Hoka One One Hupana Review

temporaryTL; DR: Not your mama’s marshmallow-y HOKAs. Light, fast, and responsive enough for fast efforts, the Hupana is a model I find myself reaching for over and over. Love it. (Click here to jump to the overall rating if you aren’t down for the full 1,200-ish word review.)

After some major missteps with the Clifton (making a near-perfect lightweight do-anything model heavier, more structured, and decidedly un-Clifton-like) HOKA One One gets its act together with the Hupana. This shoe has a sleek knit upper plus sole geometry and stack height comparable to a “regular” running shoe. A firmed up version of HOKA’s RMAT foam does double duty as both midsole and outsole, lending the Hupana a quiet, smooth ride. I put over 75 road and treadmill miles on these before I knew it — despite having loads of shoes in my collection (a truly unhealthy number of pairs), these were the ones I consistently wanted on my feet. It’s not all sunshine and roses with these, but it mostly is. Read on for my review of the Hupana in ten key areas, ultimately arriving at an overall numerical score out of a possible 100 points.

Disclosure: I bought these shoes myself and my opinions are entirely my own.

Weight
In the same way that I failed with my Saucony Freedom ISO review, I did not weigh the Hupana before I ran in them, and weighing them now after a fair amount of use is not only a gross way to use my food scale, but doesn’t give the model a fair shake. As much as it pains me to do it, I have to rely on the stated catalog weight. I have some reviews in the pipeline with at-home weigh-ins, so I won’t always make excuses! Running Warehouse has the exact same women’s model weight below listed for a size 8, not the size 7 specified by HOKA One One, so I’m leaving their specs out this time because I suspect that’s a mistake, not some different size, same weight sorcery cooked up by HOKA.

Per Hoka One One: 8.2 oz (men’s size 9)/6.3 oz (women’s size 7)

For about half an ounce more than the Saucony Kinvara 7 (Kinvara 8 review coming soon), you get a densely woven upper (will run warm in the summer, for sure), a semi-plush inner lining, and a thick, protective midsole. While the Hupana isn’t as lean as the Kinvara 7, it’s easily as spry and willing to pick up the pace. Its 8.2 oz weight matches that of the Nike Zoom Elite 9 (review coming soon) and is a couple tenths of an ounce lighter than the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3 (review also coming soon). The Hupana is in good — FAST — company with these similarly lightweight models. 8/10

Ride
You already know what I’m going to say since I’m barely holding myself back from gushing on this point. Smooth heel to to transitions. Quiet footfalls (noisy shoes are a pet peeve of mine as they make headphones-free running less than serene). Good groundfeel and feedback without being bone-jarringly firm or harsh on my legs. In short, the ride is superb. 10/10

Fit
No-fuss fit with excellent lockdown thanks to the stiff knit upper. The heel is adequately plush without being skate shoe-like, allowing for secure foot hold at minimal weight.  Logos printed on both insoles are completely intact, so I know my feet aren’t sliding around. Pull the laces and these are good to go with no fine tuning needed. 10/10

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Comfort
The Hupana is another shoe that disappears on my feet so my thoughts don’t run to “ahh, so comfy!” as I’m running, but it’s also plenty cozy enough that it’s a delight to slip into after a long day in high heels. No complaints, but the comfort isn’t something to write home about. The Hupana is performance-oriented, so I don’t think that’s a knock against it at all. 8/10

Traction
The grip is surprisingly excellent. I felt as surefooted as a billy goat on wet roads and sidewalks in these. I was pleasantly surprised that midsole foam could grab the ground so well. Even wit some areas of moderate wear in the toe and lateral heel, the traction is undiminished. However, one thing to note about the Hupana’s midsole-outsole: it builds up static like crazy. Shuffle across a carpeted floor in these and you’ll turn yourself into a weapon. Worse, run on a treadmill and you’ll shock yourself over and over if you reach for a water bottle or incidentally touch the machine with your hands. I released a shock so powerful on my home treadmill that it actually turned the machine off. You’ve been warned! That said, I’m still very impressed with the traction and I can live with the perils of using the Hupana on a treadmill. 10/10

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Flexibility
It’s not reasonable to expect much flexibility out of a sole that’s just a thick slab of foam. Even with a number of flex grooves carved out, the Hupana is hard to bend, with a flexion point just in front of the first row of lace eyelets. I don’t think this negatively impacts the ride character, but it’s not an asset either.  7/10

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Durability
This version of RMAT foam is way more resilient than the easily shredded RMAT found in the Clifton 1. My pair of Hupanas is showing a bit of wear in the toe (light wear), forefoot (light wear) and lateral heel (moderate wear), but otherwise looks great. Much of the shallow texturing on the “outsole” is still intact. No creases in the midsole and no fraying in the upper or laces. The upper is stiff enough that it holds a sharp crease at the flexion point just in front of the first row of eyelets, so that may be a failure point in the future. 9/10

