HOKA is known for their unusual looking running shoes. Often, people who have not tried HOKA think their trainers look like “moon-boots,” “marshmallows,” and “clown shoes.” Those of us that have run in HOKA see the beauty in the shoes. They go from looking odd to looking awesome. Maybe a switch is flipped in the mind, activated by the way your body feels when running in the highly cushioned shoes. Now with the addition of the Hupana, runners looking for a more mainstream looking running shoe from HOKA ONE ONE have an option.
HOKA is marketing the Hupana as a running shoe that is also a lifestyle shoe. The term “lifestyle” shoe doesn’t do the Hupana justice. It makes it sound less serious. The Hupana is a legit trainer. Maybe HOKA is sticking a “lifestyle” tag on it because it is the first HOKA that doesn’t look like a HOKA. Don’t be fooled by the more traditional looks, this model is a HOKA and maintains qualities we love about their shoes.
Thomas: The upper looks simple enough. It is knit with some welded reinforcement on the interior of the shoe. With over 60 miles of running in the Hupana, in warm weather, rain, and cold weather, the shoe’s upper has only gotten better over time. In my experience knit uppers hold up well. The Hupana upper has broken in nicely and feels softer now than on the first few miles. The tongue is stitched to the upper, and its greatest quality is that it isn’t noticeable. I also like that it doesn’t extend above the collar. I was able to get a good fit in the Hupana with no hot spots, rubbing, or heel lift.
The knit upper sits on a full RMAT foam midsole. RMAT is the foundation that makes a HOKA feel like a HOKA. RMAT is a soft cushy foam mixed with a little rubber to create a pillowy ride. It is lighter than traditional EVA and Infinergy® midsoles. The cushioning and ride of the Hupana reminded me of another shoe I loved, the Nike LUNAREPIC. With only a 5mm drop, the Hupana rolls through your stride smoothly.
Let’s talk about the outsole. There isn’t one. The LUNAREPIC doesn’t have one either, but the Hupana doesn’t have the laser etched bottoms that the Nike has. I thought that the relatively smooth bottom would not be good for traction. In my first few runs, I even decelerated around wet corners in fear I would slide. The RMAT kept me sure-footed. You would think without the rubber, you are giving up durability. I have been very pleased with how the bottoms are holding up. There are signs of wear, but nothing that would alter the shape of the shoe. For example, I am hard on the left lateral side of my shoes. There are little hexagons that stick up a fraction of a millimeter on the RMAT that I have worn smooth. Cosmetically it is noticeable, during my performance it is not.
HOKA is known for great cushioning in light packages, for a size 10.5 mine weighed 8.9 ounces. I ran regular runs, tempo runs, and intervals in the Hupana and felt confident during all of the workouts.
Meaghan: The HOKA Hupana is a simple looking trainer. The first thing you’ll notice is the weight. They are superrrr light (W7.5 = 6.75oz). Much lighter than you’d expect when looking at the shoe. And way lighter than a traditional trainer. The Hupana’s knit upper is dense and supportive, but breathed just fine (I think, it’s been real cold here). The upper has the perfect amount of stretch – enough to accommodate wide feet, but not so much that you lose that secure, locked-in feeling. The lacing is simple but allows you to get a dialed-in fit.
The midsole/outsole is just a bunch of RMAT, which is a mix of cushy foam and rubber. It feels great underfoot and is surprisingly grippy. I’ve taken these out on several rain runs and they performed better than most shoes. Speed work on wet wood and bricks is typically a gamble, but I felt pretty confident in the Hupana. I was worried the outsole would start to grind away, but I’ve put over 85 miles on mine without any real signs of wear.
Thomas: Mostly I just don’t like the shoe’s “Lifestyle” marketing. This is a solid trainer!
Meaghan: If I’m nitpicking: I had a bit of heel lift when I first put on the Hupana’s. I ended up lacing the shoes using the heel-lock technique, adding in the extra shoelace hole.
The HOKA ONE ONE Hupana Conclusion
Thomas: I really like this shoe, a lot. The HOKA Clifton is still my favorite HOKA, but the Hupana is a close second. While running in the Hupana it was hard for me to not be reminded of Nike shoes with Lunarlon midsoles like the LunarGlide or LUNAREPIC, but that is a good thing. This is a HOKA that can tempt other brand loyalists to try HOKA. The price of $115 is super reasonable too. If you have been timid about trying HOKA, give the Hupana a chance. It has a good upper, smooth ride, and a solid price point. This is another shoe like the Saucony Freedom ISO that I am looking forward to seeing how it evolves over iterations.
Meaghan: The HOKA Hupana is an awesome, versatile daily trainer. If you could only have one pair of running shoes, this would be a great option. The Hupana performed well on short, long, recovery and tempo runs. I’d feel comfortable taking these out for a 2 mile run or a 20 mile run. They’re reasonably priced ($115) and are holding up well (after 85 miles). I would recommend the Hupana to anyone who’s in the market for a new pair of running shoes. Added bonus: it’s a HOKA shoe that doesn’t look ridiculous.
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