Like most people who first lay their eye upon a pair of HOKA One One running shoes, some questions quickly arise. Are the cushions as soft as they look? Are these shoes made of marshmallows? However, these questions quickly evaporate after a few test-runs. HOKA has made its way into my weekly shoe rotation and I have a hard time not using them for long runs or even speedwork from time to time.
I’ve traditionally used HOKA’s Clifton or Clayton series, which are known for being bulky and bold. However, having really loved the HOKA Tracer, I figured the Hupana 2 deserved a chance to prove itself as a routine shoe. Heck, the inside of the shoe even reads “Speed.”
Named for the Maori word for "spring back," the HOKA One One Hupana 2 features responsiveness that adds a spring to your step. The Hupana 2 features the R-Bound midsole and outsole and on top of that, carries an open-knit pattern for maximum breathability, keeping runners cool, dry and comfortable.
What did I think?
At first glance, the shoe looks more traditional and while I wasn’t expecting as much mega-cushion as the other HOKA lines, I knew it would be responsive. I actually got the pair I’ve been using as a gift so it was even better! The price tag runs around $115 and this road shoe weighs in at 8.2 oz with a 5 mm heel-toe drop. Mine are black but I’ve come across a True Red-Gold Fusion color that really caught my eye. The upper of the shoe is a knit mesh which does breathe well but also holds onto a good amount of moisture. As a neutral shoe, the ride was still firm with a decent amount of response.
How’s the ride?
I really enjoyed the lightweight feel as I increased my turn over and added some speed to my workout. I wear size 11.5 and it also fit true to size, so there were no issues with my toes. Finally, the shoe really looks great for walking around town and the shoe’s traction on damp pavement or grass was not an issue.
For some reason, I noticed I the front of the shoe would randomly catch on the ground which is a first for me. I suspect the heel to toe drop might not be quite 5 mm and there might be more material in the front of the shoe than needed, which causes a bit of a scuff as you go to plant your foot. Also, the shoe was a bit too wide for my foot, where I could visibly see my pinky toe trying to punch out of the side while under load.
Best application for this shoe
As a middle-distance shoe, the HOKA One One Hupana 2 is great. However, I personally wouldn’t use it for a marathon. I used the Hupana 2 for a 15k race without issue but again, being narrow, I should have used the Tracer 2 since it fits my foot better. But for everything else, like walking, training or even everyday shoes, Hupana 2 is as reliable and comfortable of an option you could ask for.
The Hupana 2 is also great for runners who have a higher, more stable arch, particularly those who do not pronate excessively or supinate. Runners with high arches tend to notice pain on the outside of their shins and knees.
In conclusion, I’ll continue to train in this shoe for shorter training runs since it definitely makes up in being lightweight and very breathable in the Florida heat.
The best part about the Hupana 2 is that it’s great as a daily walk-around shoe too. It actually looks great while wearing pants and is incredibly comfortable around the airport. I would say the shoe took nearly seven days of daily wear to really feel like it was a “glove” or part of my foot.
What matters most to me as a runner is that I have multiple platforms for nearly any type of terrain or type of running. That’s why the Hupana 2 is great for daily mileage and even some speed work or as a great commuter shoe but for race day I still look to the tracer or Mach.