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Runners: Hoka or Altra for cushioned long distance shoes?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey gang, I'm thinking of trying out the Hoka or the Altra cushioned running shoes. Checked them both out at the O.R. show in Salt Lake last week, and I'm curious.

 

A running partner of mine has Hokas and likes them, but the Altra has a toe box that fits me pretty well (wide in the forefoot so my toes can spread out).

 

Anyone try out running shoes from both brands and compare them?

 

I've been running in VFF's and GoRun shoes for the past year on light trail and pavement duty, Air Alvords for rockier trails. So now, just for the heck of it, I'm going to try a zero drop shoe which has a lot of cushion. I'm curious to see if I can maintain my short, midfoot-forward stride with a zero drop shoe like I have now, but add some shock absorption and stay fresher later in he runs. 

post #2 of 25
http://www.epicski.com/t/115931/ski-gear-inspired-sneakers


Start by looking at this thread above on the Bondi Speeds.



For some comparisons: here are the Nike Lunarspider R4, Hoka BondiS & Salomon XR Mission. The Hoka's upper is really where you should focus. It has minimal overlays & is more like the R4 - Nike's 10k racer. If you need a lot of support or guidance or roll ankles frequently, the Hoka's will not be your shoe & will ultimately wear uneven on the bottom. I you can handle the minimalist stuff (VFFs- sounds like it) Hokas should be ok. That said I'm now on the fence w them. I have many back pain & 'aging knees' clients in them, yet for the past several years distribution has been limited, models have had minimal (no) improvements & they never really matured their lasts (this is first year men & women get a specific fit- so the shoe feels kinda boxy/ unrefined).

That said, Hoka stepped up & took on ultra stud Sage Canady & is said to actually have some refined models avail in Feb '14.




post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iriponsnow View Post

http://www.epicski.com/t/115931/ski-gear-inspired-sneakers

Start by looking at this thread above on the Bondi Speeds.

For some comparisons: here are the Nike Lunarspider R4, Hoka BondiS & Salomon XR Mission. The Hoka's upper is really where you should focus. It has minimal overlays & is more like the R4 - Nike's 10k racer. If you need a lot of support or guidance or roll ankles frequently, the Hoka's will not be your shoe & will ultimately wear uneven on the bottom. I you can handle the minimalist stuff (VFFs- sounds like it) Hokas should be ok. That said I'm now on the fence w them. I have many back pain & 'aging knees' clients in them, yet for the past several years distribution has been limited, models have had minimal (no) improvements & they never really matured their lasts (this is first year men & women get a specific fit- so the shoe feels kinda boxy/ unrefined).

That said, Hoka stepped up & took on ultra stud Sage Canady & is said to actually have some refined models avail in Feb '14.

 

 

Thanks! I read the thread. Geez man, 4:38 pace in the .5mi? How long could you sustain that? :-O

 

It sounds like your test was successful and you liked the Hokas. Anyone in your running group of ultra guys try the Altras yet for comparison?

post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post

Thanks! I read the thread. Geez man, 4:38 pace in the .5mi? How long could you sustain that? :-O

It sounds like your test was successful and you liked the Hokas. Anyone in your running group of ultra guys try the Altras yet for comparison?

I do like the Hoka's yet for more stuff like this:

I do a good deal of technical running. As for the pace, I'm working on a sub 17' 5k.

I would push you toward their newer, lower profiled models. I've had a few ppl run in the Altra- not that model. What is your main goal w the shoe?
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iriponsnow View Post

I do like the Hoka's yet for more stuff like this:

I do a good deal of technical running. As for the pace, I'm working on a sub 17' 5k.

I would push you toward their newer, lower profiled models. I've had a few ppl run in the Altra- not that model. What is your main goal w the shoe?

 

That is a very fast 5k. 

 

My main goal is to just keep running and improve comfort. I've had knee and back injuries in past sports, so I adopted a short stride, keeping my feet under me instead of throwing them out in front. Helped a lot. Then switched to minimalist type shoes, to increase awareness of how my foot was contacting the ground, and refine my self-cushioned stride. I've been running this way for over a decade now, with a short, quiet stride. Now I'm ready to add some cushion back, but have to work with shoes that accommodate my midfoot-forward strike. The GoRun shoes have been great actually, so now I'm just game for trying more cushioning and seeing which shoes match my forefoot shape better, so I can get even more comfortable. The GoRun rubs my toes on the sides a fair amount because they taper to a narrow area as most shoes do in the front. My feet are more squared off in the front, so the Altra intrigues me due to the shape of their last looking like it matches my foot.

