Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hoka One One Mafate Review



You could call me a fad follower, though while I have tried just about everything, it’s usually at the tail of the trend (read shoes on sale). And there have been quite a few trends in the past years from protective shoes with “ballistic rock plates” to the truely minimalist shoe. Some people even opt out of shoes. This time, though, I’m trying the early adopter approach.


While I am not exactly the first to wear or write about the Hokas, I think another voice out there may be worth something. For the record, I bought my size 8.5 (although now I think a half size up would have worked) Hokas full price--$170, ouch--and I don’t have any relationship with the manufacturer or any retailer.


This week I ran 50 + miles in the Hokas on a variety of terrain ranging from the Grandeur Peak Fun Run loop, the first loop of the BST Marathon, to a run from Neff’s Canyon to Day’s Fork to Snowbird.


The shoes look pretty silly. My 8 year-old son suggested the “citrus” color, which makes these shoes, which give me an extra 2 inches in height, even more ridiculous. Bob Thompson, who met me for a run up Grandeur just laughed, but politely added that he was laughing with me not at me. The shoes really do climb well. There is considerable extra surface area and a great grip, and despite the bulky appearance the weight is only 320 grams (11 oz). I felt like Spiderman running up and down the steep rock surfaces. The extra surface area and added height do tend to make the shoe roll a little. Anyone who tells you that you can’t roll your ankle in these shoes just hasn’t yet. That said, they are stable when running straight forward. Dancing in and out of rocks with lateral movements are not the strongest point of the Hokas.


The marketing line is “Time to Fly”. Frankly, I think it should be “Time to Bounce”. The strong point is that you bounce along on some really springy cushion. Cruising over rocks is easier than any other shoe I have worn. Instead of the tiptoeing that is necessary in a NB MT100, these shoes encourage a straight line over rocks. This morning I ran the first loop of the BST in 1 hour 48 minutes on legs that had been punished yesterday on a 6 hour 25 minute run with Christian. All I could think about as I was “flying” downhill was that these shoes were silly fun. Really steep technical downhills aren’t much better than any other shoes, but runnable downhills are a blast. The Hoka website touts that the compression, shock absorption, and low ramp angle “allows for tremendous confidence running downhill, as runners can now engage their gluteus and lower back as opposed to isolating their quads, relaxing the body and making running downhill fun and comfortable.” I don’t need any more confidence running downhill, but my quads do feel great after some good long runs, and my ass is sore so they may be correct. I am not sure how this would would work for a “lazy ass” runner.


Because the foot sits higher the angle created on a canted trail seemed more acute. This caused my left lateral malleolus (ankle) to rub on the collar of the shoe. By the end of my run with Christian yesterday I really wanted a trail that angled in the other direction. This could certainly be an issue in a 100 mile race like Wasatch where there are long stretches that slant in one direction.


These shoes are billed as a “great value” because they supposedly last twice as long as a typical pair of shoes. Mr. Meltzer says he got over 600 miles out of his first pair. After 50 punishing miles in the Wasatch Mountains, there is some wear along the puffy EVA foam. Time will tell if they are indeed durable and I will keep track of the relative value in terms of longevity. For now, I am quite happy with these silly, bouncy, citrus colored shoes, that make me two inches taller, and allow for ass-engaging downhill running. The bottom line is that while you may be laughed at, these shoes are fun.

15 comments:

Karl said...

That's just what I imagined they would be like. I think the Hoka vs. minimalist debate is no different than full suspension vs. hardtail debate with mountain bikes. Depends on how you want to run, what kind of terrain, and how you want to feel as you do it. Weight weenies (like myself) will always complain about the weight of shoes like the Hokies but I can't debate that there are some advantages to them.

Anonymous said...

caAfter 300 miles the eva foam started to flatten out and parts of the sole started coming apart. After another 50 miles you could really start feeling the rocks and they seemed less springy. The tread seems soft and not as durable as some other shoes. After 400 miles it seems like I was running in fireblades again, I could really feel the trail. After 450 miles there seems to be no more spring and the soles are coming apart. My overall opinion is that they're super comfy they first 300 miles and then I think they need to be replaced. Not worth $170. I could put 600 miles on them if I was running on soft, pine needle covered single track (Big water trail) but not 600 miles in the Wasatch. The stitching and fabric held up with no noticeable wear but the tread and eva foam aren't that durable.

ransacker said...

I have to agree! I definitely enjoy going out in the Hokas. Waiting to see how they will come in the wet. How have you found them in the heat?

ransacker said...

I have to agree! I definitely enjoy going out in the Hokas. Waiting to see how they will come in the wet. How have you found them in the heat?

MOCKBA said...

Sounds pretty cool. But ... Are these silly bloated sneakers OK for wide feet? With my bunyons and stuff I would love an extra wide something. And, if the size isn't guessed perfectly, what are their return rules? I couldn't figure anything at their website :/

peter said...

