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Trail Running Shoes • August 25, 2023

Hoka Stinson 7 Review: Trail Dads, Unite!

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What You Need To Know

Weight

12.9 oz (365 g) for a US M9,

10.8 oz (306 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 42 mm in heel, 37 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Women: 40 mm in heel, 35 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Best For

Slow, supportive trail miles

Key Features

Molded EVA sock liner, thiccc CMEVA midsole, Durabrasion outsole with 4 mm lugs

On The Run
Rock-steady support Plush, plush upper She's a whopper
Price

$170

JOHN: Whatever happened to predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, evening tv?

When I unboxed this shoe I immediately got Full House dad vibes. This summer, I’m straight-up Danny Tanner on the trail doing grown-up stuff in the Stinson 7 right now. I’m one busy dude lately, and this shoe, as Hoka says, is a much-needed Swiss Army knife aiding my adventures and adding balance.

The Stinson 7 came at an amazing time because my daughter is going back to school, and I’m tapering for the Eastern States 100, so I’ve got a lot going on. On the first run, I absolutely hated this shoe, it felt too heavy and just all-around clunky. For the 2nd run, I used it as a recovery shoe after the wild Jarmans Invitational marathon, and this time it felt great. I love the smooth ride and stability this shoe offers. Every single run after that I loved it more. I ran exclusively in the Stinson 7 for a week, and it was an extremely enjoyable shoe.

Hoka is going for it with this one. The Stinson 7 has major changes from the 6. Where version six felt like the Bondi with some lugs, the Stinson 7 is its own shoe. It’s considered a stability trail shoe utilizing the H-frame technology and a massive 12.9 oz. weight that’s bordering on boot territory. The multidirectional lugs allow for multiple surface runs. There’s a lot of technology packed into this one, leading Robbe to drop a dime on us by saying, “I feel like the TenNine walked so the Stinson could run.” I was fired up that he evoked the name of such a legendary shoe, but is the Stinson actually better than the TenNine? Let’s get to it.

MICHAEL: When I first saw pictures of the Stinson 7 from The Running Event, I was actually pretty stoked. Its design inspiration was clearly brought over from the Speedgoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4, the latter of which is one of my favorite shoes I’ve had the chance to review at BITR. This excitement over the Stinson 7 made it abundantly clear to me: I’m getting old. My grandpa Gary loves the Stinson (or maybe it’s the Bondi? Forgive me, grandpa, and also, bear down, wildcats). In hindsight, I think the thought process in my head was probably something like, “Hey, my grandpa is awesome, so this shoe is probably awesome too.” Checks out, right?

With the exception of the aforementioned TenNine, the Stinson has been the most cushioned trail shoe in Hoka’s lineup, recently donning the ATR moniker as a reference to its place in the road-to-trail scene. For version 7, Hoka vaulted the stack up to a seriously cush 42/37 mm, softened up the EVA, changed the upper, and added an H-frame for stability (essentially an interesting configuration for a bathtub midsole). We know the Stinson is awesome for standing in puddles in the Aldi parking lot and not getting your feet wet, but do all these aforementioned features actually make for the ultimate high-stack road-to-trail party-pace crusher? Let’s get on to the review.

What we like about the Hoka Stinson 7

JOHN: The Stinson 7 fit my foot perfectly. The shoe is not directly related to the TenNine, but there is a spiritual relationship between the two, like HBO’s The Wire and We Own This City.

The Stinson 7 works great all around for that easy to medium day shoe, especially if you live in an area with multiple surfaces. I live in the country with many options for routes, so this shoe worked for me. I used it on road, gravel, and singletrack trails, and the Stinson 7 performed with that midsole keeping me oh, so comfortable and stable thanks to the H-frame.

I’ve gotta say, the Stinson 7 also looks dope as hell. It’s got this weird NFL head coach on the sidelines thing going on, but also somehow looks fresh. I got the amber brown color, so as soon as I wear out the cushioning, I’ll be wearing it as a lifestyle shoe. As hefty as this shoe is I did start to get some faster miles in. It’s incredible that the technology in this shoe allows you to be nimble even though it’s so big. Now I would recommend, at least for me, not to really push it in this shoe, but I did do some quicker miles in it.

