With a thick and exaggerated sole that protrudes just a few centimeters behind the heel of the shoe, the TenNine Hike GTX is a radical rethinking of the hiking shoe. And that makes sense for a shoe from HOKA, the disruptive brand that single-handedly turned running shoe design on its head a decade ago by challenging assumptions about cushioning and performance. You probably have (at least) two questions: What is HOKA thinking? And how does it work? We called the product team to find out.
Stability in all conditions
The TenNine’s most immediately recognizable design feature, its rear-protruding sole, is also the most important. “When we went hiking in 2009, we were where we were,” says Thibaut Poupard, Senior Manager for Product Innovation at HOKA. “New chemistry and technology allow us to be wider and longer for more stability.” The theory is simple: with more connection to the earth comes more stability – something that the elongated Hubble® heel and the midsole geometry of TenNine in spades offer. The shoe’s increased contact with the ground also provides first-class traction, especially on descents.
The Conscious Hiker Challenge
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Comfort for lasting performance
Like HOKA running shoes, the TenNine Hike GTX also uses an ample portion of the company’s own EVA foam padding with a midsole, which, in combination with the Hubble® heel, offers a cloud-like experience for hikers. “To further increase flex,” says Matt Head, HOKA Design Director, “we’ve added the dovetail cutout at the back of the heel.” On the trail, this works almost like an independent suspension. The right side of the shoe can handle a rock while the left side is left more planted on the trail, which puts less strain on the wearer’s ankle. The exaggerated heel and wedge of the foam midsole further reduce impact on the hiker’s joints by pushing the leg into a natural curve and transferring the impact forces from the knee joint to the muscles.
Additional bonus: The TenNine Hike GTX was developed to also reduce the environmental impact. Recycled materials and textiles are used everywhere, from the integrated waterproof membrane (71 percent recycled post-consumer materials; more on this below) to the shoe lining, the laces and even the heel cord (100 percent recycled polyester).
Your eyes may be drawn to the unique lowering of the TenNine first, but your feet will immediately notice the fit of the running shoe. “The upper instantly adapts to a variety of feet,” says Head. Compared to conventional hiking shoe leather, the mesh upper material of the TenNine practically eliminates the standard break-in time. However, that benefit extends beyond your first few hikes in these shoes, and includes seasonal adaptability: whether you’re wearing light summer socks or heavy winter socks, just lace them up and go.
All-weather protection and traction
The TenNine foot protection is not limited to the padded, super-stable midsole. The HOKA designers also took into account the different weather and trail conditions and used the Gore-Tex Leaf bootie construction to wrap the hikers’ feet in a waterproof, breathable membrane that keeps moisture out and allows sweat to escape. In addition, hearty Vibram Megagrip studs, which are spread over the large contact area of the shoe, provide traction on wet, dry, frozen and muddy trails.
A superior strength to weight ratio
“Our goal was to transform the hiking experience by bringing what we’ve learned from ten years in the running category to the trail,” says Head. The result is a shoe that offers the protection, fit and durability of a hiking shoe with the flexibility and lightweight feel of a trail runner. The combination means less fatigue on the trail – and the prospect of more energy to cover more ground. “A hiker is on his feet all day and encounters different terrain with every step,” says Head. “It’s not about speed. It’s about hiking forever. “
HOKA ONE ONE® produces high-quality shoes and clothing for athletes of all kinds. The HOKA shoes, born in the mountains, are intended to facilitate the feeling of movement and offer a unique experience with improved cushioning and a uniquely smooth ride. Today, HOKA’s shoe and clothing lines have grown to meet the running, walking, fitness and outdoor needs of a wide variety of users. With a bold and unexpected approach, HOKA gives athletes of all skill levels the feeling of being able to fly. For more information, visit hokaoneone.com or follow @ Hokaoneone #Time to fly.
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