The 8 Best Hoka Running Shoes, According to Experts

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If you’ve paid attention to popular shoe styles over the last few years, chances are you’ve come across Hoka One One sneakers. These statement-making pairs not only come in bold color combos but also have extra cushion made from the brand’s patented EVA foam in the footbed, giving them a maximalist design for which the label has become known for. These shoes are hard to miss, and runners swear by them for more speed with fewer injuries and a whole lot of comfort. While Hokas have earned a cult following as some of the best sneakers for nearly any activity, whether it’s walking, standing, hiking, or working out, the category umbrella of running faced the most technological advances in a sneaker when Hoka entered the picture.

Just over a decade old, the French-born footwear brand remains one of the fastest-growing sneaker companies to date. In fact, it’s earned a spot on FN’s list of the world’s bestselling running shoe brands of 2019 — alongside veteran athletic labels like Brooks Running, Nike and Adidas — and took home the “Brand of the Year” title at FN’s 2021 Achievement Awards for its innovations on material and design.

Podiatrists and athletes agree the desire for maximalist footwear is more than just a fad. New York City-based podiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Sutera says Hoka sneakers “provide comfort, support and shock absorption.” This makes the cushy sneakers a great choice for long distance runners desiring a softer impact and standout styles for outdoor winter running, trail running and more.

At first glance, you’d think the chunkiness of the shoes would slow you down, but they’re shockingly lightweight to do just the opposite. Hoka midsoles offer one-of-a-kind shock absorption in varying levels of thickness. Styles have cushioning that ranges from responsive to balanced and maximal for “marshmallow softness” through all, according to the brand’s website.

Even professional athletes wear Hoka running shoes for this reason. “Hoka’s lightweight, cushioned feel and durability keep your legs fresh both during the run and after,” says Olympic long-distance runner Luis Grijalva. “The cushion and responsiveness of the shoes allow me to run more miles without the miles taking much of a toll on my body. I made the [Tokyo] Olympics final in the 5,000 meter [event], placing 12th and setting a new PR of 13:10 in hot and humid conditions while wearing the Hoka uniform on the biggest stage of track and field.”

Another feature specific to the Hoka brand is the Meta-Rocker technology, which reduces the height difference between the toe and heel to help propel the foot forward, almost like a rocket launching, with each step. Other noteworthy innovations are the brand’s J-Frame design that combats overpronation for better stability and the Hubble Heel, which is designed to limit impact on the body and create smoother heel-to-toe transitions.

Podiatrists, athletes and sneakerheads across the board agree that Hoka continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in a sneaker. The brand offers a trifecta of promoting proper foot health, performance and style, keeping it on the cutting edge of sneaker culture in 2022 where comfort is king.

Considering all this, read on to shop the best Hoka One One running shoes you can get your hands on to crush those training sessions and break your personal record.

Top Hoka Running Shoes

Hoka Clifton 8 Running Shoes

Best Overall

Earning the American Podiatrist Medical Association’s (APMA’s) seal of acceptance for promoting good foot health, Hoka One One’s Clifton 7 boasts the brand’s iconic marshmallow-like cushioning with full compression EVA midsoles and a plush collar designed to ease pressure on the Achilles tendon. But the latest Clifton 8 is even better. Podiatrists recommend this sneaker to anyone with high arches, back and heel pain. Compared to Hoka’s Clifton 7, the 8 model come slightly lighter in weight with a bit more cushioning and mesh breathability. The unique design of this platform-like cushion is stylish, but it’s also functional with a foam footbed that helps absorb shock without putting too much pressure on your knees. Combined with a supportive fit, the Clifton 8 brings the best of all worlds to the table.

The Meta-Rocker design promotes a smooth transition from heel-strike to toe-off. These shoes are made to propel you forward, so power walking and running feel like much less work. They’re a great option for speed and leisure running and will become that one pair of sneakers you won’t ever want to take off, even after a long day.

Hoka Clifton Edge Running Shoes

Hoka’s Clifton Edge have been a bestselling style since its launch in the summer of 2020. This road-ready running shoe was designed to make wearers feel like they can fly. It ranks a bit more stylish than the Clifton 8, according to reviewers, while also offering some features made specifically for fast runs. The design features an atypical extended heel geometry that allows for a smooth impact and gliding sensation while moving, plus a flared outsole that cradles the foot and creates a supportive base to enhance forward motion.

Aside from the notable heel design, the Clifton Edge also features Hoka’s softest and lightest foam cushioning, patented Meta-Rocker technology for responsiveness, lightweight rubberized EVA outsoles and embossed TPU yarn for targeted support in the forefoot and the row surrounding the eyelets. What more can you ask for in a running sneaker?

