Hoka Anacapa Low GTX - Women's Review
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Hoka Anacapa Low GTX - Women's
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|Pros||Well-padded, great shock absorption, breathable, solid traction||Excellent traction, responsive and stable support, breathable waterproof protection, comfortable right out of the box||Excellent traction, very supportive, breathable design, comfortable for various foot shapes||Versatile, nimble, excellent traction, excellent waterproof protection, supportive midfoot||Ample traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, affordable|
|Cons||Limited arch and lateral support, runs long and narrow||Expensive, sizing runs large, 100% recycled polyester laces may require replacement||Not waterproof, minor durability issues||Single-pull lacing system has limited adjustability, fit favors narrow feet, not recommended for cross-country travel, less breathable||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||A uniquely engineered hiker with a long, narrow build, excellent cushioning, and solid traction but negligible arch support||A stand-out hiking shoe that features ample comfort, great traction, a stable base of support, and a high quality, durable, and waterproof mesh upper||An excellent choice for those looking to navigate popular trails that feature polished granite or slippery sandstone||A comfortable, supportive, and waterproof shoe that offers excellent and responsive traction in a sleek, modern package||Supportive and affordable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to numerous foot shapes, hikers, and backcountry experiences|
|Rating Categories||Hoka Anacapa Low GTX||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Hoka Anacapa Low GTX||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair, size 8.5)||1.60 lbs||1.68 lbs||1.42 lbs||1.54 lbs||1.78 lbs|
|Upper||Nubuck leather, Recycled Polyester Mesh||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand||Synthetic textile||Leather, mesh|
|Lining||Molded PU sockliner, Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex Surround||Nonslip mesh||Gore-Tex||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane|
|Midsole||Compression-molded foam EVA||EVA||Traverse Injection MEMlex||EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram Megagrip rubber||Vibram XS Trek||Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System||Rubber Contagrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hoka Anacapa Low GTX will grab your attention. Its unusual design has an athletic vibe, and the thick, oversized outsole is in a league of its own. While the fit limits the shoe to only those hikers with a longer, narrower build (and no need for built-in arch support), the shoe itself is chock-full of features many will appreciate.
As always, this metric is quite subjective and the most difficult to assess for a broad audience. But, while the narrow Anacapa Low is not a great match to our lead tester's wider forefoot, it is easy to see there's a lot on offer for anyone with a more slender build.
To start, the Anacapa Low is constructed of a soft, flexible leather upper combined with Gore-Tex fabric that is extremely well-padded from top to bottom, including a squishy tongue, cushy ankle collar, and even an extra heel pad at the rear. With easily adjustable laces and a runner's loop eyelet, achieving an individualized fit was a simple task.
Of course, the shoe's base sets the Anacapa apart from others in the pack. Hoka's thick signature base is designed with extended heel geometry. It combines an oversized Vibram Megagrip outsole with a compression-molded EVA midsole for a soft, smooth, well-balanced, and grippy ride. We found the shock absorption on this thing to be ace and a real asset on rocky terrain. The heel-to-toe transitions are also notably smooth, subtly propelling you forward with every step. Where the fit is right, this is a day hiker that performs.
What's lacking? Arch support. The Anacapa not only didn't help alleviate pronation, but it also seemed to actively encourage it by allowing an inward roll over the base of the shoe. To be fair, this shoe is advertised as offering only "neutral stability without additional prescriptive technologies." So the absence of support is intentional. And a set of aftermarket inserts will likely help a great deal. But it is something to note in case the thick structural base might lead some to assume the shoe will have you covered.
As advertised, the Anacapa Low is designed to offer just enough cushioning and support to enable a comfortable ride without over-designing the shoe with additional features and supports you don't require. So it's not surprising that some support elements are stellar and others are lacking.
The thick oversized sole provides a remarkably sturdy foundation from heel to midfoot while also intentionally leaving a responsive toe-off to allow you to easily increase your speed. In our lateral tests (twisting the shoe like a sponge), the torsional rigidity was impressive, yet the flex up under the toes remained readily apparent. A thoughtful design, working as planned.
The soft, flexible leather upper of the Anacapa is athletically styled but in no way flimsy. And with a thoroughly adjustable lacing system overlaying a puffy gusseted tongue, it's easy to establish a great fit without gaping or slippage. The highly structured heel cup partners with a plush heel pad along the backside of the ankle collar. Together they do a remarkably good job of locking the heel into place. Add in the extended outsole off the back of the shoe, and you've got excellent stability and a smooth step. The only thing missing is a sturdy arch (which is an intentional feature of the design).
The Anacapa Low is all about its base and the key to that powerful feature is the Vibram Megagrip outsole. This reliable all-terrain sole is made of sticky, heavy rubber and comes with a series of hefty 5mm multidirectional lugs and an especially grippy tread pattern just under the heel. In combination with its strong yet heavily cushioned EVA midsole, we found the Anacapa performed well no matter what type of trail we crossed. It left us particularly confident whenever we hit hard rock where a solid grip and shock absorption would matter most.
The Hoka Anacapa Low is surprisingly light for a leather hiker. Weighing in at only 1.6 pounds for a size 10 US, it is among several shoes in the test group that is both lightweight and highly functional. Yet when standing atop such incredibly thick and supportive cushioning, the it feels among the lightest on foot.
Just as with all other waterproof shoes in the lineup, the Anacapa performed admirably during water testing. No stream nor puddle breached the ankle collar and no amount of standing water during bucket testing (where we submerged the shoe in 3 inches of water for 5 minutes) found a way inside, nor did we see any notable absorption or weight gain in the shoe. If water gets in, it's coming in over the top of the ankle opening. And where that is a regular concern, it may be time to consider a taller model.
While the massive outsole on the Anacapa is impressive, it's also the one area where we noted concern about the shoe's longevity. We road-tested these hikers across hard granite slabs and loose desert mountainsides and trekked through streams, fields, and pokey desert sagebrush. It performed admirably across the board. But there were signs of mild abrasion and wear across the upper edges of the sole. We suspect that's due to the greater surface area that's exposed. But the material also has a softness to it that may make it a bit more vulnerable to bumps and scrapes in the road.
Should You Buy the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX?
If you have a narrow foot and plantar fasciitis, the uniquely engineered Anacapa Low GTX should be on your shortlist. But it is unlikely to serve your needs if you have an average to wider foot or need sturdy arch support. And given this shoe is at the higher end of the price spectrum, other more affordable, accommodating, and versatile options are available.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If you run narrow but want to hone in on something more supportive through the arch, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is an exceptionally stable, well-built option at a similar weight. It's also rugged enough for more technical terrain. If you want all the padding plus the support and are willing to take on a few extra ounces, you can't go wrong with the Oboz Sawtooth X Low Waterproof. Or, for something that balances comfort, support, weight, and durability, we are big fans of the Merrell Moab 3.
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