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Hoka Bondi 8 ($165)

By Brian Metzler

Since Hoka unveiled the original version more than a decade ago, the maximally cushioned Bondi has redefined what soft, comfortable running shoes are all about. The just-released eighth edition sets the bar even higher when it comes to interior plushness, high-stack cushioning and a smooth-rolling ride. It’s a top-tier, neutral-oriented daily trainer that provides what many runners call the consummate “Hoka cushioning experience” in every stride. If you appreciate max-cushioned training shoes, the updated Bondi 8 is off the charts when it comes to cruisy comfort for long runs and recovery runs.

What’s New: The Bondi has been entirely overhauled since last year. The most significant updates to the Bondi 8 are a new EVA-based midsole chassis that’s lighter, softer and bouncier than the previous edition, with a new extended heel that creates a bigger, more shock-attenuating crash pad. Cleaner aesthetics, a stretchy but supportive engineered mesh upper, and partially gusseted padded tongue provide a supremely comfortable fit. As updated shoes go, Hoka knocked this one out of the park.

Why They’re Great: Like all current Hoka shoes, the Bondi 8 features Meta-Rocker design geometry and a slightly beveled heel that combine to create a rolling effect as the foot transitions from touch-down to toe-off, instead of a distinctive flexing movement common to many shoes. The midsole is soft but still somewhat firm like the previous Bondi models, meaning it’s not mushy soft and won’t compress as much as other thickly cushioned Hoka shoes like the Clifton or Rincon models. The widebody platform — which is slightly wider in this edition — gives it reliable inherent lateral stability without getting in the way of your running gait.

Fit-Feel-Ride: The Bondi 8 fits true to size with a medium/narrow volume that provides a comfortably snug feeling in the heel midfoot with just a bit of extra room in the forefoot for your toes to wiggle. (It comes in multiple widths for runners with wide feet.) These comfy cruisers feel luxuriously soft and reliably secure the moment you lace them up, thanks to a cushy heel collar, rigid heel counter, thickly padded tongue and premium footbed. But this shoe is all about a best-in-class maximally cushioned ride, and what gives this shoe considerable juice is the newfangled combination of its thick, energetic midsole and the amazing step-in creature comforts

Why You’ll Love It: Runners who enjoy soft, thickly cushioned shoes will love the Bondi 8, especially for longer runs. It’s best at running slow to moderate paces, but it could be a good choice for mid-pack or first-time marathoners as well as runners venturing into ultra-distance races. However, it’s not a shoe that will inspire speed or quick-cadence running for faster workouts.

HOKA Bondi 8 Specs

Weights: 8.9 oz. women’s 8; 9.8 oz. men’s 9

Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (31mm in the heel, 27mm in the forefoot for women; 33mm in the heel, 29mm in the forefoot for men)

Pro: To keep the weight down, Hoka developed a segmented outsole with sections of durable rubber in high-wear areas interspersed with exposed foam. The rubber provides exceptional grip on wet and dry surfaces, and the exposed foam is durable enough that it won’t wear down significantly after months of high-mileage running.

Con: The Bondi 8 is an exceptionally high-off-the-ground shoe and thus is not especially nimble or fast. If you like feel-for-the-ground proprioception or a shoe with notable agility, this might not be your favorite shoe.


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