Hoka One One Tor Summit WP Shoe and Mid $259.95 & $279.95 (available from July)
The first thing I notice about the Tor Summits is that they don’t look like Hokas – and that’s a good thing! If you’ve looked closely at any runners recently and noticed them bouncing along with what look like individual mini-hovercrafts on their feet, they were probably wearing Hokas, whose ‘minimal drop: maximum cushioning’ ethos has had much success in a sport fraught with bone and joint injury. Building on that success, the French innovators are now dabbling in walking shoes for regular trail bashers and I believe they have come up trumps.
Simply put, these shoes are really comfortable, and the most obvious reason is the whopping great slab of EVA closed cell foam in the midsole. It’s no secret – thicker foam provides better shock absorption and more cushioning to reduce fatigue and wear and tear. There’s also something called the ‘Active Foot Frame’, which translates as a splayed outsole combined with an all-enveloping bed into which your entire foot can sink for superior stability. While some runners complained that the extra height actually translated to instability on the hoof, there is no such problem at a reasonable walking pace. The EVA literally puts a spring in your step, and after eight hours on my feet I definitely noted that my soles were less sore than they have been in other lightweight shoes.
And light they are. For a relatively bulky-looking shoe their airy weightlessness comes as a surprise – they tip the scales at around 500 grams for a pair, depending on your size, and feel like you need to wear them just to stop them floating away!
It’s too early to comment on their long-term lifespan but I can see the comfort factor overriding many people’s fear of wear and tear here.
Also helping to propel you along is the ‘Meta-Rocker’, a fancy name for the curvature of the heel and toe which is designed to promote natural foot motion, and provides the momentum throwing you forward. Although these usually make Hokas resemble those old tyre sandals that the Maasai wear, the design is much less prominent in the Tor Summits. In fact, with the subtle colours and smooth nubuck upper, you’d never know they were the offspring of a brash running shoe.
The rest of the shoe has been tailored well to the trail, especially with regard to the sole unit, which is now a composite of tough Vibram (for durability) and Hoka’s proprietary, softer R-Mat rubber (for grip and rebound). The lugs have been scaled back to five millimetres, quite adequate for hiking, and the waterproof membrane is eVent, which is one of the most breathable. Having said that, they might be a little warm for summer hiking or everyday use.
In terms of fit, the Tor Summits are medium wide to wide. If anything, I think the cuff is a little roomy: I don’t think I have particularly dainty ankles, but in order to tighten them sufficiently I need to pull the cuff ends almost together. Overall though, I’m very happy with these.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Hoka One One (pronounced o-nay o- nay) is Maori for ‘time to fly’.