Hoka One One Clifton 4 Review - RIZKNOWS Running Shoe Reviews
HOKA ONE ONE distance running sneaker review
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HOKA ONE ONE
- HOKA ONE ONE shoes have become synonymous for many long-distance runners with premium cushioning, and they can be easily identified by their unusual style.
- HOKA uses high-tech foam and inventions like a Meta-Rocker design, Active Foot Frame, J-Frame, and a dual-density midsole to make a shoe that provides maximum comfort with minimal weight.
- The HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5 (which I tried) delivered on all the company's big claims; the sneakers had impressive bounce, comfort, stability, and still felt lightweight.
When you're pushing your body as far as you do during marathons, the gear you use takes on heightened importance. That's one reason why I tend to pay more attention to what has a good reputation among long-distance runners. There are some labels you'll get used to seeing worn and mentioned in online threads — and one of those is the HOKA ONE ONE sneakers. Over the years, they've become synonymous with premium cushioning.
The HOKA ONE ONE shoes are divisive — it seems that either you love them and their maximum cushioning (and become a full-on convert) or you can't be convinced by their anything-but-minimalist design.
I, for one, typically favor shoes that feel barely-there but still leverage technology to give better energy return (and protection) than bare feet on pavement can — like the Adidas Ultra Boost X or new Nike Epic React Flyknits, which I've tested and now regularly rely on for my 5-7 mile runs. However, I've been flirting with the idea of training for a marathon, and anything that generates such a loyal following like the HOKA ONE ONE s deserves to be looked at, if only to serve the readers who are searching for an in-depth review of the cult-favorite shoes.
I'll get into the details below, but in summary, the HOKA sneakers that I tried (the Bondi 5, 0) delivered on every claim. They're definitely bulkier than the shoes I typically wear, but they're incredibly supportive and provide maximum cushioning without compromising on being lightweight. If you want "maximum cushioning, minimal weight," then you'll be happy with your purchase.
The Bondi 5 (0) in person. Available in a variety of colors, including black. Mara Leighton The company uses the lightest and most responsive and durable materials for cushioning so you can protect your body without compromising on performance. Their Meta-Rocker design — or, "wheels for your feet" — is a clever application of geometry to create a shoe shape that will complement a runner's normal gait cycle and drive you forward with each step. For me, this was definitely noticeable. I felt the helpful rocking motion on my runs, and when I wore the shoes into the office I only half-jokingly worried that I might step down too energetically and pitch myself forward.
HOKA's "Active Foot Frame" is another memorable departure from most sneakers. The heel and foot, rather than sitting on top, will bed deeper into the midsole than you might find elsewhere. The company says this helps its shoes offer guidance without the need for more restrictive construction. They liken the Active Foot Frame to the bucket seat in a race car — dropped down and cradling the foot. This, too, was noticeable while wearing the shoes. The foot rests deeper down into the midsole, and I felt the symptomatic support and stability without any harder materials being introduced (which also helps keep the shoe so lightweight). Like I said, I love my lightweight running shoes, but the feeling of being somewhat 'encased' in these didn't bother me. It's different, but not obtrusive.
Similarly, HOKA uses a J-Frame, which basically means that they form their firmer density foam into the shape of a "J" to support the inside of your foot and heel without adding any rigid or heavy materials into the shoe.
Lastly, the company uses a PROFLY dual-density midsole that offers a forgiving landing and a responsive toe-off. Or, in other words, HOKA uses softer cushioning in the heel and firmer foam in the forefoot, so you can land comfortably and push off again quickly. Combined with that Meta-Rocker design, I felt a very perceptible push forward in these shoes, like you might feel when adding momentum to a rocking chair. As I told my coworkers, the HOKA shoes reminded me of a cartoon where a kid wears shoes with springs on the bottom and accidentally launches himself into space.
They performed especially well in New York City, where most of the available running space is hard concrete. HOKAs add stability, comfort, and deal with uneven or hard ground especially well. If you're looking for something that can handle more technical paths, though, I'd wager you'd be better off investing in a more close-fitting shoe.
While the "maximum cushioning, minimal weight" mantra might seem like a nice marketing tool rather than a real assessment, I have to say that it's pretty accurate. The shoes arebigger(and wider) than my minimalist pairs, but they're also impressively lightweight and bouncy. And the bulky foam is tailored, so when wearing casually, you might find that they actually feel "on-trend" with the 5 Balenciaga shoes like these that keep selling out.
However, the functional look didn't really matter to me thanks to how well they performed. At mile 15, I wouldn't think twice about running in comfortable clown shoes over something runway-ready but heavy.
All in all, if more cushioning (even without added weight) or wider shoes will bother you, then you're probably not going to fall in love with HOKA. But if you want something that feels springy, bouncy, and has stable and ample cushioning, or you spend most of your time pounding out miles on hard ground, then the HOKA shoes are not likely to disappoint. If you're not sure yet but you're curious and need some incentive, the company also offers a 30-day guarantee that lets you return the shoes with no questions asked within 30-days after your purchase. Overall, I came away really impressed.
Video: Hoka One One Clifton 3 Review: Best Running Shoe of 2016 for Long Runs
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