After many many years, HOKA has given their big max cushioned shoe a full update, it’s the HOKA Bondi 8. The Bondi has always been this strange shoe that you tend to see more in the medical profession or on the feet of walkers and you’d only find it on runners who really needed a ton of extra support or cushion. HOKA said that’s not what the Bondi is supposed to be and with the 8 went back to the drawing board and delivered a shoe that is truly targeted to everyday runners while also not excluding their past clientele. It truly was a back-to-the-drawing-board moment to rethink the shoe but it was done in a way where they could also stay true to its roots. Given the trend towards more and more cushioning, the timing couldn’t be better for HOKA to bring us something not only better looking but also better performing in this category.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- HOKA goes back to the drawing board on one of their flagship shoes and delivers an impressive update.
- Weight – 10.8oz or 306g for a US Men’s 9, 8.9oz or 252g for a US Women’s 7
- Cushion – 37mm of cushion and a 4mm heel/toe drop
- Pricing – $165.00 USD
- Colors – 4 options for men and women with more coming.
Construction and Materials
- Upper – Uses a multi-layered engineered mesh construction along with an Ortholite sockliner. Features a partially gusseted tongue and a heel pull on top of a really well padded heel collar.
- Midsole – A lighter version of the their prior EVA formulation.
- Outsole – Added zonal durabrasion rubber placement which does improve durability a bit while keeping weight down.
What we loved
When we said full redesign we were not kidding, the entire shoe has been rethought from anything you’ve seen before. So if you have never tried or liked the Bondi prior, then remember that it has ALL all been redone. First, on the styling, this thing just looks so much better than it has before which will broaden the appeal. It gets a multilayer engineered mesh upper, a super padded heel collar, tongue, and well everything seems to have some cushion. The upper is just super comfy from the time you slip into it. You also still get an incredibly secure lockdown up top and we experienced no slippage whatsoever with no additional trick lacing needed.
HOKA has moved to a lighter EVA with the Bondi 8’s midsole and flared it out a bit to provide more stability during the run. That 37mm of stack is noticeable and while not as big as others that are now in the market, it still feels pretty big and ample enough to keep those legs comfortable during a longer run. The outsole still remains a mix of EVA and rubber giving you a fair amount of durability.
This shoe definitely excited our female reviewer much more than our male and we’ll get to that in a second but much of it is due to performance. Her pacing falls into the slower category commonly mixing jogging with running, and for her, the shoe is a massive success. And this really gets us to the target of who the shoe is for. This is a solid first shoe for runners getting into the game, walkers converting to running, and for more performance runners looking for a recovery shoe (which is exactly where our male tester sits). It also is still perfect for HOKA’s old clientele making it a great all-day-on-your-feet, traveling, and walking shoe. It is comfortable enough to stay in for a long period of time.
What we didn’t
As for what we didn’t like, there are a couple of things. First that redesigned upper seems narrower than it was before and that flanged midsole is actually where the upper used to extend to but now they have brought that in a little bit. This makes the entire forefoot feel a bit tighter than it was prior. We are guessing some folks definitely will not be a fan. Second, we are not going to call this a super responsive shoe. With this much cushion, you would expect the shoe to either be incredibly firm because of poor formulation or really pillowy, and in the Bondi 8’s case we get neither. It’s almost difficult to put into words but it honestly just falls a little flat This is exactly what our male reviewer was seeing and because he is typically more performance-oriented putting in faster times, the shoe wasn’t delivering a lot of that additional energy. In the end, really just wanted a little more bounce out of that midsole and didn’t get it.
With the Bondi 8, HOKA has done something crazy and beneficial at the same time. They took a flagship shoe and redesigned the thing from scratch in an attempt to introduce it to a broader audience while also remaining loyal to those who loved it before. In some ways, they were highly successful and generally, the shoe just looks so much better to how it looked before. For slower runners or faster runners looking for recovery, the Bondi 8 can be a great choice BUT if you are looking for performance out of the shoe, then you will be sadly mistaken. That’s simply not what these are designed for. The last note is to check that fit up-top because that narrowness in the new design will be a bit snug for some, just something to keep an eye on. We applaud HOKA for the change to the Bondi 8 and look forward to seeing where this shoe goes in the future. It could be a ton of fun if they put a carbon or Pebax plate in this shoe.
Learn more on the HOKA website
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Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.