Shopping·7 min read

Here's Why Everyone and Their Mother Is Wearing Hoka Sneakers

review of hoka running and exercise sneakers
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Hoka
March 29, 2023

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Welcome to Skimm Tested, where we put products to the test and then give them a report card. (Check out all of our tried-and-tested faves here.)

The assignment…

To walk, run, and train in the ever-popular Hoka sneakers — the shoes you’ve probably seen more than once or twice on your morning commute or on runners in the neighborhood. Is the hype real? Let’s find out.

Solimar ($125)

A streamlined, stretchy trainer meant for walks, short runs, and cross-training.

hoka solimar sneakers
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Hoka

Straight A’s in…

  • Weight. When our editor first put these on, she couldn’t believe how lightweight they felt. They’re just 6.7 ounces, to be exact. No clunkiness here. 

  • Support. The amount of padding in these sneakers is perfect for daily lifts or weight-lifting workouts. They have a symmetrical cushion bed, so you won’t feel like you’re high off the ground, which is ideal for training at the gym. The lowdown: Our editor raved about how comfy they are. She felt completely stable when lunging and squatting, and never felt off-balance while picking up weights.

  • Durability. The outsole (the bottom of the shoe) is made with high-abrasive rubber, so the sneakers won’t wear easily. After testing them for a month, our editor can safely say they look and feel as good as they did out of the box. 

  • Fit. Our editor typically wears a 7.5 and the shoes fit true to size. No feeling of tightness, toes rubbing uncomfortably, or foot squeezing. 

  • Style. The Solimars come in four different colors, with two neutral options (black and gray). Overall, the style of the sneaker is subtle, which is great for pairing with everyday casual outfits.   

Room for growth…

  • Ability to attract dirt. Our editor tested the “Ice Flow/Amber Yellow” colorway and found that they did get dirty easily (hello, city living). Yes, this is a bit annoying, but is it avoidable? No. We suggest tossing them in the wash once a month to keep the shoes looking fresh.

Mach 5 ($140)

A bouncier shoe designed for longer runs, races, and high-impact movements.

hoka sneakers mach 5
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Hoka

Straight A’s in…

  • Weight. Like the Solimar, the Mach 5 are incredibly lightweight. Our editor felt like she barely had anything on her feet. PS: These weigh a total of 6.8 ounces. 

  • Support on treadmills. Since a treadmill can absorb shock, our editor felt fully supported while taking treadmill-focused exercise classes. The cushioning in this sneaker is responsive, meaning that the low-profile cushion bed is made of a firmer material so you can really push off while sprinting.

  • Durability. The rubberized outsole can withstand a lot of wear and provides high traction on different surfaces. After one month of training, our editor gave this sneaker a 10/10 on the durability scale.

  • Fit. Our editor also confirmed that these run true to size. Thanks to the mesh fabric on the tongue, it felt like she was wearing a sock, making them super breathable. The structured heel also helped her land comfortably while running. PS: She ordered half a size up to avoid any toenail issues (a pro tip from a marathon runner). 

  • Style. The Mach 5 are available in a variety of colors, some brighter than others. Our editor loved the range, especially since a less flashy running sneaker feels harder to come by.

Room for growth…

  • Break-in time. It took our editor a few wears before the shoes felt fully broken in. To help with the process, she wore them for longer walks before wearing them for distance runs. 

  • Support for arched feet. We realize this is a specific critique (foot shape differs drastically), but our editor wished there was a bit more cushioning during her runs. With high arches, she felt some slight knee pain post training, and attributed that to the need for more support.

More thoughts…

Plays well with…

  • Anyone who exercises regularly. From those who weight train to avid walkers to dedicated runners, these sneakers fit the bill. 

  • Those with a morning commute who don’t want to wear their dressy flats or heels while using public transportation. 

  • Someone with a profession that has them on their feet all day long. We’re thinking hospital workers, servers, etc.

Gets extra credit for…

  • A dedication to sustainability. Hoka uses recycled materials in their apparel and footwear. In fact, Hoka’s parent company, Decker Brands, became a member of the United Nations Global Compact (the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative) in 2016.

  • Supporting nonprofit organizations committed to fighting social and racial injustice. Also, employees who volunteer 100 hours per calendar year get to donate $1,000 to the charity of their choice. 

How we did our homework…

  • We had two editors test two pairs of Hoka sneakers over the course of one month. One wore the Solimar for weight lifting and walking, while the other trained for a half marathon in the Mach 5. Both paid attention to how comfortable and padded the sneakers felt. Did they experience awkward rubbing, pain during wear, or soreness after their physical activity? How did the they hold up over time? Did signs of wear seem normal or were the sneakers breaking down at a particularly fast rate? Our editors wanted to make sure the sneakers felt supportive over time, especially for longer walks and runs. When weight lifting, our editor took note of how balanced and stable she felt (a necessity  for performing lifts correctly).


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