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‘Now it is time to fly’- the background to Hoka

Hoka One One shoes- why we love them at Castleberg Outdoors and what they do…AW14 Stinson Wms

Hoka shoes are fantastic, but definitely different- so we think it's worth finding out a little about what makes them so special.

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A rough translation of the Maori word Hoka means ‘now it is time to fly’.

The initial concept of Hoka shoes was the brainchild of two trail runners, Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. They wanted to develop a shoe that would reduce the fatigue and muscle strain that can plague trail and ultra-runners, enabling faster recovery and reducing injury. Their belief that running is all about freedom is central to the concept of Hoka shoes, and the years of development and refinement of the design have resulted in the fantastic range we have today.

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How do Hoka shoes work?

Hoka shoes use a unique rolling motion in the sole- with a rockering profile that propels the foot forward from heel strike to the push off. This energy-efficient action allows a smooth stride transition reducing fatigue over long distances.

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Hoka shoes also have an oversized midsole, incorporating up to 2 ½ times the volume of EVA that you would find in an ordinary trail shoe. This gives obviously a much improved level of impact absorption, as well as feeling comfortable whatever the surface. This oversized midsole promotes a natural stride pattern and complements the rocking action provided by the rockered profile of the sole.

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One concern people have about the idea of this extra cushioning is the loss of a secure fit in the heel area, as well as a lack of contact with the ground. Hoka shoes avoid this problem by using a patented bucket seat design in the midsole. The heel sits in a recess in the midsole, between 20-30mm depending on the model of shoe, which gives a good level of stability despite the extra cushioning.

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In terms of grip and control, the wider platform (35% wider than standard running shoes) of the Hoka sole allow for great control and stability underfoot. The higher profile of the shoe might feel unstable with a standard width of sole but the extra width counters this and allow for a confident stride over a variety of surfaces. Lug depths and patterns vary between models, and are designed to suit a variety of terrains. For example, the new Mafate Speed has deep lugs for good grip on loose and muddy terrain but not so deep that the ride on roads or hard trails would be compromised.

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For the extra control and stability, Hoka shoes have a reinforced sidewall with built-in flexibility as well as a quick-lace system for a close ­­precision fit. They are also extremely lightweight- a design feature to allow maximum performance without fatigue over long distances.

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In short, Hoka shoes provide a credible and proven alternative to standard running shoes, especially over long distances. They promote natural stride patterns, assist in reducing fatigue, muscle strain and injury, and promote faster recovery. We love them- both as running shoes and as long-distance walking shoes.

Our new season stock has just arrived- we have a range we’re really proud of. The improved Mafate Speed and the Stinsons are still there, and are joined by the Hoka Tor and Hoka Huaka.

If you have any questions about the Hoka range we stock here at Castleberg, or want any more information, please check out our Hoka section here or give us a ring.