MICHAEL: Simply put, if you’re looking for the most underfoot protection, stability, and comfort pampering available in a trail shoe, this is probably going to be it. Sure, for 90% of runners, Hoka’s Speedgoat 5 and Mafate Speed 4 are exceptional choices and are plenty comfortable and capable for just about any race or distance. For the other 10% of runs that are a simultaneous combination of light trail or fire roads and are completed at the most recovery of all recovery paces, the Stinson 7 is the Hoka for the job. Also, the footprint of this shoe is ginormous — I think this shoe could double as a snowshoe in a pinch, and it’s awesome. All that ground contact boosts comfort and really gives the shoe tons of support, which I’ll talk about later. With that out of the way, I’ll talk about some other aspects of this shoe I particularly enjoyed.

The upper, while a little loose on my low-volume foot, left no room for lack of comfort. Hoka’s heel counter is more than generously padded, and the mesh upper has a pleasant amount of stretch. The overall fit here is certainly accommodating, and while I felt it to be a little loose in the forefoot and midfoot for tackling technical descents, that’s not exactly something one should be attempting in this shoe in the first place. Party pace only in the Stinson 7.

Going into any review of a high-stack shoe, I always find myself a little worried about stability. Twisted ankles are the worst, especially when your ankle touches the ground after traveling 40 mm downward. So even though tackling some descents felt scary at first, the H-frame and moon-boot-like footprint made the Stinson 7 one of the most surprisingly stable shoes I have ever tested. In addition to an aversion to ankle turning, landings felt entirely supportive on tired legs, and the Stinson 7 felt like it promoted good form even when I didn’t feel like running with good form — an injury-preventative feature that’s important for any high-stack, recovery-focused shoe.

Lastly, I should add that the outsole lug configuration is perfect for the intended road-to-trail application of the Stinson 7. On fire roads and light trails, the outsole gripped perfectly adequately, and I felt little-to-no influence from the lugs on the tarmac, it just kind of felt like a beefed-up road shoe.

Shop Hoka Stinson - Men Shop Hoka Stinson - Women

What we don’t like about the Hoka Stinson 7

JOHN: It’s big, it’s clunky, and you probably won’t want to run too fast in it. There’s a large demographic of the running community that is chasing podiums and Strava segments who will probably not understand this shoe and write it off. Also, it has no rock plate.

That’s not a deal breaker for me, seeing how cushy and stable it is, but I do question using it on extremely technical terrain because the lack of a rock plate and the outsole lugs are not extremely aggressive.

Finally, this shoe is loud. It actually sounds like the cast of Full House is running with you. Danny, DJ, and the whole lot of them keeping you company. On night runs, you may even turn around thinking someone is behind you.

MICHAEL: Interestingly, what I thought was going to be the most cushioned shoe I’ve ever worn turned out to be the most stable and protective shoe I’ve ever worn, but not necessarily the softest. I found that the EVA used in the Stinson 7 is actually somewhat firm, more so than comparable models like the Brooks Caldera 6 or even Hoka’s own Mafate Speed 4, both of which feature some amount of supercritical, nitrogen-infused foam to some degree in the midsole.

Could the Stinson 7 be improved with a layer of Hoka’s Profly+ foam, or could it just need more breaking in? I’m going to potentially say yes to both questions, but I should also add that this firmness isn’t an entirely terrible thing for the Stinson 7. Hoka maintains its stability with the firmer EVA, and underfoot protection is off the charts. So at the end of the day, I would just maybe recommend adjusting your expectations of a plush, sinking feeling like I was expecting for the Stinson 7.

While the outsole lug configuration is perfect for the ATR moniker, the outsole material itself left some to be desired. The in-house rubber here from Hoka honestly feels very much like Altra’s MaxTrac in performance on wet rocks and roots. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly underperforming, especially considering that the Mafate Speed 4 is only $15 more than the Stinson 7, and that shoe features both a gnarly Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole and a layer of supercritical Profly+ foam.

