Hoka’s new low (er) height trail shoe offers grip, spring and a fast feel on the trail.
Story and photos by Brandon Mathis
Hoka One One is all about the ride. Soft and marshmallowy, they have built their brand on maximal plushness. Not everyone loves the height and gushiness of the Hoka dynasty and their general well- known narrow fit, but the Torrent might help bridge the gap between devoted followers and naysayers.
Hokas are built with a rocker shape, coined Meta Rocker: Think rocker camber on a ski or snowboard. The toe and heel ramp up. While running, the toe – what runners call the toe off – leaves the ground in a natural motion and the heel lands just the same. And speaking of toes, this shoe has plenty of room in the toe box, somewhat different for the brand. The Torrent, a brawny-looking shoe with race-light chops, has an added feature some might call an advantage: The brand’s ProFly technology – the midsole of the heel is softer than the toe, so you get spring and energetic toe-offs and heavenly bread loaf landings. While we’re not pros and we sure don’t fly over the trails, it does agree with us. With a seamless mesh upper (that might let desert sand pour in) there’s a nice protective overlay wrapped around the lower upper.
It’s fast and lively, and simply downright fun. Put all that on a wicked set of aggressive multi-directional lugs with vice-grip tenacity, and it’s all a boost of confidence, pro or not, although we did see some early signs of lugs tearing. The lightweight of the shoe (our size eights were 9 ounces each) and the brand’s bucket seat, wrap-type fit they call Active Foot Frame meant we laced up and forgot about it on the gnarliest trails we could find.