Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Hoka One One Torrent 2 Multi Tester Review: Intangible Spark! A Super Versatile, Forgiving & Light Trail Runner with Improved Traction and Upper Fit

Article by Don Reichelt, Jeff Valliere, and John Tribbia


Hoka One One Torrent 2 ($120)


Introduction

Don: The original Hoka Torrent was a huge hit in the trail running community, and you couldn’t spend much time on the trail without seeing someone run past in a pair. But for as great as that shoe was, it had some issues that Hoka has tried addressing in the sequel. Gotta love a brand willing to listen to feedback, as Hoka drastically changed the biggest issue people had with the first model: the upper.  That’s been addressed (yay!) with a new engineered mesh upper that fits like a dream. (More Kudos to Hoka for using a recycled yarn made out of post-consumer plastic… HOW COOL IS THAT?!) 


The dual density (softer heel, firmer forefoot) PROFLY midsole is a holdover from the first Torrent, but my feet tell me it’s slightly firmer than it previously was. The other dramatic change is the outsole, where Hoka has added more aggressive multi-directional lugs that are, using technical terms, “grippy as hell.” 

Jeff V:  The original Torrent was my top shoe of 2018 (RTR Review).  I really appreciated it’s reasonable weight, response, cushion, traction and overall style and ride.  The Torrent is super versatile, a shoe for nearly any terrain, any speed and about any distance/duration.  A great uptempo trainer, just a trainer, or race shoe.  The fit of the upper was my only minor nitpick.  While I never had any trouble with it per se, I wanted fit to be just a bit more dialed and secure.  Hoka does listen and even though it took 2 years (why mess with near perfection), the Torrent 2 is a worthy upgrade with most notably a re-tooled new engineered mesh upper that is a little softer, more flexible, yet more dialed in and secure.  

Additionally, the outsole has seen minor changes, with a new rubber compound and slightly reconfigured lug pattern.


John: The Torrent 2 is new to me and is by far my most favorite Hoka. While it isn’t engineered like the typical Hoka with exaggerated stack height, it still provides a comfortable footbed that performs well in any condition or on any terrain. Not to mention it is stable, lightweight, nimble, has a comfortable upper, and is a shoe that will surely break some FKTs and stand atop podiums.


Stats

Official Weight:: men's 9.3 oz  /  264g (US9)  /  women's 7.6 oz  / 215g (US8)

    Estimated Weight US men’s 9: 9 oz / 255g

    Samples: men’s US12.5: 11 oz  / 311g, US10: 9.5oz/268g

Torrent 1 US 10: 9.74 oz/276 g US M10 so approximately 0.25 oz / 8 g weight less for v2

Stack Height: men’s 23mm/18mm, women’s 21mm/16mm, 5mm drop

Available now including Running Warehouse here  $120


Pros:

Don: lightweight, aggressive lugs, incredible trail feel, lower stack height than other Hokas 

Jeff:  lightweight, response, amazing trail feel and ride, stability/predictability, traction, versatility.

John: traction, forefoot protection, drains water well, stability, lightweight, fast


Cons:

Don: maybe a hair too firm for some trails, upper gets warm in the heat 

Jeff:  while the upper has been improved, it could still be dialed a bit more.  Laces are really long and nowhere to secure/stash them.  Slightly diminished tread life.

John: difficult for me to find any, but I agree with Jeff that the laces are way too long and it has a less than ideal fit in the forefoot


Tester Profiles

Don is a competitive ultra runner with all kinds of races under his belt including a 16:27 100-mile trail PR and a third place finish at the 2018 Badwater 135. He primarily runs trails in Colorado but also holds a marathon PR of 2:45. 

Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

John (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.


First Impressions and Fit

Don: Pulling the Torrent 2 out of the box, as with most Hokas, there’s always a moment where your mind isn’t making sense of the weight. Your eyes are telling you one story and the weight of the shoe in your hand is telling you another. The Torrent 2 is no different, as it feels feather light in my size 12.5 (hard to do in general, harder to do in a trail shoe!) 


The fit is perfect for me. I enjoy a generous fit in my uppers, and the Torrent 2 delivers that sweet spot where I have plenty of room, but which also does not feel sloppy at all. After the sandpaper like upper of the OG Torrent, Hoka needed to hit a home run with the upper this time around… and they TOTALLY NAILED IT. 


