These ultra-cushioned hiking boots are chunky for a reason—they steamroll uneven trail terrain, without adding an ounce.
Put on a pair of Hoke One One shoes and, if you haven’t spotted it already, you’ll definitely feel the oversize platform underfoot. This bulbous midsole may look funny, but it’s pretty much the reason Hoka One One—a running shoe brand started in 2009 by French adventure racers—exists. Their line of thinking is that a plush amount of cushioning and volume underfoot can create an energizing, stable ride that inspires runners to keep after it. The cushioning is designed to be softly dense and have a good amount of rebound, diminishing joint and core fatigue.
The theory behind these maximalist running shoes parallels the same idea behind, say, fat mountain bike tires. They’re so wide and voluminous that they can bulldoze bumpy terrain, keeping the ride smooth and thus more enjoyable. And regardless of the minimalist trend that has graced the running shoe market over the last decade, many people are on board with Hoka’s “clown shoes.” In fact, the company’s revenue has grown from $14 million in 2013 to $48 million last year and their athlete roster includes Olympic medalists, national-class track runners, and ultra-runner podium regulars.
Enter the Hoka One One Tor Summit Mid waterproof hiking boots—Hoka’s first foray into mid-height hiking boots, sold exclusively at REI. Featuring the same plump midsole, with twice the volume of traditional running shoes, the Tor Summit Mid boots encompass Hoka’s proven running technologies but are built specifically for the steady, slow motion of trail hiking.
We tested them out on rooty Pacific Northwest trails in and around the Seattle area. What would normally be muddy and damp conditions were dry and loose because of an exceptionally dry summer. While climbing up and down rolling hills on Vashon Island, a few miles off the West Seattle shoreline, Hoka’s Meta-Rocker midsole geometry became evident. I was able to fluidly roll over trail-crossing roots from the gargantuan trees around me. Designed like a rocking chair, the sculpted outsole’s fulcrum effect, with very little difference in height between the heel, toe and midfoot, guided my feet through smooth gait cycles again and again.
At 1 pound 11 ounces per pair, they didn’t feel much heavier than other, less puffy hiking footwear I own, and the memory foam effect was in full force. I was walking on clouds. Because of that, trail-feel was completely non-existent, whether we were beachcombing over barnacles on the rocky Northwest beaches or tackling mulchy trails. At first, I was concerned about the lack of trail-feel underfoot: Would I react correctly if my foot landed halfway on a branch or a rock? But grippy traction—thanks to Hoka’s use of tried-and-true toothy Vibram outsoles—combined with the foam midsoles, quickly made me realize stability was in my corner.
Off the bat, Hoka’s Tor hikers felt secure on my feet, especially at the ankle and heel. The laces are responsive when tightening and stay in place while hiking (credit the textured laces). But, the toe box was a little too roomy for my feet, making them feel unhinged and sloshy within the shoes. These are best for people who like a little extra room in their shoes, especially in the forefoot.
As the day grew warmer, my feet continued to breath; the waterproof eVent® membrane keeps feet dry without compromising on breathability so my feet never got swampy, even after five miles mid-summer on dusty, exposed terrain. And, the dark gray nubuck/suede exterior resisted dirt, meaning they still look great after dozens of miles on the trail.
The takeaway: For hikers looking for extra joint support, little-to-no break-in time, and shock-absorbing cushioning—especially beneficial for multiday backpacking trips—the Hoka Hoka One Tor Summit Mid waterproof hiking boots are for you.
The Hoka Hoka One Tor Summit Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots are available exclusively at REI.