If you’ve read my shoe preview, here, then you will know why I was spurred on to give these shoes a try. In short I ran with someone using them and after 7.5 hours of running he was still extolling their virtues. I then read up on them and decided that they would be worth giving a try. They offer a huge amount of cushioning, however they are not stability shoes, simply well designed running shoes that do their utmost to protect your joints from the repetitive impact stresses that are caused by running.
When I first put the shoes on they did feel rather spongy, however you get used to it and they soon feel normal. Their looks are a bit deceptive as your foot actually sits into the sole, but I quite like the attention that they get. After initial jokey comments people are actually very interested in them. The shoes are much lighter than they look and I didn’t notice them at all while running despite running a 30+ degree marathon in them on a very sunny day. My feet didn’t overheat either as the shoes are well ventilated.
The Stinson Evos are the trail version of the shoes and they don’t disappoint. The level of grip was good for trail running, however they wouldn’t be very good in mud as the treads simply aren’t deep enough. This is an observation and not a negative criticism, after all how often do most runners run for long periods in deep mud? The shoes are very secure and have a reasonable quick lace system meaning that they didn’t try to rotate around my foot even on fast and rocky descents, unlike the way a road shoe would in similar conditions.
Before writing this review I ran several hundred training and racing miles in my Hoka One One Stinson Evos including a 36 mile trail ultra and an off-road marathon. I also had a foot injury when I started the testing and was relieved to find that the Stinson Evos didn’t aggravate the injury unlike all of my other running shoes. In fact after each run my foot actually felt better, which I put down to the good design of the shoes and the increased blood flow around the injury without stressing it further. Now the injury is totally cleared up and I can use all of my shoes again.
I would strongly recommend the Hoka One One Stinson Evo as a part of your running shoe arsenal. It is a great shoe for longer distance runs and also for using when you have picked up an injury. The shoes are so well designed that they allow for a very natural gait but personally I found that I did lose some foot strength while using them as my only shoe. To get around this I now use a more conventional shoe for short training runs and the Hoka One One Stinson Evos for anything longer, or for a couple of weeks in a row if I have an injury. They will absolutely be my goto shoe for marathons and any ultra distance races that I compete in and I intend to use them next year on the Hardmoors 55, The Oner, and the Classic Quarter, all of which are tough trail ultra races.
If you want to see more then you can see the Hoka One One website here: http://www.hokaoneone.eu/en/d/stinson-evo-unisex_178.html
if you do more road than trails then there is a road only version as well and there are plenty of colours to chose from.
Update – 23rd May 2014 and why I no longer run in Hokas
As you can tell by my review above I was rather smitten by the Hokas, but unfortunately after another hundred miles I started to get lower leg issues when running in them. The pains were in the soles of my feet and only occurred when running in my Hokas. I have come across this type of issue in other overly padded or structured shoes in the past, and it seems to occur as the soles start to breakdown from use. It means that they no longer flex or work as intended and there are consequences that start as niggles but can ultimately turn into injuries if you don’t swap your shoes out in time.
I was concerned about the issues I was getting and wanted to investigate further. The uppers and soles of the shoes had worn really well on the outside and could almost pass as new, so I found it quite hard to cut one in half with a Stanley knife. At least when making the first cut… Unfortunately it didn’t yield anything interesting and the inside of the soles looked just as pristine as the outside. I lobbed my one and two halves of a shoe in the bin, dug out my old Salomon Sense Mantras and haven’t looked back since. The Salomons have now done about three times the mileage of the Hokas with no problem, other than the fact that they don’t have very much grip in mud, and they still look pretty good too, or at least they would if I washed them.
In this waffling way what I am trying to say is that the Hokas are amazing shoes, but only for a few hundred miles. After that, and at the first sign of unusual lower leg pain, then they need to go in the bin. The Hokas are a rather expensive shoe and as an ultra runner putting in a fair few miles I cannot afford to keep replacing them and it grates on me to have to throw away otherwise pristine looking shoes both for the financial and environmental waste. My favourite trail shoes remain my seemingly everlasting Salomon Sense Mantras and my favourite road shoes remain my Nike Free v4.0s.