HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6 Review
Cons: Can feel clunky, heavier than other HOKA models, limited padding
Manufacturer: HOKA ONE ONE
Our Analysis and Test Results
HOKA ONE ONE generally does a great job of creating fast, stable shoes — after all, they're meant for ultra-marathoners. The Bondi 6 uses fine craft to subtly steady the gait with an overall supportive design, aided by features like the well-engineered heel counter and HOKA's Meta-Rocker geometry.
The maximalist Bondi 6 uses a full-length compression-molded EVA midsole to get the same material pop as top-scoring stability models. However, it also has a few other simple design features to lock it down into one of the more responsive models in our review. Those features include the refined early stage Meta-Rocker, a forgiving internal heel counter, and HOKA's beveled heel, among others. The result is a product that sticks to the foot and kicks back what you put into it. If you're a marathoner or just need the extra cushion under foot, these might be a good bet, though they feel firm enough for a sprint, so don't be afraid of them on shorter runs.
These are practical shoes that land just fine. Want a running shoe that will cushion your feet for a four-hour run without sapping away energy? How about 35mm of firm compression-molded EVA across the entire sole, give or take 2mm on either side? That's the Bondi 6, and there's just enough give and just enough return to make it comfortable for any running pursuit. Their low drop of 4mm also means that they don't force any sort of landing, plus there's enough cushioning to pad you no matter how you land.
These aren't the lightest HOKA offering, but at 24.3oz in a pair of men's 11, they're lighter than some of the stability and heavy underfoot cushion models. The maximalist design means that the nearly uniform stack height is about 37mm at the heel and 33mm at the toe, so each step is maximally padded. To put that in context, most big plush models have a heel sitting at about 30mm and a toe at 18mm, yet still weigh half an ounce more. So all things considered, the Bondi 6 isn't crazy heavy.
HOKA tends to use a good combination of coarse mesh to keep the upper in working condition for a few seasons. They also have a ton of midsole, which ends up reducing the wear not just on your joints, but also on the rest of the shoe — the marshmallow of a midsole eats the excess energy and percussion. The one detractor here is that the outsole's design has a few raised impact areas that will end up taking more abuse than the surrounding areas, so you can expect those to wear down faster than the rest of the midsole and erode the overall shoe performance.
Again with the utilitarian design. The Bondi 6 has basic padding, a roomy toebox, and a pretty decent sockliner. The one caveat here is that the lasting and insole work together to give the shoe a sculpted feel, which can be distracting or uncomfortable if your foot doesn't match that shape (as was the case with our reviewer). Still, it's the right amount of stripped-down for doing lots of miles out in the heat.
Most of the midfoot, forefoot, and toe are covered by light mesh that helps pull out heat and moisture. There's only a small part of the midfoot that has 3D print, which limits heat and moisture exchange, and the modest padding in the tongue also captures some heat and moisture. But the mesh has wide holes, and the sockliner is thin enough that the heat retention isn't severe. Overall, it's a pretty breathable running shoe.
In the world of high-performance running shoes, these run right around the upper limit of reasonable. The Bondi is just high-performance enough to justify the price. But don't be shy about trying to find a deal on them before you open your wallet.
The HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6 really can be just about everything for just about everyone. They hold respectable marks across most of our performance measures, hitting the highest in the responsiveness category. It's no mystery that the broad, thick compression-molded EVA is a natural stabilizer. Still, it's the midsole's poppy-yet-forgiving firmness and unique design features like the early stage Meta-Rocker that really give these a leg up. They also come close to the performance of a racing flat, even when we took them out for track sprints, which are downright unpleasant in traditional stability shoes. And of course, they're long-distance running shoes designed for those crazy ultra-marathoners, but they comfortably accommodate pretty much any road pursuit you'd like.
— Ryan Baham