What are Hoka shoes?
Hoka shoes are the reason I’ve been two inches taller for the last month.
Hoka is the fasted growing shoe brand in the world, easily recognisable by their extra thick soles, which look like a platform.
Back in 2009, when Hoka was first released, minimalist shoes were all the rage, but Hoka went completely against that, challenging everything we know about running shoes. You could even call them, ‘maximalist’. But why?
The founders were two life-long runners, seeking stability from their running shoes that minimalist footwear just doesn’t offer after the miles rack up. They wanted a shoe that would enable a natural foot motion, with a super-cushioned sole to provide stability that helps create uniformity in running stride.
Originally loved by ultra-runners for helping them push through their super long runs - we’re talking a marathon and more here, the cushioned running shoe has now grown in popularity to see runners of all distances rebounding off their Hoka Meta-Rockers.
Fun Fact: Hoka One One, pronounced "Hoka O-nay O-nay", means "now it is time to fly" in Maori.
What is a Hoka Meta Rocker?
The Meta Rocker is the feature that has made this brand famous, it’s the reason for the thick soles and a more comfortable run.
Hoka say: “Our Meta-Rocker midsole geometry is specifically designed with a low heel-toe differential and a sculpted outsole to create a unique fulcrum effect, like a rocking chair, to encourage a guided gait cycle. This design supports a runner's natural form while promoting an efficient, smooth roll from initial impact to toe-off.”
So in plain English, it’s the tech that makes the sole of the Hoka Clifton 3 like a rocking chair, which helps support your run through the way it encourages you to land your feet.
Hoka Shoes Sizing
Somewhat ironically, I found the Hoka shoes quite small in their fit. Big on padding short on room. My regular shoe size is a 4, so when I buy my running shoes, I opt for 4.5. When I first slipped on the Hoka Clifton 3’s, they felt super snug and I was a little concerned they were going to pinch my toes. However, after my first run, the trainers gave a little give and fit perfectly. The Clifton 3 upper features a seamless design with a wide toe box which makes the fit really comfortable. Despite the high platform of the shoe, there is a minimal toe drop, which is good for runners who are concerned about shortening the achilles - although there is little to no concrete evidence to support this.
What's a really great design feature of these trainers is the loop to the back of the heel to help slip the trainers on and off easily. It's the largest loop I've had on any brand of trainers and makes these trainers really easy to get into and out of.
The shoes are so light, you’d forget you were wearing them if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re 2 inches taller!
Hoka Clifton Review
Time to fly. The very first run in these shoes I sung “we’re walking in the air” in my head for almost the entire duration, it was Christmas and there I was floating on the huge platform of cushioning in my new Hoka Clifton 3 trainers. I hope this conjures up a beautiful mental image for you. The run was easy, each step felt supported, the impact was cushioned and I finished up thinking it was a Christmas miracle I’d glided through my run so easily. After the first run I decided I was probably just a little festively tipsy still, surely these running shoes could not be that unlike anything I’d ever run in before?
Then there was run two. My second run was just the same, except this time there was no risk of festive tinted glasses. It was true. These running shoes were completely different to anything I’d ever run in. The cushion absorbs the impact of your stride meaning you feel as though you can run for longer - great for distance runners and the rocker helped to ease my hobbling run and provide a more smooth gait, which actually showed up in my feedback from my Wahoo Ticker X which gives your running technique a score using motion trackers and let me tell you with the help of the Clifton 3's, I’m smooth.
There is one setback of the Hoka trainers and that is speed. For shorter fast runs or sprints, I feel like my foot sinks into the cushioning and I can’t really get that push off the ground you need to pick up speed. But that being said, these are designed for ultra runners and I don’t know many runners who can sprint for that kind of distance!
You’ve got to be off your rocker…
Never judge a meta-rocker by its cover. At first, I thought I would look like a right wolly in these trainers and I wasn’t sure about this ‘meta-rocker’ business. But after actually running in these I am a changed woman. They really do change the feel of a run.
Where to Buy Hoka Shoes
There are lots of retailers who stock this increasingly popular brand, but for the latest styles I’d go direct to the Hoka website.
The Clifton 3 reviewed (RRP: £100) is the latest iteration in the multi-award winning Clifton lineage.
Check out our other reviews here.