The HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa is an exciting new model that builds off the previous successes that the Tor line was known for. With thick soles built out of multiple rubber densities, these shoes come from a tradition of maximum comfort driven by ultra-runners, fastpackers, and thru-hikers. This shoe is taller than many others in our review, and this extra ankle support combined with an oversized sole makes them an attractive option for hikers who don't have the foot strength to use a lower cut model.
HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa Review
Cons: Not as cushioned as previous Hoka models, some traction issues
Manufacturer: HOKA ONE ONE
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HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa
|Price||$170.00 at REI||$120.00 at REI||$142.50 at Backcountry|
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|$112.46 at Backcountry|
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|$169.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Extremely comfortable, lightweight, supportive||Great value, comfortable, lightweight||Excellent comfort and traction, waterproof||Aggressive traction, great water resistance, versatile||Very lightweight, waterproof|
|Cons||Not as cushioned as previous Hoka models, some traction issues||Material shows wear after heavy use||Expensive, not the most durable||Quicklace system not for everyone, average ankle protection||Soft sole|
|Bottom Line||A blend of top-notch comfort with support in a lightweight package that makes them an excellent choice for long-distance hikers looking to shave weight and increase mobility.||A cross between a hiking shoe and a trail runner, this model blends comfort with performance at an unbeatable price.||The La Sportiva Spire GTX is a hiking shoe built with the comfort of a running shoe.||This shoe is nimble and aggressive for hikers who like to pick up the pace in any terrain.||A lightweight hiking shoe that won't weigh you down during long days on the trail.|
|Rating Categories||HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa||The North Face Ultra 110 GTX||La Sportiva Spire GTX||Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX||Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX|
|Water Resistance (5%)|
|Specs||HOKA ONE ONE Sky Toa||The North Face...||La Sportiva Spire...||Salomon X Ultra 3...||Arc'teryx Aerios...|
|Weight of Size 11 Pair||2.12 lbs||2.07 lbs||2.06 lbs||1.95 lbs||1.64 lbs|
|Upper||Synthetic||Mesh||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Textile/synthetic leather||Cordura mesh|
|Waterproof Lining||eVent||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex Surround||Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane||Gore-Tex|
|Flood Level (inches)||4.25||4.25||4.75||4.5||3.5|
|Last Board/Shank||EVA||EVA||Molded EVA||Advanced chassis and molded shank||TPU shank|
|Midsole||EVA||EVA||5mm Ortholite Insole, Compression Molded EVA, TPU inserts||Injected EVA||Compressed EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram MegaGrip||UltraTAC rubber||Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System||Non-marking ContaGrip||Vibram MegaGrip|
|Warranty||45 day||Limited 1 year||1 year||2 years||60 day return|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ryan Huetter