Light, Fast & Free: 2014 Summer Trail Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide

Hoka One Kailua Trail

Hoka One One Rapa Nui 2 (men), Kailua Trail (women), $130

10.7 oz. (men’s), 8.9 oz. (women’s)

33 mm (heel), 28 mm (forefoot)

Category: MODERATE HYBRID

Fit: This shoe’s one-pull lacing system can give a snug fit from heel through the midfoot, but some wear-testers anguished at how much they had to torque on the system to customize their fit. (A pair of traditional laces is included in the box.) The fit in the forefoot is comfortably relaxed.

Feel: Maximalist running shoes are all the rage this year, but this is actually a toned-down version of some of Hoka’s thicker oversized cushioning shoes. But that said, it is still the most copiously cushioned shoe in this review, so it will feel higher off the ground than other shoes. However, the cushioning is not definitely marshmallowy like some previous Hoka models; instead, it straddles the line between soft and slightly firm.

Ride: Because of the lower profile, the Rapa Nui 2/Kailua Trail is a much more agile shoe than many previous Hoka models, a feature that makes it ideal for faster tempo running and a great entry point into maximalism. It runs like a comfy neutral shoe on smooth dirt terrain, gravel roads and moderately rocky singletrack trails, but most agreed it takes two or three runs to find a rhythm that meshes with the Hoka vibe. The lower-to-the-ground design and slightly firmer feeling give it great stability for a maximalist shoe, but most wear-testers said the girth and width kept it from being as nimble as some other models. “It feels like you’re floating,” one wear-tester said. “The big difference for me wasn’t the ride—which was still great—but that I felt less beat-up the day after a long run,” another wear-tester said.

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