HOKA Vs Brooks Running Shoes Comparison: The Complete Guide

Whether you are a beginner runner who is trying to decide what brand of running shoes to try or you are a loyal wearer of a specific brand who is keen on trying something different, you might seek a HOKA vs Brooks running shoe comparison.

HOKA and Brooks are two of the most popular running shoe brands these days, but unless you’re a running shoe guru, you might not know much about the differences between Brooks vs HOKA running shoes.

In this guide, we look at HOKA vs Brooks running shoes, striving to see how these brands compare.

We will cover: 

  • Which Is Better, HOKA or Brooks Running Shoes?
  • HOKA vs Brooks Main Differences
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Durability
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Fit and Sizing
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Cushioning
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Stability
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Feel
  • HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Price

Let’s get started!

A teal Brooks shoe.
Wikimedia

Which Is Better, HOKA Or Brooks Running Shoes?

Before we delve into the specific differences in our Brooks vs HOKA running shoes head-to-head matchup, it’s important to establish that these are both fantastic running shoe companies that design and manufacture viable running shoes for many runners. 

Both HOKA One One and Brooks are running shoe brands accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which speaks to their merit, quality, and design.

Therefore, this HOKA vs Brooks running shoe comparison is less about which is the better running shoe and more about how the two reputable brands and their running shoes differ.

Because every runner is unique in terms of their biomechanics, gait, training, injury risk, and running shoe preferences, knowing the differences between Brooks vs HOKA running shoes can help you choose the best option for you.

We aren’t attempting to crown an overall winner; we are just shedding light on key differences to help you narrow down your search for the right pair of running shoes.

Additionally, both HOKA and Brooks offer quite a range of running shoe models these days, so it’s possible to buy a certain type of running shoe (stability, trail running, maximalist, etc.) from either brand.

However, each brand has a primary style or approach to running shoes, so we will focus on highlighting these differences— just bear in mind that you can almost always find exceptions to the general trends that we will discuss.

A blue and orange HOKA shoe.
Flickr

HOKA vs Brooks Main Differences 

The primary difference between HOKA and Brooks running shoes is the style or type of running shoes they make.

HOKA is best known for making maximalist running shoes, which have a very thick sole and high stack height because there’s a lot of cushioning between the foot and the ground. 

For this reason, HOKA shoes are higher and appear chunkier than Brooks shoes, and they have a lot more foam cushioning in the sole.

They are often brightly colored, so between the shape and colors, HOKA running shoes have a distinct appearance.

Because of the added cushioning, HOKA running shoes are often popular amongst masters runners and injury-prone runners seeking more joint-impact forgiveness. They are also particularly popular amongst ultrarunners and trail runners because of their maximalist cushioning.

Brooks offers more traditional running shoes with distinct differences in the level of support and pronation control they provide.

They are a widely trusted and beloved brand, adored by competitive and recreational runners alike.

A blue Brooks shoe.
Pxhere

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Durability

The durability of any running shoes depends on a lot of factors, including your body weight and size, the terrain you are running on, how often you run, your gait, whether you rotate your shoes (which gives the material more time to rebound between uses), and the climate and weather you run in.

However, in addition to these runner-specific factors, there are also qualities of the running shoe itself that influence durability, namely the materials used and the quality of construction.

Most running shoes last anywhere from 300 to 500 miles (500-800 km), and both Brooks and HOKA running shoes fall well within these guidelines.

With that said, HOKA running shoes often perform best on the trails, so the outsole can wear down quickly on the roads. If you’re going to be doing a lot of road running in HOKA running shoes, buy road-specific models because the durometer of the rubber on the sole will better handle the friction and wear of the road.

HOKA running shoes may last you closer to 400 miles per pair, while Brooks does tend to be closer to that 500-mile lifetime mark.

A black and red HOKA shoe.
Flickr

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Fit and Sizing

One of the biggest differences you’ll notice with Brooks vs HOKA running shoes is how the shoes fit and are sized.

Brooks recommends sizing up a half size from your street shoe, while HOKA running shoes are said to fit true to size.

In terms of fit, Brooks running shoes have a wider toe box. This is ideal for runners with bunions, a history of metatarsalgia or a Morton’s neuroma, or who have a wider foot.

