Originally designed for ultra-marathon runners, now the fashion elite have Hoka running shoes on their feet and you can even get them in M&S. Want in? These are our picks
Hoka running shoes: that phrase either has you nodding in considerable excitement, or saying ‘"Hoka, what?". Hoka running shoes are quite possibly the hottest, most trendy fashion trainer, even though they were originally made for the hardcore running community.
So what is the fuss? They have quite the celebrity fanbase which always helps. Britney Spears has apparently been wearing Hokas for a few years. Hawk-eyed fashionistas have spotted her sporting the mint green Hoka Bondi 8, £150, in Instagram posts.
Trinny Woodhall bought some on a recent trip to LA and shared her purchase on her YouTube channel declaring her Hoka Carbon X 3, £160 as not only the “coolest thing in LA” but describing them as feeling “so light and unbelievably comfortable, in fact I’ve never worn such a comfortable trainer.” In fact she could have shopped her Hokas in the UK. Marks and Spencer stocks 19 different Hoka trainers.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Kylie Jenner and Reese Witherspoon are also said to be fans. And where a celeb fan is, a social media following comes: #hoka has had 554.1 million views and counting on TikTok.
What are Hoka running shoes?
Quite simply, they are trainers for running. Nearly all Hoka running shoes are bright and colourful. Style-wise they are on the chunky side and some have an almost banana-like rocker sole. This aesthetic is not unique. This year we've seen clunky, almost orthopaedic-style high fashion trainers from brands such as Prada and Celine.
While they look clunky and heavy Hoka trainers are ultra-lightweight as you'd expect from a functioning sports shoe (should you, shock horror, actually want to wear them to go running).
What’s so special about Hoka running shoes?
Hoka is a Maori word that means ‘to fly’. The shoes were created in 2009 for ultra-marathon runners; more specifically ultra-marathon runners who were racing over rugged mountain landscapes. What was required was something light but robust. The makers studied the technology used in mountain bike wheels and tennis rackets and this inspired the thickly cushioned sole and wide design.
While they are still worn by a huge number of running enthusiasts - there’s a different shoe to suit whatever type of running you’re into, from trail running to road running, hiking, or gym - they’re also having a serious moment in the fashion world.
As well as running shoes Hoka makes recovery sliders, ultra-cushioned, easy-to-put-on sandals that were designed to help post-running muscle fatigue and recovery. Again, recovery footwear is having a style moment too. Oprah declared it 'life-changing'.
Are Hoka shoes worth the money?
The price is always going to be slightly subjective. What price style? The cheapest is the Ora Recovery Slide, £49. The most expensive is the Tennine Hike Gore-Tex Boot, £230, described as 'part hovercraft, part hiking boot'.
The average Hoka running trainer is £140 to £150 – a good price for a running shoe if that’s what you’re going to wear it for, but perhaps pricey if you’re just planning on wearing it to Sainsbury's.
Our pick of the best Hoka running shoe styles
If you are looking to join the Hoka crew, these are our picks:
Best for wearing all day: Hoka Arahi 6 Trainers, £130
Probably the best style for wearing everyday but sturdy enough for short road runs, gym workouts and walks.
Best for hiking: Hoka Speedgoat 5 Trainers, £139
Designed with lots of grip these are a great option if you’re into trail running or hiking. They have lots of built-in cushioning to protect your feet and body from strong impact.
Best for sprint running: Hoka Mach 5 Trainers, £129
Created for speedy road runs, these shoes comes with elasticated laces so you never have to worry about having to slow down to tie them back up again.
Best for regular outdoor runs and walks: Hoka Bondi 8, £150
Ultra cushioned and super comfy, if you’re a regular outdoor or treadmill runner or spend a lot of time notching up your daily step count then these are the style for you.
Best for recovery: Hoka Ora Recovery Slide, £49
Now we would argue these are the least pretty style in the entire range but people absolutely rave about them for how comfortable they are to wear when you’ve either worked out really hard or have been standing on your feet all day and need to put your feet into something that feels both cushioned but supportive.