 

I tend to do mud and adventure type races periodically, not so much on pavement. Actually gave up pavement almost completely a long time ago, but perhaps with a more cushioned shoe, I could run with some road friends and keep from injuring myself. Nothing against pavement, running is good, but I've felt much less shock on the trails, so I've avoided the road. If the cushioned shoes let me run on road and it feels as good as off-road, I'd be pretty happy. :)

post #6 of 25
I have some Stinson B Hokas and some Altra Superior, Torin, and Provision shoes. The toe box of the Superior makes them my most comfortable shoe bar none. They're not as cushioned as the Torins or Provision though. For very rocky terrain I like the Hokas best but can't stand running road in them. Ups should be dropping off a pair of Merrell AllOut Rush shoes today. They have what appears to be a wide toe box with medium cushion thickness. I'll report back on them.
Edited by Toecutter - 2/1/14 at 4:01am
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post



My main goal is to just keep running and improve comfort. I've had knee and back injuries in past sports, so I adopted a short stride, keeping my feet under me instead of throwing them out in front. Helped a lot. Then switched to minimalist type shoes, to increase awareness of how my foot was contacting the ground, and refine my self-cushioned stride. I've been running this way for over a decade now, with a short, quiet stride. Now I'm ready to add some cushion back, but have to work with shoes that accommodate my midfoot-forward strike. The GoRun shoes have been great actually, so now I'm just game for trying more cushioning and seeing which shoes match my forefoot shape better, so I can get even more comfortable. The GoRun rubs my toes on the sides a fair amount because they taper to a narrow area as most shoes do in the front. My feet are more squared off in the front, so the Altra intrigues me due to the shape of their last looking like it matches my foot.

I tend to do mud and adventure type races periodically, not so much on pavement. Actually gave up pavement almost completely a long time ago, but perhaps with a more cushioned shoe, I could run with some road friends and keep from injuring myself. Nothing against pavement, running is good, but I've felt much less shock on the trails, so I've avoided the road. If the cushioned shoes let me run on road and it feels as good as off-road, I'd be pretty happy. smile.gif

I would always go w comfort. If the shape looks right, I would try them. The Hokas as I recall were a tough break in. The toe box caused a little blistering.

The Altras at that price look very attractive (almost thought I NEENED a pair). See if Running Warehouse has em, the Runblogger10 code & free shipping rock!

I need a cushioned trainer & am still looking. Another series to look at for pavement would be the Nike lunaracer & lunarglide, both very cushioned & the new flywire fits a wide range of feet.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iriponsnow View Post


I would always go w comfort. If the shape looks right, I would try them. The Hokas as I recall were a tough break in. The toe box caused a little blistering.

The Altras at that price look very attractive (almost thought I NEENED a pair). See if Running Warehouse has em, the Runblogger10 code & free shipping rock!

I need a cushioned trainer & am still looking. Another series to look at for pavement would be the Nike lunaracer & lunarglide, both very cushioned & the new flywire fits a wide range of feet.

 

Me too, cushioned trainers are my goal.

 

Have you ever tried the GoRun shoes? I have an original pair that I've put probably way too many miles on, retiring them this week. Then I'll run in the GoRun Ride and ordering a pair of Altra shoes this week as well. The Hoka toe box looks like it might not be the right shape for my flipper feet. :)

 

Will report back on how the Altras turn out.

post #9 of 25

FYI Shoebuy.com has a 20% off and free shipping coupon right now: http://www.shoebuy.com/altra-footwear.htm

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toecutter View Post

I have some Stinson B Hokas and some Altra Superior, Torin, and Provision shoes. The toe box of the Superior makes them my most comfortable shoe bar none. They're not as cushioned as the Torins or Provision though. For very rocky terrain I like the Hokas best but can't stand running road in them. Ups should be dropping off a pair of Merrell AllOut Rush shoes today. They have what appears to be a wide toe box with medium cushion thickness. I'll report back on them.

 

Did you find the Altra runs pretty true to size, or do they run a little large or small? 

