Guide to Hoka Running Shoes

guide to hoka running shoes

Like any brand, Hoka has plenty of running shoes. This guide to Hoka running shoes will help you figure out which is best for you. Of course, going to your local running store to get fitted is a better idea, but this guide to Hoka running shoes should serve to help you narrow down choices.

You might be thinking:

Are Hoka running shoes good?

Which Hoka shoe is the best?

What are the differences between Hoka running shoe models?

This Hoka running shoe guide will tell you all that.

First about Hoka One One the brand:

Most people don’t realize that Hoka One One is pronounced Hoka Oh-nay Oh-nay…not 1 1.). Yes, it’s true! One comes from the Maori language, meaning “to fly.” Hoka was actually founded in 2009 by two former Salomon employees. It’s now headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, and is one of the fastest-growing brands in the running world.

Hoka Clifton
A nice throwback to the first Hoka Clifton in 2014. They’ve come a long way.

About Hoka Running Shoes:

When most people see a Hoka One One running shoe, they are intimidated by “all that cushion.” What most people don’t realize is that most Hoka running shoes have between a 3mm-5mm drop. Many Brooks, New Balance, and Asics shoes all have 10-11 mm drops.

So yes, Hokas are a lot flatter than you think. This is because your foot sits further down in the shoe. Think of a Hoka shoe as a race car, and your foot sits in a bucket seat and closer to the ground. (Easy for me, my first car was a low riding Pontiac Firebird). These “bucket seats” cradle the heel and keep it secure in the midsole.

Hoka shoes use Meta-Rocker technology. It’s designed to complement the natural gait cycle and reduce the height differential between heel and toe. Every Hoka shoe is designed into “early-stage meta-rocker” and “late-stage meta-rocker.”

Guide to hoka running shoes

Guide to Hoka Running Shoes: Daily Trainers:

The Hoka One One daily trainers are known for their cushion and ability to take the pounding on the daily run. While you might not necessarily break speed records, they will keep your body healthy and happy.

Hoka One One Rincon 2: (Review here)

Weight: 9.1 oz/Drop 5 mm

The Hoka Rincon is lightweight and durable. It’s one of the lowest-profile Hoka shoes out there. It sacrifices its durability, and while it won’t last as long as many other Hoka models, you can definitely get some speed out of it.

Hoka One One Rincon 2 Shoe Review

Hoka One One Clifton (

The Hoka Clifton 8 recently came out, but I haven’t had a chance to try it. 

Weight: 10.7 oz/Drop 4mm

The Hoka Clifton is the bread and butter of Hoka shoes. I’m actually surprised I haven’t run a substantial amount in the Hoka Clifton 8 just yet. It was updated during my move process, so it’s fallen through the cracks of the shoes I have ordered.

The Hoka Clifton is the original Hoka model and has come so far since the beginning. It most resembles a marshmallow that you can sink your foot right into. So if you’re looking for a lighter than an expected trainer with a lot of cushion, look no further than the Hoka Clifton.

Hoka One One Bondi 7 (Review here):

Weight: 9.7 oz Drop: 5mm

The Hoka Bondi 7 (a show I nicknamed the Sherman tank of running shoes) is one of the most cushioned running shoes out there. You won’t find too many shoes with more cushion to them. Many people find it to be “too much shoe.” I think it’s one of the best recovery run shoes, but I wouldn’t go running fast in it.

Hoka Bondi 7 Shoe Review

Hoka Clifton Edge (Review here)

Weight: 8.9 oz Drop: 5 mm

A brand new Hoka shoe. It’s the best-seller, Hoka Clifton, but more responsive. I love the feeling of running in the Hoka Clifton X., Especially up and down hills, and I think it excels well at running downhill. If you love the Clifton 7 and want something responsive, consider the Hoka Clifton Edge.

Hoka Clifton Edge Shoe Review

Guide to Hoka Running Shoes: Hoka One One Support Shoes:

The Hoka stability running shoes are different than many other “stable models.” They provide inherent stability. In their stability shoes, Hoka uses the technology they call: “J-Frame.” Like it sounds, it looks like a J with firmer support on the medial side where your arch may roll inward.

What do I mean by that? There is no massive arch piece preventing your feet from rolling inward. If you need stability, the shoes provide it. If you don’t need stability, the shoes don’t provide it. Theoretically, anyone could run in the Hoka stability models, but it doesn’t make sense for neutral runners to use them. They are ok, but there are better options.

