The first thing you will notice about the new lightweight walkers from HOKA ONE ONE is the wide, elongated heel base. A decade after the brand raised eyebrows with their trail running shoes, their goal was to make hiking more comfortable.
The first HOKA trail running shoes pushed the minimalist trend aside with comfortable designs inspired by downhill biking and powder skiing. Now a hiking shoe is presented that consists of the same approach as pulling back the drawing board.
HOKA offers a range of hiking shoes and boots, but these differ due to recent changes in materials and assembly technologies. The brand’s designers believe they have created a lightweight boot that emphasizes stability and cushioning without sacrificing performance.
Take a look at the HOKA TenNine Hike GTX
We spoke to the HOKA product team to better understand the intent behind this eye-catching new version of hiking boots. In short, their goal was to make hiking a better experience.
One of the main pain points for hikers are descents. Downhill runs often come after long climbs, so the descent is on tired legs. This increases the stress on the knees and ankles when walking downhill – a well-documented aspect of hiking.
For this reason, HOKA built the TenNine’s heel to capture and cushion the landing of each step while providing a wider base for more stability in the ankle and leg.
To make climbing uphill easier and more comfortable, designers point out the stability and energy transfer of the rocking sole – developed for softer landings that propel the foot forward.
HOKA TenNine Hiker: Get to know the Hubble Heel
Why is it so big? Its width is used for greater stability. The dovetail extension behind the shoe cushions and propels the kick forward.
Look closely; There is a notch in the dovetail that creates different sides of the heel. This design aims to give the sole more flexibility and independent movement when walking over uneven terrain. From there, the usual HOKA rocking sole drives the hikers forward (from heel to toe) without using the muscles used for lateral stability.
The idea, say designers, is to create upholstery for comfort and durability. HOKA wants to make hiking more pleasant.
HOKA TenNine Hike GTX
Note, however, that the larger profile does not result in a heavier shoe. The men’s boot weighs less than 18 ounces. For years, HOKA designers tried to create a bigger shoe with less weight without compromising on performance. They have only found this to be possible through the latest material innovations.
For example, new EVA foams offer more padding from less material. Similarly, shoe uppers have used minimal TPU overlays to provide structure and stability, thereby reducing the thickness of the upper. Through years of developing running shoe designs, HOKA has reduced materials and found ways to make its shoes lighter, yet more responsive.
Rubber is a sturdy, cushioning material, but it is usually the heaviest material for a shoe. In order to avoid a compromise between cushion and weight, HOKA used the Litebase construction from Vibram, which, according to Vibram, “reduces the total weight of the sole by 30%” while halving the thickness.
The Vibram Litebase construction is unique in that it includes some grooves that cannot be seen when using other brands’ outsole. These grooves adapt to the flex or hinge points in the rest of the shoe – another difference achieved by working with the material manufacturer.
Less obvious details
Still, the sole is only one aspect of stability. The TenNine’s boot and upper are designed to rock the heel and midfoot for a firm feel. Even the metal fittings used for the top three laces are designed to slide through or pop out in no time and optimize the fit of the mesh upper.
On the impact side, the TenNine boots (and other HOKA shoes) reflect the brand’s commitment to reduce and reuse. For example, the GORE-TEX Leaf Bootie is made from recycled polyester and is bluesign certified, which means it also uses less water and chemicals than virgin material.
A leaner product and its production are part of the brand’s design process. The simpler construction and the lower material of TenNine result in a larger shoe with a smaller ecological footprint than would have been possible a few years ago.
HOKA TenNine Hike GTX Technical specifications
- Geometry: 33 mm heel / 29 mm forefoot (M); 30 mm / 26 mm (B)
- Weight: 17.8 oz. (M); 14.7 oz. (W)
- Upper, higher: GORE-TEX Leaf Bootie, Mesh Liner
- Midsole: EVA foam
- Outsole: Vibram Litebase with Megagrip traction
- Lugs: 5mm
- Price: $ 250
HOKA is no stranger to pissing off the apple cart of shoe design. In just a few years, HOKA went from “clown shoes” to the dominant starting lines for trail races. Time will tell what impact TenNine boots will have on hiking, but the designers believe the lessons learned from making this boot will influence the line of products for years to come.
Additional color options will be available in February.
Take a closer look at the HOKA TenNine Hike GTX
This article was made available to you by HOKA ONE ONE.