This is my first official product review for running shoes.The shoes were purchased with my hard-earned money, so I am not getting paid for this review in any way shape or form. The review is based upon my own personal experience with the shoes and for reasons personal to me.
Hoka One One Conquest.
Hoka One One Conquest Front and Side Profile
I am a female in my late 30’s. I weigh approximately 130 pounds and I am a heel striker. I wore neutral stability shoes prior to wearing Hoka, but I have also used stability shoes in the past. I am currently running more than 35 miles per week and training for a Marathon.
I first purchased the Hoka One One Conquest in October of 2014 after experiencing heel pain that I self-diagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis (PF). The heel pain had been present for a couple of months (more than 6), and it wasn’t until I registered to run the Eugene Marathon that I realized it was important of me to address the pain in order to train strongly and make it to the finish line injury-free. Rather than going to the doctor to pay hundreds of dollars to be told I needed to rest and undergo therapy, I went on the world-wide web and started researching plantar fasciitis, its triggers, and the possibility of how shoes played a role in the onset of PF. There wasn’t a precise answer, but the recurring theme that kept coming up in my search results was the use of the HOKA One One shoes by not only PF sufferers, but other runners with varying foot and or leg issues. Key words that came up: cushion, longer distances, no pain, more miles. The key words were enticing, but the look and price tag were off-putting! Despite my deep aesthetic and financial reservations, I was eager to put an end to my pain, run longer distances, and log more miles than what I was logging. With a leap of faith, I went ahead and purchased the Hoka One One Conquest.
I’ve used the Hoka One One Conquest for four months now and have run over 300 miles since purchasing them. I had every intention of reviewing these shoes 30 days after purchasing them, and had I done so, I would have given you extremely positive reviews of the shoes. However, most of us don’t buy shoes every 30 days, so I thought it would be prudent of me to purchase them and wear them until either a new pair was needed to determine if I would or not would purchase them again. So after four months of use, I am ready to do my review and based it on the reasons why the shoe did not work me and why I will not be purchasing them again.
Shoe “Side Effects”
Yes, the Hoka One One Conquest helped alleviate the heel pain I was experiencing, so they definitely worked for the reason I initially sought them for. Yes, the Hoka One One Conquest helped me log more miles, more miles in a month than I logged with the Mizuno Waver Rider and the Saucony Ride (the shoes I traded for the Hoka). However, the reason I logged more miles with the Hoka was because I was training for a marathon, so one could argue that the shoe alone was not the sole reason for the higher monthly mileage.
Yes, there is plenty of cushioning on the shoe. I would not describe it as “soft” cushion though, at least not in the model I purchased. The cushioning was more on the firm side, like a firm mattress where the padding does not necessarily contour to your body, or in this case, your foot. The cushioning was less tempure-pedic and more of firm feel like that of a rubber bouncing ball. Like mentioned before, had I reviewed the shoes after only the first 30 days, I would have told you the shoes were stellar because they allowed me to run without the discomfort of heel pain, they were cushioned, and I was running more miles per week than my previous pair of shoes. However, like a pharmaceutical drug that relieves heartburn but brings in a litany of side effects with it, so did the Hoka One One Conquest. The most obvious and painful side effect was the of strain the shoe was causing to my Achilles Tendon. I had never experienced sore Achilles Tendons in all of my running prior to wearing the Hoka Conquest. The shoe envelops my entire foot, and the collar of the shoe sits higher than any other shoe I’ve ever worn. Thus, when I ran, my Achilles Tendon was enclosed in the back of a rather rigid heel counter, which gave very little flexibility to my Achilles Tendon.
Side and rear profile of my feet in the Hoka Shoes
On a short run, the soreness of my tendon was rather dull, but once I started logging more than six miles, the soreness and tightness became more apparent. Running uphill also became daunting with the lack of flexibility on the back of the shoe. I found myself stretching my ankles more than I’ve ever stretched them. But because I was not experiencing heel pain, I remained loyal to the shoe. I was taking care of my heels at the expense of my tendons. This past Saturday, after my long 15 mile run, I realized it was time to acknowledge that I could not trade one injury over another, so the shoe was no longer going to work for me.
