The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved

Maximal curious? We break down the best of the current HOKA range for every type of runner

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As the running shoe market grows in complexity, so does the task of choosing the right sneakers. Shoppers today have to consider not only whether they want neutral or stability shoes but also must form an opinion on heel-to-toe drops, stack heights, and carbon plates.

Despite the growing sophistication of the running shoe ecosystem, French company HOKA has become increasingly popular by the year. Runners—but also walkers, teachers, and doctors—wear their super-cushioned, cloud-like shoes almost religiously, swearing by them to keep injuries at bay.  

A part of what has made HOKA popular—aside from being a major proponent of in-vogue, maximalist shoes—is their variety of offerings. They have managed to take their hallmark style (overly cushioned shoes whose small heel-to-toe drop still forces you onto your toes) and apply it to racers, stability shoes, everyday trainers, and more.

Here, we compare and contrast seven of HOKA’s most popular running shoes to help you decide which one best suits your needs.

best hoka running shoes
  • All of our shoe testers are died-in-the-wool, experienced runners with a broad experience of the sport. They’re typically running 30+ miles per week.
  • We put each pair of shoes through a battery of tests: a typical review will involve several test runs on a variety of distances and terrains, designed to identify any snags or issues.
  • We talk to experts in the shoe industry and gather advice and insights from other runners, to best understand the shoe and how it suits the end user: you, the runner.

The 7 Best HOKA Running Shoes

Best For Everyday Training Runs: HOKA Clifton 9

Weight: 8.7 oz (Men’s Size 9) and 7.3 oz (Women’s Size 7), Stack Height: 33mm (Men) 29mm (Women), Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 1
Highly cushionedNarrow toe box
Lightweight for a training shoeNot overly durable

The Cliftons are my favourite Hoka trainer, because they are infused with just enough cushion to spare my joints of wear and tear, but not enough to feel clunky or awkward.

They are classified as neutral shoes, but their huge chunk of foam, stacked under an EVA midsole, makes them feel sturdy and stable. They are a boon for winter running. 

The Clifton 9s are also a slight improvement from their predecessor, the 8: they are four ounces lighter, despite adding three millimeters of stack height to their pillowy frame.

My only issue with them is their durability: they tend to lose their bounce relatively early for an everyday trainer. Expect to replace them after 500 km.

Best For Racing: HOKA Rocket X2

Weight: 8.3 oz, Stack Height: 36mm Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 2
Fastest HOKAHeavier than competing super shoes
Firm and sound connection with the groundQuestionable ability to rival counterparts

The Rocket X2 is one of HOKA’s two main types of road racing shoes.

It’s your sneaker of choice if you want a racer that feels every bit like the Clifton, but with a lot more horsepower.

Designed for speed, it features two layers of super-responsive PEBA foam that envelop a propulsive carbon-fiber plate.

It also has a super-comfortable upper made of synthetic mesh that hugs the foot and locks it into position without being restrictive. 

The upper and foam are updated from the Rocket X, but will still feel familiar to HOKA wearers.

My only qualm with the Rocket X2 is that it has not proven to match the top dogs from across the aisle, like the Nike AlphaFly 3 or the Adidas Adios Pro 3, in major races.

So, I am still not convinced that this shoe is a world-beater, but it is certainly fast and fit for racing.

Best For Long Workouts: HOKA Cielo X1

Weight: 9.3 oz, Stack Height: 39mm (Men) 37mm (Women), Heel-to-toe drop: 7mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 3
Plush landingsExpensive
Huge rock-forward propulsionMinimal connection with the ground

The Cielo X1 is HOKA’s newest racing shoe: they are bouncier, more propulsive, and much wackier-looking than the Carbon X2.

But they are also heavier, more expensive, and so tall that they feel like miniature stilts for your feet.

The Cielo X1 is quickly becoming a divisive shoe; they’re certainly not for everyone. Though fans of the shoe world’s current maximalist movement might fall in love with them. 

I have yet to wear a pair of shoes that thrust me onto my toes with such power—they’re like running on a half-wheel. They also reserve their best trick for the day after, as all that cushioning spares the muscles and joints. 

Now that I’ve taken the Cielo X1s through a few tough workouts, I find them too heavy to really contend with the best shoes in the world. But they can hold their own on a fast day, and are so fun to wear.

