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We break down the top Hoka running shoes right now
From racing to tempo to slow days to trails, we got you covered
Any questions? Drop it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s get you educated.
When we talk about max-cushioned running shoes, there’s only one brand that comes to mind. Well, I guess everyone has their own take on max-cushion, but there’s definitely one that stands just a bit higher than the rest. That’s right; we’re talking about Hoka. The One One is a thing of the past; it’s just Hoka now — kinda like Beyonce or Confucius.
Our history with the brand goes back almost to the time of Confucius, or at least to the beginnings of the max-cushion era. Early models of the Clifton became our marathon and long run go-to’s, especially after we realized you really could have more stack than a Saucony Kinvara had to offer. Hoka’s prowess is just as legendary on the trails, with the Speedgoat standing as one of our favorite shoes of all time, even without a carbon plate or super foam. The only thing you won’t find on this list is a minimalist shoe — we’re talkin’ all stack, all the time. These are the best Hoka running shoes you can buy right now.
As always, our picks come from our own experiences. We get tons of shoes through the door here at Believe in the Run, and our road and trail teams put them all through their paces. If we don’t love a shoe, we’ll tell you about it, but you might also find that what doesn’t work for us works perfectly for you. We try to take thoughts from our running friends and the community into account, but our own miles carry the most weight. Don’t worry; we only recommend shoes that you can currently buy in order to keep you from heading out on a wild goose chase for a shoe from five years ago.
Hoka’s midsole geometry, which combines a low heel-toe drop and rounded shape
Hoka’s dual-layer midsole structure for carbon-plated shoes like the Rocket X 2
Hoka’s high-performance upper, found on trail shoes like the Tecton X 2
Hoka’s non-plated, stacked midsole, found on shoes like the Mach
Hoka’s classic midsole foam, found on shoes like the Clifton, Bondi, and Arahi
Best Hoka Running Shoes Right Now
Rockin’ on race day
8.3 oz. (236 g) for a US M10,
6.7 oz. (190 g) for a US W8
36 mm in heel, 31 in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Here it is, the Hoka racing shoe we’ve been waiting for. It’s been a few years since Hoka dropped the original Rocket X, a carbon-plated running shoe that didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. The OG was closer to a racing flat, pairing a low (for Hoka) stack with a relatively firm foam that didn’t feel great across a marathon distance. Then, Hoka followed it up with some underwhelming not-quite-race-ready options that couldn’t keep up with the Alphaflys and Metaspeeds of the world.
Now, the Rocket X 2 has arrived. It takes everything that fell flat on the first Rocket X and throws it out the window. There’s more stack (36 mm in the heel, 31 mm in the forefoot), a brand-new Peba midsole, and an aggressive meta-rocker that rolls straight through your stride. We all had great runs in the shoe, with Robbe and Thomas rocking it through some 800m repeats and smiling all the way to the bank. Even Meg had some smiles for the Rocket X 2, though some of that might have been from testing out the shoe in sunny San Luis Obispo while it was still rainy and cold here in Baltimore.
No matter the scenery you’re working with, Robbe probably had the highest praise of all. He’s been a Metaspeed Edge+ believer for over a year, and he proudly proclaimed that the Rocket X 2 takes everything good about that shoe and turns it up a notch. Not half bad, if you ask us. Honestly, our only nit to pick with the shoe is that we could use a little more heel structure. Yes, it’s a race day pick, so weight is of prime importance, but we like a bit of support in the back.
9.1 oz. (258 g) for a US M9,
7.3 oz. (205 g) for a US W8
Men: 32 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Women: 29 mm in heel, 24 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
From the new hotness to the old reliable, our next pick is the Hoka Clifton 9. It’s simply impossible to leave the Clifton off our list of the best Hoka running shoes because this is where it all began. Meg’s run in every version since the original, and she’s confidently declared that this is the best of them all — even if it doesn’t reinvent the max-cushion wheel.
