Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Gaviota 3 and Arahi 5
HOKA ONE ONE combines cushion and stability with its two latest updates: the Gaviota 3 and Arahi 5.
Stability running shoes give you more durability to counter the effects of overpronation. Since runners who pronate excessively put extra wear and tear on the medial (inside) edge of the shoe, running shoe brands add less compressive foam or rigid plastic to keep the shoe stable for longer.
HOKA’s stability tech is called the J-Frame. The J-Frame is a J-shaped hook of foam that wraps around the heel and lines the medial side of the shoe.
The foam used to make the J-Frame is firmer than the rest of the midsole, which creates the durability you’re looking for if you overpronate.
Both the HOKA Gaviota 3 and Arahi 5 sport the brand’s J-Frame technology. While the shoes deliver different cushioning and stability levels, they complement each other for a holistic experience.
Fleet Feet runners put their miles on both the Gaviota 3 and Arahi 5 to see how they fit, how they ride and how they stack up compared to their previous versions. Here’s what they thought.
HOKA Gaviota 3
The Gaviota 3 does everything big: big cushion works with big support for the most (and we think, best) of both worlds. For fans of HOKA running shoes, the Gaviota will remind you of the formidable Bondi.
Designers amped up cushioning with a big stack of midsole foam, and they included additional padding around the upper for an even plusher step-in feel. Here’s what you need to know about the updated Gaviota:
HOKA Gaviota 3
9.3 oz (W), 11.3 oz (M)
Fit and Materials
The Gaviota 3 is plush all around.
An engineered mesh upper wraps your foot in silky comfort, and it’s breathable for warm days on the road. On top, a well-cushioned tongue enhances the already plush experience.
HOKA added extra softness with a padded heel collar. The collar helps mold the heel around your foot and works with an internal heel counter to create a snug, locked-in fit. One Fleet Feet reviewer says her foot felt supported and snug in the midfoot.
“My foot feels like it sits down into the shoe and is fully supported under my arches and all around,” she says.
For another tester with a average-width foot, the Gaviota felt spacious, but it didn’t slip at all. However, the laces seem extra long, so you may find yourself triple-knotting them or tucking them in to prevent extra flop.
Ride and Performance
HOKA packed an extra 2 mm of foam into the Gaviota 3 compared to its predecessor, so it delivers an even softer ride than before.
According to HOKA, the total volume of foam in the midsole of the women’s model is 575 cm³ and 731 cm³ in the men’s. That big midsole provides a soft, springy ride, says on Fleet Feet reviewer.
“I love the squishy feeling of the cushion,” she says. “It’s not mushy or sloppy, but soft and bouncy. I feel it springing back under my forefoot with each step.”
The midsole uses two types of foam, though. The defining stability feature—HOKA’s J-Frame—is made from a rubberized foam that’s more supportive and bouncier than the surrounding cushion, creating that improved durability you’re after if you overpronate.
“The stability the Gaviota provides feels natural,” says another tester. “Unlike a lot of stability shoes, I feel a keen sense of natural gait guidance with each step, whether I’m out for a walk or a run.”
Sometimes shoes with tall stack heights can feel a little wobbly or unstable, but HOKA helps alleviate that feeling by creating a wide base. The wide footprint and full ground contact give the Gaviota confident footing.
“They do have a high stack height, but my feet feel stable and comfortable, not like I’m so tall I might fall over,” one reviewer says.
According to another tester, “It’s like my feet are sitting down in a bucket seat, they feel almost cradled by the supportive upper that wraps my midfoot.”
The newest HOKA Gaviota 3 is a max-cushioned, moderate-to-high stability running shoe that gives you the softness you crave with the support you demand.
HOKA packed the Gaviota with a massive midsole that balances plushness with responsiveness, and they engineered a silky mesh upper for comfort and breathability. Fleet Feet reviewers love the soft step-in feel for unbeatable comfort on long runs.
HOKA Arahi 5
Stability doesn’t have to mean heavy, and the HOKA Arahi 5 proves it.
HOKA used a slimmed down midsole and lighter J-Frame to create a stability shoe that defies convention. Paired with a breathable mesh upper, the Arahi 5 feels light on your feet for a fast ride.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest Arahi:
HOKA Arahi 5
7.8 oz (W), 9.7 oz (M)
Fit and Materials
Even with a lower-profile design, the Arahi 5 doesn’t skimp on comfort.
HOKA covered the Arahi is a soft, smooth engineered mesh upper. The mesh molds around your foot to conform to its unique shape. One Fleet Feet reviewer felt like the toe box was a little narrower than other HOKA running shoes, but she says it wasn’t so narrow that it squished her foot.
To add even more comfort, designers included plenty of padding to cradle your foot. The cushioned tongue is soft on top of your foot, and a ring of padding around the heel cup and collar create a soft, snug fit.
“The padding in the Arahi hugs your foot really well,” one reviewer says. “The heel feels stable. It's rigid, but not overly so.”
New this year, HOKA redesigned the mesh upper and flared the heel collar away from the Achilles. The flared heel looks and feels very much like the design used on the speedy HOKA Carbon X 2, and it lends the Arahi 5 a slightly more aggressive look, too.
But it’s not just for looks. The flared collar has two practical purposes: First, it angles it away from your heel to reduce any rubbing or chance of blisters, and two, it acts as a natural pull tab to make the shoe easier to put on.
“The Arahi feels plush all around my foot, not just underneath,” according to one reviewer. “That’s thanks to the padding that runs all the way down the tongue and around the heel.”
Ride and Performance
While the Gaviota gives you a similar experience to the Bondi, the Arahi 5 mimics the feeling of the popular HOKA Clifton.
“When testing the Gaviota and Arahi side by side, I noticed a big difference in the ride,” says one tester. “While I felt supported in both, the Arahi is definitely a snappier, firmer shoe.”
The Arahi dons HOKA’s J-Frame support structure, too, but it’s toned down slightly from the Gaviota. Designers tuned the Arahi’s J-Frame for light to moderate support, which works well with its lower profile and lighter overall weight.
Fleet Feet reviewers say the J-Frame adds the necessary stability while maintaining a smooth ride.
“The shoe feels stable on the run but not overly stiff,” one reviewer says. “It’s a great stability shoe for every day training from easy days to long runs.”
The stable ride gets a boost from the Arahi’s wide base and full ground contact. The generous footprint is inherently stable, and it helps you land right in the sweet spot of the footbed every time.
The HOKA Arahi 5 gives you a lightweight feel, premium cushioning and a touch of stability for confident performance at any distance.
HOKA updated the fit by adding a flared heel collar, which keeps it from rubbing on your Achilles, and they draped it in an engineered mesh upper for comfort and breathability. A generous cushion underfoot and unique J-Frame technology create the stable ride you need.
With a durable rubber outsole for solid traction on pavement, the Arahi 5 is a stellar lightweight stability shoe for all your training.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
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