 

I've found Adidas, Nike and Merrell run smallish, while Rebok shoes and the GoRuns run true to size.

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post
 

 

Did you find the Altra runs pretty true to size, or do they run a little large or small? 

 

I've found Adidas, Nike and Merrell run smallish, while Rebok shoes and the GoRuns run true to size.

 

My Altras have all been on the small side, so if you like to wear socks when you run you might want to buy a half size larger than your usual.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toecutter View Post
 

 

My Altras have all been on the small side, so if you like to wear socks when you run you might want to buy a half size larger than your usual.

 

Good to know... I typically wear 11.5, so I guess I'll try a 12.

 

Which socks do you use? And do you use different ones for trail VS road?

 

I need to get some new socks, mine are all getting pretty worn. :)

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post
 

 

Good to know... I typically wear 11.5, so I guess I'll try a 12.

 

Which socks do you use? And do you use different ones for trail VS road?

 

I need to get some new socks, mine are all getting pretty worn. :)

 

I seem to switch sock brands every once in awhile. My current favorite is the Wrightsock: http://www.rei.com/product/805642/wrightsock-coolmesh-ii-quarter-socks-2-pairs

 

I also like Balegas: http://www.balega.com/

 

I run almost exclusively trail, with maybe a short road section to get to dirt, so I pretty much just buy trail stuff.

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toecutter View Post
 

 

I seem to switch sock brands every once in awhile. My current favorite is the Wrightsock: http://www.rei.com/product/805642/wrightsock-coolmesh-ii-quarter-socks-2-pairs

 

I also like Balegas: http://www.balega.com/

 

I run almost exclusively trail, with maybe a short road section to get to dirt, so I pretty much just buy trail stuff.

 

It's probably overdoing it, but I've been running in short Wigwam Cool Lite hiking socks in my trail runners for years, these are them:

 

http://www.zappos.com/wigwam-cool-lite-hiker-pro-quarter-6-pair-pack-black?ef_id=UnxbPgAAAUYfMpA@:20140205051033:s

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post
 

 

It's probably overdoing it, but I've been running in short Wigwam Cool Lite hiking socks in my trail runners for years, these are them:

 

http://www.zappos.com/wigwam-cool-lite-hiker-pro-quarter-6-pair-pack-black?ef_id=UnxbPgAAAUYfMpA@:20140205051033:s

 

Those look nice. I may have to give them a try.

post #16 of 25
Any updates? I'm finding my selections really limited by my tiny feet: size 7/ 25.
post #17 of 25


I stocked up on a few pairs of these as they were I'm danger of selling out already for 2014! Other end of spectrum entirely & still looking for a trainer / off road in my size.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by iriponsnow View Post



I stocked up on a few pairs of these as they were I'm danger of selling out already for 2014! Other end of spectrum entirely & still looking for a trainer / off road in my size.

Have you tried the Altra Lone Peak?  Excellent off road shoe with some cushion.   They were my 1st zero drop shoes and continue to be my favorites.  I stocked up on 3 pairs of the orginal style because was afraid they may become no longer available.  The newer version is  flashy  in color but looks about the same construction wise.   Nice toe box for my hobbit size feet, has moderate cushion and good traction.    Good drainage and breath well.  Ok winter shoe with proper socks but is NOT water resistant.  

 

If you have small feet like a men's 7 to 7.5 or ladies 8.5 to 9; try the Altra Instinct Jr in a size 6.   It has a narrower fit in the smaller toes but if you can fit into Nikes or Hokas  it might be a good fit without modifications.   Great price.   I only use them for biking because they are the only Altra shoes  that will fit into my bikes toe cage clips.  I would use them as a trainer/running shoe but just not wide enough.    The kids Instinct seem to have a bit less toe spring than the Instinct 1.5 or the Torin but otherwise fit the same.

 

I am looking forward to learning more about the 2014 Altra shoes but not ready to order until it gets drier outside and they have a bit of a discount.

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

I talked w/the folks at Altra and ended up ordering the Instinct 2.0, just got them today. Will start running in them this week and report back next week. 

 

Was advised that this model runs true to size (11.5 for me). Tried them on today, feels pretty roomy is my first impression. Nicely shaped toe box for my flipper feet. :) 

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've been running in the Altras for just over a month now. Really love them. 

 

First time I've never had any rubbing or irritation around the sides of my toes and feet.