Can you see the red areas of my Achilles Tendon. It is where the tendon has not been allowed to move because of the rigidity of the back of the shoe.
Tongue Design and Laces
When I first received my first pair of Hoka, I returned them and replaced them within the 30 day window the Hoka company gives you because I thought I had received a defective pair of Hoka. You see, the tongue is is a thin layer of leather with no cushioning whatsoever. When I ran, I could feel the rounded shoe laces, the mesh lining of the tongue, and the eyelets rubbing along the top part of my left foot.
The thin tongue allowed for the top of my foot to feel the laces, the eyelets, and the mesh lining while running, which bruised the top of my foot after constant rubbing.
Because I was running short distances, I thought the pain caused by the tongue was due to the fact I had not quite broken them in yet. Plus, it was only rubbing on the left foot, so I assumed it had more to do with my left foot being bigger than my right foot. When I took it for a seven mile run, the pain was significant enough to determine I needed to replace them. It had to have been most definitely a defective pair. When I received the second pair, the tongue was “less painful” than the first, so I did not give mind to the matter. However, for $170, there should be more padding, and whether I had a defective pair or not, I don’t think I should have had to return a pair of shoes at that price for a “defective” tongue. (I would like to note that the customer service was exceptional and I received the second pair promptly and without any difficulties.)
There is no cushioning on the tongue, which can make the top part of the shoe to rub up against your foot.
The shoes come with speed laces, and if you prefer not to use them, they send an extra standard pair of shoe laces with the shoes. Because of the thin tongue, I found the lock on the speed laces as hurtful on the first pair. They were not necessarily painful on the second, but if a part of the hefty price is in part because the Hoka One One come with speed laces, I prefer to pay less and use standard shoe laces. That is just my preference though.
Speed laces are standard in all Hoka Shoes, but each box comes with an extra pair of laces if you prefer them without the speed laces.
One of the biggest deterrents for initially purchasing the shoe was the price. I paid $170 for this shoe, which is a rather grand amount of money compared to other running shoes. The shoes are supposed to last longer than the standard running shoe, but with less than 500 miles on them, I’ve seen some significant wear and tear. As a heel striker, I am now striking the cushioning when I land and not the sole of the shoe, as the sole on the back heel has mostly eroded.
Eroded soles and cushion exposure on the corners of my shoes.
I am now striking the cushioning of the shoe as the thin layer of sole has been completely worn down.
Replacing the shoe for another $170 is not sustainable for me personally. Even if money was not an option, I would still think $170 for a pair of shoes is just not a feasible financial option for a casual runner. Yes, there are less expensive models, and I purchased the most expensive option, but even their less expensive shoe is still expensive at $130!
The colors of the Hoka are nice, but the shoe, is… ugly. It is bulky looking, and if I can be blunt without being a jerk, I think they look like hip-surgery rehabilitation shoes. Plus, the dye on the tongue has stained multiple pairs of my socks.
A stained pair of socks caused by the shoe dye from the tongue.
I’m not necessarily an individual who is vain about my running apparel, but again, if you are going to pay an exorbitantly above average price for a pair of shoes, they should look nicer than a pair of Frankenstein’s running shoes.
Treadmill run with the Hoka One One Conquest.
The Hoka One One Conquest set out to do what I wanted them to do: alleviate heel pain and allow me to continue running. However, it brought about side effects I was not in search of: Achilles Tendon pain. Because of their behemoth price tag, their looks, their wear and tear with less than 500 miles on them, and their painful tongue, I will no longer be using or purchasing the shoe. I am hoping I can find a shoe that will allow me to continue running without the side effects I experienced with the Hoka One One Conquest. While the brand has different models, and has a newer version of the Conquest, I prefer to keep searching for the right shoe elsewhere.
What has been your experience with the HOKA One One brand? Have the shoes worked for you? What shoe are you currently using? Would you or would you not recommend them?