A wide toe box is advantageous because it allows for natural foot spray, which is the spreading of the forefoot and toes upon landing.

If the toe box of your running shoes is too narrow or if it tapers down to a point, the ball of your foot and your toes will be compressed when you push off for the next stride.

Over time, this pressure can increase the risk of injuries such as bunions, metatarsalgia, and Morton’s neuroma.

In contrast, HOKA shoes tend to run somewhat narrow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

If you have narrow feet, you don’t want them swimming around in a wide toe box because you’ll lack control and sensory feedback, and the risk of blisters and tripping increases.

It should be noted that both brands offer wide running shoes in some of their available models. 

This comparison has focused on standard-width running shoes (B for women and D for men).

With that said, if you have a fairly normal width to your foot, you might be best served to go with a wide sizing with HOKA running shoes, especially with the Bondi models, because they run narrow.

The tongue of a black and orange Brooks shoe.
Wikimedia

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Cushioning 

There are some differences in the materials used for cushioning with HOKA vs Brooks running shoes.

HOKA running shoes are known to be plush and to provide “marshmallow softness.” This cloud-like cushioning is due to PROFLY technology and molded EVA foam. 

Although people usually associate HOKA with just the thickest maximalist running shoes, they actually offer three levels of cushioning.

The shoes are surprisingly lightweight despite their generous amount of cushioning.

Brooks utilizes different midsole foam materials based on the primary purpose of the running shoes. For example, the midsole will be composed of different types of foam with a cushioned trainer versus a lightweight speed trainer because the shoes are designed for different functions.

DNA LOFT is their softest cushioning and is made from a blend of EVA foam, rubber, and air. 

DNA AMP provides the highest energy return because it is ultra springy and much stiffer than DNA LOFT, so it’s ideal for speed shoes where you want to optimize forward propulsion.

BioMoGo DNA lands in the middle of DNA LOFT and DNA AMP and is said to adapt to and accommodate your gait to provide the right support and cushion. 

DNA Flash provides very little cushioning, so it’s for racing shoes.

Teal HOKA shoes.
Wikimedia

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Stability

In general, when comparing Brooks vs HOKA stability, Brooks ends up on top, meaning you can get more stability from a Brooks running shoe.

Most models in Brooks’s lineup have both a neutral and support/stability version. These are distinguished by the “GTS” in the product name, which stands for “Go-To-Support.”

The GTS versions of Brooks running shoes employ GuideRails Technology, which is designed to balance and support your natural running stride to optimize your degree of pronation.

Brooks running shoes are said to be scientifically designed to accommodate rather than correct your gait. They do extensive testing with their products and incorporate user feedback and data from scientific studies to design and adjust their running shoes.

HOKA doesn’t offer quite as many stability shoes, but those that are designed to provide more support use a J-Frame technology and a firmer foam on the medial side of the foot to prevent excessive pronation (rolling inward). 

Blue HOKA shoes on display.
Wikimedia

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Feel

Given the difference in fit and cushioning, HOKA and Brooks running shoes have a pretty different feel. 

HOKA running shoes often feel more plush and forgiving, whereas Brooks running shoes are responsive yet comfortable. 

Additionally, the heel-to-toe drop differs. 

Most Brooks running shoes have a heel-to-toe drop of around 10mm-12mm. In contrast, this heel-to-toe difference is only about 5 mm in HOKA running shoes.

Practically, this means that Brooks running shoes feel more like your traditional shoes, while HOKA shoes are closer to zero-drop, so they put you in a more natural running position.

HOKA soles also have a meta rocker, which is designed to help guide the transition from heel to toe (impact to push off) when you run.

Newer models also have a Hubble Heel, which is an extended heel portion designed to improve the heel-to-toe transition.

A person trail running.

HOKA vs Brooks Running Shoes Price

Both Brooks and HOKA running shoes are competitively and reasonably priced for the quality of the products.

In general, HOKA running shoes tend to have a slightly higher price point than comparable Brooks models.

The average price of HOKA running shoes is about $150, whereas Brooks shoes usually set you back about $130, making Brooks about $20 less than HOKA running shoes.

When it comes to Brooks vs HOKA running shoes, there isn’t really a definitive better option for all runners, but one might be better than the other for you.

If you need some extra guidance in choosing which shoes are right for you, check out our running shoe guide!

A person running on a track.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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