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Road Running Shoes • October 16, 2023

Hoka Gaviota 5 Review: H is for Happy Place

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What You Need To Know


10.9 oz. (309 g) for a US M10

9.1 oz. (257 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 36 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Women: 34 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Best For

Stable runs with plenty of cush

Key Features

H-Frame supports, CMEVA midsole, Durabrasion rubber outsole, Creel Jacquard upper

On The Run
H-Frame > J-Frame So. Much. Cushion. The collar is, well, crap


Introduction to the Hoka Gaviota 5

SAM: “Hi! Hello! How do you like my hat? Huge! How about now? Heroic! Heroic? Here, how is that? Help!” Those are the lines to a Sesame Street skit on the Letter H. The letter H makes words like Hat, Hair, Head, and H-Frame. You maybe weren’t expecting that last one, but on this episode of the Hoka Gaviota, the main event is its upgrade in the alphabet order from J to H. We won’t be Jumping for Joy with this one, but are we Hopping Happily? Let’s find out.

ALDREN: If I try hard in anything, it’s trying to be comfortable. I’m just saying that you can find me in oversized sweaters and Thorlo socks all seven days of the week. And in all honesty, if you’re getting as much mileage as I’ve been these days, comfort on those recovery days and off-days is super important.

This is where the HOKA Gaviota 5 comes in. The Gaviota in the past has been something I steered away from. The J-Frame was a lot more pronounced, so instead of landing on the typical CMEVA found in the Clifton and Bondi, you’re landing on a much denser, more compact version of a rubberized EVA to stop your feet from overpronation. Introduced in its fifth iteration, Hoka molded an H-Frame into its max support trainer. Similar to how the J-Frame was a “J” shaped support in the midsole, so is the H-Frame. I can best compare it to support like the Saucony Tempus —  there’s firm support along the outside of the midsole and a softer foam underneath the heel and forefoot.

The Gaviota 5 still retains a lot of what you would find in your typical glide model from Hoka: a MetaRocker System, a large landing zone, and a plush mesh upper. Even though this shoe is typically seen on grandpas walking the neighborhood, you might want to think twice about why those geezers are still able to throw down in something like this.

MERCER: The Hoka Gaviota has been the Bondi’s stability partner for many years now. And when the Bondi left the granola lifestyle for a cushy corporate job, the Gaviota hesitated and we didn’t get an update for a number of years. But here we are, going from the Swiss mountains to Wall Street doing coke with Matthew McConaughey.

What we like about the Hoka Gaviota 5

SAM: Let’s get right to business here. In general, I’m a big fan of the H-Frame. Hoka’s J-Frame was a firmer medial post that would nudge your foot away from pronating, but as we have seen in more recent technologies like Asics’s 4D Geometry and Brooks’s Guiderails, simple stability like this does not cut it anymore. Enter the H-Frame. Not only is H a more important letter, some might say J is a Joke, but it allows for a more active stability experience.

If you can imagine the layers of a shoe, the H frame sits above the bottom layer of Compression Molded EVA and directly underneath your sole. This creates a very specific feel as you run, where you can feel your heel land within the bottom prongs of the frame, your arch be supported by the middle of the frame, and your toe off happen right in the center of the frame. It is an interesting feel, to say the least, and one that I found very stable and very supportive. Like with the Guiderails, your foot cannot stray too far in one direction, and the middle portion of the frame is the most pronounced arch support I have ever felt in a shoe.

The H-Frame fits perfectly with the ride of the shoe. Something lost from the previous Gaviota is the weird cutouts in the side of the midsole, along with the outsole rubber being lighter than the previous model. With these losses, Hoka was able to add 5mm of midsole and cut around a half ounce of weight. There is a lot of surfing imagery and nomenclature involved with Hoka shoes.

The name Gaviota is Spanish for seagull, and this shoe reminds me of the beach during a sunset, where the waves are rolling in smoothly but not crashing. You can still surf on them, and it will be a nice and easy ride that will not throw you off. This shoe is light, comfortable, easygoing, and extremely stable. The stack is high, the drop and the metarocker are just enough to keep you rolling, and the H-Frame and the wide base keep your foot moving in the right direction. You won’t go too fast, but you’ll enjoy the ride.

