New Toa GTX vs. Sky Toa
New this year is the Toa GTX, replacing the Sky Toa we tested last fall. The major difference lies in the waterproof bootie, which is now Gore-Tex instead of the previous eVent model's eVent. Compare the two models below; you can see how similar they are externally. The new Gore-Tex model is shown first.
We're testing the newest model and will report back with our findings. Until then, the review below pertains to the model with the eVent waterproofing.
Hands-On Review of the Sky Toa
The Sky Toa hiking shoe exemplified comfort in our review, but did remarkably well in many other metrics, as evidenced below in our overall performance chart.
The amazing comfort delivered by the Toa shoes is thanks to a thick and supportive midsole.
Hoka shoes are known worldwide for their attention to comfort in their hiking and running shoes, and they have made no exception with the Sky Toa. From the ground up they are built to facilitate long hikes with minimal discomfort. The outsole uses a thicker rubber that resists the impact of sharp sticks and rocks poking out of the trail, and the midsole uses multiple foam rubber layers that provide a more balanced cushion than in ultra-plush models.
The thick, dense material directly under the arch provides more responsive control and protection than their softer-soled models, though it took a bit more getting used to and at first felt jarring. Once we learned to roll forward using the rocker of the sole, the benefits of this layered sole material became more apparent, and offered more pronounced arch support. We also really like the rubber toe bumper which wraps around the entire toe box unlike the partial protection provided by more minimalist options.
The Hoka ONE ONE models are typically rockered and do take a bit of getting used to, but ultimately promote a more natural gait.
We were able to walk across sharp desert rock without our feet feeling their impacts.
While some Hoka models have astonished reviewers with unprecedented weight savings, the Sky Toa comes somewhere in the middle of the pack, at 2.12 pounds per pair. While there are certainly lighter models in our review, as you can see in the chart below, these savings can also come at a cost. We feel that for their weight, these shoes offer an excellent ratio of comfort and support to weight and they are well worth a couple of extra ounces per foot. By utilizing advanced synthetic materials in the upper of the shoe, the Sky Toa can put more material into the midsole, giving them the comfort that makes them so noteworthy.
The Sky Toa is a perfect combination of weight and support.
The Sky Toa offers excellent support and is one of the best performers in this metric. With an oversized outsole that imparts stability, we feel confident wearing heavy packs with these shoes on our feet. The upper material conforms to the foot, and with the traditional lacing system helps to cradle the foot and keep it from slopping around, giving the shoes a more responsive feel.
Of all the hiking shoes in this review, these give the best ankle support and are more of a mid-cut boot in the coverage they provide. Padded around the ankle bone, they are much more comfortable and confidence inspiring than lower-cut shoes.
The Sky Toa gives excellent support on this hike through a Joshua Tree forest.
Hoka upped their traction game when developing the Sky Toa, improving on some of the tread design issues that we noticed in the previous Tor Summit model. Using a Vibram MegaGrip hi-traction rubber compound along the perimeter of the outsole, and a more rounded RMAT rubber lug pattern in the center of the sole, these shoes can handle most conditions with confidence. The outer lugs have been deepened to provide better traction in looser terrain, which was a noted improvement.
The thick sole still keeps the user from feeling much of the terrain underfoot, however, and with such a wide sole it is challenging to feel confident on steep and slippery surfaces like snow, and edging on boulders is compromised. In these more varied conditions, we would look to a more traction-oriented shoe.
The lugs on the Sky Toas are not deep, but provide good traction in most trail conditions.
This is a great shoe for everything from day hikes to thru-hikes of major trails like the John Muir Trail. They work best and are most at home on trails given their plush comfort and moderate off-trail performance, but would also be a good fit for those looking for extra comfort while standing around extensively at work or spending lots of time on paved surfaces.
They are not as versatile as some of the other shoes which could be confused with a trail running shoe, as this shoe feels a little too clunky to be useful as a running or gym shoe.
These shoes work well in all types of hiking, especially day trips and short overnight backpacks.
By using an eVent waterproof bootie that envelops the foot in a waterproof/breathable membrane, the Sky Toa was able to maintain full complete water resistance during our five-minute underwater test and showed no signs of leakage. The synthetic upper helped to bead water off and did not show signs of inundation after prolonged exposure.
The 4.25-inch flood height with the extra sole height gives these shoes the ability to slosh through mountain streams without a second thought.
During our testing period, we did not experience any durability concerns with the Sky Toa, and we have not been able to track down any reports of other users complaining of long-term durability issues. The lightweight material is surely less durable than a heavier leather material, so users in abrasive environments should consider how harshly they treat these shoes.
Want to give your feet a treat? Slip them inside the plush Sky Toa hiking shoes and you'll put down the miles with much greater comfort.
If you need a comfortable and supportive shoe to aid with knee and joint pain then it is well worth the cost.
Give your feet a break. They work hard, so reward them by slipping them into the Hoka One One Sky Toa, the most comfortable shoe with the softest sole. It also performed quite well overall. Taking this luxury ride out on the trails is a great choice.