The initial try on tells me that this is going to be a slightly firmer model of the Torrent than the first one, which isn’t a bad thing for some people, or some surfaces. 


When it comes to running shoes, I have so many options that not all of them spark joy when I pick them up (thanks Marie Kondo). With the Torrent 2, that intangiblle spark was there, and I couldn’t want to get them on the trail. 

Jeff V:  Like Don, I was pretty excited to receive the Torrent 2 at the 11th hour, after a bit of a Covid related delay.  I was initially struck by how Hoka has improved the upper, so much softer, more supple and refined than the original version.  

Fit is true to size, with enough room in the toe box for some swelling or to accommodate those who just prefer a bit more room to stretch out, while simultaneously improving foothold over the previous version.  Heel hold and midfoot hold are very good.


John: While the Torrents don't have a very accomodating fit that can be dialed from snug to loose quickly, I found the shoe to be very comfortable with a firm footbed and wideras toe box. The shoe definitely has a little play in the forefoot and would best fit medium width feet. Like Jeff and Don mention, I absolutely love the feel of the upper - it is soft and the overlays are non abrasive. Let’s talk about the weight at a shade over 9 oz: this shoe is designed for fast and long distance, which is typically difficult to get right. More than anything, though, I think this will be a really good all-around shoe for the trails. 


Upper

Don: Let’s keep this simple to start: The Torrent 2 upper is amazing. Hoka clearly listened to customers, and delivered not only a great trail shoe upper, but a great upper for any type of shoe.


Hoka designed this upper using an engineered mesh using recycled fibers from post-consumer plastics. How freaking cool is that? Recycled materials are the future, and Hoka is ready to lead a charge. The fit is superb, giving me just what I want where I need it, without feeling sloppy or too tight anywhere for me. The tongue did it’s thing without ever even registering, the sign of a very well designed tongue! 


The one concern I do have for this upper is that it does get a little hot in full sun, but that was a very minor point for me. 


Jeff V:  I agree with Don’s summary above, the upper is excellent, with the soft recycled engineered mesh providing excellent foothold without ever feeling constraining, at the same time giving enough room to stretch without ever feeling sloppy.  I will say that it took me a few re-ties to dial in the lacing, plus employing the extra/optional eyelets to really get to a point where my foot felt as locked down as I like.  That said however, when running at a faster pace on steep terrain and off camber, I did notice just a little bit of movement.  Not so much as to be unsettling, unpredictable or cause blisters, but it was noticeable.  Otherwise, outside of those more extreme circumstances, my foot felt locked in with a stable and predictable ride and very good heel hold.


I found breathability to be good, perhaps not the most airy shoe, but even running on ~90 degree days, my feet never felt unusually warm or clammy.

The toe bumper and integrated 360 degree rand (left above) is very similar to the previous version's in thickness and scope, adding to the stability and protection, while also adding a bit of a “bathtub” to keep out minor splashes where the midsole meets the upper and some durability.


John: The Torrent 2 upper is tightly woven with some strategically placed overlays that keep dust and water out and also provide some structure to the upper. It is soft and snugly holds the foot in the most comfortable way. There are a few vented panels on the upper that provide some breathability and drainage. I didn’t have any enduring problems with soggy or squishy shoes after running through a creek. Like Jeff, I noticed a little forefoot play but didn’t experience any blistering or hotspots. I have a somewhat narrow foot so I had to use the top lacing eyelets and tie the laces tight to keep my foot stable. However, the heel lock is snug and provides great support against lateral movement.


Midsole

Don: The ProFly midsole is nimble and lightweight. It has a slightly firm ride, but gives you excellent ground feel. There is no rock plate, so if you’re looking for protection from the trails, you might look elsewhere, but other than the most technical terrain this midsole is going to deliver you a fun and energetic ride that can quickly move where you want it to. 


Jeff V:  The ProFly midsole is quick, responsive and firm as Don says, but I find that the cushioning, while not pillowy, is very comfortable and compliant for long runs without feeling beat up, offering much more than the 23/18 stack would suggest.


While there is no rockplate, there is plenty of protection and I really was only reminded of its absence when running fast in rocky technical terrain and the occasional misstep on a pointy rock, but the impact is generally minimal


Ground feel and flexibility is excellent, without me being overly aware.