Best For Fast Workouts: HOKA One One Rincon 3

Weight: 7.7 oz, Stack Height: 33mm, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 4
Lightest shoe on this listDurability is average
Doesn’t compromise on cushioningNarrow toe box

If shoes had a density rating, the Rincon would be off the charts; it appears to defy the laws of physics. Thanks to its extra-light midsole of compressed foam, with aggressive cutouts to reduce weight, this sneaker weighs next to nothing despite its relative bulk.

It makes it a rare find that excels over fast workouts while still providing the support that HOKA wearers have grown to love.

Weighing in at less than eight ounces, it’s comfortable on fast intervals or hill sprints, but its size and cushioning also allows it to double as a long tempo shoe.

And sure, the Rincon does lack the carbon plate and fancy foam required to be a world-class racer, but this cloud-on-rubber has become one of my favourite workout shoes nonetheless.

Best For Long Runs: HOKA Bondi 8

Weight: 10.4 oz (Men’s Size 9) 8.9 oz (Women’s Size 7), Stack Height: 39mm, Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 5
Super cushionedHeavy and bulky
DurableNot much connection with the ground

Far and wide, my knock on HOKA shoes is their second-rate durability; the Bondi 8, to me, feels like an exception. Wrapped in a Durabrasion rubber outsole and featuring a sturdy extended heel and rear crash pad, this workhorse can take a beating.

I think of it as the most Hoka-esque of HOKA shoes: an absolute marshmallow whose small heel-to-toe drop still forces you to get onto your toes at the end of every stride.

Sure, 10.4 oz is heavy for any shoe, but the tradeoff from the added foam underfoot is a super soft ride.

However, if you’re not much of a cushion-lover and more of a shoe traditionalist who likes feeling the ground underneath, the Bondi 8s are not for you.

Best For Fartleks: HOKA Mach 6

Weight: 8.2 oz, Stack Height: 37mm, Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 6
LightweightDurability is questionable
Responsive, super-critical foam

The Clifton is an easy-running shoe. The Rocket X2 is a racer. I think of the Mach as HOKA’s goldilocks shoe, existing in the perfect middle: its bouncy midsole gives it more pop than a classic trainer, but the shoe doesn’t thrust you onto your toes like a racer.

That being said, the Mach line is trending faster, and the 6 is probably best reserved for workouts rather than easy runs.

This edition, unlike its ancestors, has a supercritical foam midsole, made to provide more energy return and to hold its own at top gears. It also comes with some rubber additions around the outsole meant to give the Mach a few more much-needed durability points.

This version also has a revamped, creel jacquard upper designed to better hug the foot at all speeds.

Best For The Stability Strider:  HOKA Arahi 7

Weight: 9.9 oz (Men’s Size 9) 8.1 oz (Women’s Size 7), Stack Height: 37mm (Men) 34mm (Women), Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm

The 7 Best Hoka Running Shoes Available Right Now: Run-Tested and Editor-Approved 7
Doubles as a walking shoeLacks the spring of other HOKA sneakers
Stability shoeHeel-heavy

The Arahi 7 is for the stability shoe fan who still wants the option to go fast.

Yes, it’s a great walking shoe – its J-Frame technology prevents excessive pronation – but the built-in correctors aren’t bulky enough to ruin the Arahi’s need for speed.

I’ve worn stability shoes that were built so aggressively that they overcorrected my stride and led to problems opposite of those I hoped to erase.

The Arahi 7s are more subtle than that, and still allow you to maintain much of your natural stride.

They also comfortably keep the foot in place: the stretchy dual gusset keeps the plush tongue locked into its spot, and the upper is knit flat to limit midfoot movement. 

Why We Love Hoka

After reviewing the best Hoka running shoes, it’s clear that the brand offers a range of options for runners of all levels and preferences.

For runners who prioritize cushioning and comfort, the Clifton 8 and Bondi 7 are excellent choices, with plush midsoles and comfortable uppers.

For those who want a lightweight and agile shoe for technical trails, the Torrent 2 and Speedgoat 4 are ideal options, with their responsive rides and aggressive outsoles.

The Mach 4 is a great all-around shoe that offers a comfortable and responsive ride for both long and short distances on a variety of terrains.

Finally, the Challenger ATR 6 and Rincon 2 are versatile shoes that can handle a variety of surfaces and distances, making them great options for runners who want a shoe that can do it all.

Ultimately, your best Hoka running shoes will depend on your preferences and running style. It’s important to try several options and consider factors like cushioning, support, traction, and fit before making a final decision. Whatever your choice, Hoka One One running shoes will provide a comfortable and supportive ride on the roads or trails.

Photo of author
Alex is a Toronto-based journalist who writes mostly about health, sports, culture and people.

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