Hoka Zinal 2 Review

Hoka Zinal 2 Review

The Hoka Zinal 2 got some massive updates, and boy, is it different. Hoka was my first real “trail shoe” when I moved to Northern California. I am a big fan of the Torrent 2 and the original Zinal. The problem was they both felt very similar. Both were super lightweight trail shoes from Hoka designed to run fast. Well, that’s been drastically changed, and the Zinal 2 has been drastically updated with a Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole and deeper lugs, whereas the Torrent 3 has been given more cushion. So is the Hoka Zinal 2 different? Yes. But not in a bad way.

Hoka Zinal 2 Review

Hoka Zinal 2 Quick Facts:

Weight: 7.4 oz,
Drop: 5mm
Price: $159.95

Hoka Zinal 2 Intro:

The Hoka Zinal 2 is designed as a trail racing shoe for distances below an ultramarathon. It’s lightweight, and the 5mm lugs are designed to provide traction in almost any condition. It doesn’t have a carbon plate, but the lightweight and low drop allows you to run more naturally. It’s like the “racing flat” but for trails. I’ve always liked lighter-weight trail shoes because I like to feel the ground more (and I don’t run more than 15 miles on trails).

Finally, Hoka has used a ton of recycled materials in the Zinal 2:

  • 7% recycled polyester vamp mesh
  • 76% recycled polyester collar knit
  • 40% recycled polyester heel counter
  • 87% recycled polyester strobel board

I love to see brands making an effort! Sustainable materials is becoming more and more important in running shoes.

Hoka Zinal 2 Review

Hoka Zinal 2 Fit:

Right off the bat, you can see the Zinal 2 is different. It has little resemblance to the original version. The Hoka Zinal 2 has an engineered mesh upper that is reinforced throughout. The Zinal fits more like a racing shoe than a regular trainer. It is more snug through the forefoot and has a little less volume than most other Hoka shoes.

The heel collar has been noticeably updated and conforms to your foot. The heel collar has stretch, and the tongue continues off the heel collar but stays in place. I am not generally a fan of these heel collars; I prefer more cushion, but the Zinal 2 does it well. I haven’t had any issues with chafing or rubbing at the ankle.

The best running shoe uppers disappear off your feet and the Hoka Zinal 2 does just that. I was weary of the lack of padding on the heel collar, but honestly it’s been fine. Plus, when the Zinal gets wet, the upper is so light that is dries quickly.

Hoka Zinal 2 Shoe Review

In running shoes, I tend to wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide, and I’ve found the women’s size 11 to be the best fit. It does fit a little more narrowly than most Hoka’s, but not narrow enough to change the size.

Hoka Zinal 2 Shoe Review

Hoka Zinal 2 Ride:

Did the Hoka Zinal 2 get a big update? Yes. It’s drastically different, and not in a bad way. It’s now lighter and faster. If you miss the old Zinal, you might appreciate the Hoka Torrent 3, as it’s pretty similar. It’s incredibly lightweight and fast but still has plenty of traction. It features Hoka’s meta rocker but doesn’t have a plate. You still feel that “rolling sensation” without a carbon plate. Hoka has removed 2 mm of drop, making it lower and flatter to the ground.

The midsole features compressed molded EVA and feels light. It reminds me of shoes from the 2010-2015 era that was super light and designed for racing—a stark difference from the heavily cushioned shoes in the 2023 world. If you miss the 2015 minimalist running shoe era, you will likely love the Zinal 2.

Traction and Durability: 

Traction is one of the most essential features of a trail shoe. You would think because it’s so light, the Zinal 2 probably doesn’t have excellent traction or durability. Still, truthfully, most of the weight comes from including the Vibram Megagrip with Lightbase and Traction Lugs. The lugs are now 5 mm deep! This has put the Zinal 2 traction next level. I’ve used the Zinal 2 for several trails, including wet and dry, sandy dunes, and more traditional trails. I performed well, and I haven’t had issues. Running on wet trails has been fun because it’s so light and sheds water quickly.

Regarding durability, I’ve put about 100 miles on them with no issues. They’ll last around 300 miles without feeling the ground too much.

Hoka Zinal 2 Shoe Review

Hoka Zinal 2 Conclsuion:

I’m a big fan of the Hoka Zinal 2, and I think the changes have done the shoe wonders. The previous version of the Zinal felt similar to the Torrent 2, and it could be hard to differentiate the two shoes. There are now reasons to buy either the Hoka Torrent 3 or the Zinal 2. More cushion in the Torrent 3 and faster Zinal 2. I’m a big fan and dare I say, I think the Zinal 2 is a bit better.

Who should buy the Hoka Zinal 2? If you are looking for a lightweight trail shoe that can handle almost any condition. Or if you are looking for a fast trail shoe for racing.

Who should not buy the Hoka Zinal 2? If you are running ultra marathons on the trails if your body prefers more cushion.

Hoka Zinal 2 Shoe Review

My Current Shoe Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Antepes Muscle Runners, Tracksmith Eliot Runner, New Balance 1080v12, Newton Gravity 12, 361 Degrees CentauriASICS Superblast 

Speed Work: Hoka Solimar, Altra Vanish Carbon, 361 Flame, Nike Tempo Next%, Reebok Float Ride Run fast Pro, Nike ZoomX Streakfly

Long Runs: ASICS Superblast

Trail Running/Hiking: Hoka Zinal 2,361 Futura, Brooks Caldera 6Hoka Tecton X2 Shoe Review Speedland SL: PDX

Races: Nike ZoomX Streakfly, New Balance Fuelcell 5280,   Reebok Run fast Pro, Nike Vaporfly 3 Hoka Rocket X 2 ASICS Metaspeed Edge+

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Are you looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths about running shoes.

Questions for you:

Do you prefer lighter-weight trail shoes or more cushions?

What is your favorite trail shoe?

1 Comment

  1. I LOVED the Torrent 1 & 2, but the Torrent 3s just felt awful. I could not pinpoint exactly why, though. I didn’t feel like they were more cushionined, but they felt terrible so I sent them back. I was actually really upset to lose my fave shoe? However, i also liked the Zinal 1, so maybe I’ll try the Zinal 2 as a sub for the Torrent! Thanks, Hollie.

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