I usually like to put around 50 miles on a shoe before I review it, but that just couldn't happen with the women's Hoka One One Huaka, I just wasn't feeling it. I tried, and I tried some more. They weren't terrible by any means, but they were bad enough that I didn't want to run in them anymore. Given that, this review will be a bit different from my usual shoe reviews.
Hoka One One makes mainly "maximal" running shoes with a higher than average stack height. The stack height for the Huaka is 26mm in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot and the women's version weighs in at about 8.2oz (size 8).
Hokas seem to be a favorite among ultra runners for having a "maximum" amount of cushioning, while still being responsive. I won't argue that the Huakas meet those qualifications, they do. My main issues with the Huaka is that of comfort. They just weren't comfortable to me. It's hard to explain even. They didn't give me blisters, which is what caused me to send back the Kinvara 3 right away, though they did have a couple areas where the shoe pinched at the bend on top of my toes that felt like it could turn into a hot spot if my runs in them were any longer. The lack of comfort had more to do with the shape and size of the shoe. I ordered my usual 8.5 and right out of the box they looked a little long and narrow. They come with two insoles, you can either use one or pair them together, after trying a single insole, I decided to keep both insoles in the shoes for a snugger fit. This was a hard compromise for me because I love to have good toe-splay like my Zealots and Altras give me, and the extra insole robbed me of what little toe-splay the Huaka allowed. I hate a sloppy feeling midfoot and heel though; I want my heel locked down and to feel snug through the midfoot, so I had to sacrifice my wiggle room for that. The fit still wasn't great though, my feet would slide forward inside the shoe every time and then my toes would start to go numb. I debated trying a half-size smaller, but I doubt that would have helped. I had almost the same problem with the Newton Energy and they definitely weren't too long. With the Energy, I blamed it on the raised lugs and the fact that I already have a very prominent forefoot strike. My landing spot on the shoe was actually right at the front of the lugs, which, I was guessing, was causing resistance when it hit the ground and making the shoe slide back on my foot, since it didn't have anywhere else to go. Maybe the Hoka One One has a similar problem created by the high stack. Maybe high stacks aren't great for someone with such a extreme forefoot strike. I don't really know, it's just a theory. If you have any insight, please share in the comments below.
|On their way back|
One thing that confused me about the Huaka is the "race-lacing" system. I thought this was going to be elastic, like Lock Laces, and some descriptions even say they are elastic. The laces on the shoes I got, however, were not elastic, meaning I had to undo and redo the little slider/clip thing and slide it under the elastic loops over the laces every time. To me that made them slower than tying and untying regular laces. If I had kept the shoes, I would have cut the "race-laces" out and replaced them with the regular laces they include.
I do really like the look of the shoe, even with the crazy looking height. I actually joked about Hokas before, wondering how people didn't twist their ankles in them, especially on trails, but I'd say the height isn't that noticeable once you're wearing them. I did find them to be surprisingly responsive and I did like the feel of the ride. If you took the same sole, widened it a little in the forefoot and slapped a better fitting upper on it, I could see this being in my regular rotation. So, this isn't a completely negative review, they did have some good points, they just weren't for me, or anyone with a wide-ish forefoot.
I didn't know what to expect from the Hoka One One Huaka to start with and curiosity is why i tried it. I'm glad I did, even though I didn't like them, at least now I know what they're like. I bought the Hoka One One Huaka with my own money and have not been compensated for this review in any way.