Hoka One One’s maximally cushioned midsoles offer superior protection, comfort and propulsion. The distinctive rockered geometry creates a platform for optimally efficient natural running mechanics. The oversized outsoles allow for maximum stability, traction and connection to the ground. Not only do the shoes provide a sense of weightlessness, superior comfort and efficiency but Hoka’s athlete results prove optimal performance. They have recorded over 30 podium finishes on five continents in the past 18 months. Additionally, these running shoes are 15 percent lighter than most others; they make running uphill as much fun as they make running downhill and with less body fatigue.
- Upper – Highly breathable, debris proof, closed mesh
- Extending lacing for adaptable fit
- 2 elastic lace holders for customized lacing
- Light weight tongue made of foot conforming, slim, microfiber
- Reinforced toe cap
- Flexible molded T.P.U. support strapping/thermo-polyurethane reinforcements
- Quick lacing system
- 2.5x EVA volume Midsole
- 30% softer EVA
- Control Bucket Seating
- High version, sticky rubber compound outsole
- 30% wider outsole
- Tested size 9
- Measured weight – 342 g (12.0 oz)
- Forefoot width – 97.1 mm (3.8 in)
- Stack height – 37 mm (heel), 30 mm (toe), 7 mm drop
- Retail – $170
Hoka One One shoes are very interesting. Not only in their design and appearance, but also their name. Hoka One One was started by two gravity sports enthusiasts, Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. The company is from France and quickly making its way round the globe. The word Hoka One One is derived from the ancient Maori language and roughly translates to “now it is time to fly.” According to them, that’s just how it feels to run in a pair of Hoka One One shoes. With each and every step, your foot takes flight.
The concept behind the shoes is to address the fatigue, impact and muscle strain challenges all runners deal with everyday. The Hoka One One shoes were designed to help alleviate these problems so that freedom and enjoyment could be guaranteed every time you go running. I personally have been more involved with the concept of lower drop and minimal footwear. However, I also have realized that there truly is a place for everything. These are obviously much different than the current minimalist movement, but they do have a very interesting characteristic, a 4 mm drop. With that being said I really wanted to get a pair to test as they were so different than anything I had ever tried. I was to thank Hoka One One for sending me a pair of shoes to test out.
I tested the Hoka One One Stinson EVO Tarmac shoes like any other pair of running shoes. Of the 60 miles, I have put in these so far, about 2/3 of the miles have been on pavement while the other 1/3 has been on smooth trails and fire roads. I have also been able to test the shoes in a variety of temperatures, ranging from the 20s to the upper 80s.
There is a lot of stuff going on in these shoes, and as you can see there is a lot of shoe too. The Hoka One One Stinson EVO Racer Shoes definitely turn some heads. When you see them for the first time they really do look a bit funny. They have a huge sole that is not only taller but wider than normal. They definitely are different looking on the bottom but the upper is pretty standard in appearance. I will start with the upper and work my way down.
The upper is made of a highly breathable, debris proof, closed mesh. The upper has several synthetic (flexible molded T.P.U. support strapping/thermo-polyurethane reinforcements) overlays that connect from the heel to the sole to the laces in order to give the upper structure and keep your foot stable over the large base. There is a reinforced toe cap that protects the toes from debris and adds abrasion resistance. The shoe shape also helps with this, and I will get into that below. The tongue is made of a foot conforming lightweight microfiber that will stay snug to the foot. The Stinson EVO Tarmac comes with two laces in the box. A pair of standard laces and a pair of speed laces. The speed laces are designed to be able to be tightened with one hand by moving the locking slider into place. It works in conjunction with two elastic lace holders down the top that hold the extra lacing in place. They keep the laces a little longer to allow for a more adaptable fit.
The midsole is where the shoes differentiate themselves from other shoes on the market. There is 2 ½ times as much EVA foam in the midsole compared to a standard pair of running shoes. Not only is there more EVA, but it has been engineered to be 30% softer than standard EVA for a more cushioned feel. The extra cushioning dissipates up to 80% of the shock associated with heel striking and allows for up to 20 mm of compression in the heel, plus extra protection to absorb whatever surface you are running on. The midsole has a rockered geometry and a low heel-toe differential. This is one of the aspects of the Stinson EVO Tarmac that intrigues me the most. I like the lower drop from heel to toe as it is closer to the true zero-drop experience. The rockered midsole geometry creates a unique rolling motion that encourages the proper form by allowing a runner to easily strike the ground near the midfoot. As a midfoot striker this coupled with the lower drop definitely intrigued me.
For more control, the midsole has another interesting design characteristic. Hoka One One calls it Control Bucket Seating. The patented bucket seat is recessed up to 20 mm within the midsole unit to best position your foot for optimum control. This high degree of control is designed to help you also maintain responsive contact with the ground at all times. For further control and stability, the outsole is 30% wider than a standard running shoe. This provides a stable base and counterbalances the excess height and voluminous midsole. As it is connected to the thermo-polyurethane reinforcements, it provides enhanced structure and support. With this wider outsole, the shoes will also have a larger contact patch and therefore more traction. The Stinson EVO Tarmac also has been designed with an outsole pattern similar to an animal’s foot to provide enhanced flexibility and precise nimble movement. To further increase traction they have made the outsole out of a sticky rubber compound.
