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WHAT’S THE BEST HOKA FOR TRAIL RUNNING?

May 22, 2020

WHAT’S THE BEST HOKA FOR TRAIL RUNNING?

We’re all at home a bit more than we’d really like to be right now, which is as much reason as any that we all need to go for a run. Part of the beauty of trail running is that even when the run doesn’t feel so good, being in nature can have its own positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and inner peace – even with no races on the calendar for the next few months.

Whether you’re an experienced trail runner, or a runner looking for the right shoes to start running trail, we hope this guide helps.

Please feel free to email any questions to info@allsports.co.nz or contact HOKA ONE ONE NZ through our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Trail running as both a sport and personal recreation has really exploded over the last decade and a bit. With New Zealand's most prestigious trail ultra– Tarawera Ultra – it has grown to over 3300 competitors in that time. Many trail runners say that road is boring, but it’s just different. If you’ve only ever run one surface, it’s hard to know what you’re missing out on.

As runners, most often our focus is trying to get that PB. Every road runner knows what that means – consistent training, increasing volume, monthly and even weekly time trials, Sunday tempo and long road runs.

But that challenge of slippery tree roots and steep muddy steps, with constantly changing textures and uneven surfaces, getting away from the regular rhythm of the road and seeing new scenery offers a kind of a thrill.

Most road runners who switch to trail will still prefer road-style racing, on well-groomed trails or unsealed gravel roads. These mean they can still run at a pace close to what they manage on-road, allowing for slower sections with long and sometimes steep climbs, and long and sometimes punishing descents.

But as more and more road runners have filled up the starting lines of faster trail races, there is a growing body of runners are also enjoying different types of trail – especially technical terrain runs.

With all of the gear that now goes with trail running – multiple different sizes and styles of running packs, lightweight jackets, different brands of hiking poles, compression gear, gels, drink powders, waist belts, and even running vests for your dog (these are pretty cool actually) – it’s easy to feel baffled. So hopefully there’s some information here that will help with one of your more important gear questions – which shoes?

The “which shoes?” question has some difficulty. A shoe that sounds awesome but that doesn’t fit your foot properly or work well with your own style of running is not going to be a good choice. A shoe that might feel brilliant to you over a certain distance might be too cushioned or not cushioned enough over a different distance or different surface.

Ultimately, the more you run on trail and try different things, the more you will probably find not just the shoe that works well for you, but that a mix of shoes is really what works well. Doing technical runs with agile shoes that grip well will protect the more all-terrain or even road shoes that you use for longer smoother runs, and you’ll enjoy the various surfaces more with more appropriate equipment too.

THIS TABLE IS MEANT TO HELP AS A GUIDE.

Try on a variety of models at your local HOKA stockist or check them out online.

See the COMPARISON TABLE below or download a pdf version here>>

 

MODEL

BEST FOR

FIT

BENEFITS

DISADVANTAGES

Torrent

TORRENT

Runners wanting low profile, lightweight, and more ground feel. A great fast shoe.

Generous volume, natural shape on foot. Upper very forgiving.

Drains super-fast. Balances protection & responsiveness beautifully. Extremely breathable. Sticky grippy outsole.

If it’s all about the cushion and you don’t want to feel a thing, pick another model. These feel racy.

Challenger ATR 5

CHALLENGER ATR 5

Also available in Gore-Tex

Runners who mostly use light road shoes (like Clifton 6) on-road and want a similar ride but with off-road traction.

Standard volume and shape. Less volume and give than Torrent. WIDE very popular.

WIDE available. A bit more cushion for long descents without feeling spongey. Robust all-terrain outsole ideal on access roads and fire trails. Drains quickly.

Trail purists might prefer a dedicated trail outsole, as in Torrent or Speedgoat.

Speedgoat 4

SPEEDGOAT 4

Runners hitting trail for a long time, wanting epic grip matched by epic cushion.

Relatively straight fit. Some shallowness through forefoot for technical hold. WIDE gives higher midfoot volume than Torrent.

A very smooth ride that takes a lot of impact. Sticky Vibram outsole great for slippery descents. WIDE now available. EVO (Goat 3) available for gram counters and fast draining.

More outsole tread means slightly more weight. Standard upper takes about 1500 metres to really run the water out.

EVO Mafate

EVO MAFATE 2

Runners who want unbeatable traction with a heap of protection, and dynamic pronation control, in an impossibly light package.

Standard volume, but stretchable fabric insert over toebox allows for extra volume. Deep heel cup.

EVO Matryx drains insanely fast and breathes fresh on hot days. Grippy Vibram outsole. Fastest drying highly cushioned ride ever. Possibly the world’s best long technical mountain racer.

Thicker midsole and deep teeth will feel chunky to some runners, but mostly these just feel impossibly protective for how light and structured they are.

Stinson ATR 5

STINSON ATR 5

Runners with high volume mid-foot and forefoot wanting a truck tyre to crush the trail before them.

Generous forefoot splay. Really deep heel cup and full length cradle for feet shaped like South America.

Huge toebox. The thickest midsole. Eats gravel and long runs for breakfast. Committed all-terrain running. You may never feel the ground again.

Underperforms on technical single track. Slowest drainage in range.

 





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