Formerly known amongst the trail community as Hoka One One, Hokas are now basically a household name. Though, they used to be a cult favorite running shoe that was known more for its outlandish designs, wide toe box, above-average stack height, and eccentric colors than anything else. But Hoka has done something unpredictable – they’ve proven themselves to be some of the most comfortable high cushion models on the market in the past decade. They have now become staples of every shoe rotation from marathoners, to nurses, to soccer moms.
Despite the boost in popularity outside the running community, Hoka shoes are still a favorite of runners—particularly those that prefer longer distances. They were originally designed to be a smooth ride downhill shoe allowing you to “fly down mountains.” While styles have changed and improved since then, they did in many ways stay true to their design. Hokas remain as excellent downhill running shoes.
But, now that there are tons of versatile models to choose from. Options like super high cushion road running trainers, carbon-plated racers, and speedy trail running shoes, it can be a little more difficult to determine which model is actually the best for your needs. And, more specifically which Hokas which will help you get your next half marathon PR.
To help you out, we gathered up eight of our favorites that cover a wide range of different categories. Keep reading to get advice on how to choose the right Hoka for your next half, and in depth review of the best Hoka for half marathons available today.
Best Hokas for Half Marathons: Features to Consider
When choosing your HOKA (or any half marathon shoe really) there are a few features that you will want to consider that will help you determine which model will be right for you. Take each of these into consideration for how they pertain to your running style and goals.
Cushion level is one of the most difficult determining factors when choosing a distance racing shoe. You want to make sure that the shoe is comfortable enough that won’t cause aching feet, but not so cushioned your legs feel muddy and heavy. Luckily, Hoka shoes use super lightweight foams so you don’t have to worry about weight.
But, it is worth looking at how responsive a cushion will be as this will give you more rebound and help propel you forward.
Plated shoes have become increasingly popular and for good reason—they are responsive and responsible for improved energy return and running efficiency.
They bend and snap with every step, propelling your feet forward, they give you an advantage that a regular foam midsole cannot. That said, they aren’t always worth the high price tag. Some people find that they can be hard on the shins and joints because of the stiffness of the plate—I myself have trouble running over a 5k in a carbon shoe without arch pain.
They also don’t offer a tremendous amount of support for a runner that requires more stability in a shoe. So, if you are a severe overpronator, we wouldn’t recommend any carbon fiber plate shoe for you – Hoka or otherwise.
Studies also show that they don’t have as much of a performance enhancement if you are running over 7 minute miles. Though in personal experience, I do still feel an improvement in running economy dipping down as slow as 9 minutes during my 5Ks.
Stability vs Neutral
There are generally two categories of shoes—stability and neutral.
A neutral shoe will allow you to run as you are with no change or alteration to your gait. A stability shoes provide some form of guidance or motion control that prevents overpronation and arch collapsing.
There has been some debate as to whether overpronating is truly as harmful as it has been said to be. But, the fact is a lot of people still feel much more comfortable in a stability shoe.
The best way to tell if a stability shoe is right for you is to look at your current running shoes and notice the wear pattern. If you wear heavily on the inside of your outsole, chances are you are overpronating. If you have wear and tear on the outsole but you run without issue and are pain free, continue to do what works for you. However, if you feel that you could use some more support, opting for a stability shoe could be a viable the solution.
Hokas are pretty dang light—it’s part of their draw. But, some models are heavier than others. How much does weight really matter when it comes to race day? Well the answer is complicated, but to keep it short, not much. More important than weight is the responsiveness of the shoe.
A responsive foam will give you a springy step – allowing you to spend less time on the ground and increasing turnover speed.
Hokas also have the benefit of using the meta-rocker which helps you to roll through your strides and turn over your steps more efficiently. If you do like a super light shoe though, we won’t knock your preference. Hoka definitely has some extra light options for you.
How We Selected the Best Hoka for Half Marathon
To choose the 8 best Hokas for half marathons, I looked at models that would fit all different types of runners, races, and training types. I considered comfort, breathability, grip, responsiveness, and weight when choosing these shoes. And, I opted to include a range of models that would serve a variety or runners needs and preferences.
I also used my own experience with testing Hokas and other running shoes as well as customer shoe reviews to determine the best Hoka running shoes for half marathon racing and training.