In many ways, the Clifton 9 is just a refined version of the Clifton 8, which was a polished Clifton 7. It’s riding on a familiar EVA formula that’s just a little softer than before, and the meta-rocker keeps things simple and smooth. There’s nothing particularly fancy with the Hoka Clifton 9, but sometimes you just need a well-padded shoe with a modest weight and subtle design to carry you through the day. Thomas also had some praise for the new outsole rubber, which gripped nicely on Baltimore’s slick streets and sidewalks.
Even Jarrett got in on the Clifton 9 party — wide-footed runners, rejoice. You might not even need the 2E version if you only have a slightly wide foot, as our team felt like there was just a little extra room in the upper across the board. A few lacing tricks should right the ship, which will get you back to cruising. Oh, and Hoka has never had a shortage of colorways for the Clifton, so you can bet on some bright new shades as the months go on.
Recovery runs with extra cush
10.8 oz. (307 g.) for a US M9,
8.9 oz. (252 g.) for a US W7.5
39 mm in heel, 35 in forefoot (4 mm drop)
There’s thick, and then there’s thicc. Then, there’s the Hoka Bondi 8 — the thiccest of them all. It’s always had an absolute mountain of foam underfoot, which is what kept us coming back for recovery run after recovery run. The mountain is still there, and, if anything, it’s gotten bigger. The Bondi 8 rides on one big ol’ platform of EVA foam, but it’s not actually as soft as the ghosts of Bondi’s past — much to Thomas’s excitement.
Fear not, as the slightly firmer foam isn’t anywhere near the feeling of running on a brick. You’re still on a nicely cushioned midsole, and Hoka’s meta-rocker (take a shot every time we mention it, we dare you) is as smooth as ever. It would be fair to expect a shoe of this luxury to tip the scales beyond 10 oz, but the Bondi doesn’t. In fact, it lost a few fractions of an ounce, with Meg’s pair squeaking in at just under the 9 oz. mark, not too shabby.
As always, there are tons of colorways to choose from, and Hoka seems to bring out a new one every time the seasons change even a little bit. While we’re in love with the underfoot feel, you might want to try the Bondi 8 before you buy — the upper seems to have lost a bit of volume, so it might not be a perfect fit if you’re teetering on the brink of a wide size.
Oh, and there’s a little more Bondi love coming at the end of the list.
8.8 oz. (252 g.) for a US M9,
7.4 oz. (211 g.) for a US W8
Men: 32 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Women: 30 mm in heel, 25 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Alright, alright, so we don’t have the finishing touches on our Hoka Tecton X 2 review quite yet, but we promise it’ll be worth the wait. The trail crew has been pretty much raving behind the scenes, cramming enough miles into Hoka’s new trail racing shoes that we can’t tie them down behind a keyboard. We’ll let you know once we finally wrangle them in to write, but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what makes the Tecton tick.
First and foremost, the Tecton X 2 isn’t a full-blown reboot of what made the original Tecton X so great. Instead, it’s all about maximizing weight savings, swapping the previous upper for a new Matryx material, which is super breathable and inherently hydrophobic. After all, water is for drinking, not for carrying in your shoes. Hoka’s Tecton X 2 also comes with a revamped lacing structure, which doesn’t start quite as close to your toes. So far, we’ve found that the change makes the shoe much more comfortable through the toe while holding onto excellent lockdown in the midfoot.
Now that we’ve hit on the main changes, it’s high time to remind you what makes the Tecton X 2 so cool. This Hoka running shoe doesn’t have one carbon fiber plate in its ProFly-X platform… it has two. The two long, thin plates run in parallel, which means you can still get that sweet, sweet pop if you land on one side of your foot or the other. Just be careful when running on slopes — you don’t want to get launched off to the side.
8.5 oz. (242 g) for a US M10.5,
6.8 oz. (192 g) for a US W7.5
29 mm in heel, 24 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
As mentioned up top, Hoka doesn’t really do low-stack running shoes. The Mach 5 is about as close as you’ll get, and it still has right around 29 mm of foam in the heel. We’ve had a rocky ride with the Mach over its lifespan, but we’d dare to say that Hoka is finally figuring it out. Thomas remarked that there’s almost nothing to mention about the Mach 1 through the Mach 3, but the Mach 4, which launched back in late 2021, was a breakthrough.
