While Hoka One One’s much anticipated arrival to Taiwan will be commencing Spring 2016, my love affair with the Hoka brand came with the Huaka which was released in Spring 2015.
My initial attraction to the Hoka One One Huaka was the road to trail versatility and the low heel to toe drop. As my first ever Hoka shoe, I was a little unaware of what exactly its strengths would be, but as Taiwan’s trails vary between surfaces, I was sure this was a good choice.
At just under 10 oz in both the men’s and women’s models, the Huaka is one of the lightest shoes of the Hoka One One line to date. With a stack height of 25mm and a 2mm drop, this shoe has plenty of cushion. This shoe is not only a game changer in terms of its weight and cushioning, it is also currently the only shoe Hoka road to trail shoe.
After familiarizing myself more with the Hoka product line, I consider this to be one of their more narrow shoes. That paired with its light weight make it better for technical terrain than other wider shoes from the same manufacturer. Being that this is one of the brand’s lower stack heights (27mm), it allows for less of a base without making the shoe too unstable. Notorious for light weight cushioning, I hadn’t realized this to the full extent until physically holding the shoe; not only is it extremely lightweight but also very responsive. Out of the box, my first impressions were that I had got exactly what I had paid for, a somewhat funny looking, heavily cushioned, modern day moon shoe.
The upper is a seamless mesh overlay which is thin, breathable and quick-drying. The outsole offers flat, diamond-shaped treads in the middle of the shoe for road running and the chevron-shaped pattern for rougher trail terrain. I was initially concerned the grip would not be enough for difficult trail, but after using them for several months I’ve found them to be sufficient for most dry or even paved trail but not for slippery mud.
The shoes come laced with Hoka’s “Race Lace System”, essentially a quick lace; unlike some other quick lace systems, the laces in these shoes have no elasticity, which makes it more difficult to tighten. Traditional laces are also offered in the box. One of my issues with this shoe has been that I can’t get my mid-foot locked down enough to prevent my toes from hitting the front of the shoe; this can be somewhat addressed with different socks and the perfect lacing tightness.
I’ve now owned these shoes for almost a year, using them for training, ultra-trail races and sometimes even shorter trail racing if I’ve had a particularly heavy training schedule. After putting quite a few kilometers in, the shoes are starting to show it. The upper has been holding together quite well, showing only a few small tears. My biggest concern though, is the way that the sole is wearing down. You can see from the picture that I use the outside edge of the shoe much more than the inside. Not only can you visibly see wearing, but the cushion feels more compressed in those areas. This causes some serious instability especially on tired legs during a long run. Despite this wearing issue, I have ordered a second pair and am eagerly awaiting their arrival so I can get back to gliding around effortlessly once more.
Pros: Light weight, breathable, cushioning, overall comfort, versatility, low heel-toe offset.
Cons: Uneven wearing, difficulty tightening, narrow toebox/fit.
Good for: Ultra races, gripping slippery rock, hard-packed trail, mixed surfaces. Bad for: Deep mud.