ALDREN: As mentioned in the beginning, I’m focusing heavily on comfort for the time being. It’s as if a lot of the company’s premium stability model is falling into the same mold of having a wide base, soft-ish foam, and heavily structured upper. The Gaviota 5 follows this trend because it’s a formula that works for plenty of runners.

The midsole is much softer than what has been found in the Gaviota line in the past. I can actually feel my foot sink into the shoe while still being able to roll through my gait due to the MetaRocker geometry. It’s not like I’m taking this shoe out for tempo miles or anything faster than recovery pace, to be honest, but the miles I’ve been running in the Gaviota 5 have my feet feeling ready to rip a workout the next day.

The H-Frame support still feels just as supportive, but I never had an issue with the J-Frame in the past. I love the feeling of the J-Frame and how it guides my foot on runs, and you can expect the H-Frame in the Gaviota 5 to do the same. If this allows for the foam to be softer all around, then I’m all for it, and hopefully Hoka will implement this in more of its stability models.

Typically, I and all the other reviewers will make note of what our experiences in the shoe we’re reviewing are while on the run, but after getting my required mileage, I started just walking in the Gaviota 5. I’m only mentioning this because I know many of the Hoka consumers are calling themselves walkers and scoff at the idea of running. A large consumer base for Hoka is also nurses and healthcare workers, so this section is for you.

Just like on the run, the midsole compresses nicely underfoot. I don’t have the biggest frame, so I feel like I don’t get the same experience in some high-cushion models as other people. However, in the Gaviota 5, the cushioning system was never in question. I spent 8-9 hour shifts in this shoe post-run, and at the end of my day, my feet felt great. Sometimes I’ll start feeling some pressure on the lateral side of my feet, tired metatarsals, or my plantar will start acting up. I’m not saying this shoe will guarantee none of this happening to you, but if you are dealing with any of the issues above, I’d take a look at the Gaviota 5.

MERCER: Working at a run specialty store means you take each customer, thoroughly walk them through a gate analysis process, and analyze their feet for their needs and wants. Aka, how fast can you sling a Bondi or Brooks Ghost? My store hasn’t carried the Gaviota for some years now, and it was always one that I wanted because some people out there just need that much more stability than what the Bondi dishes out.

I was pretty skeptical about running in this beast, not gonna lie. Holding the shoes in your hand it feels like a light brick but a brick nonetheless. But throw this shoe on your foot, and you can “move.” I’m not saying that I am flying in a Gaviota, but a nice relaxed easy run pace makes the shoe disappear on foot. And that is definitely aided by the aggressive metarocker in this shoe, when it did start to feel heavy, it wasn’t the shoe’s fault but my own as I started to sink into that heel just a bit more than I should. Once I realized that, I started leaning a bit more into a midfoot strike, and boom, that rocker was there to pick me up and get me to my next step.

I used to love the J-Frame. Back in the days of the Arahi 2 and the Gaviota 3, that was the shit. Recently it’s started to get a little stale as brands have been able to do stability better, like the Saucony Tempus or the Kayano-Lite. So, in order to increase their fame from the J-Frame, Hoka went to HQ to make the H-Frame (buzz my head, and suddenly I’m Eminem). Aldren has already gone over what the H-Frame is, but it’s nothing too complicated, and I really like that. Asics hits you with a gazillion forms of stability in the Kayano 30, and it sure keeps you stable, but sometimes you just gotta K.I.S.S. just slap some hard foam on the inside and out, and boom, stability.

The simplicity of the H-Frame combined with the classic Hoka CMEVA foam is gonna give you a nice plush ride with a good chunk of stability.

Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 - Men Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 - Women

What we don’t like about the Hoka Gaviota 5

SAM: I really can’t find many cons with this shoe. Hoka shoes often don’t work with my running form, and I did find during longer runs, this shoe became uncomfortable for my right leg. I think this is mostly a personal issue, though, and should not be a detractor from the general experience. The only other con I can think of is price. This shoe is a cool $175. I have a hard time spending that cash for a daily trainer that isn’t a super trainer like the Mach X (sorry, Hoka, I ended up loving that shoe over time). But if stability is what you need and max cushion is your game, this should be calling your name. That is for you to decide.

ALDREN: I can get nit-picky here and complain about the weight, but I won’t. Sure, it’s heavy, but most recovery day shoes are. The only real issue I had was that I felt that the heel and collar area were a bit shallow. It took some playing with the laces to get the lockdown I like in a shoe, but that’s the only thing that bothered me.

MERCER: I rock with the jacquard upper, but this collar is what the French would call Merde. It’s simultaneously too tight and too loose. I have to do the runner’s loop with very little lace and crank it down so my heel doesn’t slip, but then my ankles would get scrapped alive by the collar. Maybe this is my bad; who knows?

Like Aldren said about the weight, I could complain about it, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into if you buy the shoe.

Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 - Men Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 - Women

Hoka Gaviota 5 Conclusion

SAM: How much did I like this shoe? A Humungous amount. You might say it was a Hit. In the Hierarchy of stability shoes, it is in the top Half. Truly one of the Higher-ups. If you are Hunting for a max cushion stability shoe, Heeding the call of Hoka Here might Help. For my money, I would rather Have the Asics Gel-Kayano for its Higher drop. But the lightweight, smooth ride, and stable H-Frame mean that the Gaviota 5 is Here to stay. It won’t get the Hook. I Hope you get the Hint.

ALDREN: The Gaviota 5 reinvented itself this year with a much less boxy shoe. It’s still clunky and boat-like, but it’s heading in the right direction. The Gaviotas in the past were truly shoes I could never even imagine myself running in, but I’ve become a fan with this newest update.

MERCER: This shoe isn’t what I was expecting, and I hope to add this to the “easiest shoes to sell” chart with the Bondi and every Brooks on the planet. If you’re a healthcare worker, a walker, or anything in between, take a look at this shoe. If you don’t wanna be like everyone else, try out the Saucony Echelon or the Mizuno Wave Horizon.

You can pick up the Hoka Gaviota 5 for $175 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 Men
Shop Hoka Gaviota 5 Women

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sam sheldon3
Sam Sheldon
Baltimore Road Reviewer
  • Strava

Sam tried every other sport before settling on running as a senior in high school. He’s never looked back. He can be found doing workouts in Patterson Park, talking shop with the Faster Bastards, or hitting long runs on the NCR trail. When not running, Sam is a teacher in the Baltimore City Public School District. His other loves are cooking, coffee, breweries, books, basketball, and alliteration. 

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, Nike Vaporfly Next%, Asics Novablast 3

More from Sam
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 2:54

  • 1:10

    Half Marathon
  • 14:58

  • 4:21

Mercer Alden
College XC/Track Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Mercer is a collegiate athlete at the University Of Lynchburg, majoring in being awesome. He’s also extremely talented at folding shirts during GRIT packing at the Believe in the Run HQ.

All-time favorite shoes: Asics Gel-Kayano Lite, Hoka Clifton 6, On Cloudmonster

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Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 57:50

    10 Mile
  • 15:55

  • 9:01

  • 4:35

Aldren Biala
Stability Lead Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Aldren is a tree loving, uncompetitive running, post-workout burrito-munching stability shoe reviewer native to the Sunshine State. He can be found skipping through the streets of Orlando or lost in a trail that he studied two hours prior to the run. If he ever sees you on a run and waves “Hi!”, make sure you say “Hi!” back or he’ll diss you in his Strava caption.

All-time favorite shoes: Nike React Infinity FK 1, Adidas Energy Boost 2, ASICS Metaspeed Edge+.

More from Aldren
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 3:57

  • 1:14

    Half Marathon
  • 34:03

  • 15:50

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