Review – Hoka Stinson B Crossover Running Shoe
I first heard about Hoka’s line of running shoes while racing in a local trail series. A high school coach showed up wearing a pair and they immediately got my attention. They’re hard to miss. They’re big. The coach calls them his “moon shoes”. He’s one of the faster guys around, and happened to be racing that day with two broken toes. According to him, he doesn’t feel any pain when running in these shoes. He used the word “amazing” more than once. I was a bit skeptical, but this guy has been around, so I started thinking about reviewing a pair.
So here we are.
Hoka OneOne was started in 2009 by two ultra runners. They began with one shoe, the Mafate trail shoe, and it quickly made an impression on ultra runners everywhere. They now makes multiple shoes – from walking shoes to trail shoes to road shoes.
The Hoka Stinson B is a crossover shoe that can be used on both road or trail surfaces.
Lets start out with some details. According to Hoka – http://hokaoneone-na.com:
Hoka One One’s maximally cushioned midsole offers superior protection, comfort and propulsion. The distinctive rockered geometry of Hoka shoes creates a platform for optimally efficient natural running mechanics. The oversized outsoles — which have twice the surface area of typical running shoes — provide for maximum stability, traction and connection to the ground.
COMFORT AND CUSHIONING: The midsole foam is 30 percent softer than the material used in traditional running shoes, and there is 2.5 times more volume than in most running shoes. The extra cushioning dissipates up to 80 percent of the shock associated with heelstriking when running and allows for as much as 20mm of compression in the heel.
ROCKERED MIDSOLE GEOMETRY & LOW HEEL-TOE DIFFERENTIAL
(only 4mm): encourages proper form by allowing a runner to easily strike the ground near the midfoot.
OVERSIZED MIDSOLE: Greatly reduces the rate of pronation and supination by quickly stabilizing the movement of the foot upon impact with the ground.
FEATHERLIGHT WEIGHT: Only 9 ounces and 15 percent lighter than most running shoes, they make running uphill as much fun as they make running downhill and with less body fatigue.
RECOMMENDED: Cross training, road and trail running for any distance.
BENEFITS: Engineered for maximum cushioning, comfort, protection and energy return, while still offering lightweight, nimble performance and uninhibited movement. Run more efficiently with less injury and a quicker recovery.
The two main testers are Angela and myself (David). I also received valuable feedback from two additional sources.
Outside Tester #1 (Male, 17 years old) – Cross-country team member
Upon seeing them for the first time – “These things look hideous“.
After completing his first run – “Whoa. These things are a lot of fun. Seriously. Whoa.“
Outside Tester #2 (Male, 70 years old with bad knees)
After walking in them for the first time – “They really feel good. Lots of cushioning. My toes don’t feel smooshed together.”
Asked about how they look – “I quit caring about looks long ago. My knees don’t hurt, and that is good.“
Angela: The sole is really thick. They look a little silly. And big.
David: The soles on these things are big. Not big like clown shoes or anything, but bigger than my typical race shoes. There’s a lot of cushion there. Not heavy at all though. Nearly identical to my very light racing shoes.
How do they fit?
Angela: They fit a little wide in the toe box. Overall they fit well, and very cushy.
David: Amazing. Probably the best I’ve felt straight out of the box. I typically wear an arch-support insert, but these feel perfect without one. You can definitely feel the cushioning just by walking around. Plenty of room for my toes. I usually feel a bit of pressure on the top of my foot, but these shoes are just right.
First run on the road
Angela: I did 8 miles. It was really good. It took a mile or so to get used to the extra wide surface area of the sole, but it was very cushy. I didn’t have any foot pain whatsoever, and this is only a few days after I ran a marathon with considerable foot pain.
David: I also had some knee pain after the Chicago marathon, so I was hesitant to run hard only a few days later. However, I was flying in these things. I ran some pretty serious hills, and was very, very happy at how fast these are. There’s definitely a “muted” feeling during landing. But on the road, I actually felt a little push back. Kind of like there was a big spring in these things.
