The Bondi 6 vs. the Bondi 5
The newest incarnation of the Bondi has an upgraded upper, a change in midsole, and the weight of the shoe has changed, as well. See below for a comparison of the two, with the Bondi 6
shown first, followed by the Bondi 5
Here is a summary of the updates to the shoe:
- Midsole Updates — The midsole of the Bondi 6 has been redesigned to provide more cushioning.
- Changes to Upper — The mesh upper on this incarnation of the Bondi has been designed to be more breathable than before.
- Reduction in Weight — HOKA claims a weight reduction and increased durability in this version due to a redesigned rubber outsole.
We link to the new Bondi 6 above, but since we haven't tested out this latest version yet, the following text continues to refer only to the Bondi 5.
Hands-On Review of the Bondi 5
Winning one of our favorite awards, the Top Pick for Going the Distance, the Bondi is a unique shoe designed for maximum cushioning for runners who pile on the mileage.
The Bondi earned one of the highest scores in this review, earning it our Top Pick for Going the Distance Award.
Getting used to the Bondi's thick cushioning on Yosemite's awesome trails.
The Bondi is without a doubt the most cushioned shoe in this review, earning it high marks in this scoring metric. Designed for days when you're packing on the distance, this shoe is sure to carry you comfortably mile after mile. This distinctive feature is exactly what earned it one of our Top Pick awards, but it doesn't necessarily make it the right choice for every runner.
HOKA ONE ONE has earned their reputation through bizarre, outrageously cushioned shoes. Constructed with ultramarathoners in mind, these shoes are sure to turn a few heads as you plod down the streets. In addition to being the most cushioned shoe that we tested, the Bondi is the plushest road-specific shoe in HOKA's entire lineup. Our testers were curious about these impact-reducing kicks, and they exceeded our expectations.
You've never seen cushioning like the Bondi!
Whether out for a skip around the block or an all-day adventure, we couldn't believe how comfortable we felt in the Bondi, from our first step of the day to our last. Pounding downhill, we felt that our knees and joints were protected as well as our feet. The cushioning makes these shoes perfect for those long-slow distance workouts where speed is secondary to mileage. We may not use them every day, as we also appreciate the light weight of a model like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, but when we're running slow and far, the Bondi can't be beaten.
Constructed with a 4mm heel-toe drop, the Bondi finds itself more on the minimalist side of the shoe spectrum, despite its maximum cushioning. Users might notice a shift in foot positioning if accustomed to the 10-12mm drop of many popular shoes (all our Brooks models included), but our testers found this smaller drop easily digestible when paired with all that cushy goodness.
As with all shoes, responsiveness comes at the cost of cushioning, and the Bondi is certainly no exception. As the most cushioned shoe in this review, the Bondi is also the least responsive.
It was a little challenging to get used to the lack of bounce in the Bondi, but to appreciate this shoe, it's best to view it more as a specialty item than an all-around daily user. The sole is incredibly stiff, and we would not recommend it for speed work, interval training, or the track.
The Bondi can carry you to wherever your heart wanders, including to our favorite places deep in the High Sierra.
Despite having maximum underfoot cushioning, the Bondi's upper is not as plush as we had anticipated. It has decent padding, and soft materials throughout but are still slightly less comfortable than the excellent padding of the Brooks Ghost 10.
The Bondi scored in the middle of its competitors for upper comfort. The tongue and heel are stiffer than we anticipated, and despite its soft materials, we found this shoe's upper to be much less plush than others, like the extra comfy Brooks Adrenaline GTS. This shoe is in no way uncomfortable, but with its maximally cushioned bottom, we were expecting the same on top and were a tad disappointed to find an upper more in line with lightweight speedsters like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus.
The Bondi's upper is not as comfortable as its sole.
On the upside, one of our favorite features of the Bondi is the wider toe box. We loved that our toes could spread out in this shoe, especially after being stuffed into some narrower shoes like the ASICS GEL-Cumulus.
Despite its neutral build, the Bondi has a stable, secure upper. Its wide fit, however, worked against this and helped the Bondi earn a lower score in this metric.
According to the manufacturer, the Bondi is a neutral shoe not designed for stability or pronation. And while we liked the printed upper, the shoe fit wide enough that we felt a little lost in it. For runners with wider feet, however, the Bondi may be an excellent middle ground between stability and comfort. The heel is particularly stiff, which we did appreciate.
Getting excited to take off with the Bondi
At 8.7 ounces per shoe, the Bondi is, unsurprisingly, on the heavier side of things. Half of the shoes in this review fell in the 8.0-8.9 ounce range, and we find that the average user wouldn't notice the difference in fractions of an hour. The heavier weight of this is noticed compared to some of the ultralight shoes we tested, though, which is why it received one of the lower scores in this category.
For having such a significant amount of cushioning, we're pleased that the Bondi isn't heavier. It's nearly the same weight as the Ghost and is lighter than the Brooks Glycerin, both of which have less landing comfort but more upper comfort. We think the weight here is justified, as opposed to in the heavy ASICS GEL-Cumulus which is not nearly as comfortable as its competitors.
The weight of the Bondi in addition to its plush sole make it unfit for speed work, but its weight doesn't hinder our longer runs one bit.
Taking a break to soak in the view with the Bondi
The HOKA ONE ONE Bondi is the best long-distance shoe in this review, and we would recommend it highly to anyone who occasionally likes to push the miles or for those who regularly train high distances. If marathons are your thing, we can't imagine a better shoe for those endurance days. While not set up to help you PR at your next 5k, we do love this shoe despite its specialty status. Additionally, if your knees and hips often bother you, this might be a great shoe to try, as the maximum cushioning takes much of the impact off of the joints.
Our legs would give out long before the Bondi's comfortable sole.
At $150, the Bondi is the second most expensive shoe that we tested. As a specialty item, the price may not be justified for every runner. For dedicated distance runners, however, we just can't put a price on comfort and joint protection. If serious mileage is in your future, we think that the high price tag of this shoe may just be worth the investment. If just dipping your toes into the longest distances, however, we may recommend a still comfortable yet more reasonably priced shoe like the Ghost.
Winner of our Top Pick for Going the Distance Award, the Bondi 5 is a special shoe. We felt light, smooth, and cozy running in these shoes, and their spectacular landing comfort is what set them apart. We would have hoped for a little more cushioning in the upper, but they were comfortable enough all around. If long days piling on the miles is the name of your game, or if marathon training is in your future, look no further. If you're looking for a better all-around shoe that is still quite comfortable, head on over to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS.
Amazing comfort soaking up the sun!