We’ll choose to skip over the Mach Supersonic, since it didn’t quite click for us, but the Mach 5 is back on top. Sure, insert all of your Speed Racer jokes here; we loaded the review with them. We’re not just fans of Hoka’s Mach 5 because it lets us make tons of cartoon references, either — Lindsay was so comfortable in her pair during the review period that she took a freakin’ nap in them. That doesn’t paint a picture of usability, but props for comfort, at least.
Part of the Mach 5’s secret is that it uses Hoka’s ProFly+ structure. That means it has a rubberized EVA layer on the bottom, which lends stability, and a lighter EVA layer on the top for a little more bounce and comfort. There’s no plate in the Mach 5, but honestly, it doesn’t need one. It’s a solid pick for everything from daily miles to tempo workouts, even if it might not be a perfect long-distance running shoe.
Tempo runs and some racing
8.3 oz. (235 g.) for a US M9,
7.6 oz. (215 g.) for a US W8
37 mm in heel, 32 in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Throughout Hoka’s racing dark ages (the years between the Rocket X and the Rocket X 2), the Carbon X series was about as close as you could get to a high-end performer. It pairs Hoka’s famed meta-rocker with a carbon fiber plate and a lightweight, breathable upper. Honestly, it sounds quite a lot like the winning formula that would later become the Rocket X 2. However, the Hoka Carbon X 3, which is the model we’re focused on, skips a few of the finishing touches that make the new Rocket so great.
That’s not to say that the Carbon X 3 isn’t a good shoe — it is — but it’s one that we’d probably bust out for long runs and interval work rather than on race day. As always, it has the shaping to roll you through the miles in comfort, and the color options are second to none. As our reviewers readily admitted, however, Hoka might have made a misstep with its new knit upper. The Carbon X 3 takes accommodation to its limits, resulting in a fit that’s a little too relaxed when it comes to out and out speed.
Quirky upper aside, the Carbon X 3 is all about the ride, and a good ride it is. It uses a similar layered approach to the Mach 5 and the Rocket X 2, pairing a softer top layer for comfort with a firmer bottom layer for stability. Thomas ran more than 50 miles for his review, and there was no sign of the foam even starting to break down.
All of the trail miles you can imagine
10.3 oz. (291 g.) for a US M9,
8.5 oz. (242 g.) for a US W7.5
36.5 mm in heel, 32.5 in forefoot (4 mm drop)
There’s only one way to describe Hoka’s signature trail running shoe. It’s the GOAT. Literally, it has goat in the name. We’re obviously talking about the Speedgoat 5, which is about as good of a gateway into life on the trails as you could ask for. The Speedgoat 5 combines both the comfort to go long with the teeth to tackle technical terrain, and it shines across the board. Our trail reviewers have run in every version, including multiple pairs of the Speedgoat 4 and Speedgoat Evo, and they’ve agreed that the fifth one rules them all.
Hoka kept the midsole largely the same for its latest Speedgoat, which is what helps to keep it in our good graces. The slightly softer EVA formula makes a comfortable ride even more comfortable, and the meta-rocker is perfect for double-digit days — be they hours or miles. What really sold us on the update, however, is the reworked jacquard upper, which is far more accommodating and breathable than before. It’s stretchy enough to adapt to your foot, and we had no problems with the material expanding as our feet swelled on long adventures.
Maybe the best part of the Speedgoat 5 is that there’s a version for everyone. Hoka has the Speedgoat 5 GTX for wet days, the Speedgoat 5 GTX Ice for, you guessed it, icy days, and the Speedgoat 5 Mid GTX for wet days when you want extra ankle support. Live by the goat, die by the goat.
