ALDREN: Since the dawn of pronation, runners in need of stability could not find a lightweight yet cushioned trainer to save their life. It’s 2021, so things are starting to change. From the Nike React Infinity 2 to the ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite, the reinforcements are getting lighter. Not “carbon fiber”-light, but us stability runners will take what we can get.
Over the last five years, the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi has held its own as a stable, lightweight, max-cushioned daily trainer. Things stay on track with the Arahi 5; we still get the good stuff from the original concept, but a few Meta-Rocking updates get things rolling even more (though no ankles were rolled in the process of this review).
HOLLIE: There are very few HOKA ONE ONE shoes that don’t work for me. I’ve run miles in almost all of them at some point. I appreciate the meta-rocker technology that rolls lusciously through my gait.
I’ve used the Arahi mostly for recovery runs. Unlike many stability shoes, it uses a supportive “J frame” to give you stability when you need it and not when you don’t.
Last year, I found the Arahi 4 to be fine. It certainly wasn’t the best of the HOKA lineup, as it felt too bulky for me to fall in love with it. Thankfully, the Arahi 5 came back with a few ounces shed and ready to give it another go.
ROBBE: Look, I’m not a stability guy, but a lightweight shoe is a lightweight shoe. I hadn’t run in the Arahi 5, but I figured “what the hell,” let’s see what kind of juice is coming out of this squeeze (I don’t know what that means).
AUSTIN: I’m with Robbe, not typically a stability guy, but I’ve reviewed quite a bit of stability shoes in my tenure here at BITR, so what’s one more? Let’s run this one down.
ALDREN: Updates for the greater good have been made to the Arahi 5. The upper is slimmed down compared to the Arahi 4 to provide a more snug feel around the midfoot. HOKA also added a flared Achilles to reduce rubbing and give a better heel lock. The upper is still a breathable mesh to make sure no one’s feet get too hot and cramped in the middle of a long run.
The Arahi 5 maintains the Meta-Rocker to keep an easy transition through your stride with the supportive J-Frame, a firm EVA that runs down the medial side of the midsole and wraps around the heel to reduce pronation. An extended heel also helps to smooth out the ride.
Much of the joy in this lightweight stability trainer comes from that midsole. Under your heel sits 29 mm of plush EVA dropping to 24 mm in the toe (that’s a 5 mm drop because math is hard for some people). The midsole provides an easy stride-for-stride feel basically making my recovery runs effortless.
What’s also great about the Arahi 5 is that with the Meta-Rocker system, it didn’t shy from picking up the pace on longer efforts. By no means is this a speed shoe, but if you want to finish with some strides, feel free to keep your Arahi 5’s on. The Meta-Rocker adds a propelling sensation for those relying more on a forefoot strike, yet those who heel strike will be stabilized by the extended heel, similar to the HOKA Clifton Edge. I shortened up my stride to take advantage of the extended heel and it kept a smooth transition during my runs.
One more note about the midsole; HOKA widened the base, similar to the ASICS Kayano Lite but not as drastic. The J-Frame adds a solid amount of support, too, but the wide base is much appreciated.
HOLLIE: You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a stability shoe as light as the HOKA Arahi 5. The lack of lightweight stability shoes is unfortunate because not everyone who needs a stable shoe wants a bulky, heavy clog on their foot. The Arahi 5 might look clunky, but it rides smooth and light. My women’s size 10.5 wide comes in at 9.5 oz.
In the Arahi 5, HOKA combines the J frame and Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry to promote an easier landing on the midfoot. It’s a shoe you can do easy runs in, but if you want throw down a fartlek or faster pace, it won’t hold you back. You also don’t feel like your foot is sinking into a soft abyss, like the Clifton.
ROBBE: Full disclosure, never ran in the Arahi before, so I can’t compare earlier versions. But to me it falls somehwhere between a Rincon and Clifton, and honestly the ride feels like the Clifton Edge minus the go-go gadget heel extender. Even for a high-stack HOKA, the ride is somewhat firm, which makes sense because it’s a stability shoe. The J-Frame obviously comes into play here.
Like all HOKA shoes, the ride is super smooth, employing that Meta-Rocker to its fullest extent. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how nice this felt on the run. Just the right amount of weight lends it to most paces.
The upper fit was solid, though I think HOKA uppers are always a little weird. Sometimes there’s not enough room in the toe box, sometimes it’s just too wide, other times it fits pretty damn good.
