Founded by two French trail runners in 2009, Hoka One One has quickly become one of the best shoe brands in the road and trail running space. Known for its thick, wide soles and maximalist look, the best Hoka running shoes all have one thing in common: they’re so dang comfortable. There aren’t many brands that can say their running shoes are worn by elite marathoners (Aliphine Tuliamuk, a Hoka-sponsored athlete, was on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team), the best ultra-runners in the world (our bucket hat god Jim Walmsley), and streetwear icons. The clunky aesthetic might be in vogue now, but Hoka shoes have two main features in that give them staying power:
The best Hoka running shoes are known for their cushioned midsole that ranges in thickness and varies from firm and responsive, like what you’ll find in the Mach 5 and Rocket X, to soft and plush, like what you’ll see in the Bondi.
You’ll hear this buzzword in relation to Hoka because all of its shoes feature a proprietary Meta-Rocker design that emphasizes a low heel-toe drop and a rounded sole to create a rocking chair-like effect for your foot. There are two types of Meta-Rockers built into Hoka shoes: an “early stage” in which the transition zone is located where your metatarsal heads meet the shoe, and a “late stage” in which the transition zone is placed closer to the heels. All of the road running shoes in this guide are designed with the early stage Meta-Rocker that encourages a smoother, faster transition between the forefoot and foot strike.
There are a few other features you’ll find in specific Hoka shoes like Profly+ foam, a dual midsole that’s great for pushing the pace; J-frame technology that helps combat overpronation, and carbon fiber plates that are best saved for race day. Keep reading for those specifics in our guide to the best Hoka running shoes to buy right now.
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Most Versatile: Hoka Mach 5
In our earlier version of this story, we said the Mach 4 (the predecessor to the Mach 5) was the best Hoka running shoe for tempo workouts. The Mach 5 is similarly a great fast and lightweight running shoe for half- and full-marathon tempo runs, but we also found it to be versatile enough to wear on easy runs. It has a comfortable, breathable mesh upper and features Hoka’s Profly+ midsole that balances shock absorption with a cushioned but responsive heel. It gives you the liftoff you need for sustaining your threshold pace, but it also has a plush feel that will make you want to wear it for your easy, volume-building runs. (Read our full review of the Hoka Mach 5.)
Best for Speed Workouts: Hoka Rincon 3
If you’re looking for a Hoka shoe that’s even lighter than the Mach, the Rincon is your best bet. Released in August 2021, the Rincon 3 is similar to earlier versions of the shoe in that it’s a remarkably lightweight shoe with soft, flexible cushioning. One of the downsides of the Rincon 1 and 2 was that they wore out easily, but the 3 seeks to improve the shoe’s the durability with enhanced rubber coverage on the sole. This is a great shoe to own if your speed work is faster and shorter than what marathon training requires. (Read our full review of the Hoka Rincon 3.)
Best for Everyday Training: Hoka Clifton 8
Go on a run in a pair of Hoka Clifton trainers and you’ll immediately understand why runners love the brand. The Clifton 8 has all the signatures of a Hoka shoe: a breathable mesh upper, gusseted tongue, maximum cushioning thanks to the EVA midsole, and early stage Meta-Rocker technology to literally propel you forward. It’s a great shoe for everyday road training and has enough traction to take on trails. (Read our full review of the Hoka Clifton.)
Best for Max Cushioning: Hoka Bondi 8
As the most cushioned shoe in Hoka’s roster, the Bondi epitomizes the brand’s maximalist ethos. Released in July 2022, the Bondi 8 has a wide base and a thick midsole made of ultralight foam, plus smaller features that up the plush factor, like extra padding in the tongue and an extended heel. It’s also one of the bulkier and heavier shoes in the brand’s collection, so it’s best for recovery days when going slow is your goal. It’s a soft but firm shoe, and thanks to a wide toe box, is a good option for those whose feet veer on the wider end.
Best Stability Shoe: Hoka Arahi 6
The Arahi and Gaviota are two stability shoes from Hoka that are designed to offset overpronation, but we prefer the Hoka Arahi over the Gaviota because it’s so lightweight. (The women’s Gaviota 4 weighs 9.3 ounces; the Arahi 6 weighs 7.6 ounces, two ounces lighter than the previous iteration of the Arahi.) The Arahi features Hoka’s “J-frame” technology, a literal J-shaped EVA foam support frame that extends from the outside of the shoe to the inner medial side to combat overpronation. The cushioned midsole is firmer than other Hoka models to help stabilize your landing, and the rubber outsole is highly durable.
Best for Trail Running: Hoka Speedgoat
We could write an entire post highlighting the best Hoka running shoes for trail running but if we had to choose one shoe, it would be the Speedgoat, named after Hoka athlete Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer.” The Speedgoat is the Hoka Clifton of the mountains, the signature trail shoe designed for the literal long run. It has 5 mm lugs that can take on a variety of terrain, no matter how technical, and a rubberized outsole that improves the shoe’s grip in wet conditions. The mesh upper and gusseted tongue with strategic cutouts prioritize breathability, an important factor for shoes that need to get you through a long trail race.
Best for Road Racing: Hoka Rocket X
Hoka makes two carbon fiber plate road racing shoes: the Rocket X and the Carbon X. When it comes down to it, we recommend the Rocket X for road racing distances of 5k to a marathon. (The Hoka Carbon X is best suited for longer road racing distances, like a 50k or the 55-mile Comrades Marathon.) About an ounce lighter than the Carbon X, the Rocket X is a structured trainer that combines Hoka’s early stage Meta-Rocker with a carbon fiber plate to create a responsive, efficient ride. Note that its toe box does veer on the narrow side, but if you haven’t found Hoka’s other shoes too narrow for your feet, you shouldn’t have any issues here.