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HOKA ONE ONE Sky Arkali - Women's Review

Hoka One One owns the comfort metric! The Sky Arkali is both cushioned and reponsive, and offers a dialed in fit, making it our Top Pick for Comfort.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $200 List | $199.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Comfortable, adjustable heel/ankle, great traction
Cons:  Not waterproof, runs wide, wild style may not be for everyone
Manufacturer:   HOKA ONE ONE
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2019
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 10
  • Support - 20% 10
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 3
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Hoka One One Sky Arkali has a slightly more responsive midsole than the previous Top Pick for Comfort, the Tor Summit, without any less cushioning. We love the velcro adjusting straps on the heel and ankle that really help dial in a perfect fit. The chunky soles look heavy but are not and provide great traction. Overall, these shoes are remarkably supportive, sensitive and nimble.

The Sky Arkali is not waterproof, however, though it served us well in light rain. It also runs wide and while we were able to adjust it to a perfect fit, it may not be the best choice if you have a narrow foot. If you seek a thick midsole and excellent comfort in a waterproof model, check out the Arkali's older sibling, the Tor Summit WP. The only reason the Tor Summit scored better overall is due to its water resistance, while we find the Arkali equal or better in all other metrics.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sky Arkali has a very unique style that is part approach shoe and part hiking shoe. The upper is lined with padded, stretchy mesh and covered with rubber and more rigid mesh. The midsole is oversized EVA while the sole is Vibram rubber.

Performance Comparison


The Sky Arkali is comfortable on the chunkiest of surfaces.
The Sky Arkali is comfortable on the chunkiest of surfaces.

Comfort


There is a reason that the comfort rating of each pair of hiking shoes in our review counts as 25% of the overall score. You absolutely want good traction and a stable ride, weather resistance is a plus, and durability is valuable. But if your shoes aren't comfortable to wear, you won't have a good day out on the trail. The Sky Arkali delivers comfort all day long, with an oversized, cushioned midsole that we found to be plush and responsive.


Last year's Top Pick for Comfort is, not coincidentally, also made by Hoka One One. The Tor Summit is still one of the most comfortable shoes in the test, but with the Sky Arkali we get slightly more bounce in the midsole which left our feet feeling quite fresh after pounding up and down lava trails. Additionally, the upper is lined with cushioned and flexible mesh that feels like a little pillow on the top of the foot. Lacking a waterproof liner, the Sky Arkali is also more breathable than the Tor Summit, which leads to less sweaty feet, which is hands-down more comfortable!

The height of the upper provides extra protection from debris and vegetation, and it also feels soft, for a little extra comfort around the ankle. At first glance, we thought the velcro straps were solving a problem that doesn't exist, but when we used them hiking we appreciated how functional they are! We were able to tighten the heel strap when we wanted our heels a little more locked down, or loosen the top strap when we needed more flex. We made quick adjustments that ensured the Sky Arkali always fit like a glove.

The snug but soft upper kept out little rocks and the super cushioned and responsive midsole made us fall in love with the Sky Arkali.
The snug but soft upper kept out little rocks and the super cushioned and responsive midsole made us fall in love with the Sky Arkali.

Like our other highly rated shoes in this metric, such as the Tor Summit and the Oboz Sawtooth II, these shoes withstood the additional weight of a heavy pack without compressing underfoot.

Support


The Sky Arkali, like the Tor Summit, provides a good amount of arch support, even though the insole is quite thin. Both have wide midsoles and rubber heel supports that provide excellent stability on uneven and steep slopes. Where the Arkali slightly edges out the Summit is in the height of the upper which closes softly and securely to keep out pebbles and sand.

The toe cap is covered with a very tough, high-abrasion rubber that withstood our challenging testing ground and protected our toes from bumps and scrapes.


There are a lot of eyelets for the laces and they start far forward on the toe, allowing for a lot of adjustability. Because the Sky Arkali has a very roomy toe box and a lot of flex in the fabric, ladies with a very narrow foot may not be able to adjust the shoe for maximum lateral support. If you're looking for a stiffer shoe, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry is an excellent choice.