 

The cushioning is very effective. This model, the Instinct 2.0, is the mid level in terms of cushioning offered by Altra. Thicker than a traditional running shoe, but not their super thick version. I find that this level of cushioning deadens harshness on the road and trail quite adequately. I don't think I'd like to get higher off the ground, so I'm not apt to go for a thicker variant of these soles. 

 

I don't have the feel afforded by the minimalist shoes I've been running in for the past couple of years, but my feet are definitely in a less destructive environment now as well. A decent compromise. In the past, I've wanted to consecutive days but sometimes my feet have been pretty chewed up, so I'd just irritate them further; the net was that I'd skip some run days in order to give my feet time to recover and heal for a day. In these shoes, that problem is a non issue.

 

I'm going to switch back to the minimalist shoes alternating once or twice a week soon, just to see how it feels. 

 

The Altras are so comfortable, that I wore them to Anaheim for a long weekend recently (was following my kids around at their taekwondo tournament at the convention center). Got a few runs in around Anaheim and Disneyland early each morning, and set a PR in terms of avg speed (7:53/mi) and fastest split (6:45). I don't know if this was due to me being more comfortable in the shoes, or if I was just feeling particularly lively. :)

 

I also wore them walking around the California Adventure amusement park for hours, and my feet were comfy the whole time. My wife and kids think the shoes look a little silly, but I was happy anyway. :D

post #21 of 25

I bought the thick cushioned Altra Olympus at the end of winter and for the first couple of days found the thick cushioning encouraged heel striking causing discomfort in my knees if I tried to run or walk fast for more than a block because I am used to less cushioned zero drop shoes.   I read that people trying to go to a lower/zero heel should start with more cushion,   They felt great for standing and slow long walks on concrete  so I decided to keep them for use as a walking shoe.  After several weeks the cushioning  must have "broke in" because I went for a short run and they felt okay so now I use them on pavement and light trails with some smaller rocks.  They seem to be holding up pretty well after several months of using them a couple of times a week. Great pavement shoes considering they are sold as trail shoes.  The Olympus seem a bit too high off the ground for a trail shoe  so   I use the Altra Lone Peak for  heavy trail use for lower to the ground stability.  

 

A new store opened last month that carries Hokas so I was able to try on several styles.  All the Hoka styles seemed like I was standing on a soft memory foam slab ramp (4 mm drop).  I wonder how long  the cushioning will last because it seemed rather bouncy.    All the Hokas had nice deep toe boxes but are a bit pointy. It seemed like there was a recessed area under the middle ball of the foot to compensate for the narrow pointy toebox sort of like a pair of Nikes. 

 

For me the Altras are a better fit in size, construction and price.

post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvequest View Post
 

I bought the thick cushioned Altra Olympus at the end of winter and for the first couple of days found the thick cushioning encouraged heel striking causing discomfort in my knees if I tried to run or walk fast for more than a block because I am used to less cushioned zero drop shoes.   I read that people trying to go to a lower/zero heel should start with more cushion,   They felt great for standing and slow long walks on concrete  so I decided to keep them for use as a walking shoe.  After several weeks the cushioning  must have "broke in" because I went for a short run and they felt okay so now I use them on pavement and light trails with some smaller rocks.  ...

 

For me the Altras are a better fit in size, construction and price.

 

I'd already been running with somewhat of a barefoot style strike, so my adjustment was minor and quick thankfully. The only problem I've encountered was running in sand, the fantastic ventilation let's some sand in! :)  Oh well, you can't have everything I suppose. 

post #23 of 25

I've had difficulties running for the last few years due to a stiff and painful big toe.  As a result, I primarily road and MTB ride, although I have missed running.   Just bought the Hoka Stinson ATR two weeks ago and have had very little toe pain.  Ramped up to 15 k today on hills/rough terrain and was comfortable throughout.  What is remarkable for me is that not only does the rocker on the shoe protect the big toes, the extra mid sole and padding left my knees and hips feeling less beat-up.  I felt 10 years younger on the long down hill sections.  No issues with poor stability or running on side slopes.  Great shoes - worth the few extra bucks!

post #24 of 25
I've run in some pre-production Clifton's ; nice shoe for a new Hokan user (less bulk- same ride)!
post #25 of 25


Altra just send me these to test.... Running Vermont 50 this weekend & may use em!
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