Hoka shoes and sneakers are everywhere at the moment. For a relatively new brand created in 2009 they are now huge, especially in the world of running shoes. However, are they are good as everyone says they are? Here are some of the pros and cons of Hoka shoes that you might want to consider before making a purchase decision.
Starting with the pros here are some of the main reasons why Hoka shoes tend to be loved by so many people.
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Why Do People Like Hoka Shoes So Much? – Cushioning and Comfort
I asked my sister-in-law what the stand-out feature is for her when it comes to her Hoka’s for trail running and her answer was simple, cushioning and comfort.
She has been buying running shoe brands for years as she is a keen long-distance runner and has road tested a wide range of brands over the years. She’s currently using Hoka shoes because give her arch support and are really comfortable. They have excellent shock absorption and this is great for her when wants to protect her feet from the impact of long runs.
Whilst she wears them in the gym they are primarily her running shoes and she has noticed a difference in comfort. Also, she used to suffer from plantar fasciitis when wearing other brands but this cushioned road shoe seems to have stopped the problem.
The benefits of comfortable shoes should never be underestimated. For me, it is the number one reason why I now choose one particular shoe brand over another.
Why Do Podiatrists Recommend Hoka Shoes?
Podiatry organizations such as the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) have a seal of acceptance that they award to certain products that they believe are good for foot health.
Some Hoka shoes meet this standard but remember not all of them. Hoka has a section on their website that points you in the direction of shoes that have the relevant standard. As an example, the seal is mentioned in relation to the Bondi 8 style, the Bondi SR and Challenger 7.
Does this mean that the other Hoka running shoes are no good? Well of course not but it does mean that these particular styles are thought to be especially good if you are worried about looking after your feet.
This seal of acceptance is nice to have and not all other running shoe brands may have something similar so it is a unique selling point.
People describe these as so comfortable that they feel like they are walking on clouds or marshmallows.
These can be used for running or for simply walking around in especially if you have a job where you are on your feet all day.
This style is breathable which is great if you are worried about sweaty feet.
The insides have a removable insole which helps with cushioning and support. There are fewer color choices with this model is still a great running shoe for comfort.
What Is Special About Hoka? – The Innovative Design
When Hoka shoes were created they took a different approach from other forms of traditional running shoes. They wanted to create a running shoe to help people run downhill faster and in creating this shoe they came up with something unique and different.
The shoes have an oversized midsole a meta rocker system that propels you forward and that great shock absorption which protects your feet and legs from the impact of running.
Their innovative design clearly struck a chord with runners because the brand is now hugely popular as a running shoe.
Their Running Shoes Are Lightweight
When looking at the pros and cons of Hoka shoes then it would be an omission if I didn’t mention that they are an incredibly lightweight shoe.
They might not be the lightest on the market but they are certainly at the lower end of the scale which counts for a lot when you are looking for a long-distance trail shoe.
Not many runners like the thought of really heavy running shoes anymore because they literally weigh you down and slow your speed. Lightweight shoes made from high-quality materials are becoming increasingly important when making purchasing decisions.
The Hoka Rincon 3 weighs just 7.3 ounces which is a great choice if you are looking at one of their lightest shoes.
Benefits of Hoka Shoes – They Are Versatile
I mentioned earlier on that my sister-in-law uses her Hoka shoes for running, trail running, and at the gym. Other people, I know use them for hiking or walking.
This matters as instead of having to buy a number of shoes for different terrains or types of activities one shoe can potentially cover a whole host of different uses.
This can be a money saver which is particularly important when multiple pairs of sneakers can cost big bucks.
They are Supportive and Offer Stability
My sister-in-law was definitely a fan of Hoka’s stability and support because it helped her comfort levels and also stopped her issue with plantar fasciitis.
As Hoka shoes have a wider base and low-profile midsole they offer considerably more stability and support than other brands. Yes, they are what I would call maximalist shoes in their look but if they help with problems such as pronation then the odd look can be worth it.
They are also supportive shoes. The extra support they give helps to secure your foot where you are running and prevent unnecessary movement. Whilst they are snug you would never call them uncomfortable and that is key. The memory foam collar on certain styles also helps.
I think this last element is key for a trail shoe because when you are running over uneven ground you really want to protect your feet.
They Design for Wide Feet
Not all running shoe brands make sneakers that are built for wide feet. This can be a problem if you aren’t a standard size as narrow trainers can create pressure points and discomfort.
Hoka’s do however offer wide fittings in lots of their styles. This means that they are a good brand when it comes to dealing with different foot shapes and fit.
These HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Clifton 8 shoes are an example of a range where the fit is wider allowing you more room than the standard sizes.
They Can Help Reduce Injuries
Keeping your feet in the correct alignment of course helps to prevent injuries which can be the bane of some runner’s lives.
