Thursday, November 05, 2020

Hoka ONE ONE TenNine Hike GTX Review: Pure Hiker, Pure Hoka!

Article by Sam Winebaum and Canice Harte

Hoka ONE ONE TenNine Hike GTX ($250)


Sam: The TenNine Hike GTX with its long and broad on the ground Hubble geometry platform, bright colors and all around radical look is for sure intended to make a splash in hiking. Part of Hoka’s expanding Sky collection of trail runners and hiking boots there is no mistaking that the TenNine is 100% hiker (not trail runner) and 100% Hoka.

At about 17 oz in a US9 it is clearly boot weight. If one thinks about the massively broad on the ground platform and Hoka trail runner worthy giant midsole stack of 33mm heel / 29mm forefoot made up of a softer EVA below the foot then a giant layer of rubberized foam with rocker toe of, It is in fact light.  Very light for the amount of cushion, ground contact, stout 5mm lug Vibram MegaGrip outsole, and upper support when compared to more conventional hiking and trekking boots or even other Hoka in the Sky Collection such as the trekking oriented Kaha GTX

Compare the slightly lower stack Kaha GTX (right) to the Ten Nine. The far broader Ten Nine weighs over an ounce less at 466 g in my US8.5 vs 505g in my Kaha at the same size.

And how about compared to the Speedgoat trail runner (left below) which for sure is a broad platform!  

Clearly this is a lot of boot designed for a lots of mile after mile trail comfort through broad on the ground contact and stability and bottomless cushion.

At $250 it is premium priced but not out of the range of top level hiking boot pricing. Many may question up front the utility and effectiveness of the swallow tailed outrigger, super broad Hubble geometry or even the unconventional look.  Please keep an open mind as you consider our review as innovation often shocks as the original max cushion Hoka did in the day.

RoadTrailRun previously tested the non swallow tail outrigger TenNine trail runner designed for downhill running and more recently the road Mach 4 and the truly wild Deckers Lab K-ST 21 (a do anything street sneaker) which came from Hoka’s parent Deckers innovation lab and is led by Jean Luc Diard the mind behind Hoka’s original max cushion concept. 

All demonstrated that the outrigger provides an initial stable landing followed by a distinct forward lever effect off the heel to the front rocker for very smooth toe offs but quite frankly with the exception of the  superb and more toned down Mach 4 implementation is.. a bit more massive than “needed” in my opinion but sure shocks visually!

How would the TenNine Hike a boot designed for long distance hiking perform? Canice and I set out to find out.


Official Weight:: men's 17.8oz / 504g 14.7oz /  416g women's

Estimated Weight: 16.8 oz US9 

Samples: men’s 16.43 oz  / 466g US8.5

Stack Height: men’s 33mm heel / 29mm forefoot :: women’s 30mm heel / 26mm forefoot

Available now $250



Impenetrable cushion and rock solid stability

On flatter ground definite levered forward effect from the Hubble geometry and swallow tail with a superb forward roll with each step

Totally secure upper with better than expected comfort and hold no matter how tightly or not they are laced, rare for a synthetic upper boot. 

Never had to adjust the laces on the go. Rare for any boot or shoe.

Relatively light for the massive midsole and broad platform


Comfortable. The TenNine Hike’s are immediately comfortable when you try them on and they have cushioning for days.

A nice secure fit that makes you feel locked into the shoe, yet it has a roomy toe box which gives you ample room to splay your toes and wiggle them freely.

Easy on your knees. The TenNine heel reduces the impact during the gait cycle which in turn reduces stress and leaves your knees feeling good after a long day on the trail.



Worth it for the more average hiker? A true boot and heavier than a running shoe and more massive in stature all around than many boots when many hike just fine in trail runners

Rear outrigger and swallow tail could be dialed back a bit, need to lean forward on downhillls

Front broad  platform while super stable on flatter terrain and downhills is a bit broad and cumbersome on very steep .

A bit narrow up front so broader higher volume feet may struggle with fit


The wide and extended heel makes this shoe reduce fatigue as mentioned in the “pro’s”, but it also leaves you with a wide heel that gets caught in tight technical terrain.

Price is a drawback. At $250 you could purchase an Italian made leather hiking boot that will last for many years.