Hoka Gaviota 2:

Weight: 10.6 oz Drop: 5 mm

I haven’t run much in the Hoka Gaviota 2 because I don’t need to. However, it’s a great stable shoe. If you want maximum arch support and maximum cushion, it’s the Hoka model for you.

Hoka One One Arahi 5 (Arahi 4 review)

Weight: 9.8 oz Heel to Toe Drop: 5 mm

The Hoka Arahi is a great mix of lightweight, cushion, and stability. So if you like more cushion but want a lightweight and stable shoe, the Hoka Arahi is perfect. It’s one of the lightest and most stable shoes out there.

Guide to Hoka Running Shoes: Hoka Profly Collection:

The Hoka Profly collection can be seen as confusing. This guide to Hoka shoes should provide some clarity. They are lighter than the daily trainers from Hoka and can be used as either racing, workouts, or daily trainers. If you are someone who likes a lighter and firmer shoe to train in, you might love the Profly collection (I admit they are my favorite Hoka models).

Hoka Cavu (3 Review here)

Weight: 7 oz Heel to Toe Drop: 5 mm

The Hoka Cavu is one of the most underrated and undervalued shoes out there. Sadly, not officially I don’t know if Hoka will continue making it. If you want a simple, lightweight, and fast shoe, it’s perfect. It resembles workout shoes from around 2015, like the New Balance 1400 or Saucony Kinvara. I tell people, it’s basically the most unHoka Hoka shoe out there. If you are looking for a lightweight and minimal Hoka shoe, the Cavu 3 is a great place to start.

Hoka Mach 4 (Review here)

Weight: 8 oz Heel to To Drop: 5 mm

A step up from the Hoka Cavu, the Mach is cushioned and responsive. It has more cushion than the Hoka Cavu 3 but less than the Bondi or Hoka Clifton models. It’s much firmer. This year’s update has been amazing and a great durable shoe. The Mach 4 is much firmer than the Clifton, lighter than the Bondi, and more durable than the Rincon. I often feel like the Mach gets overshadowed by the Rincon, despite being much older.Hoka Mach 4 Shoe Review

Hoka Elevon:

Weight: 10.1 oz / Drop 5mm

The Hoka One One Elevon is one of the few shoes from Hoka I haven’t run much in. However, the Profly makes it responsive and good for faster turnover, and still lightweight.

Guide to Hoka Running Shoes: Hoka Racing Shoes:

Almost every brand has racing shoes, and Hoka is no exception. These responsive shoes are designed to run your fastest at races. Like almost every brand, Hoka has its “fast” and carbon-plated shoe. Spoiler: they are some of the best out right now.

Hoka Rocket X (Review here):

Weight: Drop: 5 mm

The Hoka Rocket X is the update to the Hoka Rocket. It’s the “fastest” Hoka shoe designed for any road race from the 5k to the marathon. It’s the shoe that Aliphine qualified for the Olympics in. Of the carbon-plated shoes, the Rocket X feels more natural. If you are looking for the “Hoka Super Shoe”, your best bet is the Hoka Rocket X.

Hoka One One Carbon Rocket X

Hoka Carbon X2 (Review here):

Weight: 8.4 oz Drop: 5 mm

Hoka gets confusing with both the Rocket X and now the Carbon X2. Both Hoka models have Carbon fiber plates. The Hoka Carbon X2 is a carbon fiber plated shoe made for ultra marathons. It’s the shoe many people running further than 26.2 miles prefer.

Is it good for us people that don’t run ultras? It’s a great workout or long shoe that will be more comfortable.

It is less durable and has less traction than the rocket, but has more cushion. As a result, it will feel more comfortable the longer you go.

Hoka Carbon X 2 Review

Guide to Hoka Running Shoes: Hoka One One Trail Shoes:

You may not know that Hoka was born as a trail shoe brand. They were designed as trail shoes to run ultra distances.

Hoka Speedgoat 4. (Review here)(older review here):

The Hoka Speedgoat was my first trail shoe. It’s got a lot of cushion and still my favorite shoe for hiking. It can handle any terrain and available in several different versions, including Goretex, higher ankle (midi), and regular.

