ATR is a Spring 2015 shoe designed to combine light weight with off-road traction. It uses the Clifton design as its starting point and adds a more aggressive tread and, we feel, a slightly more responsive midsole (the cushion, basically). Hoka delayed the Challenger release to Independent Running Specialty Retailers (an industry term for folks who own their own business, don't have quite the leverage megastores do and are, like us, not a giant chain based in - say - the Mountain West) until mid-February, then fell victim to the west coast dock worker's pseudo-strike which pushed delivery back even further.

 Bottom line is we have been testing the Challenger ATR since January and truly enjoy the shoe. Its a Low Drop, Comfort Cushion Trail Shoe that provides solid traction and light weight. While not as durable as shoes like the Stinson ATR and Mafate Speed, both of those shoes give up a solid 3oz. of weight to this solid racer. So...if we're on a gnarly trail run into the outback of the Carolina hills? We're sticking with the more robust products. A run on lightly groomed single track like the USNWC or Beatty, or a race favoring speed over technicality? This is your new favorite ride. Our experience tells us it fits nothing like the aforementioned Clifton, so be sure to stop in and see how it feels on your feet! 

The Challenger ATR is Currently Available ($130)


ANYTHING YOU DON'T SEE HERE:

We work really hard to offer a full spectrum of Hoka One One shoes to meet the needs of all our customers, and are pretty sure we have the most complete offering of any retailer in the Carolinas (maybe the country...). We stock full size runs of everything we carry. If there is an Hoka shoe you don't see here, it doesn't mean its not a good product...just that we decided it wasn't part of our core offering. Please don't let that stop you from coming in - we'll work with you to identify the correct product and fit for your specific goals, and we'll even order it for you at no extra charge.