HOKA Gaviota 5 Review
Trends we’ve seen this summer include Barbie pink, McDonalds’ new Grimace shake and the complete revolution of stability running shoes. Reviewers have tested multiple stability shoes this summer that use new technology to make support feel softer and smoother than ever, and the HOKA Gaviota 5 is the latest to follow suit.
The Gaviota is HOKA’s maximally cushioned stability shoe, and the latest version stays true to its roots with a few upgrades to improve the fit and feel. The Gaviota 5 features softer midsole foams and new H-frame technology, replacing the J-frame support system in prior models. So, what does this mean for your run? Read our HOKA Gaviota 5 review to find out.
HOKA Gaviota 5
|Weight||9.1 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)|
|Heel-to-toe drop||6 mm|
|Stack height (heel/forefoot)||34 mm/28 mm (W), 36 mm/30 mm (M)|
|Comparable to...||ASICS GEL-Kayano 30, Altra Paradigm 7|
Gaviota 5 offers a softer, smoother ride
Stability shoes are often sought out by runners who overpronate, as they’re designed to help reduce the excessive inward rolling of a runner’s foot upon landing. However, stability technology has been described as rigid, intrusive and downright uncomfortable for some. In the last few years we’ve seen most major shoe brands redesign their stability technology to be more gentle and accommodating to different types of runners. HOKA was ahead of the curve when they created their J-frame technology in 2017, a J-shaped hook of foam that wraps around the heel and lines the medial side of the shoe.
Fast forward to 2023 and HOKA has a new support system with a new letter to boot. The Gaviota 5 features HOKA’s new H-frame technology, built on the same ideas that created the J-frame but with a more accommodating shape. While the J-frame focused on reducing excessive inward motion, the H-frame offers the same level of stability without limiting correction to the medial side. The result is a smoother ride that can be enjoyed by runners with all gait patterns.
“The Gaviota felt smooth throughout the entirety of each of my runs, walks and jaunts,” says Mandy. “The H-frame stability mechanism prevented the midsole from feeling too soft for me. I felt cushion and comfort with every step.”
While the Gaviota 5 doesn’t feel too soft, it’s quite a bit softer than previous iterations of the shoe thanks to a dual-layer midsole construction. Both layers of compression-molded EVA foam are more flexible and less dense, making the shoe feel both softer and lighter.
“The Gaviota 5 feels softer than the last version I tested, but not too soft,” Caroline says. “It’s just forgiving enough to provide some gentle cushion without your feet sinking into it.”
The shoe’s ample stack height (36 millimeters in the heel for men and 34 for women) provides reliable protection against the hard pavement, making this a great choice for long runs and daily training.
“When the stack height of a shoe seems tall, I start to get worried about the stability of the shoe,” Max says. “Not the case with the Gaviota 5. The shoe feels extra stable due to its wide platform.”
A durabrasion rubber rounds out the shoe, adding traction and durability where you need it most—the heel and the forefoot, areas that typically see the most wear and tear.
Gaviota 5 upper is nothing but plush
The indulgent feeling of the Gaviota 5 continues up top with an engineered mesh upper offering both comfort and support. The midfoot cage wraps firmly around your foot while a gusseted tongue and plush heel collar offer a gentle hug. A handy heel pull tab in the back makes it easy to slip the Gaviota 5 off and on.
“I love the heel collar in the Gaviota 5,” says Mandy. “It looks, fits and feels perfect. The little extra padding cradles my heel, while the pull tab makes these a breeze to put on. The higher volume in the forefoot makes me appreciate the extra lockdown in the heel, because I tend to like a snugger fit. The tongue wrapped around my foot like it was made to be there.”
If you have high-volume feet (feet that take up lots of space within the shoe), you’ll likely enjoy the fit of the Gaviota 5. But some of our reviewers thought the Gaviota 5 ran large, even while wearing a half-size down.
“The first time that I put the Gaviota 5 on, I double checked to see if I had the right size, or if I accidentally got a men's shoe in pretty pastel hues,” Kate says. “It seems both long and wide, and I had to really cinch down the laces and also use the extra eyelet to make these shoes feel secure. Despite the roomy fit, I was able to run in them comfortably once I really cinched down the laces.”
If you aren’t sure about the volume of your feet, we recommend heading into your local Fleet Feet for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.
HOKA Gaviota 5 vs Gaviota 4
HOKA Gaviota 5
HOKA Gaviota 4
9.1 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)
9.3 oz (W), 11.4 oz (M)
The Gaviota 5 is lighter than the previous version and features a slightly higher heel-to-toe drop (one millimeter, to be exact). A higher heel-to-toe drop can help reduce pressure on your calves and achilles while lower heel-to-toe drops tend to reduce the load on your knees and hips.
The latest model features a new and improved midsole design featuring softer foams and more accommodating stability features, resulting in a seamless ride. As mentioned above, the H-frame support system offers more holistic support than the previous J-frame, which focused only on reducing inward pronation.
“The cushioning feels firm and stable while still running super smoothly, which I really enjoyed,” Nate says. “The stability is there for those who need it, but it never felt harsh.”
The Gaviota 5 fits wider than previous versions of the shoe, which is something to keep in mind if you have narrow or low-volume feet.
How does the HOKA Gaviota 5 compare?
We took a look at some comparable models to see how they stack up against the HOKA Gaviota 5. Here’s what we found.
HOKA Gaviota 5
ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
Altra Paradigm 7
9.1 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)
9.2 oz (W), 10.6 oz (M)
8.6 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)
36 mm/30 mm (M)
40 mm/30 mm
30 mm/30 mm
When thinking about comparable shoes that are revolutionizing their stability features, the ASICS GEL-Kayano 30 comes to mind. The Kayano 30 was recently updated with a brand-new 4D guidance system that takes a holistic approach to stability while reducing the need for a traditional medial post. Sound familiar?
ASICS’ 4D guidance system provides a wide base for added stability and a heel bevel to reduce the impact upon landings, similar to the HOKA Gaviota 5. Both shoes seem to have solved the riddle of improving stability without limiting the natural motion of a runner’s foot.
Reviewers mentioned the Altra Paradigm 7 as another stability shoe that offers a nice, balanced firm-to-soft ratio.
Who is the HOKA Gaviota 5 best for?
It can be frustrating for stability runners seeking a shoe that offers more than your average daily trainer, and the HOKA Gaviota 5 answers the call by providing a max-cushioned shoe that’s just as comfortable as it is supportive. It’s a great choice for runners seeking subtle yet reliable stability that can rack up plenty of miles.
“The Gaviota 5 certainly feels like a super-stable running platform,” Alex says. “The cushioning performed during the run just as I expected—substantial but firm. I could feel the support doing its job, but it wasn’t too intrusive. The extra-wide toe box and stable base worked quite well for me on a run with a lot of varied terrain.”
Because of its wider shape, the Gaviota 5 is best suited for runners with wide or high-volume feet. If you have low-volume feet, you may want to try a half size down or try the shoes on at your local Fleet Feet.
It’s not the snappiest shoe, so it’s best for easy and steady efforts rather than uptempo paces.
“On those days when I want a bit more cushion and comfort, putting the Gaviota 5 on is like brewing my favorite tea and eating a cookie,” Mandy says. “It has that bit of extra lavishness to help me feel comfortable.”
The HOKA Gaviota 5 is a great everyday stability shoe for your line up, and if you're looking to add something lighter and snappier, consider the HOKA Rocket X 2 or the HOKA Mach X. For runners seeking maximum cushion without the stability, check out the HOKA Bondi 8.