Lastly, the weight of this Stinson 7 is properly insane, and while I don’t want to make it sound like I’m judging this shoe for something it’s not, it has to be mentioned that 12.9 oz. in a US M9 is going to hamper this shoe’s versatility. The weight and overall massiveness of this shoe render it basically only for hiking and recovery runs. At my normal recovery paces, the shoe felt like little energy sponges, add a minute, and they felt wonderfully comfortable.

So, just be aware that this shoe is good for running slow and basically nothing else. Pair the weight with the lack of aggressive outsole and a very oddly subtle rocker (I definitely expected the rocker of such a large shoe to have a much more pronounced feel), and the Stinson is naturally ruled out for racing or technical terrain. Don’t fret, however, as Hoka makes a wonderful shoe for both of those scenarios in the Mafate Speed 4. Similarly, the Brooks Caldera 6 is a fantastic option if you are looking for a ride more akin to the Stinson 7, just with an aggressive, better-performing outsole reserved for more exclusive trail use.

Shop Hoka Stinson - Men Shop Hoka Stinson - Women

Hoka Stinson 7 Conclusion

JOHN: I love this shoe. Hoka has done some amazing stuff here. The Stinson 7 is that shoe I wish I had when I went to Florida this summer to run everywhere with. As I mentioned in the bad, there are some exceptions for this Swiss Army knife when it comes to terrain, but overall it really works. The shoe is not specific to anything, so again, I may not use it on extreme technical mountain terrain. You may want to use a shoe geared specifically for that, but as far as everything else goes the shoe can deliver a comfortable run on most surfaces. I plan on loading this shoe up with miles and afterward rocking it to volunteering duty and to my kid’s school.

My hot take is that the Stinson 7 is better than the TenNine. I love the craziness and legend of The TenNine. The look will live forever, but the Stinson 7 is just a more functional shoe. It does a lot of what the TenNine did but is about $100 cheaper, and you can actually drive in the Stinson 7. You may as well read the TenNine review here at Believe In The Run and catch up on that amazing shoe since we’ve talked about it so much.

Even if you’re one of those runners who thinks that shoes like the Stinson 7 are just big, bulky, and energy-draining, you have to respect that Hoka is trying to make some innovations to the run game here. Give this shoe a chance. It does a lot, and I truly believe it can bolster a rotation. Use it for the Fatass 50k, a short taper run, road, trail, or whatever. The Stinson 7 delivers a smooth and enjoyable ride. I think an important thing we forget about when it comes to running and shoes is fun.

Word on the street also is that elements of the Stinson 7 are going to be incorporated into the new Speedgoat. Both the TenNine and Stinson 7 are fun shoes. I would buy the Stinson 7 for my daughter if they made a kids’ version. It makes running, a sport many people consider to be the most miserable, fun. Kudos to Hoka on this one, and I’m really excited for the upcoming Speedgoat now as well.

MICHAEL: Hoka has yet another great model here in the Stinson 7. Despite its lack of versatility on the trail due to several little reasons, there is no doubt still a place for this kind of shoe in the Hoka lineup. The Stinson 7 is worth considering if you are someone who is especially serious about protection or a runner who simply wants the most stack possible for their recovery days on everything from roads to light trail.

You can pick up the Hoka Stinson 7 for $170 from Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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Authors

photo of man in yellow shirt
John Calabrese
Habitual Ultrarunner
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An obsessed runner, John has run in most ultra races in the Mid-Atlantic area. Since he’s an ultra runner, it’s no surprise he’s also a lover of food. He’s also a dedicated father, caregiver, and veteran.

More from John
Shoe Size

11.5

Fav. Distance

50K

PRs
  • 23:25:23

    100 Mile
  • 9:13:41

    50 Mile
  • 4:23:38

    50K
michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

More from Michael
Shoe Size

9.5

Fav. Distance

Half Marathon (Trail)

PRs
  • 4:48

    50K
  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

    5K
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