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Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Review

This hiking boot offers immense comfort and is stable and supportive, making it a perfect choice for those venturing on anything from day hikes to heavyweight backpacking trip
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Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Review
Credit: Ryan Huetter
Price:  $240 List
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Manufacturer:   Hoka
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2023
82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Support - 25% 9.0
  • Traction - 15% 8.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 6.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX takes the cake regarding comfort. With 2 inches of compression molded EVA midsole to absorb all the impacts of foot strikes on the trail, these boots will make you feel less tired and sore at the end of the day. With a tall ankle, you can be assured that you're protected from impacts or rolling when carrying heavy loads. Made of nubuck leather, these take a little bit of extra time to break in, though once they have been taken on a couple of good hikes, you should have no other comfort issues. The lacing system isn't perfect, but it is a small problem and can be overlooked in light of the overall awesomeness of these boots. Durable and waterproof, we love these boots for their top performance across the board and heartily recommend them.
REASONS TO BUY
Very stable
Super plush sole
Leather upper is durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacing hooks are not perfect
Some break in period required
Not great for hot climates

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Bottom Line This high-top boot is one of the most stable we tested, and with plush cushioning is perfect for big backcountry missionsThis flagship hiking boot is our first recommendation for a hiking and backpacking boot, achieving remarkable performance in all terrain types and conditionsThis is a high-performance boot that eats up demanding off-trail terrain thanks to its above-average stability and tractionThis is one of the lightest hiking boots we have reviewed, and it impresses us not only for its weight but also for its overall performanceThis inexpensive boot is super comfortable and is a great all-around option
Rating Categories Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... La Sportiva Ultra R... Salomon X Ultra Mid... Merrell Moab 3 Mid...
Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Support (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
4.5
8.0
8.9
6.8
Durability (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Hoka Kaha 2 GTX Salomon Quest 4 Gor... La Sportiva Ultra R... Salomon X Ultra Mid... Merrell Moab 3 Mid...
Measured Weight (per pair, size 11) 2.54 lbs 2.90 lbs 2.08 lbs 1.85 lbs 2.36 lbs
Upper Waterproof nubuck leather Leather and nylon AirMesh, microfiber, TPU PU coated leather Pigskin leather, mesh
Width Options Regular Regular Regular, wide Regular Regular, wide
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Gore-Tex extended comfort Gore-Tex Waterproof membrane
Boot Type Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Lightweight hiker/day hiker Midweight hiker/backpacking boot Midweight hiker/backpacking boot
Last Board/Shank Not specified 4D Chassis Nylon molded flex TPU Molded shank Molded nylon
Midsole 2-density CMEVA (rubberized EVA) EnergyCell Injection-molded MEMlex SensiFit Super Rebound Compound
Sole Vibram Megagrip rubber Contagrip TD FriXion XF 2.0 Contagrip Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX brings some serious comfort and support to the trails by utilizing new and innovative materials, technology, and construction methods. We really appreciate these boots when it comes to uneven terrain or when carrying a heavy pack.

Performance Comparison


hoka kaha 2 gtx - ready to be wowed by the amazing comfort of the kaha 2 gtx?
Ready to be wowed by the amazing comfort of the Kaha 2 GTX?
Credit: Ryan Huetter


Comfort


If there is one word to describe the Kaha 2 GTX, it is comfortable. This applies to most of the Hoka footwear line and is one of the reasons they are so popular. We find this boot to be a medium-wide fit, even a tad roomy. Some folks have found them to run narrow, though that was not our experience. The included footbed is supple and does not feel rigid. The plush midsole cushioning protects the foot from impacts, although the extra stack height may take a bit of getting used to if you aren't used to being so elevated off the trail.


We found that it took a few hikes to really get the nubuck leather that is used for the boot's upper to break in and conform to our foot. Lacing up the boot results in a secure fit, although the laces are sometimes hard to set into the locking cleats due to their orientation and opening width. It's easy to overlook this minor gripe since once you have your laces tied up, they aren't coming undone.