John: I found ProFly midsole to be a perfect combination of soft and firm. The heel is softer and does a great job dampening for a more comfortable impact, especially on the downhill. The forefoot feels firm and, with no rock plate, provides a snappy and nimble toe-off. Like Jeff and Don, I felt like the protection was sufficient and the missing rockplate was only noticeable on the most pointy objects underfoot. 


Outsole

Don: From smooth dirt roads, to technical mountain terrain in Rocky Mountain National Park, I tested these across just about every terrain imaginable, and these multi-directional lugs did their job without question. Uphill, downhill, off-camber, wet… you name it, and this shoe delivered for me in a big way. 


Jeff V:  The outsole is excellent.  Echoing what Don says above, traction is very good on every surface I have run on, loose off trail junk, steep dirt and scree, rocky slabs and scrambling, sharp turns at speed on packed gravel, etc…   


I have not had much use in the wet, but what little I did seemed to be an improvement over the previous version (bottom below), as the rubber compound feels softer and adheres better to surfaces, both wet and dry.

I do notice that tread wear seems to be a bit quicker than the previous version, which is a bit of a tradeoff for the added grip and performance.


John: I found the Torrent 2 performed best on all types of trail terrain including, but not limited to, cruisy dry dirt single track, techy and rocky terrain, slabby scree, and even off-trail and scrambling. What I enjoyed most were the steep ups and downs, because the outsole provides the needed traction to go fast with little anxiety about slipping. In short, the outsole grabs most anything in its way and is solid on the uphill and downhill with little to no worry.


Ride

Don: While slightly firm, the Torrent 2 delivers a very smooth and forgiving ride for its weight class. I specifically found this to be the perfect shoe for more cross country type trail runs, where you have rolling terrain with slightly less technical conditions than you might see on big mountain runs. On those rolling type runs, the firmer ride provided the perfect power for the flats and uphills, while the nice cushioned heel gave me confidence on even the steepest downhills. 


For me, the biggest test of the ride of a shoe is how my legs feel after 3+ hours wearing it… and the Torrent 2 passes that test with flying colors. I returned to my car each time feeling great without tired legs or hot spots from the pounding of the previous few hours. 


Jeff V:  Don nails it exact, I find the ride to be very smooth and forgiving, while providing great response, speed and agility for fast runs on all but the most rocky, all mountain alpine terrain .  I find my legs feeling fresher than expected, even after long, very hard downhills, especially when comparing it to other shoes with similar stats.  There seems to be magic in this combination. Hoka has done exceptionally well here, again.


John: Jeff and Don summarize what I alluded to in the midsole section really well. The Torrent has a unique combination of soft, dampening, and forgiving with fast, agile, and quick response. Similarly, my legs feel fresh and bouncy at the end of my runs. In contrast to the higher stacked Hokas I have tried, this shoe performs best by having a low center of gravity and fairly wide platform that keeps ankle rolls and insecure wobbling to a minimum.



Conclusions and Recommendations

Don: I’ve had the Torrent 2 for a few weeks now, and have about 125 miles in them, with multiple runs over 10 miles and the longest of 22 miles in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is all to say: I’ve spent a lot of hours in these shoes across all types of trail terrain to formulate this opinion: This is a darn good trail running shoe.  Its sweet spot for me is a light weight cross country style trail shoe, and depending on the terrain, I’d seriously consider it for longer races, up to and including some 100 mile efforts. It wouldn’t be a go-to for me during more technical trail routes, but even in short outings it performed just fine in those conditions. 

Don’s Score: 9.8/10 

Very minor points off for the heat coming off the upper during mid-day runs. But other than that, this is nearly a perfect trail running shoe for me and the style of running I enjoy most.


Jeff V:  Another winner from Hoka, this is for sure one of the best shoes on the market and a nice improvement over the first version.  Versatility, weight, cushioning and performance all convene here, making the Torrent 2 ideal for just about anything, daily training, uptempo training, PR or FKT attempts and certainly racing at about any distance on all but the most rocky, technical high mountain terrain.  Is it enough of an improvement over the first version?  Absolutely, but I will say that I would not hesitate to recommend the first version if at a discounted price.  