Tester Profiles

Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman as well as many other ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as in traditional road races and triathlons.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 163 lbs.

First Impressions and Fit

Canice: When I slipped my feet into the TenNine Hike’s, they immediately felt comfortable. The upper is soft and flexible and the midsole has lots and lots of cushion. The TenNine has a nice heel pocket and a secure fit across the midfoot, yethas a roomy toe box. The TenNine will fit a medium width foot comfortably. Of note here is I am in a size 10, which is my running shoe size. My feet on a brannock device measure a size 9 and I wear 9.5 hiking boots. I am consistently a size 10 in running shoes and in all Hoka’s. The TenNine fits great in the size 10 I was sampled in, so it fits like a running shoe.

The elephant in the room is the extended heel, and you can not help but notice it when you walk in the TenNine Hike for the first time. In my case I had tested the TenNine running shoe and knew what to expect. And though this will be a strange sensation in the store, you get used to it quickly on the trail.

Sam: What a presence and statement the TenNine Hike! The massive geometry is immediately noticed and no way hidden by muted colors as here everything is a bright and cheery blue highlighted by yellow and pink accents. 

As with the TenNine, the box included a card warning that its purpose is hike and on trail usage and advising not to operate vehicles or navigate stairs while wearing it due I assume to the long tail catching and width on the ground. The yet more radical TenNine trail runner with no swallow clearly warranted this card and here I will follow instructions for sure but we have not only the swallow tail to, if you will,, break up the width of the landing but a less extended rear geometry. I have had no big issues navigating house stairs, unlike TenNine run.

The fit is a perfect true to size for me in my usual run shoe 8.5 with hiking weight socks but is a bit narrow and tapered up front but with more than adequate toe overhead room for hiking purposes


Canice:  Canice: Something that is very cool about the TenNine Hike is that it utilizes a unique GORE-TEX Leaf bootie construction with the upper having recycled materials, as well as using recycled polyester through the collar, laces, heel pull and vamp webbing. At this point in testing all of these materials have been working great and get a solid two thumbs up. I find the upper to be very comfortable and fully waterproof as advertised.

There is a cool protective layer over the heel that is translucent and very functional. 

The eyelets have all been reinforced and the three  lace hooks on the upper cuff are all coated metal for added durability. The toecap is reinforced with rubber which stays supple in colder weather.

The upper cuff is flexible which is great for comfort and somewhat questionable for carrying heavier loads. This upper is designed for going light and fast and if this is your focus you’ll be great. The upper also works great for day hikes and general wear.

Sam: The upper is very supportive blending a locked in feel from its relatively narrow profile, extensive to the toe lacing with wings wrapping, and a very reasonably supportive if soft top cuff. 

It does not have  not a heavy mountaineering or backpacking  boot cuff for sure but I found, in combination with the underfoot super broad Hubble geometry. external plastic heel exo skeleton type rear overlay and the relatively broad soft and open tongue area provide  more than adequate support which is very comfortable with enough forward give to get to the rocker up front. 

Often “light duty” mid height cuff boots, such as Hoka’s Toa,, provide not much more support than a solid trail running shoe at the rear but do provide extra debris/moisture and ankle side knock protection. Here  the rear support is clearly a step above those options.

I marveled that once laced I never had to readjust even when the boot loosened a bit over time. The solid cord laces, and lock on pull triple hooks assure that there is minimal stretch while allowing some give. Constant lace adjustments are the norm in mid height boots for me on rougher terrain but not here!.

While not a leather upper as its Kaha siblings have, the dense mesh, stout abrasion resistant rubber toe bumper, and sheer distance off the ground and away from obstacles should make the upper durable 


Sam: While the TenNine is pure hiker, it is also pure Hoka in having a massive midsole stack of 33mm heel / 29mm forefoot in the men’s and a bit less in the women’s with yes a 5mm drop.

The compressed EVA foam is designed specifically for hiking in that it not only absorbs all shocks, is very light weight and stable and has some welcome rebound not something usually found in most dense firm hiker midsoles. 

The patented Hubble rear geometry provides not only great stability but in conjunction with the extended heel and swallow tail a clearly felt (especially on flatter terrain) levered impulse forward.  The incredibly broad platform not only distributes shock incredibly well but is also totally stable. 

