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Editors’ Choice: HOKA ONE ONE Huaka Trail-Running Shoe (Fall 2014)

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8.9 oz / 2mm drop / $150

 

*Fall 2014 Trail Runner Editors’ Choice*

The Dirt: Light, light, light is the name of the game here. Like many HOKAs, the Huaka is a road/trail hybrid—but it is significantly lighter (by several ounces) than others and boasts a slightly more responsive midsole for faster-paced running.

Among our testers, raves abound for the shoe’s wispy feel and airy no-sew upper—not ideal for wet days or creek crossings, but perfect for hot-weather runs.

The low-profile tread performs admirably on roads and moderately technical trails alike.

Best For: Dry terrain, gravel roads and flat or rolling trails; marathons to 50-milers.

Fit: Roughly a half-size long; roomy, albeit narrower than most other HOKAs.

 

Tester Raves

  • “Cushioning, as always, is stellar and remains the hallmark of HOKAS—especially on the downhills. The rockier, the better! Running downhill in HOKAS is like skiing in powder in fat skis.”
    —Adam Frisch
  • “I don’t think there is another shoe on the market that offers this much protection in such a lightweight package. The Huaka truly is a shoe of the masses—HOKA enthusiasts, minimalists and traditionalists alike.”
    —Jonathan Shark
  • “When I first put the shoe on, I was amazed at how light and breathable it was (a must in the summer in Florida!). I also liked that it didn’t have the high profile that most HOKAS do. I loved the cushioning in the midsole—soft with a supportive feel, which I know sounds like an oxymoron.”
    —Rich Parker
  • “I knew right out of the box that HOKA produced a special gift with the Huaka. Wow. They are noticeably light, immensely comfortable and unequivocally a fast shoe. For the distance of 50 mile and below, the Huaka is hands down the best HOKA on the block.”
    —Linh Shark
  • “Love these shoes. I think they’re a huge breakthrough for HOKA, and I expect many runners who have shied away from HOKAS in the past will find these to their liking. It’s hard to imagine many runners not liking these. They seem to strike a rare balance between maximalist and minimalist. Flexible, light, responsive, grippy, yada, yada. Love ‘em.”
    —Ben Luedke

 

Testers on Fit

  • “The fit is spot on. Never had a shoe fit this well out of the box, needing no break-in. I have hard-to-fit feet and these are jewels to my feet.”
    —David Clock
  • “It seems as if HOKA is starting to the change the fit and sizing chart. I received these in a size 8 (my usual size) and could have definitely fit better into the size 7.5.”
    —Linh Shark
  • “This shoe seems narrower than previous HOKA trail shoes. The narrowness held my feet well when wet, but sometimes allowed mild bruising as well. These shoes are reported to be about 1/2 size bigger than normal, but I did not find that to be true.”
    —Justin Lottig

 

Testers on Tread

  • “The outsoles perform admirably on hardpack, gravel and asphalt alike. I wouldn’t hesitate to use these for long runs involving road and trail. In fact, they’re the most versatile trail/road sneaks I’ve ever run in. The outsole is great for most conditions, but doesn’t provide much bite on mud.”
    —Ben Luedke
  • “The Huaka has a place in trail running and that place is not in the mud. I slid around with these shoes, and I typically stay very much in control. These shoes are great on runs where your feet will stay dry—dry doubletrack and non-technical singletrack.”
    —Justin Lottig
  • “This shoe is truly an all-around performer, especially since it’s a hybrid for road and trails. It is comfortable and soft enough for concrete yet still protective and decently firm enough for rocky/technical trails. The lugs of the Huaka are not very pronounced nor aggressive, but they DO grip in wet conditions—perfect for typical Washington-weather running.”
    —Linh Shark
  • “The grip of the tread has been very surprising. With a 50-pound backpack heading up high near Yosemite National Park, I have been through scree fields, rock scrambling, hiking, creek crossings, backpacking, all on very rocky off-camber rough terrain where serious hiking boots are generally thought to be a must. They suck up rought stuff so well that I don’t bother avoiding sharper rough anymore—just hit ‘em and go!”
    —David Clock

 

Testers on Downsides

  • “The loose, almost bag-like uppers don’t inspire confidence on steep technical descents. That said, I’m not the most confidence HOKA runner on steep descents yet.”
    —Ben Luedke
  • “The tread on the bottom was fine for my purposes [dirt to grass to pine needles to what Floridians call ‘sugar sand’, which is very soft sand], but I’m not running in any mountains where there are more ups and downs. If I was, I’d want something a little more aggressive to dig in the earth.”
    —Rich Parker
  • “After only one month of use, the shoes are starting to separate the mesh upper from the welded exterior support structure. I’m not sure these will last very long.”
    —Justin Lottig