My PCT Gear Closet: Hoka ONE ONE Shoe Review
It was early March when I started the PCT in Campo. I had trained for months in my La Sportiva Wildcat trail runners with success. They seemed like the perfect shoe for my trek. But on day 2 in the desert blisters started showing up on the bottom of my feet, and by day five my feet were a bloody, pussy mess. My thru-hike became a section hike, and I was on the prowl for a better pair of shoes.
I bought a pair of Altras and a pair of Hoka ONE ONEs to check out. The Altras are extremely popular on the PCT and I wanted to see what the hub bub was all about. I liked that they had a wide toe box, but the heel was also wide, so the tops of the shoe would gap open and tons of rocks and gravel would end up at the bottom of my feet.
The Hokas ended up working out well for me. Like the Altras, they have a wide toe box, but the heel is more narrow. So far I’ve hiked and walked about 500 miles in them- about 250 of those 500 on the PCT. I didn’t get any blisters, which could be a combination of the shoes and using a lacing system that helps keep your feet in place.
The Hokas come with two insoles. They can be used alone or in lieu of each other. There is the Ortholite insole for wider and/or higher volume feet. Then there is a Molded EVA insole for a more average fit. Both insoles can be placed in the shoes to increase cushioning, fit precision, or if your feet are narrow/low volume. I used both insoles in my shoes to keep my heel in place and maximize cushion.
Each pair of shoes come with two sets of laces: no-tie and flat. I had to change out the no-tie for the flat laces because the lock didn’t keep the shoe tight enough. Then I had to replace the flat laces for some longer ones, so I could use a lacing system that used both eyelets.
The shoes were very comfortable and lightweight, and quite breathable. They did feel strange when I first walked with them; my feet seemed to rock heel to toe more. The adjustment period was quick, though, and it didn’t take much time at all to go on longer hikes with them.
I noticed about a hundred miles in that the soles of my shoes seemed to be wearing out quickly, and the material seemed to be growing soft. I did have a stick come through and poke my foot at one point. At 200 miles, I felt like I could benefit from some new shoes, but I continued to use them and they lasted longer than I originally thought they would. They are pretty roughed up at this point, but I could still throw them on now if I needed to.
PROS AND CONS:
- Wide toe box, fits both narrow and wide feet
- Comes with 2 insoles
- Comes with two sets of laces
- Beaten up, but still usable at 500 miles
- Lightweight and breathable
- Soles wore away and softened
- Expensive, although you can usually find them on sale somewhere
- A little bit slippery in water
- Hard to find a good place to position Velcro for Dirty Girl Gaiters
- Too much Neon
All in all, I’m satisfied with the Hokas and am currently stockpiling a few for the PCT in 2016. I admit that I could have a bias since I didn’t get any blisters in them. That’s my number one concern. But I also appreciate some of the technologies being used in these shoes. I know this is a pretty informal review, so if you really want to nerd out, go here: Hoka ONE ONE Technology
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I appreciate your review. Solving the blister issue is a huge deal. Much success on your PCT hike.
Thanks for the review, Hokas is a new type of shoe I have not known about until I read your blog. I myself am looking to get into hiking sometime soon and need a good pair of shoes to provide support for my feet, shame about insoles though.
I hiked 1,300 miles on the AT last year for my thru hike attempt. Not 1 single blister. I wore Altras and Hokas (for my wide and huge size 14 feet). All other brands were way too narrow or did not carry above size 13. I noticed the Hokas fell apart really quickly. Especially if there is mud or lots of rain. Altras were most durable and had the best traction, but were the least supportive. I had superfeet in all 4 pairs I went through
I did want to mention that I used “Hiker Goo” for 1-2 months while my feet toughened up. I also wore darn tough merino socks.
Which Hoka shoe did you use? I’ve also had my Hoka “ATR” shoes fall apart pretty quickly. But once I switched to the “Speedgoat 2” I found them to be extremely durable.
Nice review on the Hokas! I have used many variations including Mafate Speed, Speedgoat, and Clifton for many long distance hikes and runs (Colorado Trail, many Ultra races) and agree with your assessment. This will be year #10 with Hokas (moving to EVO Mafate for the upcoming year). Happy hiking!