Eyelets for days  a pocket to stash the laces  and adjustable straps! Many ways to dial in the perfect fit on the Sky Arkali.
Eyelets for days, a pocket to stash the laces, and adjustable straps! Many ways to dial in the perfect fit on the Sky Arkali.

Traction


The traction on the Hoka One One Sky Arkali is comprised of a Vibram sole and multi-directional lugs. We had total confidence in them on loose scree, and up and down slopes. They also shined on rock scrambles, where the lug pattern was noticeably more secure than that of the Tor Summit. For extended slab climbing you might want a shoe with a stickier rubber sole, such as the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof or the Sawtooth II.


The Sky Arkali's multi-directional lugs (right) had noticeably better traction than the Tor Summit (left) even though they are made of the same material.
The Sky Arkali's multi-directional lugs (right) had noticeably better traction than the Tor Summit (left) even though they are made of the same material.

Weight


No question this shoe looks beefy! Surprisingly, it weighs in at 1 pound 11 ounces for the pair, exactly the same as the Moab 2 Waterproof, and is only 6 ounces heavier than The North Face Safien GTX, while being much more protective and comfortable. Hoka One One is primarily known for making running shoes, and we assume that their lightweight know-how is being used on their hiking shoes.


Yes  this shoe looks beefy. But the Sky Arkali is protective and cushioned without being heavy.
Yes, this shoe looks beefy. But the Sky Arkali is protective and cushioned without being heavy.

Water Resistance


The Sky Arkali does not claim to be waterproof, and it is not. While we hiked in light rain and puddles without getting wet feet, they leaked thoroughly when dunked in the bucket test. So while these shoes have the stability to hike for multiple days, we probably wouldn't choose them for an overnight trip when weather can be unpredictable.


The Tor Summit WP, on the other hand, provides almost as much comfort with added waterproofness. So if you are a fan of this brand and find yourself in wet conditions, you should definitely consider the Summit. Another great waterproof shoe that is about the same weight is the Salomon X Ultra 3, our Top Pick for Fast and Light Hiking.

While the Sky Arkali is not waterproof  our feet stayed dry on a hike in light rain.
While the Sky Arkali is not waterproof, our feet stayed dry on a hike in light rain.

Durability


Despite the massive amounts of exposed EVA midsole on the Sky Arkali we didn't experience any durability issues during our test. EVA is soft and can be easily scraped and scratched with exposure to rocks and prickly vegetation. We are cautiously optimistic that this shoe will prove to be durable, as it has held up well in our tough testing ground. The high-abrasion rubber toe cap performed flawlessly and is double-stitched in place. The mesh upper is rugged and remains unsnagged.


However, our experience tells us that a shoe with more rubber and leather will likely prove to be more durable over time. If that is of big concern, then take a look at the Oboz Sawtooth II, our Editors' Choice Award winner.

Wild style and lots of exposed EVA in the Sky Arkali.
Wild style and lots of exposed EVA in the Sky Arkali.

Best Applications


The Hoka One One brand is often recommended to people with foot and knee issues, and we understand why. The thick midsole provides a ton of cushion and support if you can get a good fit. The Sky Arkali is plush and comfortable enough for long hikes and grippy enough for technical terrain. Because of the lack of waterproofness, we wouldn't recommend them for overnight trips in variable weather.

A supremely comfortable shoe  the Sky Arkali is great for all-day hiking when waterproofness is not required.
A supremely comfortable shoe, the Sky Arkali is great for all-day hiking when waterproofness is not required.

Value


This pair retails for $200. That's a lot of money for a shoe that is not waterproof! The Sky Arkali has a unique style and we loved hiking in it, but the price is certainly steep. If hiking and scrambling tricky terrain in your thing, however, and you like the wild style of the Sky Arkali, the comfort and protection will not let you down.

Conclusion


If you're looking for maximum comfort in your hiking shoes, the Hoka One One Sky Arkali are at eleven on the comfort dial. The thick midsoles provide responsive cushion and the flexible upper is padded and easily dialed to a perfect fit. The look is not for everyone and the lack of waterproofness limits it use.


Laurel Hunter