Hoka One One Mafate Review

As a Christmas gift to myself, I decided to investigate the hype surrounding this maximalist trail running shoe from France, used by, among other ultra running luminaries, Karl Meltzer. The attached photo gives a sense of the massively wide and thick sole offering wider grip and the most comfortable ride imaginable on a running shoes: the visual comparator is the old-school Hardrock, previously considered to be at the top end of heavy-duty support.

There are many reviews readily accessible by google, so I will not attempt to offer a full review, but rather a Pacific Northwest perspective.

The shoes are incredibly comfortable, and despite the lofty heights your feet are from the ground and the relatively minimal and low ankle support, feel reasonably balanced and secure. Running quickly round a corner must emulate the feeling of being in a monster-truck: the centrifugal force makes one feel like you are about to roll over, but all is kept in place. Despite the larger size, they are reasonably light.

The main criticism of the Hokas, and for running in the Pacific Northwest, a fatal shortcoming, is the lack of grip on a hard moist surface: hit a wet North Shore boardwalk, root, or skid row, and you may fly to your doom (as I almost did on the stairs going down into the Mackay Creek Valley).

The Hoka would likely be an ideal shoe for a non-technical 50mile+ run through the desert or on the road. For a shorter distance, the cushioning is probably surplus (although it may offer hope for those with sensitive feet or creaky joints). I will probably use them for the last 30miles of Western States, when my feet will feel good and pounded.

$190 at Kintec for the waterproof version (shown)(price is yikes, but cheaper than the 155 Euros on the Hoka website).

POSTSCRIPT: Just wore the Hokas for a 50K the day after a marathon. Perhaps psychosomatic, but they did appear to make life gentler, both during the run, and in recovery the day after.


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