The cushioned soles and the design that helps with stability mean that runners’ injuries such as shin splints are less likely to occur.
Keeping your foot aligned also helps lesser foot problems such as tendonitis or pronation which can lead to arch pain or ankle problems.
The Shoe Design Can Potentially Improve Performance
Finally, the technology that Hoka shoes use helps to propel your feet forward which means that when you are walking or running this leads to great energy efficiency.
Whilst there is no promise that this will make you faster it may do and that is important if you are a person who is concerned with speed rather than the exercise they may get when long-distance running or walking.
Performance is becoming increasingly important with many running shoe designs as people are always looking for that extra edge and if a shoe can give it to them it will be highly popular.
Hoka Complaints – Durability
Whilst I have mentioned plenty about the benefits of Hokas what about the downfalls? The pros and cons of Hoka shoes can help you look at other shoes that are on the market to make some decisions about what might be best for your needs.
Hoka running shoes are not perfect (just like most other shoes) so it is a matter of comparing their plusses and minuses before buying your next trail shoes.
So what is the first complaint that I had to mention? Well, it was from my sister-in-law who uses them regularly for long runs and it concerns their durability.
Now I should add this is her experience and this might not be the same for everyone or every style but she found that they did not last as long as some of her previous trainers such as the Brooks models. It appears she isn’t alone in thinking this with some running forum members also complaining about their longevity.
When you are paying out a substantial amount for a pair of shoes it can be extremely annoying to find that other running shoes that are cheaper last you longer. Certainly, this can make you reassess whether Hoka running shoes are durable enough for your running mileage especially if you like to do long distances.
Hoka Shoes Price Point
The best Hoka Running shoes are not a cheap option if you are looking to buy some and have a budget.
In fact, with current prices, you are often looking at spending almost 50% more than you would on some running shoes. That is a big difference and makes them very much a premium shoe.
Whilst plenty of people seem to be paying these higher prices it will push some people out of the market as they won’t all be able to afford the higher prices.
With the high price and durability issues that can be a lot for a consumer to swallow and it could send buyers elsewhere.
They Are Ugly
Whilst there is a trend for ugly shoes I’m not a lover of it and Hoka shoes certainly are not necessarily visually appealing shoes.
That extra cushioning, rounded shoe shape and bulky appearance because of the midsole make them look a little odd and too big for people’s feet.
Of course, if you are totally unworried about aesthetics and are only looking at performance and comfort then this might not be a problem but for a lot of people, it’s a step too far.
Do Hoka Shoes Hurt at First?
When you look at the pros and cons of Hoka shoes another problem often rears its head and that is how long it takes to break them in.
This isn’t necessarily a fault of the Hoka shoes but because if you have been used to traditional running shoes it can be hard to adapt to other shoes.
Hokas have significantly more cushioning and the biomechanics are different which means that the natural stride you may have become used to with your old shoes changes.
Obviously after using them for a period of time your feet will get used to them but for some people, the extra break in time and difference in the shoe fit is enough to put off some people.
Who Are Hokas Not Good For? – People Who Like To Feel The Ground When Running
Everyone has different needs when it comes to their running shoes. Some people like my sister-in-law love the extra cushioning in their Hokas because it reduces impact other people want a completely different feel.
If you are one of those people who like to feel the sensation of the ground underneath your feet when you are running or walking then you may have a problem with these shoes.
The cushioning in the shoes means that the sensation of feeling the ground as you run all but disappears which can make people feel less connected to the earth.
This isn’t a huge problem for most people but for a small minority, this reduces their enjoyment of running.
The Weight of The Shoe
Whilst Hoka shoes are lightweight in comparison to lots of brands they still might be considered heavy in comparison to the brands that specialize in light designs.
Once again this isn’t a deal breaker for most people but some people will perfect the most lightweight shoes they can buy on the market to improve their running speed and to use up less energy.
If you are looking for a very lightweight shoe that is at a cheaper price point than Hokas then the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 12 Running Shoe weighs in at just 6.5 ounces. Plus they come in wide fittings if you need the extra room.
Having a chunky midsole and additional cushioning is all great for reducing injuries and improving comfort but it does come at the expense of flexibility.
If you are a person who needs a more flexible shoe and wants your foot to be able to move a little more then a Hoka shoe might not cut it.
Some people would also say that having flexibility in a trail shoe especially is important as it helps you to be able to deal with the uneven ground a little more easily. If you are not running trails this feature may be less important.
Which Hoka Shoe is Best For Me?
So as you can see when you look at the pros and cons of Hoka shoes not all of them are dealbreakers or disasters for the shoe brand. Sometimes it is just a matter of preference.
There is a huge range of athletic shoes on the market currently and each one of them has unique features and advantages and disadvantages. The key to getting the perfect pair of shoes for you is to decide on your specific needs and preferences in relation to your running style and choose the brand that most fit your needs.
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