In any case, I found the shoe to be pretty enjoyable overall.
AUSTIN: Two of my runs in the Arahi 5 were for recovery. They proved to be great for after a half marathon time trial and trail race when my legs felt trashed. I wondered if the signature J-Frame and historically firm ride would be balm to battered muscles. Thankfully, the Arahi 5 provided a soft respite as the lactic acid build up slowly diminished. This is my third experience with the Arahi line, and I’ve enjoyed the incremental updates over the past two years. Honestly, a shoe that provides moderate to high stability while maintaining a soft ride under 10 ounces should catch the attention of runners everywhere.
I usually don’t run in stability shoes, but I love the ones that don’t feel noticeable to a neutral runner like myself. The J-Frame on the Arahi 5 basically disappeared from my feet as the miles wore on. Step-in comfort was great. The forefoot upper breathes well, which also contributes to the lightweight feel, with three overlays on each side of the midfoot aid in a friction free ride.
About 75% of the outsole is covered with rubber, so I don’t expect durability to be an issue. The Arahi 5 is a little stiff, but the early stage Meta-Rocker makes for glorious transitions. Along with carbon plates, rockers in shoes today have absolutely spoiled the public, myself included.
From a design standpoint, I love that the Arahi 5 looks more like the Clifton 7. It has the same stack height as the Clifton (a 5 mm offset) and the men’s version weighs exactly one more ounce. I didn’t mind the pull tab on the heel of the Arahi 4, but the flared collar in version five creates a more polished look. In short, I think it makes the shoe look worthy of its price point.Shop Arahi 5 – Men Shop Arahi 5 – Women
ALDREN: It usually takes a little longer for cooler colorways to be released. This patriotic style is probably one of the first colorways to release, but I really hope we get some non-conservative designs.
Other than the colorways that have been released, this “complaint” is more of a niche for me, but the laces are humorously long. I measured them at 52 inches, which is about hiking boot length. Tucking them in is a quick fix, but it’s still a big nuisance.
HOLLIE: I don’t have anything bad to say about the Arahi 5 specifically, but HOKA really needs to tame their shoelaces. It feels like every one of their shoes features feet of laces. No one is asking for this, HOKA.
ROBBE: Stability shoes kind of fall into that bottomless pit of drab colorways where wide shoes reside. This is no different. I generally hate blue colorways because I think they look clowny. Are you seriously wearing this shoe for anything other than running? The other colorways aren’t much better (think really bold greys and variations thereof).
Like Aldren said, the laces are dumb. Flappy and long. Get that out of here.
One last minor thing – the midfoot seemed to be a little tight, but it wasn’t awful. Just know that if you have a wider foot you may have issues with this.
AUSTIN: The Arahi 5 laces are not Mach 4 absurdity, but they’re still too long. I get that my narrow feet in a spacious shoe like the Mach or Arahi require lots of pulling to lock the midfoot down, but the lace surplus shouldn’t be enough for another pair of shoes. I’d recommend swapping them out for some lock laces. Although the Arahi is on the lighter end of the stability shoe spectrum, I had a tough time pushing the pace. Plush midsoles make quick turnover much harder, which is probably why I brought it into the rotation for recovery runs and easy runs.Shop Arahi 5 – Men Shop Arahi 5 – Women
ALDREN: The Arahi line has arguably been one of my most reliable trainers for some time now. There aren’t many high cushioned stability shoes that weighed less than 12 oz, so the Arahi 5 is an easy go-to for me. Every update to this shoe has gotten better, and the fifth is no exception.
HOLLIE: The HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 5 is a solid stability trainer. It’s one of the lightest stability shoes out there, not to mention our #WideFootFam will appreciate the trimmed design as well. Suffice to say it’s an improvement on the last version, and the Arahi is back on track.
ROBBE: Overall, I’d say this is a pretty solid shoe for someone who’s looking for a lightweight, no-nonsense stability model with a high stack of cushion. And at $130, it’s priced a bit lower than most of its competitors in the category. You could definitely do much worse.
AUSTIN: The HOKA tagline for the Arahi 5 is “stability without limits.” I reached my limit after that time trial and trail race, and the Arahi 5 got me out the door the following mornings. If you liked the Arahi 4, the updates will be music to your ears.
You can pick up the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 5 for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Arahi 5 – Men Shop Arahi 5 – Women