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Looks
The two-tone blue knit upper on my pair is accented with orange at the toe, heel, and eyelets. It’s more sophisticated for a HOKA (who has produced a veritable glut of garish models, like the Speed Goat), but it’s not quite there for me. You could slap a Skechers logo on the side and I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. A truly monochrome knit might have been more sleek. I don’t totally hate the looks of these, but they don’t excite me either. 7/10

Price
I’m pretty accustomed to spending between $120-$140 for running shoes. The Hupana’s MSRP is $115, which is pretty great. It’s not the cheapest performance model out there (that title probably belongs to the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3), but it’s reasonable and given its durability and excellent ride, it’s a great value. 9/10

Suitability for Intended Purpose
HOKA bills the Hupana as an all-day shoe that can carry you from the grocery store and daily chores right through to your run. It’s meant to be as performance-oriented with its RMAT outsole as it is stylish with its knit upper. I agree with the performance side of this, but am disinclined to wear the Hupana with anything other than running clothes. However, it gets the uptempo running part of the equation so right that I can’t fault it too much for getting the lifestyle shoe part wrong. 9/10

Overall
To recap for you TL;DR folks:
Weight: 8/10
Ride: 10/10
Fit: 10/10
Comfort: 8/10
Traction: 10/10
Flexibility: 7/10
Durability: 9/10
Looks: 7/10
Price: 9/10
Suitability for Intended Purpose: 9/10
TOTAL: 87/100

I’m a tough grader, but in my defense, there are a lot of excellent shoes to choose from, so it’s important to know where a particular model shines and where it stinks. Overall, the Hupana is great and will likely be on my feet for a marathon this spring.

Until next time, happy trails!

-Ultrarunner Hope

Three Secrets for Success with the Hoka One One Clifton

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Disclaimer: The following is just my opinion based on my experience with the shoe, which includes long training runs, a marathon, and a 50 mile race. Every runner is different. Among dedicated running shoes there is probably no 100% bad shoe, but probably a lot of shoes that aren’t right for you. As much as I love it, the Clifton isn’t even my Cinderella shoe! Before buying any running shoe, I recommend trying it on. The best running specialty stores (You’re shopping at a specialty running store, right? You’d better be.) will let you take it on a short run (on an in-store treadmill, or maybe even outside if it’s a really cool store), so do that too when possible.

1. Use both insoles.
The Clifton comes with two insoles, both of which are super thin and light. One is orange foam, one is white foam. I would guess that the orange foam is Ortholite and the white foam is EVA, but I’m sure you can find out for sure on your own if you’re interested. I probably could research specs and write that sort of review, but I don’t want to portray myself as some sort of footwear expert when I’m not. Yes, I run in almost all of the major brands, often multiple models from each line, but I’m not an actual expert. What I am an expert in, is my individual experience with a shoe. That said, my real point is that using both insoles is the way to go. The midsole of the Clifton is so marshmallowy soft that I felt like I was running through the shoe during the Marine Corps Marathon — all squish, no spring and the shoe felt like it was bottoming out. Adding the orange insole atop the white insole added just enough additional padding and support for me to get through my mostly-trail 50 miler without getting that bottomed out feeling from the shoes.

2. Wear thick socks.
I love Drymax Hyper Thin socks. I don’t love wearing them with the Clifton because I don’t love blisters. Other Hoka fans rave about the great fit of the Clifton’s upper. Are their standards super low, or is my foot super low volume relative to the average Hoka customer? Because I swim in these puppies! I’m not blister-prone, but with thin socks (socks that I wear blissfully without issue in other shoes), I suffer. My solution: thick socks to reduce the amount of sliding around my feet do in these shoes because of their sloppy fit. Extra padding is a nice fringe benefit, too. Sticking with Drymax, I rocked one pair of Drymax Max Cushion Run Mini Crew socks for the entire JFK 50 Mile Race. Anticipating disaster, I brought four pairs of different kinds of socks and didn’t need to change once. I’d always rather have something and not need it (like Immodium, am I right?!) than need it and not have it.

3. Don’t crank the laces down.
Yes, the Clifton has a sloppy fit. But don’t try and correct it by lacing it tightly. Over long distances, blood pools in the feet, causing them to swell. There’s absolutely no padding in the Clifton’s tongue. As soon as swelling sets in, those laces will be digging into your feet. Having endured that during the Marine Corps Marathon, I can tell you that it is extremely uncomfortable over the long haul. The pain lingered: a week later I still felt like my right foot had been stomped by a Sumo wrestler. Leaving the laces a little looser for the JFK 50 Mile Race didn’t cause me any trouble on the downhills (I wasn’t sliding all around within the shoe) and I didn’t feel like there was a lag between when I lifted my foot and when the shoe actually came off the ground — there’s a level of looseness that keeps under-lace soreness at bay while still keeping me adequately locked in.

Following the above tips left me with blister-free feet after my first-ever ultramarathon. Running long is all about the mental game and being able to roll with the punches, but anytime you can dodge a problem by dialing in your gear, why not do it?

Be on the lookout for a full review of the Hoka One One Clifton…eventually!