There’s definitely been a trend over the last half of 2016 and now into 2017 where manufacturers are designing shoes that are made with lifestyle in mind. By this, I mean shoes you can wear to work or to run or even a little of both and they still look good and function well in both environments. In this review, we take a look at HOKA’s first foray into that area, the highly requested HOKA Hupana. I’ve always been more of a “different shoe for different occasions” type of person, but in this review I’m strictly looking at the Hupana as a runner and you can decide for yourself if you think its a great everyday shoe.
The big change here is the all new knit upper which is something totally different for HOKA. This material leads to a slightly heavier shoe as the knit weighs a bit more than the engineered mesh you find on other HOKAs. It is fairly minor however, maybe a half an ounce, so not a huge deal. It does seem fairly durable at least after 75+ miles on them which is a big improvement for them, the most recent road shoes have just not help up as well. The knit on here doesn’t feel like you might expect, I mean I have a vision of a more sock like fit when I think of this material. Instead it feels structural, even durable and it even seems have some structure.
To get around the problem that many knit shoes have where you just can’t dial in the lace up, HOKA has added even more reinforced stitching to eyelets and also given you the option for an ankle lace lock (which I never use if possible). I honestly didn’t have a problem at all with the lace up and felt the overall upper fit was solid.
One big callout and you can see this through most of the photos is the narrowness of the toe box. Yes, the upper does stretch to accommodate as it breaks in, but you can actually see on the shoe where my little toe is contacting the upper and the material has expanded to surround it. More than anything, it is just a little weird.
Construction: Midsole and Outsole
We have combined this because the Mid and Out on here are basically all one piece. It’s full RMAT, HOKA’s blended rubber EVA. It is supposed to grab better, last longer, and provide better rebound. I do find the Hupana to be incredibly responsive and did run these in wet conditions, so can attest to two of the three. Durability is a question I will wait to answer, but right now things look and feel really good.
Style & Aesthetics
The Hupana is so “not a HOKA” it will probably make you double take when you first see it. I mean its got no sublimated graphics, no giant logos (well kind of), and no bright colors. The first two colors were black and blue (which we tested, maroon for women) and it is now available in two additional patterned/tropical designs with the men’s Dresden and women’s Sangria color ways being the more aggressive visually. The shoe as a running shoe solely seems out of place at first, but given its split personality it does actual look decent with jeans and shorts.
The run in the Hupana was highly enjoyable and I definitely started shorter with them as I wasn’t sure what to expect, but by the end I was taking them into the high teens without a problem. They fit very nicely for me and my biggest complaint was the toe box as it does come in a little narrower than other HOKA models. For the first few runs, I was worried that the knit wouldn’t break in enough, but my the third run the knit material was starting to conform better to my foot. I hardly even noticed them.
Getting the lacing dialed in was a challenge at first, but again two runs in and these things felt like something I had 50 to 60 miles on comfort wise. Now at over 75 miles including two 15+ mile runs, they still feel great and honestly still look pretty darn good. The RMAT still responds very well, they track well in a multitude of conditions, and I can pull decent speed from them when I want to.
There are definitely some areas for improvement, but this is a great gateway knit shoe for people who are interested in trying it out. If you are looking for an athleisure shoe, then definitely a string contender. Despite their simplicity and understated design, it is still probably the shoes I get asked about more than anything as of late.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 8.2oz (size 9)
- Drop: 5mm heel/toe
- Stack Height (heel/toe): 20/25mm
- MSRP: $115.00
- Available: Now