Editor’s note: The Rundown is a new recurring column that features in-depth shoe reviews to help you make the best decision when purchasing new kicks. We will cover road shoes, racing flats and trail shoes. All reviews are based on a minimum of 100 miles being run by the wear tester in the shoe being profiled. For those of you in a hurry, the TL;DR section gives a quick summary of the shoe’s performance.
THE RUNDOWN: The Cavu is the Hoka’s younger, lighter, faster and sexier shoe.
Surface: Road Stability: Neutral Heel-Toe Drop: 4 mm Weight: 6.6 oz
Hoka One One, long the king of cushion, is branching out. Though the cornerstone of the brand is still plush, shock-absorbing cushioning, Hoka is responding to runners who prefer a lighter, more nimble shoe. The Cavu, a versatile, low-profile road shoe, is the Goldilocks of the road shoe—not as heavy as a maximal shoe and with more cushion than a race flat.
Launched in February 2018, the Cavu is part of Hoka’s FLY line, a collection of lightweight footwear featuring bold designs and new cushioning technology that claims to reduce weight and sole thickness while still absorbing shock from each footstrike.
Weight: 8.2 oz (men’s 9), 6.6 oz (women’s 10.5);
Heel/Forefoot: 24/20 mm (men’s), 22/18 mm (women’s)
Midsole: ProFly midsole
Outsole: RMAT outsole (rubber & foam)
Upper: Engineer mesh upper
100 Miles In: The Review
Upon opening the box, it’s obvious this is a more stylish offering than past Hoka models. The Cavu features a bright, seamless mesh upper that is arguably more attractive than the brand’s past aesthetic, which some describe as “orthopedic.” The sole is still bigger than most (it is a Hoka, after all), but the design is good at removing any suggestion of clunkiness. It looks good—really good. Not just for a Hoka shoe, but good period. For many runners, the look of the shoe is an important consideration in purchase decisions, and the Cavu delivers on this front.
The next distinction—its weight. At only 6.6 ounces, the shoe is significantly lighter than most previous offerings by Hoka. It’s also tremendously flexible, with strategic flex points built into the mesh upper, midsole and outsole.
Those who have run in previous brands of Hokas will find the Cavu to be a much different experience. For one, the lighter shoe lends itself well to interval and short, quick tempo work. Simply having a lighter shoe can be a psychological boost if you’re used to wearing a heavier Hoka. The lightweight cushioning also allows for a more connected feel to the road surface. The technology, which is softer in the heel for shock absorption but firmer in the forefoot for energy return, provides a smooth, light ride.
The seamless upper reduces the potential for hotspots and blisters. The mesh feels firm, not flimsy, while still allowing for flexibility. The upper is also well-ventilated, making the Cavu ideal for hot summer runs.
There’s the Rub
Put the shoe on, and the seamless upper soon feels confusing. Similar styles, with a mesh upper and lycra “bootie” liner inside, tend to feel snug. The Cavu is surprisingly roomy, both in width and length. Other reviewers have commented on this as well; many suggested sizing down by one half or even one full size from their typical size. Those with a narrow foot may find the width of the Hoka to be distracting or even uncomfortable without a thicker cushioned pair of socks.
For those who are long-time Hoka devotees, its differences/updates may be disappointing. The Cavu certainly isn’t as bouncy as the brand’s other styles. The shock absorption is still present in the Cavu, though greatly reduced (especially in the forefoot). The width and flexibility of the Cavu may feel unstable to those used to a stiffer upper.
The Cavu isn’t the right shoe for adventurous runners. The outsole allows for a smooth stride on flat roads, but doesn’t handle unpredictable or uneven terrain well, nor does it offer enough grip on wet sidewalks.
“Orthopedic” no more, the Hoka One One Cavu is the younger, lighter, faster and sexier addition to the Hoka lineup. For those who regard Hoka as a heavy, clunky brand, it’s worth the time to try the Cavu. It might just change your mind.
The Cavu is currently available for $110 at running specialty stores and hokeoneone.com. New colorways will be added to the Cavu offerings in July. In October, the shoe will be released as part of the brand’s Fly at Night collection, featuring all-black versions with reflective material built in.