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Editors’ Choice: 9.3 oz | 5mm drop | $130
The Dirt: The women-specific Kailua (hold tight, gentlemen—a men’s version, the Rapa Nui, is due out this spring) is HOKA’s closest thing to a minimalist shoe, with a significantly slimmer midsole and lighter weight than other HOKAs—the Kailua rides almost 10mm lower overall than the Mafates and Stinsons.
The “Meta-Rocker” outsole helps boost running economy by encouraging an effortless foot roll through the gait cycle. A slim tongue and lightweight materials keep this shoe competitive weight-wise with many minimalist offerings, despite feeling like a pillow underfoot.
Best For: One tester said, “This is HOKA’s answer to the racing flat … the shoe to bridge the gap between the 5K and the marathon distance.”
Traction: Multi-directional lugs have terrific pull on climbs, brake well on downhills and handle every kind of trail or road well.
Fit: The Kailua is a high-volume shoe that runs a half-size long.
The Downsides: The round, slippery laces make it difficult to dial in a secure fit.
Tester-Monial: “The Kailua gives you a sense of just floating on the trail. I felt like a little kid!”
–Emilee Goldberg, Larkspur, CA
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