The toe is kind of angled upward, and it makes it really easy to maintain a good running stride. You seem to just roll off the toe. I’m a mid-foot striker, and these shoes fit my stride nearly perfect. It even seems to “assist” in maintaining good form, if that makes sense.
First run off-road
The off-road run was at Castlewood State Park on a fair day. Trails were dry, and extremely rocky.
Angela: Felt awesome. I ran on some very rocky trails, and I couldn’t feel any rocks at all. Kind of a muted feeling whenever I ran over any sharp objects. I had a bit of ankle roll a few times but I think that is due to the course and my lack of running miles in the slightly taller shoes. Going downhill was great, and I was going faster for sure. Stability was really good. My muscles seemed to be saved a bit of the “impact shock” that goes with flying down a steep descent.
David: I like these shoes while running on the road, and the feeling is amplified on the trails. You don’t feel ANYTHING. I mean ANYTHING. I usually run in very light racing flats, so the cushioning with these is obviously quite different. I feel like I can run much, much farther in these shoes since my legs aren’t getting beat up. I did suffer some ankle roll once or twice, but I’m going to blame that on the extremely rocky trail. I believe it would have happened in my everyday race shoe as well.
Uphill was great, but going downhill was awesome. I was going so fast I had to tell myself to slow down. I was using my arms for balance the whole time. The Hoka Stinson Bs really come alive going downhill. The cushioning is unreal, and the traction is great as well. They run like a scalded monkey. The traction was more than adequate on this day. No slippage.
These shoes are by far the most comfortable running shoe I’ve ever worn. When I first saw the shoes, I thought they would be feel very heavy on my feet given the thickness of the sole. However, they are amazingly light and make me feel like I’m running on springy marshmallows.
The first time I wore these was on an 8-mile run a week after running in the Chicago Marathon. I had intense foot and knee pain during the marathon and was still experiencing some soreness in my left foot. However, I had absolutely no foot or muscle pain whatsoever when I ran in the Hokas. It only took a mile or two of running before I adjusted to the forward roll of the shoe, particularly while going downhill.
The benefits of these shoes are definitely felt on rocky trails and any long run. I’ll be choosing these over my typical race shoes for a 20k trail race in two weeks!
Can you fall in love with a shoe? I get excited when I find a product that can get me a PR just by using it. This is one of those products.
I started running in these shoes about a week following the Chicago marathon. I tweaked my knee during the marathon using my traditional racing flats. My first run in the Hoka Stinson Bs was supposed to be a nice easy 5 miles. That changed about two minutes into my run. I was able to still run at race pace in these shoes with no pain in my knee. I was literally bouncing down the road. It was a great feeling compared to the “beat down” I got from the marathon only a few days before.
A few days later I ran 8 miles in my normal race shoes, and the knee flared up again. Two days later running in the Hokas and ZERO-PAIN in my knee. It’s like ibuprofen on my feet.
The speed at which you can descend in these shoes is amazing. On my first trail run, I went downhill fast enough to probably be called reckless. It was a little scary. It’s like giving a monster truck to a 16-year old. The Hokas allow me to descend considerably faster than anything else I’ve worn. My feet don’t slip, and my legs don’t feel “shocked” from landing on my heels. They’re fun to run in, plain and simple.
The best part is that I felt zero muscle soreness after a 15 mile trail run. The “shock absorbing” nature of these shoes seemed to have saved my muscles from working any more than necessary.
If I have to find a fault with the Hoka Stinson Bs, it’s how much they resemble the “butt shaping” shoes that some companies have created. I’ve caught a few people staring and whispering when I’m getting ready for a run, and my vanity does notice this. They look different, but they feel so darn good I hardly care anymore. I mean, I love really cool looking shoes, but nothing I’ve worn comes close to performing like these do. And I’ve tried A LOT of shoes.
I like these shoes. A lot.
Four people tried the shoes, and all had great things to say about the shoes. The appearance of the shoe is the only source of any negative comment. But seriously, these shoes are made for long distance survival-type running where looks don’t really count and performance is critical. These shoes deliver in that area and then some.
Hoka makes a straight road-running shoe I will be reviewing in the next week or so. Please stay tuned, as I’m going to give you feedback straight after racing in them!
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