I like cushioned sneakers but the Hoka One One takes cushioning to a whole new level. The Hoka One Ones are fairly new to the market (2010) and were recently bought by Decker Outdoor Corp (behind Ugg and Teva) so are being marketed more and are more widely available. Hoka One Ones look a little bit like moon shoes or Skechers Shape-Ups (speaking of Skechers, Meb just won the Boston Marathon wearing Skechers sneakers so perhaps the brand is going to make a big push into the running world).
According to their website, Hoka One One’s offer 3 unique features:
– Midsole Volume – the sole is gigantic with about 2.5X the volume of normal running sneakers. But despite the larger size, they feel super lightweight! The increased volume is meant to help absorb shock and offer a stable run that should decrease leg fatigue.
– Meta-rocker – the sole is curved like those Skechers Shape-Up sneakers that claimed to help with weightloss. The shape of the sole makes these look kind of goofy. But apparently this curve helps to encourage proper and natural running gait.
– Active Foot Frame – The frame allows the foot to sink into the midsole, offering comfort for every runner’s foot time and stride.
I learned of these sneakers just yesterday when Mike and I went to City Sports Georgetown with our friend Brian who told us about the Hoka One Ones. They were displayed front and center in the shoe section. He tried a pair on and raved about how comfortable they felt. But they do look pretty goofy.
Out of curiosity, I decided to try on a pair of the women’s Conquest ($170), which were a little more attractive than the men’s Hoka One Ones. I actually felt kind of unstable because I was raised off the ground quite a bit due to the thick sole. They add a few inches to your height. I did love how cushiony they felt though! It was like walking on a cloud of memory foam. These are like no sneakers I have ever worn.
CitySports is pretty small so I couldn’t really run around the store although I tried doing a few laps around the shoe section. These are really bouncy! I felt like I was skipping rather than jogging. However, my current Saucony Omnis have a lot stabilization. With these, I felt like my foot could easily roll to the side and I’d fall or twist my ankle. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to them but I don’t think they provide enough stabilization for me. In addition, I am a midfoot striker so I’m not sure I’d benefit as much from the curved sole as heel-strikers would.
I did continue to browse and came across these cool looking Brooks Transcend sneakers (the color drew me in right away) that offer stability as well as extra cushioning. Hungry Runner Girl is a fan, as well, mentioning them often on her blog. Plus, they come in a pretty awesome shoe box. Brooks promises a “float experience” with the added benefit of “Guide Rails” for stability. Although I didn’t try these on, they appeared much more stable with not quite as large as a sole as the One Ones. The price is slightly higher than normal running sneakers but about the same as the Hoka One Ones at $160. I might try running in the Transcends at a running store with a treadmill in the future. They may replace my Saucony Omni sneakers! I’m nervous to invest in and try out a new style of sneaker when my current ones work fine. But I am missing out on extra comfy cushioning…may be worth trying them out!