Hands-on Gear Review

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz - Women's Review

HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz - Womens
Top Pick Award
Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Lightweight, amazing traction, breathable, continuous upper
Cons:  Durability issues, not very protective
Bottom line:  This Top Pick for Lightweight Performance will have you charging up and down whatever trail you tread.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (oz):  6.95 oz
Type of Shoe:  Low profile
Heel-to-Toe Drop:  3 mm
Manufacturer:   HOKA ONE ONE

Our Verdict

The HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz is a trail-biting lightweight trail runner that won our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance! A brand new design introduced by HOKA ONE ONE, it does not follow the conventional super-cushioned construct of its cousins. This shoe is lightweight and low profile with minimal cushioning throughout the midsole. It features a 3-mm drop, providing a little bit of cushioning in the heel, with little protection in the midfoot. The fit in the front of the show allows for toe splay (in narrow to regular footed individuals) with a heel that doesn't slip or move around.

The Vibram outsole is aggressive with malleable yet sticky rubber that stiffens in colder temperatures and squishes around rocks when warm. Of all shoes tested, it's the least slippery on rocks and doesn't slip or slide out while swiveling down gnarly, steep switchbacks. That said, it is not water-resistant, and durability is quite questionable. It's an excellent option for river crossings as it dries out quickly and doesn't allow any particulates to permeate its continuous, thin upper design. It's a perfect trail runner for those searching for a technical trail running shoe that is lightweight and breathable. Just don't take it on the pavement.

Of its competitors, the Salmon Speedcross 4 and Salming Elements are the closest to construct, providing great traction, stability, and performance. All are great options for softer surfaces like snow, sand, or mud. But, the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz stands out for being a little more versatile than both competitors. It offers more protection than the Salmings, but not as protective as the Salomon Speedcross 4. Its lugs aren't as long and specialized as the Salmings, nor are they as wide and bulk as the Salomon Speedcross 4. Overall, the Evo Jawz is a little lighter and holds less water than both. It's also more breathable with a wider fit. Overall, the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz wins our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance because of its great scores overall and its one-of-a-kind versatility for both technical trails and softer surfaces. That said, if you're low on cash, consider a more durable option as this showed some wear and tear on both the upper and outsole after just 50 miles of use.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Trail Running Shoes for Women of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Sunday
May 6, 2018

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This Top Pick for Lightweight Performance bites down on technical trails through all terrain! As a lightweight shoe, it will have you floating up single track, whether you're running for two or twenty miles.

Performance Comparison


Our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance -- the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz
Our Top Pick for Lightweight Performance -- the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz

Foot Protection


With a minimalist, lightweight design in mind, the Evo Jawz is not the most protective shoe out there, scoring a mediocre four out of ten. It has one of the best continuous uppers that protects against fine particulates, but it lacks protection from sharp rocks and water. That said, many of our testers thought that its lightweight and flexible design allowed more agility on the trail, allowing them to avoid terrain features that are unfavorable for the feet more easily.


If you're in search of a shoe that provides stellar protection from stubborn particulates, you will appreciate the thin, continuous and breathable upper of this shoe. The rip-stop material kept out sand and dust during a 15-mile jaunt in the desert. We checked our shoe several times on the run and was surprised to find no particulate matter hanging out. Strap on a sand gaiter for those super dry days, and you'll be set! While this shoe doesn't provide Gaiter-compatible features like the Altra Lone Peak 3.5, it's still compatible with an option like the Salomon Low Trail Gaiters, that doesn't require a special velcro strap or hook in the front.

The continuous upper does not allow any particulates to weasel their way inside the shoe.
The continuous upper does not allow any particulates to weasel their way inside the shoe.

Protective features that the Evo Jawz do not sport include; a rock plate, enhanced toe cap, and ample cushioning underfoot. If you are in search of a shoe that does have a rock plate, we like the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 or the Saucony Peregrine 7, our Best Buy award winner. All other shoes in this review provide a bit more protection from stubbed toes and sharp rocks. The HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4, our Top Pick for Comfort, provides more cushioning underfoot then the HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz, and is another great lightweight option with better protection overall.

If water resistance is what you seek, you will not find it in this shoe! While taking a morning stroll in some dewy grass, we noted the uppers becoming saturated within seconds. While the thin material is incredibly breathable and does dry out quickly, it is not an excellent option for those seeking a water-resistant shoe for runs that will be continuously wet and rainy. Instead, for that purpose, check out the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX, our waterproof Editor's Choice award winner. That said, our testers still thought it was fine for water-crossings as the upper is thin and dries out quickly.