Hoka Speedgoat 4 Running Shoes

Best for Trail Running

The three most important things to look for in trail running shoes are protection, grip and build. They should protect your feet over time from falling rocks and debris, include traction that can handle all sorts of terrain and be rugged enough to handle outdoor obstacles. Hoka’s Speedgoat 4 is among the best trail running shoes because it checks off all these boxes, and then some.

Unlike typical trail running shoes, this one features balanced EVA cushioning combined with neutral stability that propels you forward without causing you to lose control. It also serves as a protective cushion while maintaining a responsive toe-off for when you want to pick up the pace. These shoes are perfect for anyone who wants to hit technical terrain — and go fast.

Other standout features include a 3D printed overlay for added support and lockdown, Vibram Megagrip traction and zonal rubber lugs for superb grip and a wide toe box to boost stability. They also have a breathable mesh upper to keep feet warm yet cool, making them a great winter or cold-weather running sneaker.


Hoka Challenger ATX 6 Running Shoes

Best Hybrid Trail Running Shoes 

The Hoka Challenger was designed to conquer every type of terrain. From the trails to the road and everything in between, this hybrid running/walking shoe provides protection against trail debris and slippery surfaces. It also provides a balanced cushioning and neutral stability to keep you comfortable, secure and moving forward, all while remaining extremely light in weight thanks to its zonal construction. It’s an adaptable, all-terrain style that is light on the trail and smooth on the street thanks to the midsole geometry (which also makes it a lightweight option perfect for packing). The result is smooth transitions from one surface to another. Plus, the latest iteration of the Challenger uses recycled yarn derived from post-consumer waste plastic.


hoka sneaker
CREDIT: retailers

Hoka Bondi X Running Shoes

Most Versatile

One complaint of the excess cushion that comes from the plush comfort of a Hoka sneaker is that it can throw off your balance when you’re lifting weights. In Hoka’s Bondi X, sure the cushion is plush, but the stability is neutral, so even when you’re lifting or balancing on one foot, you feel fully supported from all angles thanks to the symmetry of this sneaker. As one of Hoka’s latest innovations, the propulsive carbon fiber plate endorses a snappy and efficient run without ever losing your balance. Great for the road or treadmill to the weight room, these sneakers are one of the most versatile and comfortable styles to date. As a gear editor that has tested hundreds of different sneaker styles, the Bondi X remains my current favorite when combining running with HIIT classes.

hoka sneaker
CREDIT: retailer

Hoka Arahi 6 Running Shoes

Best for Plantar Fasciitis

Hoka’s latest Arahi style sneaker is most notable for preventing an inward excessive roll of the foot, or overpronation. Here, you’ll find an extremely balanced protective cushioning with stable support, making these appropriate for beach, road and grassy runs. Typically, you don’t usually find maximal cushioning in a minimal weight sneaker, but the Arahi 6 successfully breaks that contradiction. The latest version has better ergonomics with mesh zones for more breathability a pull tab for easier handling. Plus, these come with an Ortholite sockliner that feels like a custom insole. These are great running sneakers for those that suffer from plantar fasciitis.

CREDIT: Retailer

Hoka Mach 4 Running Shoes

Best for Long Distances

The Mach line from Hoka doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The 4 is extremely lightweight, supportive and built to get your strides into a tempo rhythm, making this a great option for long-distance running. The cushion is soft but feels structured, making the wear and tear on these minimal. The result is a smooth, padded ride that effortlessly keeps your strides in a balanced motion. One glance at the reviews, and you’ll see runners raving at how long these sneakers last. They can go the distance and still feel like new each time you double knot the laces.

CREDIT: retailer

Hoka Kawana Running Shoes

Best for Sprinting

The Hoka Kawana style is one of those sneakers meant for all types of indoor and outdoor training, with running just happening to be one of them. Best for quick start sprints and hard stops, this pair offers a sweet spot balance of the iconic plush cushion and support. Instead of propelling you forward for long distance tempo runs, these have a better balance for moving up, down sideways and backwards. The Kawanas feature a new type of foam that feels springy yet has a more subtle rebound. The result is a smoother glide with more foot-on-the-floor stability for a balanced stance so you can go from lifting to sprinting in a flash.

They also feature a new technology called SwallowTail geometry, which is a beveled heel that creates a broader, flatter surface with a grippy tread. Running sneakers and lifting sneakers tend to contradict themselves, but these offer a little bit of everything for quick movements in all directions.

CREDIT: retailer

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