REVIEW: Hoka One One Arahi

Disclaimer:
This pair of shoes was provided by World of Sports Singapore for the purposes of a shoe review. 


Hoka One One has been known primarily for its maximalist highly cushioned neutral running shoes, but it has dipped its feet in the stability market once or twice before. Previous stability models by Hoka One One include the Hoka Constant v1 and v2, and Infinite. This year, Hoka discontinued the Infinite, and replaced it with two new stability models - the Arahi and the Gaviota.

The Arahi is positioned as the "responsive" stability shoe, with a slightly lower claimed weight, and the Gaviota is the "cushioned" stability shoe. The Arahi is in fact the first stability shoe from Hoka I've had the pleasure of trying, and indeed one of the (very) few stability shoes I've worn in the past few years.

Let's start with the basic specs.

Heel stack: 34mm
Forefoot stack: 29mm
Drop: 5mm
Weight: 9.88oz (280g) (US9.5)
Note: advertised weight is 9.5oz (269g) for US9

The shoe comes stock with a very thick and soft Ortholite insole


UPPER

The upper on the Arahi is quite laden with printed overlays across the entire length of the shoe and it is particularly dense as you move away from the toebox of the shoe. This does a very good job of adding structure to the upper and allowing it to lock the foot down firmly. However, in does so, it moves away from the traditional open mesh that was seen in earlier Hoka models, and takes a significant hit in the ventilation department. I experienced similar issues with the earlier Hoka Vanquish, and see that the uppers from the Arahi and Gaviota seem to be keeping with this theme. On the plus side, the plastic overlays are doing wonders for the aesthetics of the shoe, giving it a very sleek and modern feel.

The tongue is adequately padded, and when paired with the stock flat elastic laces, provide a very nice and snug wrap. It did not take me long to get the lacing tension dialed in for this shoe. There is an integrated heel loop strap, which suggests perhaps it is to be considered as a stability racer for long course triathletes.

MIDSOLE

The shoe utilizes a J-Frame rather than a traditional medial post, to provide stability. As with many Hoka models, the EVA rides up a little around the side edges of the shoe already, which prevents the foot from spilling over the sides and gives even neutral Hokas a modicum of side-to-side stability. The J-Frame essentially incorporates a firmer durometer blend of EVA along the medial edge and the heel, to prevent the foot from over-pronating. In this shoe, you can clearly see the softer EVA foam as the white foam, and the firmer EVA as the orange foam. There are some very nice flex grooves that segment the forefoot and midfoot areas, which help to add a little bit of flexibility to an otherwise understandably stiff shoe (very common among shoes of this thickness)

photo credit: Hoka One One
OUTSOLE

there isn't a whole lot of outsole rubber coverage as you can see from the pic above, but in my experience, it is often the durability of the midsole EVA that determines the lifespan of a Hoka Shoe and the EVA often expires before the outsole rubber wears out, so what you see in terms of outsole rubber will likely last you the lifespan of this shoe.

FIT

The shoe fits me true to size. If you use the stock insole, you will probably find that shoe volume is on the lower end of the spectrum, and the overall width of the shoe is somewhat middle of the road. It felt a little bit narrower across the board to me compared to e.g. the Clifton 3, but some of that could be because the upper material is more rigid than that of the Clifton 3.

IMPRESSIONS

My first run in it felt very soft and bouncy. The first few kilometres really felt great, but then I started to notice the heat build up in the shoe a bit more, and towards the end of that run, I was in quite a lot of discomfort; a burning sensation had built up on the sole of my right foot. Taking the shoes off, I realized that the insole had become very warm to touch. as it turns out, Ortholite insoles do not breathe well, and the thicker they are, the more heat they trap. Combine this with the relatively low ventilation upper and you have the recipe for very quick heat build up. I have asked around and it seems I am not alone in noticing the heat build-up in these shoes.

Before my second run in the shoes, I promptly swapped them out for another EVA-based insole I had lying around. Immediately, i noticed that the shoe had become significantly firmer and less bouncy, thus leading to the revelation that most of the nice soft feel of the shoe during my first run in them were more a result of the soft and thickly padded insole than the shoe's midsole. Nevertheless, the saving grace was that the heat build-up issue went away completely. I was still optimistic that the shoe would soften up a bit more over time, as is my experience with previous heavy duty Hokas. True enough, the shoe does soften up a bit and become a tad more flexible after the first ~80km. I do not have enough miles on this shoe to get a good idea of the durability, but Hoka has a very good track record of durability with their heavier trainers so i do not expect this shoe to wear out any time soon. For reference, I have well over 500km on my Hoka Odyssey v1 (bought in 2015!) and they are still giving me a nice and bouncy ride, with decent outsole rubber still remaining on the outsole.

Right now after 150km of use, the shoe rides smoother and indeed softer than it did out of the box. I strongly recommend using some other after market insole with this shoe. It does weigh a bit more than other stability daily trainers like the Saucony Guide or Nike Lunarglide, but i also feel that it is noticeably softer and transmits less ground vibrations that either of the above examples. I think this would be a good option more for recovery runs for me. It just seems to be a little too much shoe for me for long runs (which are significantly faster than recovery runs).

Who would this shoe work for? I think it would work for people who need mild to moderate pronation control, with medium width feet but who want something with a lot more cushioning that the standard stability trainer. I can see this shoe working very well for ultra athletes who race more on road or non-technical trail.

The Hoka Arahi is now on sale at various World of Sports outlets in Singapore.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

REVIEW: ASICS Skysensor and Tarther Japan

REVIEW: ASICS Noosa FF

REVIEW: ASICS Hyperspeed 7