Hoka One One Hupana

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Hoka One One Hupana for Blister

Hoka One One Hupana

Hoka One One Hupana

Drop: 5 mm

Stack Height: 25mm (Heel), 20mm (Forefoot)

Stated Features:

  • Open knit pattern for maximum breathability
  • Seamless construction to minimize hotspots and irritation
  • Molded Ortholite sockliner
  • Full RMAT midsole for a responsive, dynamic ride
  • Full RMAT Outsole for high-rebound cushioning and traction
  • Outsole siping for improved traction and precise flexibility

MSRP: $115 USD

Size Tested: 10.5

Blister’s Measured Weight (size 10.5):

  • Shoes + Laces (no insoles): 236 & 247 g
  • Insoles: 17 & 16 g
  • Total Weight: 253 & 263 g

Test Location: Northern New Mexico

Test Duration: ~125 miles

Reviewer: 5’10”, ~175 lbs. (my running background and preferences)

Intro

I wrote about the Hoka One One Hupana a decent amount in my review of the Altra Escalante, so you might want to check that review out, too, to help locate the Hupana.

Like the Escalante, the Hupana is positioned as an all-day-everything type of shoe, and here’s what Hoka says about it:

“Named for the Maori word for “spring back,” the HUPANA’s responsiveness — due to its full RMAT midsole and outsole — creates a sensation of flying just above the ground. This feeling is reinforced by the ultra-breathability of the knitted upper. The Hupana is a shoe you can wear all day. From run to workout to running around town, this agile little number features the renowned HOKA cushion feel, and the responsive and lightweight full RMAT midsole and outsole provides a unique combination of durability and responsiveness. With its clean lines, versatility and fit, the Hupana is a shoe you’ll want to add to your running shoe collection today.”

So I think the primary question here is whether the Hupana is best thought of as a running shoe that can also work as a gym shoe and casual, everyday shoe? Or is it a casual shoe that you can also wear to the gym, then take out for the occasional run?

The Hupana Lineup

Hoka makes a lot of shoes under the Hupana name, including the original Hupana (which I’m reviewing here), the Hupana 2, the Hupana Knit Jacquard, the Hupana Slip, and new for 2019, the Hupana EM (which stands for “engineered mesh,” and was just announced this week at the Outdoor Retailer trade show).

The main difference between the shoe I’m reviewing here and the other Hupana shoes is a very slight tweak to the midsole material. The Hupana 2, Hupana Knit Jacquard, Hupana Slip, and Hupana EM all feature Hoka’s R-Bound midsole, which is extremely similar in construction and performance to the RMAT midsole on the original Hupana, but reportedly comes in about 9% lighter.

Apart from the lighter midsole, the Hupana Knit Jacquard features a slightly more supple knit upper, the Hupana Slip ditches laces for an elastic, slip-on opening, and the Hupana EG has a new knit upper that’s designed to be a bit more breathable than the original Hupana’s upper.

Weight + Comparisons

Weight-wise, the Hupana slots in right between the Altra Escalante (version 1.0 & 1.5) and the Brooks PureFlow 7:

Altra Escalante 1.5 (10.5): 248 & 253 g
Altra Escalante (10.5): 252 & 253 g
Hoka Hupana (10.5): 253 & 263 g
Brooks PureFlow 7 (10.5): 268 & 268 g

The Escalante and PureFlow 7 make for pretty decent reference points, so I’ll be mentioning them throughout this review.

Fit

As I noted in my Escalante review, the Hupana is a much narrower shoe than the Escalante. The Escalante has a much wider toe box to begin with, but it also has a much stretchier upper.

For my C-width feet, the difference isn’t so great that I can’t run in both in my typical size 10.5, but swapping back and forth between these shoes from one run to the next was a bit of an adjustment. (And in terms of width, the Brooks PureFlow 7 falls between the Escalante 1.0 and the Hupana.)

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Hoka One One Hupana for Blister

Jonathan Ellsworth in the Hoka One One Hupana.

Point is, if Altras or other shoes that tout their “natural” / wider toe boxes tend to be too roomy for you, you’ve got reason to check out the Hupana.

Lateral Support

The Hupana offers more lateral support than the Brooks PureFlow 7, and far more lateral support than the Altra Escalante, which basically provides none. I mention this not to suggest that the Hupana would work well as a trail shoe (I wouldn’t recommend it), but rather, for those people wanting a shoe to use for dynamic jump rope sessions or side-to-side agility training, the Hupana could at least be considered, while the PureFlow 7 and Escalante probably shouldn’t be. So for this particular type of gym work, the Hupana is the clear winner.