It might take a few tries to get the laces to be secured by the lower lacing cleat, but once you do they'll stay put and add to the comfort and stability of these awesome boots.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Support


We awarded the Kaha 2 GTX high marks for this metric. These boots really define the category in so many ways. With a tall, 7.5-inch ankle height, we were confident that our ankles were protected when carrying burly loads. The nubuck leather adds some rigidity on its own, unlike some hiking boots that are made of very light material requiring maximum compression to give any support. The forefoot measures 4.75 inches wide, giving the Kaha a very substantial base that is beneficial when covering uneven ground. That said, the height of the boot combined with the width can sometimes make it feel like there is torque when traversing or side-hilling.


The compression-molded EVA midsole readily soaks up the pounding that the feet take when hiking. The unique Swallowtail design, an elongated rockered extension on the heel, provides a more natural stride for those who tend to connect with their heels first. This, too, can take some getting used to if you're new to the concept.

The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX are stable at speed, even on uneven and rocky trails, thanks to their 7.5 inch ankle collar height.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Traction


No skimping on the outsole in these boots, the Kaha employs a high-end Vibram MegaGrib rubber compound that excels in all terrain types. With deep 4mm lugs that are arranged in a multidirectional pattern, we found them to grip well in both wet and dry conditions.


While the width of these boots gives them additional stability, and the height of the cushioned midsole adds to comfort, these attributes make them uneasy in steep terrain where you may be using the edge of the boot more. So this is a less favorable choice if you are looking to get after something like 3rd and 4th-class scrambling routes.

hoka kaha 2 gtx - we found these boots to grip well in most terrain types, and the...
We found these boots to grip well in most terrain types, and the extended Swallowtail design gave us a little more confidence in our traction when descending.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


Considering how tall the Kaha 2 is, it's pretty easy to see why they did so well in our water resistance metric. They have a flood height of over 4 inches when measured from the ground to the lowest point of the Gore-Tex waterproof-breathable membrane and 7.5 inches when measured from the ground to the top of the ankle. It is worth noting the latter height as well since the nubuck leather used on the upper is treated with an additional DWR (durable water-repellant) coating.


The drawback to such great water resistance is that the Kaha feels a bit hot and isn't as good at dumping heat as models made from lighter or synthetic materials. We also found the leather to get saturated with water over time, and it takes much longer to fully dry out after that occurs.

Sloshing through this stream on a local hike was no match for the height and water repellency of the Kaha 2 GTX.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


At 2.54 pounds per pair in a size 11 US men's, the Kaha 2 GTX provides the support that was previously limited to boots approaching 3 pounds. No, they are not the lightest boots in our review by a wide margin, but the overall comfort and support that comes with this extra weight is well worth it.


For those who have weak ankles or who just prefer the security of full-height ankle coverage, these boots are a fantastic choice. Saving on weight may just put you into a boot that offers diminished performance in these important areas.

hoka kaha 2 gtx - while it might seem like a lot of boot to take on a day hike, we...
While it might seem like a lot of boot to take on a day hike, we think these are light enough that they are still valuable for local walks.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Durability


We were impressed by the durability of this boot. It's made of solid leather materials that do a good job of resisting the abrasions and scuffs from kicking roots and rocks while out on the trail, and we do not have damage to report. The lacing hooks are made of solid metal, and the molded midsole uses a more durable EVA material rather than a more susceptible exposed foam, though we noticed a few nicks after tripping on some rocks.


We appreciate that the Kaha has a sewn toe cap rather than just relying on adhesives or welding, as this will likely be one of the highest areas of wear these boots will see.

hoka kaha 2 gtx - note how the rubber toe cap is sewn through, a thoughtful touch that...
Note how the rubber toe cap is sewn through, a thoughtful touch that will ensure greater longevity.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Should You Buy the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX?


If you want a top performer in support and comfort that will keep your feet dry and happy and last a long time, this boot is a great choice. For all its materials, technology, and innovative design, it is a good value even though it has a higher price tag.

hoka kaha 2 gtx - get ready to give your feet a gift! these plush hiking boots are...
Get ready to give your feet a gift! These plush hiking boots are going to make long days more comfortable.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?


While we absolutely love these boots for their support and comfort, some may not want the wide foot or the rockered sole. In this case, the equally comfortable and capable Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex will not disappoint. If you want a more nimble boot for scrambling routes, then the awesome La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX should be on your list, and if you like what you've heard about these boots but don't need full ankle support then the Hoka Anacapa 2 Mid GTX is worth your consideration.

Ryan Huetter