Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hoka One One Bondi B Shoe Review

Plenty of folks debate what type of shoe is the right shoe to wear. Some even say wearing no shoes at all is the way to go. I am just happy that there are multiple options available. The Saucony Kinvara was my "go to" shoe over the last year. Unfortunately I injured my foot a few months ago while walking around barefoot, and the ball of my foot swelled and stayed that way for quite a while. I figured out that I could cut a hole in my insole to take the pressure off of the ball of the foot which allowed me to walk normally, but running was still an issue. Around the same time, a friend completed a 100 mile ultra in a pair of Hoka One Ones

I'm not a fan of not being able to run, but I also want my foot to last.  I decided it was a good time to try the Hokas. Since I knew I would be doing a lot of road running during the colder months, I went with the road version: the Bondi B.  These shoes are not cheap. I was happy to find them on sale at The Tri Shop, and I used a $25 coupon.  Cheaper than a custom orthotic or a doctor's bill at least.
Hoka One One Bondi B's (with Lock Laces)
When I got the shoes, I removed the insoles and threw in a pair of Ortholites I had around the house to add a little more cushion.  As soon as I started walking in them, it was what I didn't notice that counted the most. All other shoes pushed on the swollen part of my foot and hurt. I could not wear other shoes without my high-tech (aka insole with a hole) insole. The Hoka's with the Ortholites didn't hurt. I was happy about that because I didn't particularly want to butcher another pair of insoles. 
Hoka - Time to Fly?

Well, I am not sure about flying, but these shoes have a lot of bounce. I wore them everywhere. I wore them to work so I could walk normally. I wore them to run. I wore them going to the kitchen to get water. (Walking barefoot hurt too much.) While I wasn't up to my normal weekly mileage initially, the Hoka's at least allowed me to get in some miles. Without these shoes, I would have missed a 200 mile relay, a couple of 5Ks, a 15K, and two half marathons. I did a test run in my normal shoes yesterday after two months, and my foot still isn't 100%.  My normal shoes now feel lifeless, flat, and extremely stiff. 
Hoka Bondi B / Saucony Kinvara 2
Hoka Bondi B Size 8 Women's (without insole) = 7.4 ounces
Saucony Kinvara Size 8 Women's (without insole) = 6.3 ounces
I thought these shoes were so comfy, I ordered a pair for my mom who has foot problems. She isn't a runner, but she walks a lot. After wearing them for a few weeks, she said, "I just wanted to say thank you for the shoes. When I wear them, I feel like I'm back to my old self. They make a big difference."  Hey, moms know best, right?

Overall, I am very pleased with my Hokas. For me they were the difference between being able to run and having to stay on the couch. I've put over 200 miles on them, and they are still in great shape. With a perfectly well foot, I'm not sure that they would be my first choice if I were trying to PR at a 5K. The cushy nature of this shoe dampens the energy return to the legs somewhat. That characteristic is what also is saving my foot at the moment. They are my shoe of choice for my upcoming marathon.

If you are looking for something different, I would recommend giving the Hoka Bondi B's a try. The road calls. Time to fly!


  1. A great review, and a very interesting concept for a shoe. I might have to try them out. I'm pretty happy in the saucony mirage for the moment, since I am still putting few miles in....

  2. Can I ask, they are considered a zero drop? I've been eyeing them since Kai mentioned having a pair on Daily Mile.

  3. Holly, they are 4mm drop just like the Kivaras and the Mirage. I have a hard time running in "normal" shoes with a larger drop because it now feels as if I'm dragging my heels. I still land mid-foot in these unless I start getting really lazy.

  4. Also, I'd like to add that a lot of people say there is a big difference between the Mafate and the Bondi Bs. Mafates have a thicker sole apparently and the rocker shape is a bit different. I have not tried the Mafates so I cannot comment on them. Sarah T. on DM bought a pair of Mafates and thought they felt way too high. She sent them back. Keep in mind that might make a difference on whether or not you like the shoes based on which version you purchase.

  5. tempting. But not entirely tempting I was also looking at the altra's I need to save some pennies!!!

  6. Darn it all, I keep coming back to this. Even looked up retailers in the US. None in all of Florida or in Pennsy.

    I am going to probably end up with a pair. I can tell....

  7. Sometimes you just have to give in. In my case, it worked out very well. Hopefully it will for you, too!

  8. I LOVE my Hoka One Ones. These shoes truly are a new high tech runners shoe! Best, most comfortable shoes I have ever worn!

    I am not a runner, but instead a middle aged guy with fussy feet—even so called "comfort" shoes often bother me after a few hours. I liked the lightweight comfort of running shoes and so use them as work shoes. the Hoka's are incredible for comfort and light weight. I can go all day in these,and never have pain. In fact, the energy return given by these shoes makes me feel stronger and more ready to go! For a runner, they must be nirvana...!

  9. Todd - Glad you love 'em! Yep, I'm a huge fan. My mom loves hers as well, and she walks in them. It is amazing how light they are with such big cushy soles. Thanks for your comments!

  10. i dont know if you are still responding to comments on this post, but i have been interested in hokas for a while. i just had cheilectomy surgery and have been cleared to run again (cheilectomy surgery is surgery on big toe joint... ball of foot is still swollen... repaired cartilage and removal of bone spurs occurred) anyway, after reading your review, and your review of the tarmacs, i am wondering which you found better? and if they provided some arch support also.

    thanks in advance

  11. Becca,

    I am. I was out of town for a few days. The Tarmacs have more stability than the Bondi Bs, in my opinion. I'm not really sure about arch support since that means different things to different people. I never feel like my foot isn't supported in the Tarmacs. The thing about arches is that they are supposed to flex while you run so I'm not sure you'd want a huge amount of support since it could keep your arch from doing its job as a spring. Anyhoo, I highly recommend modifying (aka cutting a hole in)an insole for a swollen foot.

    So if I were in the position I was with a swollen foot again, I'd order the Tarmacs. I would take the thin insole that comes with them, and cut out an area (an oval) where the ball of the foot hits so it wouldn't put pressure on the swelling when I walked / ran. I would then put those insoles on top of the regular insoles in the Tarmac. I would do this until there was no longer any swelling (i.e I didn't feel weird pressure on my foot when I was walking in the shoe). I actually recently did this for the side of my foot since it swelled after my 50 mile. If the ball of your foot is still being annoyed because the thin insole isn't thick enough to keep the shoes from pressing on it, you may have to cut the regular Hoka insole. To me, it is worth it to be able to run. Then again, I have a lot of Hoka insoles lying around the house. I would also get rid of the laces that come in the Tarmacs because I find it really difficult to get them tight in the right places and keep pressure of places that don't need it.

    The key for me seems to be keeping pressure off of the swollen area until the swelling is completely gone. You might also ask your doctor for exercises to strengthen your feet / big toe if he hasn't already provided them. The big toe is a huge deal when it comes to supporting our weight when we run.

    Feel free to drop me an email at ultracassie@gmail.com if this post is clear as mud, and I will explain what I did with my insoles in the form of a picture :-)

    I wish you a speedy recovery!

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