Jeff V’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride: 10

Fit: 9 I have a thin foot. I still feel a touch of movement under certain circumstances, but likely not an issue if you have a fuller foot than mine.

Value:  10 at $120, I had to double check that stat, but sure enough it is correct.  You would be hard pressed to find an all arounder fast shoe that competes at this price.

Style:  10 subjective, but I think it looks amazing

Traction:  9.5

Rock Protection:  8.75  Very good for not having (or needing?) a rock plate, however if on rocky terrain moving fast, expect a zinger here and there.  Still very good though.


John: The Torrent 2 is the best all around trail shoe I have tried this year and it will take trail runners everywhere, quickly and comfortably. The shoe is secure fitting with the perfect balance of cushion, response, traction, and protection for any variable terrain. I think this shoe is appropriate for 10 minutes to 5 hours of running on your feet. It truly is the most versatile shoe in terms of what it can do on different types of terrain and at various paces.

John’s Score: 9.8 /10

Ride: 9.5 (really fun shoe with stable and smooth ride)

Fit: 9.5 (secure heel fit with a little play in the forefoot)

Value: 10 (best all-arounder on the market)

Style: 10 (I love the colorway and sleek style with overlays) 

Traction: 10 (high performing)

Rock Protection: 10 (cushioning, and firm midsole with ample protection)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Hoka One One Torrent 1 (RTR Review)

Don: The Torrent 2 is hands down the better shoe for me. Everything is better than the OG Torrent, with the biggest upgrade being the upper. The harsh upper on the first model is easily the my least favorite upper I’ve ever run in, and the 2 now has possibly my favorite. Quite the upgrade! The fit is very similar, with a slight volume increase in the latest Torrent. I wore a 12.5 in each. 


Jeff V:  The Torrent 2 has a more refined upper and slightly more dialed fit, but I still found the first version to be good enough that I never had an issue despite wanting for the subsequent changes.  T2 improved traction, mainly due to sticker rubber compound, but the outsole wears a bit faster.  If on closeout, I would probably snag a first version Torrent ($70 or $80?), but if closer in price, then the T2 is an obvious choice.


Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)  EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedgoats have much more stack, are a little heavier and have less aggressive, but still amazing versatile traction.  If running longer distances or a very long focused downhill, perhaps day to day recovery training, for sure look to the Speedgoat, but when you want to rip shorter than ultra distances on varied terrain, the T2 is for sure the better pick.  EVO Speedgoat also has a less secure upper than T2 and regular Speedgoat.


Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  SP4 is one of my favorites, as I find it a bit quicker and more agile with comparable grip The SP4 upper is still superior despite the improvements to the upper of the T2, with a better fit for me which is more dialed in and secure and is almost custom in feel.  The T2 however has better cushioning and is more forgiving for longer distances.


John: As with Jeff, the Sense Pro 4 is one of my favorites. The Salomons are more sock-like and form fitting in the upper, while the Hokas provide more cushion. If I am going fast and short in more technical terrain, I’ll go with the Sense Pro 4s, but I will put the Torrents on for anything else. 


Nike Terra Kiger 6 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  TK 6 is a very logical comparison.  Fit, feel, cushion and weight are all very similar, as is performance and versatility.  I think the T2 has a bit better cushioning and an edge in traction with better lug coverage and deeper lugs.  For the penny pincher, you also save $10 with the T2, but that's hardly a make or break factor.


La Sportiva Lycan (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Go with the T2

John: +1 on Jeff’s comment


Altra Timp 2 (RTR Review)

Don: With the Torrent 2 having a lower stack height than other Hokas, you start getting into the realm of comparisons to lot of other trail shoes. The Altra Timp is a great example of a shoe that I would put in the same category of a light weight, cross country style trail shoe. Although I’m an Altra lover through and through, this is going to be one of the few times I’ll pick the Hoka between the two. The ride, traction, and fit of the Hoka is so much more dialed than the most recent Altra. I wear a 12 across the board in Altra and a 12.5 in Hoka. 

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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12 comments:

Josh said...

How do these compare to the Peregrine 10?

David, T. said...

