The Claim: By now we’ve all seen people running on the road or trail outfitted in thick-soled rockered sneakers. Branded as a “category-defining outdoor boot,” Hoka One One claims the shoes provide support, traction, and cushioning, as well as full waterproofing, and a smooth, guided ride thanks to Meta-Rocker.
Field Test: I received a pair of Tor Ultras just in time for my biggest annual challenge: elk archery season in Northern New Mexico. My hunting days consist of scouring the hardest of scrabble, traversing ankle-deep muck, navigating a labyrinth of wind fallen trees, or scrambling over rock and scree well above tree line—if you stay on a hiking trail, you probably aren’t going to see any elk. My Hokas performed throughout, with the MetaRocker mid-sole rolling easily over the toughest terrain, while the Vibram lugged outsole had plenty of bite in wet or dry conditions. And then there’s load bearing. At 2 a.m., I was stumbling down a pathless mountain with an extra 100 pounds of Elk on my back and a fading headlamp.
Why It’s Timeless: My feet sink into the boot’s cushy, hollowed-out footbed like my sore, tired body into a bathtub. But stability is where these kicks really shine. I thought all the towering EVA height would make for much ankle turning, but I was surprised by the steadiness of these high tops, especially on those long, bedraggling days when the terrain was rough and my footfalls heavy. As for descending—You know that feeling, when your toes are jamming into the shoe’s toe box and you start dreaming of Moleskin, the trailhead, and a pair of flip flops? Gone.
$230; hokaoneone.com —Words and photo Dave Cox