The Best Hoka for Half Marathons
- Best Overall: Hoka Clifton 9
- Best for Racing: Hoka Rocket X 2
- Best for Summer Half Marathons: Hoka Rincon 3
- Best for Cold Weather Half Marathons: Hoka Stinson 6
- Best for Speed: Hoka Mach X
- Best for Recovery Runs: Hoka Arahi 6
- Best for Trail Races: Hoka Torrent 3
- Best High Cushion: Hoka Bondi 8
Best Overall: Hoka Clifton 9
Heel Drop: 5mm | Weight: 7.3 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Cushioning: Mid-high | Price: $145
The Clifton 9 is one of of Hoka’s most popular shoes. This shoe is a great option for training, racing, and everything in between. It has a super thick EVA foam midsole that provides above average cushioning while remaining light enough to race in if you don’t want to go for a carbon plated racer.
This is also a great option to get you through your training cycle. You can count on it to be versatile enough that it would perform well in both long distances and speed workouts.
You can think of this as HOKA’s daily trainer version of the Nike Pegasus or Brooks Ghost.
The midsole also features a meta-rocker which forces you to roll through your step, promoting a smoother ride, and decreases impact as you step. This both helps give you a more efficient running form and helps to decrease impact from stress. This makes our pick for the overall best Hoka for half marathon.
Best for Racing: Hoka Rocket X 2
Hoka Rocket X 2 Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 8.3 oz | Carbon Plate: Yes | Cushioning: Medium | Price: $250
If you want a fast, responsive, racer that can help you get a PR in everything from the 5k to marathon, the Rocket X 2 is a great option for you.
This shoe is a great mix of comfort and performance. While it is an elite racing shoe designed to help you run as fast as possible, it is also designed with a max cushioned-comfortable feel that will keep your feet feeling great even as you pile on through the later miles.
It falls in between between the Hoka Bondi X and Hoka Carbon X 3 with regards to cushioning. This makes a fantastic half marathon shoe as you still have some level of ground feel and enough cushion that you won’t feel the effects of 13.1 miles.
The one issue some customers had with this shoe was the mesh upper in the heel area—it doesn’t have much padding, and fits more like a spike than a shoe which some people felt was not supportive enough. If you’re looking to step up to the starting line in a fresh pair, consider these the best Hoka for half marathon racing.
Best for Summer Half Marathons: Hoka Rincon 3
Hoka Rincon 3 Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 7.2 oz | Carbon Plate: No| Cushioning: Moderate | Price: $125
Lightweight and highly ventilated, the Rincon is made for hot and sweaty runs. It has a super light EVA midsole that offers a ride that is cushioned enough for long runs, and responsive enough for 400 meter track runs.
The Rincon weighs only 7.2 ounces making it the lightest weight option on the list. It can also be a great racing option if you are looking to forgo a plated model. Plus, at only $125, it’s about half as expensive as most racing shoes.
The upper is made from a vented mesh breathable upper that allows for maximum airflow. This mesh upper is designed to prevent your feet from overheating. And, can keep them feeling dry even in the most humid conditions.
Unlike the Clifton, this shoe has your foot sitting mostly on top of the foam. While this does offer slightly less stability, it can solve that arch discomfort that other models may pose. If you’re considering any summer races through Death Valley, consider the Rincon 3 the best Hoka for half marathon in warm weather.
Best for Cold Weather Half Marathons: Hoka Stinson 6
Hoka Stinson 6 Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 9.8 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Cushioning: High | Price: $136
Finding a shoe for winter races can be tricky. While you can always wear a carbon plated racer, they usually don’t have the best grip and the uppers are made to be as lightweight as possible. Which, usually means one very thin layer of mesh in the winter can mean some very chilly toes.
Though it has a bit more weight to it, the Stinson is a max cushion, all-terrain shoe that can hold up to your slipperiest, gnarliest winter races and training.
The Hoka Stinson 6 have broad 4mm lugs that give you impeccable grip on trails and uneven conditions. But, they are also lax enough that you can take them on the roads with no issue. Because of this, they are a great option for snowy, slushy races.
They also have a TPU reinforced toe cap, and engineered mesh that allows for breathability but keeps you a bit warmer than a racing upper.
Best for Speed: Hoka Mach X
Hoka Mach X Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 8 oz | Carbon Plate: PEBAX Plate | Cushioning: Low | Price: $180
Newly released, the Mach X took the base design of the beloved Mach (you’re likely familiar with the Hoka Mach 5) and made it into an incredibly light, impressively responsive speed shoe.