All this is done in a shoe that still comes in under 11 ounces is pretty remarkable. One of the drawbacks I have noticed with the shoes is that they do not incorporate any sustainable materials into the building of them. From my research, I have not found anything weather material based or corporate initiatives surrounding sustainability. I know it is hard to use these materials in footwear but corporate initiatives are much easier to create. At least if they create less wear and tear to the body, it may encourage people to get out more. That is definitely a plus.
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Volume (15%)
Heel Width (15%)
Midfoot Width (15%)
Toe Box Width (15%)
Even though the shoes feel like you are on a pedestal the upper part of the shoe is normal. I am normally a size 9 but when I tried a pair on at the OR Show, the 9 1/2 seemed to fit better so I decided to test that. Funny thing is that the pair of 9 1/2 that I received fit like it should, about a half size too large. In retrospect, I should have tested a size 9. Taking that into account I felt like the shoes ran true to size. Not only was there a little extra room in the length but also in the volume. The laces do a good job helping to tighten up the shoes, but I could have had them just a little tighter to begin with. Even though they were slightly on the large side, they still were very comfortable. Never giving me any issues with comfort or blisters. One of the nice things about these shoes is the wide tongue. By having a wide tongue it covers nearly the whole top of your foot keeping pressure points to a minimum.
The fit through the shoe is pretty good throughout. My favorite part was in the heel. It was not super snug but with the Control Bucket Seating the heel sits down in the EVA cushioning so that helps give a sense of control to the heel. This is also what makes the shoes so stable. Through the midfoot, the Stinson EVO Tarmac could have been a bit tighter, and I think that may have been due partially to the larger size. The toe box was nice and large which I like. Looking at the top of the shoes you can tell the toe box is nice and wide. There was enough room for me to wiggle my toes.
Right out of the box you can feel the difference with the Hoka One One shoes. They have a tremendous amount of cushioning, much more than any other shoes I have tested. The EVA is in so much abundance and softer than you can feel the extra cushioning by just shifting your weight while you are standing around. If you can feel it while standing still it is definitely noticeable when running. Your feet seem to sink into the shoes as you run. I am more of a midfoot striker but imagine that if you are a heel striker, it would be even more pronounced. The increased cushioning is also noticeable when running on rocky surfaces. The EVA envelops rocks and bumps in the trail making them nearly unnoticeable. While this obviously makes for a soft and smooth running experience, I most noticed it when running downhill. You really can open it up and fly downhill as all that protection makes you not have to worry about your feet as much.
Even though the shoes make you feel a couple of inches taller I was surprised how stable they actually felt. I used the speed laces primarily as they worked well and made it much quicker. Normal laces are good, but I found that the speed laces were well done and took some of the potential downfalls of regular laces out of the equation. The laced upper with the TPU overlays keeps your foot connected to the shoes, and I never felt like they moved around excessively. One of my worries with there being so much cushioning and being up higher, is the stability and possibility of rolling over an ankle. With the wider outsole and the Control Bucket Seating my feet felt like they were not going anywhere. I never felt like I was unstable at anytime, which was quite surprising. I actually think it would be harder to roll over a pair of these than a normal pair of shoes; they are that stable. With this extra stability comes a good amount of traction. The Stinson EVO Tarmac is made for roads and non technical trails so traction is not the most important thing. I never felt like it was lacking during my testing, but I did not push it very far as far as terrain goes either. It handled everything I threw at it and that is all I can ask.
I tested the shoes here in Central Oregon, and of course, we had a wide range of weather and temperatures to test them in. I even got them out in the snow and really appreciated the extra height on that run. The upper had no issues with the temperature, whether warm or cold. My feet stayed comfortable, and the upper breathes well. I did notice that if it rained a little or in the instance of snow, your feet can get wet through the mesh. Of course, you can see how the midsole of the shoes is very thick, what surprised me about this is that the shoes still felt a little flexible. Some of this may be just due to the cushioning, but it was more than I expected. I expected a very stiff shoe as all that cushioning would prevent any flexing. This was not the case and with the rockered technology it seemed to be less needed. The rockered shape helped the foot roll through the gait cycle easier and not need as much flexing of the foot. It truly is a different feel from any other shoes I have tried.
Running uphill was not as hampered as I first came to expect. You can feel some of the give in the cushioning when you are on the ball of your foot, but I did not notice any loss of power or awkwardness. The shoes are a little heavier than what I normally run in, but this is to be expected with the large volume. I have now put in over 60 miles in the shoes, and they are still holding up well. Both the outsole and the cushioning are still going strong. I am curious that with a softer and thicker EVA if the midsole breaks down sooner or not when compared to a standard pair of shoes. Time will tell, but I have not noticed any degradation as of yet.
Overall, the Hoka One One shoes may look funny, but they really are a pleasure to run in. I was skeptical at first but after a run or two you can see why they have gained popularity. I would not do all my running in them as I like the variety and strength building I get from more minimalist shoes but do think there is a place in my rotation. The Hoka’s are a great shoe for long-distance running and days when you need to recover. Since they minimize some of the impact on the body they truly make sense for these types of runs. If you are in the market for a cushioned running shoe, this is your shoe. There is nothing like it. The Hoka One One Stinson EVO Tarmac shoes retail for $170, which I find to be a bit steep. You do get a shoe unlike any other, and if you think of it by volume then it actually is a good deal. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Lots of cushioning
- Rockered technology
- Very stable
- Descent weight for the overall size
- Absorbs rocks and bumps
- EVA durability a concern, have not noticed any issues yet
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