Hoka One One New For Spring 2016
Interesting stuff from renegade French running brand Hoka One One at this year's OutDoor show in Germany - see our Best of Show report - with the fat-soled specialists launching a new walking collection under the slogan 'Hiking Will Never Be The Same'…
The new shoes will actually be available from August and combine the brand's characteristic mix of super-thick EVA cushioned soles, a defined rocker or curve for an easy, rolling gait, deceptive stability thanks to the wide sole stance and light weight.
The running range has caught on big time with distance athletes and we're big fans here, particularly for running on harder surfaces, but the aesthetics are undeniably an acquired taste. We've found people either love them or hate them, with not much wriggle room in between.
One plus for the brand is that it doesn't, unlike barefoot options, require you to alter your running technique. You just put them on and go. They feel both very cushioned, as you'd expect, but also surprisingly stable and, for want of a better word, 'normal'.
New Tor Ultra Hi Mid WP
The new Tor Ultra Hi Mid WP - see main image - promises more of the same. The uppers are a mix of fabric mesh and leather with a super flexible ankle-cuff backed up with a waterproof eVent liner. Underfoot there's a familiar Hoka One One sole unit, in this case made from the slightly firmer compression moulded EVA - 32mm of it at the heel, 24mm at the forefoot.
The outsole is a hybrid mix of Vibram Megagrip sticky rubber - the black bits in the image - and Hoka's own RMAT blend of rubber and EVA to save weight and give good wet conditions grip on a range of surfaces. They're respectably light too, just 485g per foot for a UK 8.5.
As with the running shoes, we reckon they could excel on harder surfaces in particular, though some potential buyers will find the looks an insurmountable hurdle. Price for the Tor Ultra Hi WP is £160 or there's also a low version for £140, thought that doesn't arrive until spring 2016.
If you like the theory, but prefer more subtle looks, check out the Tor Summit, which has more conventional styling with discrete brown leather uppers. Price for that model is £140 for the mid and £120 for the low.
Speed Goat - Full-on Trail Running Shoe
Also due out this autumn 2015 is the new Speed Goat, the brand's most gnarly off-road running shoe yet with a sole born of a collaboration with Vibram and intended to deliver more underfoot grip on wet and loose surfaces in particular.
The ace name comes from a classic mountain ultra race synonymous with top athlete Karl Meltzer who helped develop the shoe. The basics are familiar with the pronounced rocker curve to the sole, lots of cushioning - the shoe uses the softer injection-moulded EVA - and plenty of stability thanks to the width of the sole unit in particular.
That Vibram sole however, is visually toothier than previous Hoka One One trail shoes, which could make it a great choice for UK use, where the demarcation line between hard-pack trails and slippery gnar can be a little less obvious than on the continent...
The vital statistics are 33.5mm cush at the heel, 28.5mm under the forefoot and a 5mm drop - bear in mind those cushioning figures include 4mm high lugs. Price of the Speed Goat, once it's available around August/September time, will be £110. Could make an excellent UK option we reckon.
New For 2016 - Challenger ATR2
Finally, due out in spring 2016 is a new, second generation take on the Challenger ATR running shoe. The original version was well received in the running press and on the verge of landing several coveted awards, but was let down by a slightly loose heel fit.
For next year that gets comprehensively fixed with a tweaked heel section featuring more support and padding, a padded tongue and a sturdier reinforced toe-box. The shoe's touted as a 'door to trail' unit, suitable for a mix of pavement and off-road use with a mesh upper to suit dry conditions.
It's nice and light at 270g for a men's 8.5 and, as with the other models featured here, there's also a women's version with jazzier styling. The cushion is 28.5mm at the heel and 24mm up front giving a 4.5mm drop, but again that includes 4mm lugs.
More Hoka One One stuff at www.hokaoneone.eu