So my first experience with the Brand Hoka was almost 5 years ago at the Running expo in Texas. They were a very new brand and there was a real buzz about them. Only a few years early the buzz word had been minimalist footwear and suddenly we were looking at this brand that was almost the exact opposite of minimalist they were huge shoes.
The main concept behind the Hoka’s is maximum cushioning. This rocker motion that they have on them which seems to propel you onto mid foot or fore foot a little more is the thing most people will comment about when you get them onto feet initially.
As a brand they do tend to find narrow enough. We have found many people coming in looking for Hoka’s as they’ve read up about them but end up leaving with Altra’s as their foot was too wide.
One of the earlier complaints about Hoka’s was “Hoka blisters” this was generally in between the toes and after longer runs. As you run your foot expands they don’t have a huge amount of space in the toe box compared to say an Altra or even Mizuno so people’s feet tended to blister. I have quiet a wide foot and have struggled for widths on brands like Asics however I found the Hoka Clifton to be fine on the width and didn’t suffer with any blisters.
The first run I did in them was a 5k and they felt amazing like revolutionary type amazing felt like I was bouncing along. I didn’t run in them for two days and whilst they didn’t feel bad they weren’t quiet as “amazing” as the first day. They’re still probably my favourite shoe at the moment of the ones in rotation (Brooks Leviate, 361 degrees sensation 2 and Brooks Ghost).
They’re definitely something very different. When trying them on with customers it’s very easy there’s no middle ground with them. The customers either love them or hate them straight away. Because of the fact that you’re so high off the ground they haven’t been as popular with people suffering with weaker ankles or who have rolled their ankles regularly. Many physio’s are recommending them for patients with Plantar fasciitis and I can see the benefit in terms of cushioning under the heel.
The customers who have purchased have been very happy and we’ve already had a good few repeat customers on them even though we’ve only had them in a little over 5 months.
Next time you’re looking to upgrade the shoes especially if you’re coming out of a more traditional running shoe it’s definitely worth trying them on anyway and having a little run in them. You’ll know fairly quick if they’re for you.