Following on from the lightweight design of the Toa, the Kaha offers a beefed-up design for those looking to hike longer distances and with a heavier pack, I’m thinking classic hikes such as the Tour du Mont Blanc and the West Highland Way.
A tougher and more durable Nubuck leather has been used for the upper of the Kaha which offers a welcome increase in support for those longer journeys. We took the Kaha on a five-hour walk up the Valley of Thor – Thórsmörk – to test how these boots held up to real mountain usage.
Similar to the Toa, I was surprised by their out-of-the-box comfort. The lack of weight felt on my foot was a highlight for these boots, particularly when you consider the category that they’re designed for.
Don’t expect the same breaking in period that you’d usually have to suffer through with traditional leather boots, the Kaha is able to offer comfort from the get go.
This increase in comfort has not only been achieved through the use of Hoka’s liberal use of cushioning throughout the midsole, but the flex of the boot is soft (for its category), which means that you’re never fighting against the boot.
Adding to the softer flex, Hoka One One have taken the ‘Meta-Rocker Geometry from their running shoe range. This natural curve to the sole gives you a smoother roll from when you first plant your foot through to when your toe leaves the ground – again, a world away from the more traditional stiff soled boots.
As you can see from the photos from the day, the weather didn’t quite play ball, with heavy snow creating some tricky testing conditions for the boots. It’s got to be said that these boots aren’t designed for winter mountain use, where you’re better off with a stiffer boot that can kick into the snow beneath.
I don’t want to bash on too much about the durability of these boots, as that is clearly not their number one design aspect, but I feel like it must be said that much of the EVA foam of the midsole on these boots is still exposed in the sole area, creating a point of weakness. Only time will tell to see how this holds up in the real world.
Christophe: “We want to stay lightweight. With each model we have created in the Sky Series, we are 10 – 20% lighter than the competition. The Kaha is a 500g boot, compared to around 650g competition. We didn’t want something overly stiff. This has been achieved through many years of testing and adapting the stiffness of our prototypes to get the correct amount of flex that we can then implement into the Sky Series.”
Size (EU): 40 – 48
We sadly didn’t get time with the Arkali after running out of days in Iceland – I’d have happily taken one for the team and extended my stay in Iceland, but couldn’t quite sell that to the Hoka team (or my publishing manager…)
The Arkali is a niche shoe, which claims to combine running shoe technology, with climbing shoe technology and hiking boot durability. If you’re looking for a UK scrambling companion, then the Arkali looks like it could be a great choice.
We’ve not got our hands on the Arkali, but are interested to see how the classic Hoka soft sole works out when edging on smaller ledges whilst scrambling.
Size (EU): 40 – 48
For More Like This:
Hoka One One Sky Series Boots | Preview
Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 | Review