​​The Best Hoka Running Shoes Of 2024

Selection of Hoka running shoes arranged in a circle
(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Hoka was founded in 2009, when it was known as Hoka One One, so it’s hardly a new face on the running shoe scene. But it’s a brand that’s known for bringing innovative approaches to the market.

It was Hoka that pioneered the maximalist running shoe movement, with huge stacks of lightweight foam on rockered shoes like the Bondi and Clifton. Pretty much all brands have now jumped on this bandwagon and released highly cushioned shoes, and in truth Hoka fell behind on some fronts for road running, particularly carbon plate racing shoes. But 2023 has been a strong year that has seen the brand catch up in most areas, and road runners can choose from a variety of great Hoka shoes to suit their needs.

Off-road, Hoka makes some of the best trail-running shoes on the market, and has long been popular with ultramarathon runners owing to the comfort of its cushioned designs. Even if you have no intention of hitting ultra-distances in your runs, Hoka’s trail range has you covered.

How I Tested These Shoes

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I am a keen runner with a marathon PR of 2hr 28min and usually run around 50-70 miles a week on a mix of road and trails, during which time I test all kinds of running gear. I’ve tested and reviewed a variety of Hoka running shoes including most of its current range of road and trail shoes. I’ve picked the outstanding Hoka shoes for a variety of uses below. My personal favorite is the Hoka Mach 5 for its versatility.

The Best Hoka Running Shoes

Hoka Clifton 9 running shoe

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best for beginners

Specifications

RRP: $145 / £130
Weight: 9.2oz/262g (UK 9)
Stack height: 32mm heel, 27mm forefoot (men’s) 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot (women’s)
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and stable
+
Light
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Midsole a little dull

The Clifton 9 showcases all the best qualities of Hoka shoes. It’s comfortable and well cushioned without being too heavy. The smooth, rockered ride works well for a variety of daily training runs, from easy plods to tempo sessions. It’s also stable for a neutral shoe, and grips well in wet and dry conditions on the road.

While I prefer the lighter Mach 5 for the same kind of runs, the Clifton is a more protective and beginner-friendly option, and it’s also more durable as it has a rubber outsole. If you’d prefer an even more cushioned option for your start in the sport, the Bondi 8 is a good option.

Read more in our Hoka Clifton 9 review


Hoka Mach 6

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best all-rounder

Specifications

RRP: $140 / £140
Weight: 8.2oz/233g (UK 9)
Stack height: 37mm heel, 32mm forefoot (men’s) 35mm heel, 30mm forefoot (women’s)
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight cushioning
+
Versatile ride
+
Now has an outsole

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow fit
-
Not as bouncy as others

The Hoka Mach 6 is one of the most versatile shoes without a plate available from any brand, with a lightweight but cushioned design that makes it enjoyable to use for everything from slow long runs to fast intervals. The midsole foam is stable and bouncy, if not as springy as some materials on the market. The shoe ticks over nicely whether you’re plodding or sprinting.

A lot of the above is also true of the Hoka Mach 5, which I also found an excellent shoe, but there are upgrades on the Mach 6. One is that it has a rubber outsole as opposed to the rubberized foam on the Mach 5, which should make the newer shoe more durable. The Mach 6 also has a midsole made from Supercritical EVA foam, whereas the Mach 5 had a dual-density midsole with only a top layer of Supercritical foam, which is bouncier and lighter than the standard EVA used for the bottom layer.

Read more in our Hoka Mach 6 review


Hoka Cielo X1

(Image credit: NIck Harris-Fry / Future)
Best marathon shoe

Specifications

Weight: 8.9oz/253g (UK 9)
Stack: 39mm heel, 32mm forefoot (men’s), 37mm heel, 30mm forefoot (women’s)
Drop: 7mm

Reasons to buy

+
Propulsive ride
+
Effective rocker
+
Comfortable over long distances

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than rival super-shoes
-
Weird laces

The Hoka Cielo X1 is one of the top marathon racing options available from any brand, with its rockered, propulsive ride helping you to lock in and hold race pace over long distances. It’s great fun to run in and despite being heavier than the Rocket X 2 it doesn’t feel bulky on the run, even when pushing to fast paces.

The extra cushioning on the shoe, along with the rocker, means it protects the legs over the long haul too—so you feel a bit fresher at the end of long hard runs and can finish strong. I also found this benefit extended to bouncing back quickly after long training runs, and felt great the day after a 24-mile marathon training run in the Cielo X1.

Read more in our Hoka Cielo X1 review


Hoka Rocket X 2

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best racing shoe for 5K and 10K

Specifications

RRP : $250 / £220
Weight: 7.9oz / 225g (UK 9)
Stack: 36mm heel, 31mm forefoot
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and springy midsole
+
Nimble and stable for a carbon shoe
+
Great for racing any distance

Reasons to avoid

-
Low drop won’t suit everyone
-
Not as much cushioning as others
-
Concerns over heel rub

Hoka was one of the first brands to respond to the Nike Vaporfly by launching its own carbon shoe, but the Carbon X didn’t come close to delivering the bouncy, propulsive feel of the best super-shoes. It took a while for a proper rival to the best on the market to arrive from Hoka, but now there are two: the Rocket X 2 and the Cielo X1. Of the two, the Rocket X 2 is the lighter and more agile shoe, and is the better pick for short-distance events. It’s more stable than the Cielo X1 for rounding corners at high speeds and while it’s not as propulsive and bouncy as the Cielo X1, I appreciated the lighter design of the Rocket X 2 during short-distance races.

