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Hoka Vs New Balance Running Shoe Comparison

Which is the better brand for you?

Choosing the right running shoes can be daunting, particularly if you are a beginner or if your current trainers have not been serving you well.

Comparing different running shoe brands, such as Asics, Altra, Adidas, Brooks, Nike, Saucony, HOKA, and New Balance, can be a useful way to narrow down what can seem like endless running gear options.

HOKA and New Balance are two of the most popular running shoe brands out there at the moment.

Although there isn’t necessarily a definitive winner in a head-to-head comparison of HOKA vs New Balance that will universally apply to all runners, there are notable differences between the running shoes from these two brands that may make one better for you.

In this shoe review guide, we compare HOKA vs New Balance running shoes to help you decide which are the best running shoes for you.

A pair of teal Hoka shoes.
Wikimedia

What Are The Main Differences Between HOKA vs New Balance?

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

Although both brands now make a range of running shoes, HOKA is best known for making maximalist running shoes, whereas New Balance makes a range of running shoes with different amounts of cushioning.

Max cushion running shoes have a very thick sole and high stack height because there’s a lot of cushioning between the foot and the ground.

Therefore, HOKA running shoes are higher, appear chunkier, and have a lot more foam cushioning in the sole than most New Balance running shoes.

That said, New Balance has a couple of maximalist, cushioned shoes in their lineup.

Another factor that gives HOKAs a rather unique appearance is that they are often brightly colored, although New Balance has also been releasing some special edition, colorful running shoes.

A red Hoka shoe.
Wikimedia

Due to the added cushioning, HOKA running shoes are often popular among master runners and injury-prone runners seeking more joint-impact forgiveness.

They are also particularly popular among ultramarathoners, long-distance, and trail runners because of their maximalist cushioning.

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

There are minimalist running shoes and racer flats for performance, neutral trainers, trail running shoes, and stability and motion control running shoes for runners who need extra pronation control.

Moreover, New Balance tends to be great for runners with wide feet because most of the running shoe models in the lineup offer a wide width and often even an extra-wide option. 

If you have a bunion or wide feet, there will almost always be at least one type of New Balance running shoe that can accommodate your feet, including a wider toe box in wider models.

HOKA also offers wide widths in some models.

See also this full review of Hoka vs On Cloud Shoes

A person choosing running shoes off a shelf at a store.

Additionally, compared to most traditional running shoes, aside from the maximalist style characteristic of HOKAs, New Balance running shoes have a thicker midsole, which can provide more stability, so if you are an overpronator, they have some great supportive running shoes.

There are also dedicated stability and motion-control running shoes for extra support.

Although HOKA has more recently ventured into making hiking boots, occupational shoes, and a few other types of footwear, the company’s bread and butter is maximalist running shoes, while New Balance has long designed a wide range of sneakers, including many athleisure shoes.

Let’s discuss more details in our HOKA vs New Balance comparison.

Durability

The durability of any running shoes depends not only on the quality of the materials and construction used to make them but also on numerous other factors.

These factors include 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.

Like most running shoes, New Balance and HOKA are recommended to last 300 to 500 miles (500-800 km), according to the respective companies.

However, depending on the model, 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, make sure to buy road-specific models. The durometer of the rubber on the sole will better handle the friction and wear and tear of the road.

A person jumping in New Balance shoes.

Cushioning 

The main difference between New Balance vs HOKA ONE ONE shoes is the amount of cushioning these daily trainers have. 

HOKA running shoes use PROFLY technology and molded EVA foam with a very thick midsole to be maximally plush and provide “marshmallow softness.” 

Although people usually associate HOKA with just the thickest maximalist running shoes, they actually offer three levels of cushioning. All of the shoes are surprisingly lightweight despite their generous amount of cushioning.

New Balance offers running shoes with a wide range of cushioning options. In general, cushioning materials include light foams like Fresh Foam or FuelCell to provide a softness without adding much weight. 

Stability

New Balance is typically better than HOKA if you need extra support and stability to prevent overpronation.

New Balance has many stability and motion control shoes for runners who need extra control for overpronation.

The stability and motion control shoes tend to be stiffer and have a wider base for more support, a heel flare for pronation control, and a gentle S shape to the shoe to provide lateral stability through the heel-to-toe transition.

The New Balance models that end in 40, such as the 840 and 1540, are “optimal control shoes” designed to enhance control, support, and stability for runners who overpronate or have flat feet.

Models ending in 60, like the 860, are “stability” shoes that provide stability and cushioning for runners who overpronate.

HOKA doesn’t offer quite as many stability shoes. There are a few models that are designed to provide some amount of support and pronation control. 

The stability elements include J-Frame technology and firmer foam on the medial side of the foot to prevent excessive pronation (rolling inward). 

A person bending down in New Balance sneakers.

Fit and Feel

When you compare different running shoe brands, one of the biggest differences is usually in how the shoes fit and feel. 

There are quite a few differences between the fit and feel of HOKA and New Balance.

HOKA shoes tend to run somewhat narrow, particularly with the standard-width running shoes (B for women and D for men). 

The shape and feel can be ideal for runners with narrower feet, but if you have a “normal” foot, some models’ standard width might feel a bit snug.

Therefore, even if you don’t have a traditionally “wide“ foot, choosing a HOKA model with a wide-width option, such as the HOKA Bondi 8 or other Bondi models, can be a good idea because the shoes run narrow.

In contrast, New Balance running shoes tend to be slightly wider overall, even for standard-width shoes. 

A red and black Hoka shoe.
Wikimedia

Moreover, quite a few of the running shoes in the New Balance collection come in standard width (B for women, D for men) as well as wide (D for women, E for men), and often even extra-wide and narrow, with some shoes in 2A, EE, and more.

Therefore, if you have wide feet, in particular, New Balance is probably better than HOKA, but if you have narrow feet, HOKA may be better than New Balance.

New Balance has a user-friendly numbering system to name the running shoe models to help customers more easily identify the right type of running shoe for their needs. The last two digits in the shoe model correspond to the type of shoe that it is.

The other major difference is the feel of the shoes.

Because HOKA shoes have thick soles, they feel more comfy, plush, and forgiving, whereas New Balance running shoes have more responsiveness and a traditional feel.

HOKA soles also have a lower heel-to-toe drop than New Balance running shoes, and they have a meta rocker or Hubble heel, designed to help guide the transition from heel to toe (impact to push off) when you run.

A person running on asphalt.

Price

In general, HOKA running shoes tend to have a slightly higher price point than New Balance running shoes.

The average price of HOKA running shoes is about $150-180, whereas New Balance shoes are closer to $130.

Regarding New Balance vs HOKA running shoes, there isn’t a definitive better option for all runners.

However, if you need maximal cushioning, HOKA may be better. If you are looking for shoes with more pronation control and wide widths, check out New Balance shoes.

Here are a list of some different models to check out from each brand:

HOKA

HOKA Clifton 9

HOKA Mach 6

HOKA Arahi 6

New Balance

New Balance Fresh Foam X

New Balance Rebel v4

A person running over a bridge.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. 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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