This shoe is a fantastic choice if you want a more minimalist racing shoe, or a light and fast option for speedwork.
Though it is plated, this shoe is actually technically a training shoe which means that it will hold up to higher mileage than a traditional racer. At only 8 ounces, it is still very light (even lighter than the Rocket X) and uses a firmer, more responsive foam to give you excellent push off and ground feel.
This shoe also uses a PEBAX plate made with PEBA foam (alternating rubbery polyether segments and rigid polyamide segment) as opposed to a carbon one which is both more durable and slightly less hard which means that it is a bit easier on the legs—a benefit for those that may have shin issues.
Best for Recovery Runs: Hoka Arahi 6
Hoka Arahi 6 Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 7.6 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Cushioning: Mid-High | Price: $140
Whether you are an overpronator or not, many of us find that our running form significantly deteriorates the longer we run.
Opting for a more supportive shoe for your long run days isn’t a bad idea. The Arahi uses a stabilizing J-frame design that supports the foot and gently corrects your gait if you begin to collapse.
Because this uses only a higher density foam on the inside of the foot instead of a hard plastic, it doesn’t feel as aggressive as some other stability models.
This shoe also has a light and soft ride that feels great on achy feet. And it will give you the plush feel you desire in a recovery shoe without weighing you down. At only 7.6 ounces, this shoe is also potentially light enough to race in if you need a more supportive option for marathon day.
Best for Trail Races: Hoka Torrent 3
Hoka Torrent 3 Specs:
Drop: 5mm | Weight: 7.5 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Cushioning: Low | Price: $130
If you are running a trail half marathon, you need to have a trail shoe that is both light and will protect you from roots, rocks, and ruts.
The Torrent is an excellent option as it has a minimal responsive feel that will keep you feeling light and agile as you tackle the miles. The Torrent is part of the HOKA ProFly Series which are made with firm bottom foam for “propulsive toe-offs.”
While it is on the lighter cushioning side, trails are often much softer than running on asphalt. So, you don’t need as much cushioning as you would for a road race.
This shoe also has 4mm multidirectional lugs that provide excellent grip, and a TPU overlay upper that keeps your foot snug and secure in the shoe.
The Torrent is also very very light at only 7.5 ounces. This makes it an excellent choice for race day, or even just some training runs through the trails.
Want a trail shoe with max cushion? We also love the Speedgoat.
Best Max Cushion: Hoka Bondi 8
Hoka Bondi 8 Specs:
Drop: 4mm | Weight: 8.9 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Cushioning: Max | Price: $165
If you are looking for cushion over all else, then the Bondi is for you. This is Hokas most cushioned model, and it has a super thick EVA foam sole.
While it is technically a neutral shoe, it can also work well for those that require a bit more support. As, the shoe has a particularly wide base.
This shoe also works well with insoles. It doesn’t have the meta-rocker on the underfoot the forefoot like most other Hokas. So, it gives you a much flatter base for your insert.
Despite its bulky appearance the shoe weighs only 8.9 ounces. Which, is more than other models on this list, but less than most high cushion models. It has a rear crash pad that makes it excellent for heel strikers. And, the ultralight foam midsole has a nice bounce that keeps it from feeling too squishy.
If you suffer from any shin, knee, or back pain, this shoe could be a great daily trainer option for you. Many have found that the incredibly high cushion level allows them to run without exacerbating previous injuries.
The HOKA Bondi 8 made it as one of our favorite max-cushioned daily shoes of the year.
Recap of Best Hoka for Half Marathon
No! While they can certainly help, most integral to reaching your PR is proper training. And, of course, a little bit of good luck.
They aren’t necessarily better but they are some of the most responsive shoes on the market. So, if you are looking for an edge they are definitely worth a try.
While not every Hoka will work for every person, they have quite a bit of variation between models. So, there is a good chance that you can find one that will work for you.
This really comes down to preference. There is no single best running shoe. The Hoka that works best for your half marathon could be completely different than someone else’s.
Since Hokas are definitely on the higher cushion side, they tend to last a bit longer than a traditional shoe. In my personal experience, HOKA shoes last me about 300-350 miles. Most shoes for me last about 200 before I retire them.
HOKA is not a retailer who sells directly through Amazon. But, you can buy through third-party sellers who do sell through Amazon.