The Hoka Gaviota Women's Running Shoes are a stability trainer from our favourite long distance running trainer specialists. But are they right for you?
Upon first wearing the trainers, they feel very snug and comfortable. Hoka One One is a brand renowned for its springy, cloud-like trainers which are specifically designed for long distance running such as marathons and ultra marathons. The materials used are super soft and the trainer's upper is fairly flexible. The thick sole is very solid and gives good support.
I bought my pair a half size up from my regular shoe size, which is what I often do for running trainers due to the inevitable swelling expected during a run. However, these trainers are very tight and my forefoot was so squashed that the entire front half of my foot went numb. Having scoured through other reviews of these trainers, it appears I am not alone in this and it is a common problem for wearers of this particular shoe. I tried the usual trick of re-lacing the trainers to allow more room for my toes but unfortunately this didn't help. During my second run, after only 2 miles, my entire foot was so numb and in agony I had to physically remove the trainers and walk home barefoot feeling rather sorry for myself. I'm not sure if sizing up again would help in this instance as I'd worry it'd just give more room in the heel and not fix the problem of the tight toe box.
Stability trainers are notorious for not looking great. It always seems that the rule of 'style over substance' is hammered in when trying to buy trainers and you have to choose one or the other. Hoka One One trainers are quite outlandish and quirky at the best of times, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the women's Gaviota trainers. There are two colourways available: Dresden blue/Gold fusion or Paradise pink/neon coral. I bought the Paradise pink/neon coral pair and I actually really like their appearance. They are not too fluorescent and don't stand out too much, and instead have a subtle and pretty appearance.
These trainers are beautifully light, weighing in at 245g. Compare this to the weight of the stability trainers offered by Nike - Nike Zoom 317g and that of Adidas- Vengeful shoes 292g. Hoka is a brand famous and well-loved for the performance of its long distance running trainers, and these are no different. For the couple of miles that I could manage before my feet went numb, I felt like I was treading on air and my stride definitely felt light and springy.
When it comes to stability trainers, you need a pair you can trust not to cause injuries or accentuate your poor posture. Stability trainers are designed for people who over-pronate; that is they suffer from fallen arches and/or flat feet and their feet fall inwards. Stability trainers like the Hoka Gaviota women's running trainers are designed to prevent the feet from rolling inwards and to stabilise your ride, reducing the risk of injury and allowing for a pain-free run.
Sadly for me, I was not able to properly test these trainers on a long run because they sent my feet to sleep and crippled my toes!
I bought my pair of Hoka Gaviota trainers from a local retailer for £114.99. They are currently available direct from the Hoka website for 120 Euros (on sale from 150 Euros) which works out at around £106. In theory, I definitely think this pair of trainers would be worth this price for their unparalleled support and comfort during very long runs. However sadly for me, due to not being able to return them, they will continue to gather dust on my shoe rack and burn a large hole in my wallet.
I really wanted to like these trainers, and I can see a huge amount of potential in them if they fit you properly. I don't have wide feet at all, in fact I'd describe my feet as quite narrow, but I do have fairly long toes. The shoes are very comfortable for a few minutes, but sadly sent my feet to sleep and have caused what I'm hoping is not prolonged damage to my toes. Having read a lot of reviews by others, I can see this is not an isolated incident. Therefore, if you think these trainers are for you, definitely size up by perhaps two sizes. They are an attractive pair of carefully crafted technical trainers, I just wish I could wear them!
These trainers are for you if:
- You regularly run long distances
- You are a marathon or ultra marathon runner
- You over-pronate due to fallen arches and/or flat feet
These trainers are not for you if:
- You are a sprinter or short distance runner
- You have wide feet and/or long toes
- You do not have a big budget
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.