Many runners are drawn to traditional running shoe brands such as New Balance, ASICS, Brooks, and Nike.
However, depending on your needs as a runner and your biomechanics, you might seek out running shoe companies that specialize in specific running shoe features.
HOKA and Altra running shoes are among the most popular “alternative“ running shoe brands. Each offers unique running shoes that many runners end up absolutely loving once they try them. But what are the differences between HOKA vs Altra running shoes?
Are there benefits of Altra vs HOKA running shoes?
In this article, we will look at the differences between HOKA vs Altra running shoes to help you determine if either of these running shoe brands is best for you.
We will cover:
- Which Is Better, HOKA Or Altra Running Shoes?
- HOKA Vs Altra Running Shoes: Main Differences
Let’s dive in!
Which Is Better, HOKA Or Altra Running Shoes?
Altra Running and HOKA One One running shoes both launched as brands in 2009, making them relatively new entries into the running shoe market.
Both brands were initially launched to primarily supply high-quality running shoes to trail runners, though there are plenty of road running models as well.
Compared to other popular running shoe companies, HOKA and Altra both have fewer total models of running shoes and about a dozen trail-specific running shoes.
Despite the similarities in the foundations and the intended niches of the companies, there are some pretty significant differences between HOKA vs Altra running shoes.
HOKA running shoes are designed to be maximalist running shoes, which means that they have a very thick midsole with a high stack height to provide maximal cushioning when you run. There is also a wide base to enhance stability. Altra running shoes are essentially the opposite. They are zero-drop running shoes with a minimalist design.
Despite the thick, plush soles, HOKA running shoes are surprisingly lightweight.
Altra running shoes sit low to the ground and feature a wide toe box to permit natural foot splay.
HOKA Vs Altra Running Shoes: Main Differences
HOKA vs Altra Running Shoes: Fit and Feel
There are significant differences in the fit and feel of Altra vs HOKA running shoes.
Altra running shoes are zero-drop shoes.
The heel drop or the heel-to-toe drop in the shoe refers to the difference in height between the heel and forefoot region of the shoe.
Zero-drop shoes have the same stack height from the heel through the entire length of the shoe. Most conventional running shoes have a heel drop somewhere between 6 and 13 mm.
The amount of heel drop will affect the cushioning in the heel as well as how your foot feels when it lands.
Zero-drop running shoes are said to promote a more natural running stride because they encourage you to land on your midfoot, which is more optimal from a biomechanical standpoint.
Ultimately, the shape of the shoe last used for Altra running shoes is also said to better mimic the actual shape of the human foot rather than most running shoes.
If you have a bunion, metatarsalgia, wide forefoot, or Morton’s neuroma, you will likely be more comfortable wearing Altra vs HOKA shoes due to the width of the toe box.
Although HOKA does not make zero-drop running shoes like Altra, compared to most traditional running shoes, HOKAs are still considered low-heel drop running shoes.
The heel-to-toe drop is usually about 6-8mm, whereas a standard heel drop is closer to 8-13 mm.
With that said, you will definitely notice a significant difference in the heel drop differential between Atras vs HOKAs.
Another significant difference between Altra vs HOKA running shoes is in the fit of the shoes themselves.
Altra running shoes are said to mimic the natural human foot shape as much as possible. There is a notably wide toe box area to permit natural foot splay when you run. The shoe feels roomier and boxier.
HOKA running shoes run on the narrow side compared with many popular running shoe brands. They are snug in the midfoot and heel, and even the toe box is relatively narrow.
Although a couple of models do come in wide widths (D for women and E for men), some runners feel that the wide width is more along the lines of a standard width relative to other brands.
Therefore, if you have a wide foot, particularly if you suffer from a bunion, Morton’s neuroma, or metatarsalgia, you will be much more comfortable in Altra vs HOKA shoes.
On the other hand, if you have a narrow foot or like a snugger feel in your running shoes for greater control and stability, you will likely prefer the fit of HOKA vs Altra shoes.
There’s also more difference between the shape and fit of the men’s versus women’s Altra running shoes vs HOKA running shoes.
Altra has identified different gender differences in foot shape and structure and tries to adjust the fit and feel of the running shoes for men and women accordingly.
HOKA vs Altra Running Shoes: Stability
If you are looking for enhanced stability, the better option will be HOKA versus Altra running shoes. Both brands offer neutral and “support“ running shoes.
Although neither Altra nor HOKA have aggressive motion-control shoes to correct overpronation, HOKA shoes are designed with stability in mind.
The shoes are built with a wide, stable platform, much like a bucket seat. Stability elements also include J-Frame technology and firmer foam on the medial side of the foot to prevent excessive pronation (rolling inward).
Altra running shoes that are designed to provide more support and stability use guide rail technology to stabilize your foot rather than really correct your gait.
Altra vs HOKA Running Shoes: Durability
Altra shoes are said to last 300 to 600 miles, which is a wider range than HOKA shoes, which tend to be closer to 400 to 500 miles.
Keep in mind that the durability of any running shoes, or how long they last, depends on a variety of factors, some inherent to the shoes themselves and others due to your personal body and training habits.
In terms of the durability of the shoes themselves, the materials and construction of the running shoes will impact how long the shoes last and how well they hold up under various conditions.
Factors with your body and training that impact how many miles you can wear your running shoes before they break down include the terrain that you run on, your daily and weekly mileage, whether or not you rotate your shoes, your body size, and your running gait.
With that said, the durability of Altra vs HOKA running shoes is fairly similar, particularly if you are running on trails.
The more forgiving surface will help your shoes last longer.
Both HOKA and Altra running shoes tend to break down somewhat faster on the roads.
If you plan to do a lot of road running in HOKA or Altra running shoes, buy road-specific models because the durometer of the rubber on the outsole will better handle the friction and wear of the road.
Altra vs HOKA Running Shoes: Cushioning
Aside from the heel drop and the differences in fit, the biggest difference between HOKA vs Altra running shoes is the cushioning offered by the shoes.
As zero-drop shoes, the cushioning in Altra shoes is designed to be balanced throughout the entire length of the shoe rather than concentrated on the heel.
Therefore, there is an even level of cushioning throughout the length of the shoes.
HOKA offers maximalist running shoes, but there are actually three levels of cushioning, depending on the primary purpose of the shoe.
HOKA cushioning uses PROFLY technology and molded EVA foam. The thick midsole is designed to provide “marshmallow softness” while being surprisingly lightweight
If you like highly cushioned shoes, it is better to go with HOKA vs Altra running shoes.
HOKA vs Altra Running Shoes: Price
Altra running shoes tend to be slightly more expensive than HOKA running shoes, though both brands tend to have a higher average price point than brands like Adidas and ASICS, which have some budget-friendly options.
Generally, because there are fewer models in the Altra and HOKA running shoes lineup, there are not as many low-cost options. The waterproof Gore-Tex running shoes are also more expensive.
The typical price for Altra and HOKA running shoes is about $130-$200.
Overall, while both HOKA and Altra offer excellent running shoes, there are quite a few differences between the two brands.
If you are interested in the zero drop running shoes for supporting a more natural running stride, you should use Altra vs HOKA shoes, and if you are interested in maximal cushioning and more stability on the trails or roads, you should consider HOKA vs Altra shoes.
Check out some more of our running shoe comparisons when trying to decide which brand is best for you:
Nike Vs Adidas Running Shoe Comparison