Stiffness

Torsionally and longitudinally, the Hupana is the stiffest of our three shoes. I found it to be pretty easy to get used to, but those coming from very flexible, pliable shoes might find the Hupana to be “more” shoe than they’re used to. Those coming from more conventional running shoes (by today’s standards) will likely just call the Hupana “comfortable.”

“Open Knit” Upper

I like the upper of the Hupana, and it’s noticeably more breathable than shoes with thicker, more traditional uppers that have lots of overlays. That said, the Hupana’s upper is thicker than the PureFlow 7 and the Escalante 1.0, and much less stretchy than the Escalante 1.0. I’m not sure that I’d call the Hupana’s upper “maximally breathable,” as Hoka does (I’d give the Escalante 1.0 the edge here), but on 5-mile runs in ~85 degree F temps, I’ve never found myself thinking that the Hupanas were too hot. (In 85 degrees, everything feels too hot.)

Back to the point I made in the previous section: the Hupana’s upper is nice, and those looking for a shoe with a pretty breathable knit upper that offers a bit more support and stability (for activities other than road running) may really like the additional support that the Hoka affords.

Midsole / Cushioning

I think the cushioning of the Hupana is really dialed. As I noted in my Altra Escalante review, I tend to think of midsoles and cushioning in terms of suspension — on the one end of the spectrum, you can have really squishy, sponge-like cushioning (that tends to sap energy and momentum), or you can have a very firm suspension that doesn’t sap momentum, but also doesn’t provide much cushioning, or you can have a spring-like suspension that propels you forward.

The Hupana is interesting in this regard. It has a pretty built-up heel (25 mm) that I feel like heel-strikers could hammer on all day long without getting fatigued. But the forefoot of the Hupana feels a lot less cushioned — and I’d argue, in a good way. The result is that those who are trying to maintain more of a midfoot / forefoot strike can do so in the Hupana, and if you stay off your heels, you are in a firmer, faster shoe.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Hoka One One Hupana for Blister

Jonathan Ellsworth in the Hoka One One Hupana.

But should you get back on your heels or break form, there will be no penalty; you won’t get beat up like you can in much firmer, less-cushioned running shoes (e.g., the Xero Prio, Skora Phase).

So whether all of this is a good thing or a bad thing really is entirely up to you and what you want your running shoes to do.

For me personally, when switching from the Altra Escalante (and even the Brooks PureFlow 7) to the Hupana, the first thing I’d notice is how much heel there was, and I often found myself wanting to shave it down. But I could pretty easily adapt, and then on runs where I either found myself bonking or just getting lazy and letting my form go (i.e., heavy heel pounding), those Hupana heels were extremely forgiving. Again, this next statement shouldn’t matter to you (since you aren’t me), but since the Hupana is primarily functioning for me as a dedicated running shoe, I actually don’t necessarily want a shoe that will let me get away with murder and forgive all of my sloppy mistakes. But if you told me I had to go run twice as far as I normally do … then I might change my mind about that pretty quickly. It all depends what you want your running shoes to do for you.

Comparisons: Hoka Hupana vs. Brooks PureFlow 7

The PureFlow 7 is a bit wider and, overall, just a touch more voluminous than the Hupana. And the PureFlow 7 also has a fairly bulky heel, too, but the PureFlow 7 felt less like that heel was getting in my way. Again, for context, I’m someone who tends to run in more minimalist shoes than the Hupana or the PureFlow 7, and you might not.

The PureFlow 7 also is a bit less rigid than the Hupana, especially at the ball of the foot. And given my general “less is more” tastes when it comes to running shoes, I like this about the PureFlow 7 — though the differences are pretty subtle.

Durability

I don’t think I tend to be particularly hard on my road shoes, but after about 125 miles in the Hupana, they are in good shape. I feel like I could easily get another 125 miles out of them, but by that point, I would probably have worn down the outsole at the ball of the foot a decent amount. Anyway, no durability issues have arisen yet.

Who’s It For?

Those coming from more minimalist and / or zero-drop shoes will likely find the Hupana to be too overbuilt for their tastes. But those coming from very heavily cushioned shoes may find the Hupana to be a shoe that provides a pretty easy transition down to “less” shoe. And if that’s you, then I could 100% imagine using the Hupana for gym workouts, daily training runs, and as your everyday, wear-around-town shoe.

Bottom Line

The Hupana is a well-built shoe that works pretty well as a dedicated running shoe, but that probably makes even more sense as a running + gym + casual / everyday shoe. In other words, I think Hoka built exactly the shoe they intended to, and executed it well.

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