Best HOKA Running Shoes 2021
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
HOKA running shoes are known for their oversized midsoles and smooth rides, making them ideal for a wide variety of running and training.
The best HOKA running shoes share the same roots, but designers tune each model for specific attributes. Originally built to help carry momentum forward, the new generation of HOKA does that and so much more.
Here are the best HOKA running shoes for every type of run:
- Best for Everyday Training: HOKA Clifton 8
- Best for Cushion: HOKA Bondi 7
- Best for Road Racing: HOKA Rocket X
- Best for Trails: HOKA Speedgoat 4
- Best for Stability: HOKA Arahi 4
- Best for Distance: HOKA Carbon X 2
- Best for Speedwork: HOKA Mach 4
[Updated June 1, 2021. This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2021. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Everyday Training
HOKA Clifton 8
The HOKA Clifton 8 maintains its spot as the best HOKA shoe for everyday training thanks to its combination of big cushioning and small weight.
HOKA made a few key updates to the newest Clifton: a refreshed engineered mesh upper is soft and secure, while a new midsole foam compound is lighter and more energetic than before.
The changes were a hit with Fleet Feet runners.
“This is one of the standout updates. The upper has a softer, premium feel, reducing the chances of getting any irritation. It’s lightweight and breathable,” says a Fleet Feet reviewer.
Even with a few changes, though, the Clifton 8 remains a smooth-riding, feather-weight running shoe that packs a generous bed of protective cushioning. So, whether you're running a mile or a marathon, the Clifton is up for the challenge.
Read more in our HOKA Clifton 8 review.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Cushion
HOKA Bondi 7
The HOKA Bondi 7 isn't just the most cushioned running shoe in HOKA's formidable lineup—it's one of the best-cushioned running shoes of all time.
HOKA built the Bondi 7 to prioritize softness above all else. The newest version of the shoe has an impressive stack height: 31/27 mm for the women's model and 33/29 mm for men.
Packing that much foam underfoot gives the Bondi 7 an extremely plush and bouncy feel that won't bottom out. HOKA then carved that foam into its early stage Meta-Rocker shape for quick, smooth transitions.
Designers topped the Bondi with an engineered mesh upper for breathable support, and they built a padded heel collar for an even softer step-in feel. From heel to toe, the Bondi 7 is one of the cushiest running shoes you'll find.
Fleet Feet testers praised its soft feel and surprisingly light weight for a shoe its size.
Read more in our HOKA Bondi 7 review.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Speed
HOKA Rocket X
The HOKA ONE ONE Rocket X is the fastest running shoe in HOKA's lineup thanks to ultralight foam and a carbon-fiber plate.
HOKA streamlined the Rocket X with a thin mesh upper to keep weight down, and they added a minimal rubber outsole to provide traction at top speed. While the Rocket X is optimized for race day, Fleet Feet testers still found it to be comfortable.
“I have a slightly wider foot, so the width of a shoe is typically the first thing I notice,” one reviewer says. “The Rocket X looked narrow when I pulled it out of the box, but I didn’t have any problems with my midfoot or forefoot fitting in the shoe.”
Read more in our HOKA Rocket X review.
*The HOKA ONE ONE Rocket X is a unisex shoe. Men’s sizes are listed; women should subtract 1 from the listed sizes to find the right fit.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Trails
HOKA Speedgoat 4
Want HOKA cushion for the trails? Get the HOKA Speedgoat 4.
The Speedgoat 4—named after professional ultrarunner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer—is an ultra-cushioned trail running shoe built to keep you comfortable for the long haul.
HOKA cushioned the Speedgoat with its signature stack of EVA foam, but they mated it to a Vibram MegaGrip outsole for traction in all conditions. A layer of 5mm deep rubber lugs give you grip on uphills and downhills, and a wide forefoot fit gives you stability and comfort on unpredictable terrain.
Testers loved how dependable the shoe is year after year. There’s nothing crazy about the shoe, it just works every single time.
Read more in our HOKA Speedgoat 4 review.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Overpronators
HOKA Arahi 5
The HOKA Arahi 5 is a great shoe for overpronators because it uses HOKA’s J-Frame stability technology.
Stability shoes have long used a medial post to create stability, which means shoemakers inserted a firmer, more durable piece of foam or plastic in the arch to help the shoe wear evenly. HOKA’s J-Frame, though, extends the firmer foam all the way around the back of the shoe.
The hook of foam runs from the medial side, around the heel and to the lateral side of the shoe to give you stability from all angles. Even with its built-in stability, though, the shoe keeps things light: The women’s version only weighs 7.8 oz, and the men’s weighs 9.7 oz.
Fleet Feet testers said the shoe provides a big stack of foam for softness, but the extra wide base coupled with the J-Frame creates a stable ride.
Read more in our Arahi 5 review.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Distance
HOKA Carbon X 2
The HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2 is built for long, speedy runs.
The recently updated carbon-fiber plated running shoe features a padded collar and a sleek, single-layer mesh upper to keep your run comfortable and lightweight.
A robust midsole with a natural Meta-Rocker keeps you rolling forward and supports smooth, cushioned transitions without compromising your speed. The Carbon X 2 is a favorite among elite ultrarunners and hobby runners alike.
Fleet Feet testers said the roomy forefoot and secure fit make the Carbon X 2 comfortable for long distances, while the carbon-fiber plate makes it easier to pick up the pace.
Read more in our HOKA Carbon X 2 review.
Best HOKA Running Shoes for Speedwork
HOKA Mach 4
HOKA built their lightweight Mach 4 for speed. The Profly midsole and early stage Meta-Rocker construction are designed to deliver smooth transitions and propel quick toe-offs whether you wear them on race day or during speedwork.
The Mach 4 focuses on delivering lightweight stability with its robust heel counter and wide toe box that accommodates a range of foot shapes. The updated engineered mesh upper is ventilated and provides your foot the support it needs to drive you toward your next PR.
Fleet Feet reviewers raved about the early stage Meta-Rocker, “I have shoes I love for my speedwork, but I’ll be doing all my fastest training in the Mach 4’s from now on.”
Read more in our HOKA Mach 4 review.
Recent HOKA Reviews
Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4
How We Picked the Best HOKA Running Shoes
We used data from our fit id® outfitting process, interviews with designers and real-life wear testing to determine the best HOKA ONE ONE running shoes for most runs and the most runners.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.
Best Running Shoe Brands
HOKA makes some of the best running shoes in the business, but there are plenty of excellent shoes from other brands. See the best running shoe brands 2021 for more great shoes.
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