Chimney Rocks Trail via Hermitage and Appalachian National Scenic Trail
My older Speedgoat Midis have been a lot of places

Hoka Mafete:

Weight: 9.8 ox Drop: 4 mm

The Hoka Mafete has a wide toe box and protects the foot from some of the most severe trails. If you find yourself running on technical trails and want to feel the ground more, the Hoka Mafete is a great option.

Hoka Torrent 2 (review here):

Weight: 8 oz Drop: 5 mm

The Hoka Torrent 2 is my favorite trail shoe. There I said it! It’s lightweight and provides a lot of traction on any terrain. It’s responsible, and you can take it on muddy or technical trails. While many people prefer something with more cushion for ultra distances, it’s a great option for racing a marathon or running miles under that distance.

Hoka Torrent 2 Shoe Review
You can see the deeper lugs on the Hoka Torrent 2

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 (review here):

Weight: 7.2 oz Drop 3mm

The Hoka Challenger ATR 5 is an all-terrain trail shoe. It reminds me a lot of the Hoka Bondi that became a trail shoe. It has plenty of cushion but is lightweight and protects you on any trail (especially gravel). If you run several different trails, the Hoka Challenging ATR 5 is the best option.

Hoka One One Challenger 6 Shoe Review

Hoka One One EVO JAWZ:

Weight: 6.1 oz Drop: 3 mm

The Hoka EVO JAWZ is a trail racing flat. So if you prefer minimal cushion or want a trail racing flat, the JAWZ is for you. When I race another trail race, I think I’ll invest in a pair to run hard and push myself in. The Hoka JAWZ has a thin midsole with a Vibram rubber outsole with 6mm lugs. Basically, it’s traction attached to an upper.

Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6:

Weight: 10.4 oz Drop: 5 mm

The Hoka Stinson is the Hoka shoe designed to run far on trails. If you’re looking for a trail shoe with plenty of cushion and are not worried about how fast you go (just how far), it’s a great option. It’s better for the west coast and more runnable trails (East Coasters will *probably* prefer the Challenger for a rockier terrain.

Hoka Running Shoe Guide Conclusion:

As you can see, Hoka makes a lot of running shoes. Like any brand, it’s important to find the right ones for you. There is no right or wrong running shoes, just the right one for you.

Everyone has an opinion, and you didn’t ask me for mine, but my favorite Hoka shoes right now are the Hoka Clifton X for easy runs, the Hoka Torrent 2 for trails, and the Hoka Cavu for faster runs. 

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Questions for you:

Have you run in Hoka before?

What is your favorite Hoka running shoe?


  1. Thanks for making this guide, Hollie! Hoka has definitely changed over the years…I’ve mainly ran/walked in the Cliftons and Bondi’s. I haven’t had the Clifton 7 that long, but once it is worn down, I would def like to try the next version…they are just comfortable shoes overall.

  2. I have been a Hoka fan since probably 2013. I first saw them when a friend in our running group in Norfolk debuted them. She called them her “clown shoes” because they were so ugly, but swore by how comfortable they were. She was big into triathlons and loved the loop on the back of the shoe. At that time, there was only one type of Hokas, the Bondi B (no number). Based on her recommendation, I had to try them. I had been running in low profile shoes, like Brooks Pure Flows and Newton Gravitys. I tried the Hokas and was sold. When the Clifton came out, I moved to the Clifton and have liked most of them (not the Clifton 2). Along the way, I have tried the Challenger AT and the Stinsons for trails. My current favorities are the Rincons, because they have was I like from the Clifton plus what feels like a wider toe box. Hokas are and will continue to be my “go to” running shoes!

  3. I have been wearing Hokas for the past six years. At age 70 and with 40 years of the stress of road racing in my legs I can use all of the cushioning comfort I can get. Currently I am using the Rincon 2, Mach 4, Carbon X 2, and Rocket X. I like all four. I have done some time trial testing with the Carbon X 2 and Rocket X and don’t really see much difference between the two (the Rocket is slightly lighter). One benefit of the carbon-plated shoes is that my recovery after hard races is much faster. After running a hilly half marathon in the Carbon X 2 I was able to do my usual road workout the next day. Currently I am comparing the Rocket X with the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 to decide on which shoe to use at Boston in October. Both are good shoes. Based on my GPS watch data I have found that my stride length is 1 cm longer with the Brooks compared to the Hoka. In the marathon that translates to 2 minutes faster. So even though I am a Hoka fan I will probably wear the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 for the Boston Marathon.

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