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.