Wearing to work, to the gym, or anywhere else, really
11.2 oz. (317 g) for a US M9,
9.1 oz. (257 g) for a US W7
Stack height unavailable (5 mm drop)
Our next pick is a pretty unique one as far as the best Hoka running shoes go — it’s not really for running. Instead, the Transport is positioned as a commuter shoe, one that you could wear literally anywhere and not feel out of place. The Vibram outsole means that it can handle some hiking, the toggle laces mean you can tighten and go in seconds, and the Cordura upper can take a beating with a smile on its face.
You don’t really need me to tell you all of this, though, as our dog mom reviewers came to exactly the same conclusion. Both Lindsay and Caryn quickly jumped on board with Hoka’s comfortable, flexible game plan, and both realized that the Transport is a perfect shoe for those early morning and late-night trips with their pups. After all, a toggle lace never comes untied. Caryn also tabbed the comfort level as somewhere between the Arahi and the Clifton, which is good company for a brand-new silhouette to keep.
The Transport even has something of a green thumb, rocking EVA foam made of 30% sugarcane. Vibram’s EcoStep Natural rubber uses 90% oil-free ingredients and 100% natural pigments, too. We just have a bone to pick with whoever decided that the Eggnog colorway with the natural gum sole would only come in women’s sizes. Come on, Hoka.
8.9 oz. (252 g) for a US M9,
7.7 oz. (218 g.) for a US W7
31 mm in heel, 36 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
One of the biggest trends in running right now is the explosion of road-to-trail shoes. These semi-rugged, semi-refined shoes offer a perfect way to get from your front door to the local rail trail or try your hand at some lightly technical terrain. The Challenger is Hoka’s entry to the scene, and it’s been around a bit longer than most of the competition. We’re now on the Hoka Challenger ATR 7, and there are plenty of reasons to think that it’s a lucky number.
In our review, Taylor tabbed the Challenger as the Clifton of the trails, and he’s pretty much spot-on. The two shoes share similar stack heights and drops, but the Challenger adds a little more grip to the equation. It’s a shoe that both Alex and Taylor find themselves keeping in their cars, just in case a chance for a few miles pops up. After all, the meta-rocker shape and medium-density EVA foam are perfectly comfortable on most terrain, as long as you’re not hunting for a mountain to climb.
While the underfoot feel is pretty great all around, the Challenger ATR 7’s heel is its money-maker. The counter is well-cushioned and plenty stable, and Hoka’s elf ear shape keeps the pressure off of the Achilles. No, it won’t keep all of the debris out, but you’re probably not meant to be that aggressive with the Challenger anyway. Oh, and do you want us to praise the colorways again? Cause we’ll do it. They’re great.
Plated recovery miles
10.6 oz (300 g) for a US M9,
9.2 oz. (261 g) for a US W7.5
40 mm in heel, 35 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)
Last but certainly not least on our list of the best Hoka running shoes is the Bondi X. We almost left it off since the shoe is a few years old at this point, but Meg informed us that we would all lose our desk chairs and have to stand every day if we did so. So, here it is. Have you ever wanted a plated recovery shoe? Have you ever considered that could even be a thing? Well, it is, and it’s part of the bid, old Bondi family.
The Hoka Bondi X takes max-cushion to another level, and it really started the trend of Hoka putting plates into unique places. After all, you don’t usually look for pop and response when it comes to a recovery shoe. That said, it really just works on the biggest of the Bondi bunch. Like most Hoka running shoes, the Bondi X uses classic meta-rocker geometry to keep you going, and you’ll need it with the amount of foam you’re moving through each step.
If you’re one for sleek, smooth striders, however, this ain’t gonna be for you. The Bondi X is a lot of shoe to handle, just by the very nature of its overbuilt midsole. You have to be careful not to accidentally clip a heel if your form breaks down, and both Thomas and Meg noticed a bit of heel slippage.
All of our recommendations come directly from our feet to your screen. We test countless running shoes here at Believe in the Run, and we let our reviews guide our decisions. However, we also consider other reviews and our BITR community, as not every runner has the same experiences. We also aim to stick with shoes that are currently available so you can give our recommendations a try.
Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.