Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shoe Review - Hoka Huaka

Hoka always has funny names for their shoe models.  This new one is no exception.  It is not pronounced "Who-A-Ka", but rather "Waaka".  So lets just get this out of the way right now:

Photo Credit -
Waaka Waaka Waaka!!!  There.  You were all thinking it, now I've just said it.  So now, can we get onto the shoe review?

At the risk of repeating myself from previous posts, there is a certain type of shoe that I gravitate towards.  A flexible, light weight, low drop and well cushioned shoe is what I love to run in.  The Hoka Huaka fits that bill to a T. (Note: these shoes were provided as a media sample to me at no charge by Hoka One One).

Two or three years ago, this was exactly what I was looking for but nobody had put the two types (minimal and well cushioned) together.  For this review, lets just start at the front of the shoe and go backwards from there.

The green toe cap reduces volume a bit, but not in a bad way.  Feels performance oriented.

The toe box is wider than most Hokas, certainly wider than the Rapa Nui or the Stinson, but not quite as roomy as the Bondi.  One thing worth noting is that the height of the toebox is more performance oriented and is fairly snug in that regard.  The shape feels more rounded than the other Hokas as well.  The shoe fits true to size. I have never had any pinky toe irritation like I have experienced with some other more severely tapered Hoka models.

Speed laces which I proceeded to remove shortly after getting them.

The shoe comes with Hoka's speed laces as well as a pair of traditional laces.  I have found in the past that I can't get as good of a fit with the speed laces so I cut them out after I took these pictures and replaced them.  I can get a fairly snug fit but I would consider the upper to have a medium amount of room.  The construction is very simple, with an airy mesh that has glued on welded overlays for support. 

The nice thing about the upper is that it is pretty flexible (really flexible for a Hoka). 

Heel cup inside...

and outside.

The heel cup doesn't have a stiff counter and flexes nicely with your foot.  The inside of the heel cup is well padded and very comfortable.  I think that the fit is very similar to the Pearl Izumi EM N1, but a tad bit looser overall.

Very thin tongue.

The tongue is a very thin piece of  Leather and mesh that is what I would call "semi-lasted".  It is attached at the front of the shoe to the first three lace holes.  It has never has moved on me or let in a disproportionate amount of dirt and grit.

The all new RMAT sole is a thing of beauty.  Rather than the traditional squish of the Hokas built with EVA, the RMAT has a nice impact deadening feel with a great bounce.  This provides the best of both worlds.  It is much more performance oriented but it doesn't beat the hell out of your feet.  And it's lighter too!  Thats a win, win, and win. 

Hoka has this shoe listed on their website under both Trail and Road shoes.  I feel that is accurate as it is a true hybrid.  The traction is not stellar off road, but works fine for most circumstances.    There are three small areas that have little chevrons for grip, but they really don't do much in poor traction situations.  Running on the roads finds them to be smooth and grippy.   I have 62 miles on them at the time of this review and here is a picture of the wear so far.

Wear after 62 miles.

As you can see, the heel and toe chevrons are showing wear already, but nothing that I consider to be disappointing.  I expect a shoe like this to wear quickly if I run on the roads with them.  I would say that about 40% of my runs have been on trails, the rest on roads.  Much to my surprise, the three holes in the sole have never trapped any rocks.

To sum it up, my size 10.5 Huaka's are 9.7oz light...


Try THIS with any other Hoka.


and extremely comfortable.  Although I have a ton of shoe reviews to do, I'm having a hard time not putting them on my feet before every run.  I have been waiting for this shoe for a long time.  Well done Hoka.

Here are the specs as listed on Hokas website.

Catagory: Neutral light cushion
Geometry: 2mm Heel offset - (Heel 27mm, Forefoot 25mm)
Weight: 8.9 oz (actual for my 10.5 was 9.7oz)
Construction: Ultra lightweight no sew speedframe with racelaces, full length RMAT midsole, early stage meta rocker geometry with 2mm offset and stregic hi abrasion rubber zones.
Price: $150


Mike said...

Nice review! I'm running a lot in this shoe right now as well. Very light and flexible shoe from Hoka.... who knew?!?

Jeff Valliere said...

Excellent review! I have been running in the Huaka since early May and absolutely agree with everything you have to say here, I just can't say enough good things about them. The performance is amazing, so much cushion packed into such light weight, responsive, agile, protective, stable, surprisingly good traction. I would not mind seeing a version with a bit more durable outsole, perhaps one with more significant lugs. This shoe however is Hoka's highest performance shoe yet, revolutionary for the company and perhaps even for the shoe industry as well. I found the sizing to be a bit off, as I find size 10 to be perfect in the Mafate, Rapa Nui, Stinson Trail, Bondi, Conquest, yet am reasonably comfortable in my test pair of size 9 (though I have since got a 9.5 for a bit of extra toe room for the upcoming Pikes Peak Marathon). These also excelled in a recent 10k, talk about range.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the Hoka Clifton? How would you compare the two, and which do you like better?

Nathan Sanel said...

Hi Susan,
I have not had a chance to try the Cliftons yet, but there have been some comments on a FB user group that indicate that these are more minimal and more performance oriented. Wish I could help more!

EagleAngel said...

I have the conquest and just recently got a pair of Cliftons and I just love that they are 200grams lighter... I wouldn't have done 50km in them yet but they feel wonderful.
These ones sounds great too, and love the fact that they have the extra eyelet so you can lock the ankle with the laces... Has been one thing I've been missing in the changeover from ASICs

Chuck said...

One downside of the Hokas, especially for trails, is the uppers shred pretty darn easily. I typically get 150 miles before they are toast. This makes for an expensive habit.