HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa - Women's Review
Cons: Lack breathability, large sole, short collar
Manufacturer: HOKA ONE ONE
Our Analysis and Test Results
The HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa is by far the most comfortable shoe in this review. The highly padded, rockered sole provides support and comfort on everything from multi-week missions to steep and difficult day hikes.
We took the Sky Toa's out of the box and put them on our feet, then proceeded to hike uphill for a few hours. These boots performed outstandingly well, despite being thrown into the ring without any warm-up (or break-in period!). We were amazed by how comfortable these boots were right out of the box.
The Rangi bottom foam is responsive and cushioned, but not over the top, like some of the previous HOKA models felt. The height of the midsole is a bit more modest and low-key on the Toa but provides the same level of comfort as the overly padded models of days past. The rockered shape takes a little getting used to but provides comfort and helps maintain an even gait in the long term (on those 20+ mile days). The deep heel cup is another feature that adds comfort and keeps the foot stable in these dreamboats.
Since the Sky Toa is our Top Pick for comfort, it comes as no surprise that the boot also received high scores in terms of support. From the ground up, these boots provide stability and support on rocky terrain.
The outsole is made of a durable, sturdy rubber that provides a sound base for the soft cushion of the midsole. The oversized midsole (in terms of both width and height) provides cushion, while still emphasizing stability. From there, both the lacing system and the low, but supportive, shaft height provide structure and stability in the ankle. Our testers found the support of these boots impressive, especially given HOKA achieves it while still keeping weight low, agility pretty high, and a short ankle shaft.
As the self-proclaimed "lightest in class," it is no surprise that the Sky Toa feels incredibly lightweight, despite its oversized appearance. Its lightweight mesh upper and lightweight foam midsole gives the Toa an airy feel. Additionally, the Toa has one of the lowest overall shaft heights of any boot in this review.
The Toa's measured weight is 1.64 pounds, placing it on the lighter end of the spectrum, along with other lightweight models. It is light, but not the lightest we have tested.
In terms of traction, the HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa impressed. It seems that HOKA has worked to improve the design of the outsole on their latest lightweight hiker.
The Toa uses Vibram MegaGrip rubber to provide a sturdy, sound base. The Vibram sole combines with RMAT rubber for structure and durability. What we noticed the most in terms of the outsole was the use of more substantial rubber compounds and a more aggressive lug pattern than our experience with previous HOKA models. The Toa's handled steep, rocky, and loose terrain with ease. It did struggle on slick, wet rock, but no more than most other boots.
With a waterproof eVent liner, the Sky Toa kept our feet dry in wet conditions. We submerged these puppies in flowing water for a few minutes without any signs of leakage. The synthetic mesh upper shed water with ease and though thin-looking, was able to endure wet conditions. Without a pretty short shaft height, though, you're limited shallower puddles than other boots that creep further up your legs.
Perhaps it was the eVent liner, but we did find the Toa to be fairly hot when worn mid-summer. Though not as warm and stuffy as all-leather boots, the Toa was warmer than we expected with its relatively thin mesh upper.
During the few months we wore these boots, the Sky Toa's showed very little sign of wear. The synthetic mesh uppers are abrasion-resistant, and the sturdy rubber used in the midsole and outsole showed no sign of wear after months on rocky, rough terrain. The density of the soles improved the overall durability of the boots compared to previous HOKA models we tested.
That said, if durability is your main concern, an all-leather boot may be a better option than these lightweight foam-and-mesh hikers. In our years of experience of testing hiking boots, mesh and foam simply don't last as long as leather and rubber.
The HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa falls in the middle of the pack in terms of price among competitors. For the level of comfort they provide and the technology used in their construction, we'd say they're a pretty good deal, especially if you're looking to increase cushioning and decrease the impact on your joints.
It is no surprise to our testers that the HOKA ONE ONE Women's Sky Toa is comfortable, supportive and a top all-around performer in this fleet of women's specific hikers. While we mostly like these shoes for their ample padding underfoot and stable base on rocky terrain, we also appreciate their Vibram MegaGrip outsoles and mesh, water-resistant uppers. It was hard to find anything serious to complain about when these boots felt so great on our feet right out of the box. Their outstanding scores in the comfort and support metrics wins the Sky Toa our Top Pick for Comfort.
— Jane Jackson