Read more in our Hoka Rocket X 2 review


Hoka Mach X

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
A versatile plated trainer

Specifications

RRP: $180 / £160
Weight: 9.3oz / 265g (UK 9)
Stack: 39mm heel, 34mm forefoot (men’s) 37mm heel, 32mm forefoot (women’s)
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and versatile
+
PEBAX plate
+
Stable for a high-stack shoe

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as fast as other plated trainers
-
Foam isn’t that soft or bouncy

The Mach X looks like a supercharged Mach 5 on paper, with a PEBAX plate in the midsole adding extra pop, and a much higher midsole stack that contains a PEBA-based foam for its top layer. It also has a rocker to create a smooth ride, and some rubber on the outsole to make it more durable than the Mach 5, though I didn’t find the Mach X had better grip.

All that extra tech comes at a higher price, and I didn’t notice enough of a boost in performance from the Mach X to necessarily make it worth the extra outlay over the Mach 5 for daily training. The Mach X is a bit more comfortable over long distances, and the plate does add some pop at speed, but the Mach 5 is a lot lighter and still performs well for longer and speedier runs. The Mach X is a good option for people who want a plated shoe but have found others too squishy and wobbly, because it is stable despite its high stack.

Read more in our Hoka Mach X review


Hoka Bondi 8

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best cushioned shoe

Specifications

RRP: $160 / £145
Weight: : 11.4oz / 323g(UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 29mm forefoot (men’s) 31mm heel, 27mm forefoot (women’s)
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, protective ride
+
Long-lasting

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Not the smoothest or softest
-
Better options available

Even though Hoka established itself on the market because of cushioned shoes like the Bondi, I’d say it’s actually now one of the weakest areas of its range, because the Bondi 8 falls well short of the best cushioned shoes from other brands. A shoe like the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25, for example, is softer, smoother and lighter, despite having a much higher stack height than the Bondi 8.

If you’re sticking with Hoka, however, the Bondi 8 is still a solid shoe for cruising around in. It feels a bit blocky on the foot and doesn’t work well for anything beyond easy pace, but it will protect the legs well and durability is certainly not a concern.

Read more in our Hoka Bondi 8 review


Hoka Speedgoat 5 Running Shoes

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best trail-running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $155 / £130
Weight: 10.5oz / 299g (UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 27mm forefoot (M), 31mm heel, 27mm forefoot (W)
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth and comfortable ride
+
Grips on almost any terrain

Reasons to avoid

-
Lighter options from other brands
-
Better options for all-out speed
-
Toe box is narrow

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is built for ultramarathons, but even if you have no plans to log mighty distances in it, it’s still worth considering as one of the best all-round trail shoes available from any brand. It’s comfortable, I’ve found it grips well on any terrain bar very thick mud, and it’s light enough to pick up the pace in when required.

Unless you want a light and nimble racing shoe for the trails, or prefer more ground feel that you get from the relatively high-stack Speedgoat, it’s the best trail pick in Hoka’s range for pretty much any runner.

Read more in our Hoka Speedgoat 5 review


Hoka Tecton X2

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best racing shoe for the trails

Specifications

RRP: $220 / £185
Weight: 9.3oz / 264g (UK 10)
Stack: 32mm heel, 27mm forefoot (M), 30mm heel, 25mm forefoot (W)
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Improved upper
+
Fast, comfortable ride
+
Grips on variety of trails

Reasons to avoid

-
Too similar to Tecton X
-
High price

The twin carbon plates that run the length of the Tecton X2’s midsole add extra propulsion to its ride, making it one of the most accomplished trail-racers available on a range of terrains, though it does come unstuck in deep mud. 

With a firmer and lower midsole than the Rocket X2 road racer, the Tecton X2 doesn’t have quite the same wow factor, but it is much more stable and flexible, which is important when heading off-road. It’s expensive, and there is a case for bagging the older Tecton X in a sale if you can since the shoes have the same midsole design, but if you’re on the hunt for a top-tier trail racer, the Tecton X2 matches anything on the market.

Read more in our Hoka Tecton X2 review


Hoka Challenger 7

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best road-to-trail shoe

Specifications

RRP: $140 / £130
Weight: 9oz / 257g (UK 9)
Stack: 31mm heel, 26mm forefoot (M), 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot (W)
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Versatile
+
Reliable grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Midsole is a little dull
-
Not very nimble on uneven ground

The Speedgoat 5 is pretty comfortable on the road as well as the trail, but if your mix of running skews more towards the asphalt with a sprinkling of trails, then the Challenger 7 might be the better pick from Hoka’s range.

It’s comfortable both in terms of cushioning and grip while on the road and light trails, and is the perfect option for those who run on canal towpaths or light park trails when possible during otherwise mostly road-based runs. I’ve also found the Challenger 7 pretty good at gripping in the snow, and it’s quite a light shoe that can handle a range of speeds well, although it’s not the most nimble on uneven ground.

Read more in our Hoka Challenger 7 review

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.