Dougie Cunningham tests two models in this innovative new range from a groundbreaking footwear brand
Hoka One One have built a cult following amongst the running community over the last 10 years. Their “form follows function” approach to lightweight running shoes led them to develop a range of footwear instantly recognisable for their oversized midsoles.
The core concept is that the extra-thick midsoles provide superior cushioning, while a pronounced rocker allows a natural and flowing gait. Allowing people to move more freely is something that is so fundamental to their ethos that they took their name from the Mauri saying “To fly over the earth”.
“The extra-thick midsoles provide superior cushioning,
while a pronounced rocker allows a natural and flowing gait”
With the new Sky range, Hoka One One have taken the same features that have inspired an impressive loyalty from their running customer base, and created a new collection with the aim of capturing similar devotion from hikers and backpackers. These aren’t the brand’s first hiking-specific models – the Tor Ultras won the Footwear of the Year category of The Great Outdoors Awards 2015 – but with the Sky range, Hoka One One now offer a range of options for walkers who enjoy the comfort of their distinctive cushioned soles.
The first thing you notice when you see the Hoka One One shoes is that they appear very bulky when compared to their more traditional counterparts. That’s an impression that is quickly dispelled when you pick them up – each of the three models in the Sky collection is surprisingly light, significantly lighter than a more conventional alternative.
Once you’ve tried them on, even briefly, it’s difficult to argue with the design philosophy: they are instantly very comfortable on your feet, and feel very natural to move around in, despite the perceived bulk the midsole brings to their appearance.
“They are instantly very comfortable on your feet,
and feel very natural to move around in”
I’ve been wearing two of the models for a few weeks now across a range of terrain, ranging from the wilds of Iceland (where Hoka One One launched the Sky range to journalists earlier this month) to the Highlands of Scotland. I have found myself a convert to the Hoka approach.
Of the two models reviewed here, the Kaha will be ideal for longer walks, while the Toa is aimed more at fast-and-light days in the hills. I’ll be looking forward to testing the Arkali – a hybrid running/approach shoe – over the next few weeks, and will add a further review then. Watch this space…
The Kaha is the most robust boot in the Sky range, boasting a full-grain leather upper and a high ankle that provides plenty of support.