HOKA ONE ONE Toa Gore-Tex Review
Cons: Not as cushioned as previous Hoka models, some traction issues
Manufacturer: HOKA ONE ONE
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Toa hiking shoe exemplified comfort in our review, but did remarkably well in many other metrics, as evidenced below in our overall performance chart. We have no hesitation in recommending this shoe as our Top Pick for Comfort.
Hoka shoes are known worldwide for their attention to comfort in their hiking and running shoes, and they have made no exception with the 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, by employing multiple layers of different density foam in the midsole, the cushion is much more progressive than in other super plush models. The soft synthetic upper wraps around the foot and does not present any discomfort around the tongue or ankle, two areas that often experience pressure or abrasion.
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, especially if you are used to striking with the middle of your foot first. 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 Toa does not shed as much weight, though they come in at a very respectable 2.03 pounds.
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 Toa can put more material into the midsole, giving them the comfort that makes them so noteworthy.
The Toa GTX offers excellent support and is one of the best performers in this metric. We feel that this is one of the best shoes in our review for carrying a heavy load with thanks to its above-average support as a hiking shoe. 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. More than a shoe, but also a tad less than a boot, the Toa lands in between the two. Padded around the ankle bone, they are much more comfortable and confidence-inspiring than lower-cut shoes. The insole is quality and provides excellent support under the arch.
Hoka upped their traction game when developing the Toa, improving on some of the tread design issues that we noticed in previous HOKA models. 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 is a noted improvement.
While we really appreciate the Toa's ability in on-trail applications as well as in many off-trail situations, we feel less confident wearing these shoes in terrain that requires lots of edging or in very loose surface conditions. The wide sole has a lot of surface area contact, but it does not allow for precise edging, as the sole tends to roll. Similarly, in very loose sand or gravel, the softer sole does not edge as well as stiffer soled options, though it seems that these two arenas present the only clear issue for the Toa.
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 a Gore-Tex waterproof bootie that envelops the foot in a waterproof/breathable membrane, the Toa Gore-Tex is able to maintain full complete water resistance during our five-minute underwater test and shows no signs of leakage. The synthetic upper helps to bead water off and did not show signs of inundation after prolonged exposure.
The nearly 5-inch flood height with the extra sole height gives these shoes the ability to slosh through mountain streams without a second thought. By combining this shoe with a short gaiter, you could easily extend the water-resistance of the Toa, though it is already one of the most protective shoes in this metric.
During our testing period, we did not experience any durability concerns with the 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.
This shoe is a great value as it provides top-notch comfort and support for long days on the trail, and for those who need extra cushioning due to joint pain.
Give your feet a break. They work hard, so reward them by slipping them into the Hoka One One Toa Gore-Tex, 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, and as a top performer in many metrics but especially in comfort, we give it our Top Pick Award for Comfort.
— Ryan Huetter