Ransacker,
Ran yesterday in 95 degree heat. The Hokas are a little warm, but not bad. I still haven't had a run through much water.

MOCKBA,
Both Salt Lake Running Company and the Wasatch Running Center carry these shoes and have some policy's on returns. I ordered online b/c of size availability.

Scott D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott D said...

I find the shoes to be a bit hot, but most people I know are ok with them. IF your feet are heavy sweaters, they will probably cause some issues. My feet get really water logged in them and I lose toe nails because of it. (my feet are bad though.)

Also the upper tends to stretch when it gets wet. I have had to stop multiple times to crank down on the laces to tighten them up in the middle of a run.

I feel they soak up a lot of water compared to most uppers. They are working on the upper. So the next versions will be better.

They are fairly wide over all, but they do pinch a bit at the toes. I had to go up a half size to counter that.

With that being said, I still had to make some alterations to my shoes to combat some fit issues. The soles of the shoes are amazing and really are fun to run in, even on the roads. I can't go back to any other trail shoe, they all feel like bricks compared to these.

If you are concerned about the uppers, wait a bit longer. They will be coming out with a road version of the shoe and the upper on that one is awesome, even on the trails.

If you are like me and don't like to wait, cut off the uppers and glue your favorite ones on.

Scott D said...

Image link

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs070.snc4
/34879_1505417246
511_1566679064_31217778_90929_n.jpg

MOCKBA said...

OK, got my first long trial run, Mid Mtn Marathon. Really happy with soles and yes the uppers aren't as good but passable. The most interesting part I noticed that it changes the rules for planting the feet. Rocks up to a walnut size and other poky stuff may be ignored, but it pays not to step on the side slopes, or at least position the ankle more thoroughly before the foot strikes. 'Cuz the first mental impression you get is, oh, "I'm invincible, I can fly"! But in reality the Hokas protect mostly the soles and the knees, but the ankles are vulnerable.
The weather was dry with frost on the ground, so I don't know how the Hokas will play when hot and/or wet.
Oh and BTW how are we supposed to pronounce it? "Aw-neh Aw-neh" or "Wun wun"?

The Goodman Fam said...

I bought the Hoka OneOne running shoe in July for my triathlon in August, but mainly because I want my knees to last a really long time, and I thought these shoes would help with that. I have NEVER had problems with my body and I have ran all my life. Since I bought these shoes, I have developed this weird Periformis muscle problem/lower back problem. I went to my first EVER physical therapy session this morning and the Doctor, 2 PT's, and the gate analysis people believe its my shoes.

I should have known another fad but I missed it. I am trying to get ahold of the company and get my money back so I can buy my regular pair of shoes. Sorry Hoka! I really believe knee problems are genetic for the most part, unless you absolutely hurt yourself. If you have ran all of your life and all of a sudden you change shoes into something different and you start having problems, that is a sign to get different shoes or go back to the shoes you used to use!

The Goodman Fam said...

I bought the Hoka OneOne running shoe in July for my triathlon in August, but mainly because I want my knees to last a really long time, and I thought these shoes would help with that. I have NEVER had problems with my body and I have ran all my life. Since I bought these shoes, I have developed this weird Periformis muscle problem/lower back problem. I went to my first EVER physical therapy session this morning and the Doctor, 2 PT's, and the gate analysis people believe its my shoes.

I should have known another fad but I missed it. I am trying to get ahold of the company and get my money back so I can buy my regular pair of shoes. Sorry Hoka! I really believe knee problems are genetic for the most part, unless you absolutely hurt yourself. If you have ran all of your life and all of a sudden you change shoes into something different and you start having problems, that is a sign to get different shoes or go back to the shoes you used to use!

AdamsLM said...

So I agree with Karl's comment. I run Minimalist to the tune pf 50-75 miles per week.. quite honestly I love it.. but when the terrain and circumstances call for it I lace on my Hoka's and go.. I find that means Trail runs especially long ones - think Ultra's. Yes there is a weight difference, and yes there is a "speed difference", but having run Ultra's minimalist there is pain difference as well.

My motto... do what works for you.

Luke said...

Any follow-ups on these? How are people feeling in terms of knee, back, or other problems. I understand that minimalist and these are fads, but I would tend to think that minimalist designs at least have billions of years of evolution to back them up.

ursus said...

I believe the shoes would perform even better with a firmer insole, at least the front-half of the sole. Now they tend to be a little bit on the soft side, letting the metatarsal heads sink into the midsole. In my case, this has triggered Mortons neuroma-symptoms, a problem I haven't had since switching to natural running and Newton-shoes two years ago. This said, on shorter runs they are great. They climb and descend great, saving you lots of energy and your knees and your back from unnecessary abuse.