Traction


Equipped with an aggressive Vibram trail-biting outsole, we are super impressed by the performance of the super sticky 6-mm long lugs that earned the Evo Jawz a perfect ten in this category. The outsole is perfect for soft surfaces like mud or sand, also providing unbeatable "bite" while heading up massive mountainsides. If you seek a bomber outsole that truly grabs the trail, this is a great option. That said, this outsole is not very durable.


What do we love? The spacing of the lugs provides excellent mud shed on wet days, while the multi-directional bit offers stability and traction while going up and down steep switchbacks. Over snow, we were impressed that we didn't slide out laterally, while the malleable rubber actually stiffened with the colder temperatures, providing better traction, similar to the Salming Elements, a shoe with 8 mm lugs. Wet rocks? No problem. While we all know that different kinds of rocks are slipperier than others, we found that this shoe did better than any other in this review while crossing streams.

A look at the burly and aggressive outsole.
A look at the burly and aggressive outsole.

And, what don't we love? The only thing that we worry about with the outsole of this shoe is its durability. After just 30 miles on the trails (with some travel over pavement), we noticed one of the lugs had broken off. In fact, after 60 miles of wear and tear, lug length decreased by one millimeter overall. As a result…there might be some durability issues with the super moldable, yet sticky rubber outsole. If you seek a more durable outsole that provides similar performance, be sure to check out the Salomon Speedcross 4s, our Top Pick for Sloppy Surfaces. While the lugs are a little wider, they are more durable.

While the lugs are sticky and great for a plethora of surfaces  we weren't too impressed when then lug broke off after running on the pavement.
While the lugs are sticky and great for a plethora of surfaces, we weren't too impressed when then lug broke off after running on the pavement.

Stability


With an incredibly flexible design, we found this shoe to be incredibly stable! The flexibility of the outsole and upper allows your feet to find the best position on the trail while dodging rocks and roots. That said, this shoe does not have any serious stability features like shanks or a rock plate. Nor is it designed to adjust for overpronation. It scores a nine in this category for its super flexible design and low 3-mm drop. The level of cushioning is minimal, keeping you close to the ground to avoid rolled ankles. A great shoe for technical terrain or soft surfaces.


This shoe has few stability features, but its close to the ground design prevents rolled ankles. Also, the sole flexibility allows your foot to find the best balance and positioning underfoot, similar to the ultra-minimal Salming Elements. This shoe offers a touch more cushioning than the Salmings, providing a tad more protection. That said, if you're seeking a super stable shoe, check out the La Sportiva Bushido, loaded with TPU shanks and a rock plate through the outsole.

Comfort & Fit


Scoring an eight out of ten, this shoe is decently comfortable, mostly due to its lightweight design. The cushioning underfoot is firm and stable, providing nice transitions for both midfoot and heel strikers. The extra cushion in the foot provides a little bit of protection, but not as much as other shoes tested. The upper is super thin and breathable, making it comfortable for warm days, but not so great for super cold winter mornings. The lacing system provides ample opportunity to cinch down the upper to wrap everything from a narrow to wide foot. The forefoot provides a surprising amount of room with a nice tight fit around the heel and arch. There is a little bit of arch support, but overall, this shoe has a neutral fit.


The EVO Jawz is a great option for those seeking minimal cushioning underfoot. However, if you prefer a little more cushion with your step, be sure to check out the ultra-lightweight HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 ATR. In comparison, they both provide a similar amount of wiggle room in the toe box, fitting both narrow and some wide-footed ladies. The only difference is the Challenger ATR 4 provides ample cushioning, making it feel like you're running on cushions all day long.

The uppers are thin and comfortable  without too much bulk. No blisters or odd rubbing spots!
The uppers are thin and comfortable, without too much bulk. No blisters or odd rubbing spots!

If you're in search of a shoe that will fit your narrow foot, this is a possible option. Similar to the Salming Elements and Salomon Speedcross 4, it provides a narrow fit overall but has a little more toe box room then these contenders. If you seek a shoe that allows ample toe splay or fits those with a wider forefoot best, check out the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 or the Brooks Cascadia 12, both renowned for a wider toe box.

The laces stay laced. In addition  there's enough space to tighten them down if your feet are a little narrow.
The laces stay laced. In addition, there's enough space to tighten them down if your feet are a little narrow.