I found the mid foot lockdown of the torrent 1 to be sloppy. My foot would slide around and it led to some roller ankles. I loved the ride and traction and ended up putting 350 miles on my pair. Does the T2 have a better mid foot lock down? I have a fairly low volume foot. Surpassingly though the Lone Peak 4 lockdown was awesome.

Pouto said...

How the T2 would compare with the Altra LP4?

I've been very happy with the first Torrent, running a 60kms/2500m+ trail race with only 5kms in them. Cushionning and responsiveness waere very good (I usually run with salomon, Sense6, Slab Ultra, or Nike TK3/4).
The only two drawbacks were, like everybody, the loose fit (but quite comfy on mellow trails) and, for me, durability issue of the upper. It has tear down with only 400kms in the shoes....

How does the upper of the T2 compare with the T1, durability-wise?

Don Reichelt said...

It's hard to compare the Torrent 2 to the LP4, to be honest. The LP is heavier and more rugged, and for me is used on days that are more technical and might include some bigger, rockier sections. I feel their intended purpose is different.

Ex - I wouldn't want to do a trail speed day in the LP and I wouldn't want to do any big mountain, technical running in the Torrent.

The Torrent is more closely compared to the Altra Timp, in that it's more of a stripped-down, speed and cross-country oriented shoe in my eyes.

As far as the upper, I have 125 miles in mine and there isn't a single wear spot or weak point to note. It seems very durable to me but more miles will tell the full story.

semmtex said...

Hi, how would you compare to the Salomon Sense Ride 3?
Thank you :)

Irwin said...

How about heel construction? Previous critiques of OG Torrent noted an over-built heel.

Jeff Valliere said...

Josh, Torrent 2 has a much more cushioned ride than the Peregrine 10.

David T, I commented on fit within review, but T2 has improved upper lockdown.

Pouto, I think T2 will prove to be more durable than T1.

Semmtex, not really a close comparison, SR3 is heavier, not as responsive, more of an all day cruiser vs. racer/uptempo trainer.

Irwin, heel is similar, moderate padding and stable/secure. Not overbuilt IMHO.

Chris said...

I had high hopes for v2, struggling with the upper/fit on v1, but unfortunately I still don’t think they have decent lock down. They’re hot as you mentioned and in humidity they soak up sweat and the material loosens. Maybe it’s just my foot (and seeming aversion to Hoka) but I did not feel secure on even moderate terrain and trying to lace harder only created pain. And the laces? Stupidly long. I was also a little surprised that they also felt firmer than v1 and I would say harsher. I run in the Kiger 6 which aside from maybe the worst wet traction (come on Nike!) in the industry, are a better show all around. Faster, more nimble, WAY better foot hold. I also ran in the Sense Pro 3 which while not a cushioned shoe by any means, was AMAZING. On short (up to 15) miles of the worst kinds on terrain in the worst weather. SP4s only downside does me was the oddly low heel counter which seriously affected the heal hold. And the slight bite of the razor thin laces across the top of my foot if I needed to laces tighter. But sadly Torrents went back in the box and back to RW.

Unknown said...

I double Chris comment, TR1 was sloppy for me and therefore only usable as a very light cruiser and for this purpose the lugs were disturbing. Doesn't sound like the fit is really dialed in, maybe upper is just not as stretchy ? First version got even worse in this area after broken in for myself...midsole was perfect though, but didn't work out all the fitting issues...

Morgan said...

Just when the RTR 1/2 year trail shoe of the year was tied between Salomon Sense 4 pro & Saucony Xodus 10 a swoop at the finish line Torrent 2 takes the 🥇medal honorable mention to Altra Timp 2 and Brooks Caldera 4 is there still time for Saucony R2T switchback & Nike Peg trail 2 ??

Unknown said...

Like Pouto I run the Altra LP4 and the Hoka Torrent 1, completely different purposes, but quite surprisingly, the LP4 holds my average foot much better, midfoot in the T1 was so loose, I couldn't use the shoe for even the slightest technical terrain. How is T2 in comparison to LP4 fit-wise ? And T1 got even looser after wearing for an hour running or so...in the review fit is mentioned, but foot sliding wasn't really mentioned in review of T1 either, so this is die lot of people like me the question, everythig else ist perfect about the shoe. But I definetely wanna get this one as a "cruiser only"...

Unknown said...

...don't wanna get as a cruiser of course...should be as versatile as announced...