I’m pretty sure no one ever picked out a pair of Hoka One One shoes because they liked how they look. Or if they did, they’ve got an entirely different shoe aesthetic than me.
I saw my first pair of Hoka One Ones, with their almost cartoonishly thick soles, at The Running Event, a global trade show for running specialty retailers held in Austin. That was nearly 10 years ago, about the time an earlier trend of thin-soled, minimalist shoes designed to mimic barefoot running was fading.
Running shoe trends get dizzying sometimes.
I tried a pair of Hoka One Ones a year or two later. I’d grappled with plantar fasciitis over the years, and the lightweight, heavily cushioned shoes made me feel like I was running on marshmallows. I liked the cushioning but wasn’t so sure about the high-rise feel. When the Hokas wore out, I switched back to my old familiar Brooks.
A few weeks ago, though, Hoka One One sent me two new pairs of trail runners to test, and I think one – the Torrent 2 – is going to be perfect for an upcoming adventure. In late September, I’ll hike 9.5-miles down Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park to join some friends who are rafting the Colorado River. I’ll be with them the next two weeks, rafting, camping, and hiking side canyons as we make our way to Pearce Ferry.
Testing the Hoka One One Torrent 2
The Hoka Torrent 2 trail runners are characteristically ugly. They’re black, for one, with green, pink, black and blue outsoles.
I switched from using clunky hiking boots to trail runners for backpacking long ago. I’m happier in something lighter and more comfortable, which is why I wore trail runners on a 15-day backpacking trip along the John Muir Trail.
I like the Hoka trail runners for several reasons. First, the Torrent 2’s weigh in at just 7.6 ounces – less than my cell phone. Second, they’ve got a mesh upper, made with recycled polyester fibers. That keeps my feet cool. Third, while they’re cushy, they’re not as extreme as other Hoka One Ones on the market. I don’t feel like I’m wearing platform shoes, ala a 1970s fashionista.
They’ve got sticky rubber outsoles and rugged lugs on the bottom, which should provide good footing for my downhill hike into the canyon. They sell for $120 online.
I’ll wear river sandals while I’m on the water but will probably use the Hokas for side hikes during the rafting trip.
Hoka One Ones look goofy, but I don’t care. I’m more interested in a comfortable shoe with good traction. And that’s what the Torrent 2 serves up.