Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hoka One One Trail Runners - How Well Do They Wear?

I have been wearing shoes manufactured by a company named Hoka One One (pronounced "Oh-nay Oh-nay") since back when they made hiking boots and produced all their shoes in France.  Since then, the company was purchased by Deckers Outdoor, the parent company for UGG, Teva and other footwear brands, and they seem to have quit making the boots.  Those boots were exceptionally comfortable, and their thick padding was the only thing I could wear hiking without pain after I injured my feet.  On the downside, the foam base meant that the boots did not last like others I owned, but that was a worthwhile trade off.

Because I could no longer obtain the boots, I decided to do two things.  First, I switched to the Hoka One One trail runners, and have since purchased 3 pairs of them, called Stinsons.  Second, I decided to research how I could lighten my load when out backpacking, and have made several purchases designed to put less stress on my feet and ankles when out on overnights, including a Nemo Nocturne +15 sleeping bag (2 lbs. 11 oz), a Thermarest NeoAir XLite mattress (12 oz), and a Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack (1 lb. 10 oz).  I figure that this way I will not need the extra ankle support that the Hoka boots used to provide.  I will report on each of these products in separate postings, as I want to provide an update on the shoes here.

The manufacturer of Hoka Stinsons claim that more cushioning, a wide, stable platform, super-light materials and a rockered profile will help deflect stress and make you feel like flying. Indeed, flight is a constant theme in both their advertising and their logo.  The company claims that even the word Hoka is comes from the ancient Maori language in New Zealand and roughly translates to "now it is time to fly."

Everyone has an opinion about boots – when someone inquires on a Facebook hiking page about the “best” boots, there are hundreds of experts just dying to chime in.  For me, these Hokas are the best shoes.  If you are considering them, you might want to know how well they wear.

As stated above, the only downside to the boots was that they wore out pretty quickly.  I did not have any data on this, so when I bought my first pair of Stinsons, I decided to keep track of my mileage in the shoes, much like runners do.  Since I keep an Excel Spreadsheet of my miles anyway, it was an easy task.  I figured I would keep a pair for 350 miles as my primary shoes, then switch that pair to street walking while a new pair becomes my primary hikers.

I currently have just under 450 trail/road miles on my first pair (purchased almost exactly a year ago from a local running store for $145), 140 miles on my second pair (purchased in April from REI for $136), and 0 miles on my third pair (purchased in July from REI for $127).  REI does not appear to sell Stinsons anymore, and Hoka is coming out with a new version, the Stinson Evo or the Stinson ATR.  This would seem to explain the decreasing sale prices at REI.

The photos show the first pair – with 450 miles, and the unused pair.  It is clear that the original pair have seen some use, as much of the tread is worn off and the base looks ready to crack in several places.  Nonetheless, the shoes remain surprisingly comfortable.  Every time I wear another old pair of hiking boots (such as when I do trailwork or even mow the grass), my feet tell me I should have chosen the Hokas.  Even the old ones.

Wear is particularly pronounced near the small toe.
Old and new as seen from the top.  Note the wear on the front edge of the shoe.

The toe seems particularly beat up after 450 trail miles.

Each set of shoes come with an extra pair of inserts and a pair of traditional shoe laces.

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