RoadShoe Reviews

HOKA ONE ONE Gaviota 2 Performance Review

Jarrett: This is technically my first venture into the world of HOKA One One. I’ve been eyeing them for awhile now, but their wide shoe selection was non-existent until somewhat recently. In the second version of the Gaviota, Hoka updated the upper and kept the midsole the same.

Here’s a random fact that is probably unnecessary: “gaviota” is Spanish for seagull. That means I’m wearing the Seagull 2. Seagulls aren’t very high up on the bird power ranking, but whatever, this isn’t a bird review… Austin… help…

Austin: Like the Hoka Arahi 3, the Gaviota 2 is designed to provide runners with stability. Lots of stability, i.e. motion control. According to Running Warehouse, the Gaviota is comparable to the Brooks Beast and Saucony Redeemer—minus the weight. I’ve never run in a shoe this stable before, so I wondered if it would cause any lateral leg or knee pain; thankfully, the shoes performed admirably at both slow and quick paces.

Shop Hoka Gaviota 2

 

The Good

Jarrett: Runners love to pretend all they want, but we all know Hokas are “dad shoes” in disguise. And a terrible disguise at that. I was relatively worried that once I put them on, I might actually become a dad. So far, so good.

On first step-in, I finally understood what the hype was with the Hoka cushioning. They are definitely comfy! I had concerns that the shoes were almost too cushioned, but to my surprise I found them to be pretty responsive. My previous review was of the Asics Gel Nimbus 21. After a 14-mile long run in those, my legs were dead. After a 16-mile run in the Gaviota 2, I was still feeling great. It makes sense that Hoka didn’t change the midsole.

These are also super stable shoes for anyone who over-pronates. Hoka utilizes a denser foam on the medial side of the midsole to prevent your ankle from collapsing. They call it the J frame. It also helps that the bottom of the shoes are so wide that your foot doesn’t even have the ability to roll in or out.

 

Austin: Like other models in the family, Hoka is adept at cramming lots of cushioning into a lightweight package (the Gaviota 2 weighs 10.9 ounces in a men’s nine with a generous stack height: 32 millimeters in the heel and 27 in the forefoot). Step-in comfort is nice, and I quickly took notice of the softer tongue that I scorned in the Arahi 3 for its stiffness.

As Jarrett noted in his review of the Gaviota 2, the upper evolved into a breathable mesh for increased ventilation. I noticed some sliding as he did, but managed to escape the blisters that he encountered (see below). The ride is responsive in spite of the weight, and my legs didn’t feel trashed afterward.

I was pretty surprised by the weight of these. They are by no means light shoes (advertised as 10.6oz on Hoka’s website and my 10.5 2E weighing 11.8oz), but feel much less light. When I first opened the box, I was shocked at how huge they looked. Hoka did a great job deceiving me and somehow making a heavy shoe seem light!

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The Bad

Jarrett: Hoka changed the upper to an engineered mesh to create a more breathable shoe. They also added arch-lock wings which they say assist with midfoot stability and support. Hoka completely lost me with all of this. In my opinion, the upper doesn’t have much structure at all. It felt very stretchy and flimsy. My foot felt like it was sliding all over.

As for the arch-lock wings, I couldn’t get a good lockdown. In fact, I had to stop in the middle of every run and re-lace them to try to get the correct tightness. This was partially because of the wings digging into my feet. The upper is so flimsy that I could actually feel the overlays. That’s not good at all.

As I said above, I took them out for a 16-mile long run and my legs felt great. I couldn’t say the same about my feet. I took my socks off after the run and had 3 nasty blisters. I can’t recall the last time I got blisters running, including my rain-soaked 50k last year. I even tried to give them another go on a short treadmill run two days later but felt rubbing the whole time.

Lastly, these are the longest shoelaces ever. You’re probably thinking that I’m being ridiculous, but this complaint is for real. I usually use the heel lock lacing technique which uses up a lot of extra lace and then double knot them so they don’t come undone. Well, I ended up heel locking and then quadruple knotting the laces. You read that correctly. A quadruple knot. Get out of here.

Austin: At 11 ounces, the Gaviota 2 skews heavy, though this is a natural result of RMAT and the higher stack height. Still, Brooks Beast fans who are feeling fatigued with a 13-ounce brick should give the Gaviota a look as it’s also available in a wide option as well. And there are the laces. I know, I know. We keep harping on this, but the lace lengths as of late are wild. The Kinvara 10 is my favorite shoe right now, but the laces are too long on this one too. Let’s dial them back a little.

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Hoka One One Gaviota 2 Conclusion

Jarrett: The more I ran in the Gaviota 2, the more frustrated I got. I want to love these shoes. I really do. It’s just that I can’t get my foot locked down well. Getting blisters isn’t worth it to me since I’m in the middle of marathon training, and my feet are priority #1. I love the cushion, responsiveness, and stability that the midsole brings, but I hate the upper. I’m willing to give you another chance, Hoka, but it won’t be with the Gaviota 2.

Austin: Overall, I like the Gaviota 2. Aside from the laces, I have no glaring complaints concerning the ride. The color schemes are appealing too. Thicker socks will help me fill out the volume a bit more, but all things considered, I’m impressed at the comfort and stability without the inclusion of a medial post. Less weight is icing on the cake. Oh my —anyone else want cake now?

 

Shop Hoka Gaviota 2

Austin, who lives north of Atlanta, is also a husband, father, and writer. He loves Christopher Nolan films, NBC sitcoms, peanut M&M’S, and a good playlist for long runs.

As the wide-shoe reviewer for BITR, Jarrett is on a never-ending search for the Cinderella shoe to fit his Yeti feet. He currently lives in Baltimore where he enjoys running roads and trails with November Project and Faster Bastards. He also loves craft beer, donuts, and pretending to be elite in his NormaTec boots.

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