Weight


Are you ready to fly? As a super lightweight (6.95 oz, size nine) we are so impressed with how good it felt to run…even up hills! Tackling steep switchbacks felt easier with the Evo Jawz. Its lightweight construct features a super thin yet breathable upper in addition to minimal materials throughout the tongue and outsole. Not only that, but this shoe features few materials that absorb a lot of water. In our water tests, it only absorbed 3.2 oz, making it the second least absorbent in this review. Overall, we love the lightweight design of this shoe, making it a Top Pick, and scoring a perfect ten in this category.


This has all other lightweight shoes in this review beat. That said, the only contender that absorbed less water, and is also an excellent option for wet weather is the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4, absorbing only 2.6 oz of water in our tests. If you prefer a shoe that offers more protection but also features a lower weight, this is a great option. The Salming Elements is another great lightweight shoe, weighing in at just 8.65 oz; however, it proved to be one of the most absorbent, sucking in almost 5 oz of water in our tests. Overall, the Evo Jawz weighs the least and holds very little water while on the run. Due to its lack of materials and ample breathability, it dries out within ten minutes on the trail (assuming warm weather and less absorbent socks).

Sensitivity


With its lightweight design, this shoe is also highly sensitive. The flexible outsole has minimal cushioning allowing you to feel most rocks and the trail underfoot. This shoe has no rock-plate nor is the cushioning ample. If you seek sensitive shoe, this is a fantastical option. Feel the trail and not your shoe! It scores a nine out of ten.


While this shoe provides great sensitively, it also allows a little protection in the form of some cushioning. As a result, it's not as sensitive as the super minimalist Salming Elements, but much more sensitive than the Salomon Speedcross 4.

Feel the trail every step of the way with this ultra-sensitive shoe!
Feel the trail every step of the way with this ultra-sensitive shoe!

Best Applications


Given the uber-awesome traction and lightweight design of the Evo Jawz we felt it is a great option for technical trails and soft surfaces. Given this shoe is not water resistant, it's not great for wet climates, but does a good job for basic river crossings and puddles that you might encounter on your journey. It dries quickly and provides great stability whether you're flying over flats or supercharging the steeps. The "Jawz" is true to its name…it will bite the trail, and you won't slide back or to the side. It also provides a comfortable ride for those with a narrow to regular width foot. Avoid using it on the pavement as we noticed some of the super malleable lugs actually ripped off! That said, we have our qualms about durability as we noticed both the uppers and outsole breaking down after just 50 miles of use.

Technical rocky trails? No problem. This shoe performs well over that and a plethora of other surfaces. Use them when the weather gets sloppy or while running over more technical terrain features.
Technical rocky trails? No problem. This shoe performs well over that and a plethora of other surfaces. Use them when the weather gets sloppy or while running over more technical terrain features.

Value


Selling for a retail price of $130, this is one of the lower value shoes tested. While we love its performance, we fear for those with little money to spend on running shoes. In our testing period, the Evo Jawz provided to show wear and tear after the first five-mile run! The uppers began to shred away.

A look at the uppers after fifty miles of wear and tear. This started to break down at mile 5 into wearing them. In addition  a lug came off  and the dye from the shoe stains socks. While we really like the performance of this shoe  we aren't thrilled about potential durability issues.
A look at the uppers after fifty miles of wear and tear. This started to break down at mile 5 into wearing them. In addition, a lug came off, and the dye from the shoe stains socks. While we really like the performance of this shoe, we aren't thrilled about potential durability issues.

After another twenty miles, we noticed the toe cap delaminating. After another ten miles, we noticed the cushioning broke down a touch. After running on a five-mile pavement stretch, one of the lugs broke off, with most of the lugs measuring one millimeter shorter under 100 miles. To top it off, the dye from the shoe bled onto our socks every time we wore them. Durability issue? We'll leave that up to you to decide. That said, buyer beware…we worry that the $130 may not get you far before your socks are stained and the material has broken down. That said, there weren't any huge failures of the design — just signs of durability problems. Not the best value out there.

A look at the author's stained socks after wearing the HOKA Evo Jawz. This was a regular occurrence  forcing her to choose her least favorite socks to run in.
A look at the author's stained socks after wearing the HOKA Evo Jawz. This was a regular occurrence, forcing her to choose her least favorite socks to run in.

Conclusion


This Top Pick for Lightweight Design is our favorite for training runs and race days. The uber-sticky lugs provide great traction while the lightweight design makes it feel like you're not running at all! Just beware of potential durability issues and don't expect these babies to be waterproof!

Enjoying an after-school jaunt in Ridgway  CO.
Enjoying an after-school jaunt in Ridgway, CO.
Amber King

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Most recent review: May 6, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
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