Hoka One One was the brainchild of Jean Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. Both very experienced adventure racers and runners. Nicolas Mermoud has placed very highly at UTMB.
They set themselves an objective. To create a shoe that reduced fatigue, impact and muscle strain. Hoka One One was born.
Sponsored Athletes include: Dave Mackey (ultra runner of the year), Christophe Le Saux, Ludovic Pommeret, Maud Combarieu and Karl Meltzer (31 100 mile wins)
The Technology behind the shoe:
- The sole is oversized up to 2.5x a conventional run shoe and therefore offers outstanding impact resistance. It ensures a natural stride and IMPORTANTLY they only have 4mm drop from heel to toe. They are therefore very much inline with the barefoot philosophies of natural foot strike and mid to forefoot running. In addition, the shoe eradicates any harshness from the terrain, allowing you to ‘run over’ obstacles. A good analogy would be the difference between a no suspension mountain bike and one with full suspension.
- Within the shoe, your foot sits within a ‘bucket’ that is recessed into the sole. Not only does this offer a precision foot strike but it also offers great stability.
- Despite looks, the shoes are incredibly light. They defy gravity. The combination of lightweight and great cushioning reduce stress and fatigue. The shoe adapts and moulds to the terrain allowing you to ‘run through’ the most difficult terrain.
- A unique addition to the shoe is a ‘rolling’ sole. This helps deliver superior underfoot performance allowing your foot to ‘rock’ forward. Try them downhill…. You will fly! The rocker sole propels you forward.
- The increased footprint of some 35% bigger than a conventional road shoe offers increased stability. The wider base compensates for the height of the sole making every foot strike a confident one.
- Throughout the range of Hoka One One shoes, grip changes with each model. The Bondi B road shoe has less grip and traction to allow for speed, the Stinson B (was Combo XT) mixes between the Mafate trail shoe and Bondi B and provides a shoe that works well on either road or trail. The Mafate is designed for severe off road running and the newly modified Mafate 2 has a new upper and increased grip. The new shoe in the Hoka range is the Stinson Evo. This shoe has all the benefits of increased foot platform and cushioning but has been re-worked into a shoe that offers a race fit. It has a breathable upper, speed lacing, increased grip and reduced weight; it is an out and out race shoe!
- Less Impact – Increase contact with the ground by some 45% and less impact by 20-33%
- On the flat a reduction of energy consumption by -3 to 5% (oxygen+lactate blood measurement+running mechanical properties)
- Uphill -8 to 18% decreased energy consumption
- Downhill -15 to 20% reduced shock impact
- Conclusion – Better performance for less effort and increased protection
Bondi B – Road shoe
Bondi B is a high performance road shoe suited to marathon runners, triathletes and ultra runners. Bondi B absorbs impact, shocks and reduces fatigue. It has 2x EVA volume and a 50% rocker profile. It has a 20mm recessed bucket situated within the midsole and provides support and control as and when required.
Stinson Evo – trail
Stinson Evo is designed for absolute racing performance. It is the flagship of the Hoka One One 2012 range. It has a new outsole with EVA lugs to improve on weight. The surface profile has been altered to provide enhanced grip on mud and wet rocks. In addition, this grip provides superior uphill traction. The upper has been optimized to provide a precise racing fit with improved forefoot hold that balances weight and support. It has a quick lace system for rapid adjustment and the new upper has improved breathability. Revisions to the mid sole include a contoured sidewall which help reduce weight and it has a 25mm recessed midsole. The shoe has a 50% rocker profile, 2x2x EVA and recessed foot bucket.
Mafate 2 – Trail
Mafate 2 is designed for tough terrain. It is designed around grip and support. The outsole has been overhauled over previous Mafate models and has a 4.5mm lug profile to offer superior grip. The upper has also been reworked to offer a precision fit and with a 30mm bucket within the midsole this provides a level of hold second to none. Lacing over previous models has also been adapted by adding an additional lacing loop allowing the runner to obtain a tighter fit if required. The shoe has 2.5xEVA and a 50% rocker profile. In addition, the Mafate 2 has a 35% wider foot platform over conventional trail shoes allowing you to ‘run through’ tough terrain.
New shoe for SS 2012 – The Stinson Evo TARMAC road racing shoe.
New Shoes for 2013 ! – you can see a preview HERE
Stock & Ordering:
Analysis and Use:
First time impressions of the Hoka One One sometimes mean that potential users can’t get beyond the look of the shoe! Yes they are different and Hoka One One does not try to hide the fact. In fact, the contrary, they use strong bold colours that attract your eyes and your initial reaction on seeing them for the first time is ‘what the hell are they?’
I had the same reaction. I saw them in a French Trail Race in 2010. A real tough mountainous event and in first place came through this lightweight athlete bouncing along and a pair of brightly cloured shoes. I took a second look…. and then a third and then a fourth look. I laughed to myself. But then I thought about it… hold on, this guy is in first place!
I stored the memory and then I saw them at another race, then I saw four or five pairs. I decided it was time to investigate and purchased a pair! Within 1 week I was sold… I was never going back!
I started with the Bondi B. I purchased them on a Friday. Walked in them all day Saturday and then ran a road marathon on the Sunday. It was liberating! I bounced along with an effortless glide and energy return from a shoe that I hadn’t felt before. As the miles ticked by I noticed considerably less fatigue, a notable reduction in impact and the key factor was that I found that they made me want to mid/ forefoot strike. I would say the only noticeable change I made to my gait and stride was that I took shorter steps and increased my cadence.
Not long after I purchased the Mafate for trail running. Believe me, if you are running on rutted, hard and rocky terrain the Hoka One One are the full suspension mountain bike of the run world. What was obstacles became just glitches that I could run through the terrain without worry… downhill the shoes excelled taking away the harshness of the terrain and allowing a comfort level never experienced when running downhill before. At the end of a race or training, fatigue and ‘doms’ were reduced significantly allowing for faster recuperation and an ability to train at a higher level on repeated days.
Observers would look at the shoes and in this barefoot/minimalist market would laugh! However, they missed the point…. Hoka One One only has a 4mm drop from heel to toe making this a real mid to forefoot shoe. A low differential is key for enabling runners to land in a ‘natural’ way. The difference with Hoka One One is the cushioning. All other manufacturers obtain a low differential by reducing cushioning; not Hoka One One. They offer all the benefits of a minimalist approach but with superior cushioning and comfort. It has now been confirmed in many aspects of the natural run movement that Hoka One One are inline with the philosophies of a more natural run style.
So, back in the UK I wanted to purchase the shoes! Mmmm stumbling block. Due to the uniqueness of the shoe, obtaining and shoes in the UK was extremely limited. So, as the saying goes of ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ I did just that and I started to sell the shoe.
In the final 6 months of 2011 and certainly in early 2012 I have noticed an increased awareness and acceptance of what Hoka One One can offer.
All I can say is, if you don’t like the looks, get over it! Once you put them on and run in them, you won’t mind. They are an experience to behold…