And as with all Hoka there is a Meta Rocker upfront and this rocker with its smooth easy toe off seems to be very similar to the latest Hoka road shoes such as the Mach 4 replacing the prior stiffer less flowing rocker in past Hoka.

Bottom line the midsole will protect, cushion, and through its geometry move you along mile after mile on just about any terrain in great easy on the legs comfort and stability. And all that massive geometry midsole arrives at a remarkably light weight.

Canice: Hoka makes reference to the TenNine Hike being “part hovercraft and part hiking boot” and the midsole is what drives this. In typical Hoka fashion you have cushion for days and thanks to a new proprietary compression molded EVA foam the TenNine Hike is both lightweight and absorbs impact incredibly well. This new midsole is also very stable and thanks to the wide platform leaves you feeling very sure footed.


Canice: The Vibram® Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs is incredibly sticky and digs deep into soft terrain for incredible traction. Hoka is also utilizing Vibram® Litebase outsole construction ( a thinner plate of rubber below the lugs) which reduces weight. The two combined deliver great traction.. at a low weight.. which makes for a happy hiker.

The TenNine Hike has multi directional lugs for traction and flex points built into the outsole for flexibility and comfort.

Sam: Canice describes the outsole well. Not only the traction from the MegaGrip but the incredibly  broad on the ground platform grips any surface I have tested them on like no other. I have not yet tested their wet traction but as MegaGrip it should be excellent.


Canice: Arguably the “ride” is the most unique part of the TenNine Hike experience. The boot feels flat under foot when you first stand up and then as you walk you’ll feel the heel engage with the ground before you would expect it to. This can feel a bit strange at first but what is really happening is the wide extended heel is making contact earlier than a traditional boot and lowering your heel to the ground reducing impact and delivering less muscle fatigue. The Hoka TenNine Hike has lots of rocker so you feel your foot roll forward before you toe off.

On flat terrain and over long distances the TenNine heel performs incredibly well and really makes you feel as if you can go forever. On the uphill portions I do not notice the heel very much if at all, as there I hike more on my forefoot / balls of my feet. 

Downhill though is a whole other story. Because of the heel and the amount of rocker in the shoe you find your balance forward more than you would like. The solution is to land more aggressively on your heel and if you do not, it feels awkward and unstable. Once I focused on letting the heel work for me and kept my weight back in a normal hiking position this sensation went away.

Sam: Canice says the ride “makes you feel like you could go forever.” I agree! Especially on more moderate terrain flat, downhill, and climbs the initial levered landing kicks you forward to the superb rocker. Land, lever, roll is how I might describe it.  

On very steep uphill rock slabs/boulders I did find the front platform a bit wide and not particularly agile.


On very steep downhills  I found a slight lean forward kept the swallow tail from “catching” then as Canice says an aggressive landing on the heel. Different but effective with slight adjustments in body position from the normal had me rolling fast through downhills.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: I tested on varied more moderate terrain in Maine but terrain with a full variety of surfaces from single track hiking/mountain bike trails with minimal “improvements” so moderately rocky rooty, steep,, uphill and downhill on slabs as well as mellow forest roads. 

The most distinctive element of the TenNine is the powerful smooth landing on that broad heel, lever off and then roll forward. Not a run shoe for sure but a very fast consistent feeling and super stable continuous forward momentum feel with the marketing slogan of “Hike Forever” ringing true. A bit more clumsy, not particularly agile  on steep uphills  due to the broad platform they remain super stable there too. I did not hike long enough to determine if they are leg and knee saving as Canice found but I have no doubt that for long treks and multi day hikes the massive cushion on such a broad platform can indeed indeed deliver fresher legs.

I found the upper support and comfort to be excellent for what is comparatively a more flexible cuffed boot and superior in that respect to other lightweight mid height boots such as the Hoka Toa and Inov-8 Roclite G 270.

Reasonable in weight for such a massive and dynamic boot they stand tall as a radical new approach to a hiking footwear. I do think the Swallow Tail and Hubble geometry could be toned down a bit in “size” to reduce weight and increase agility. The $250  premium price for sure gives pause but for sheer comfort, cushion and stability with a distinct dynamic rock and roll forward motion the TenNine Hike GTX is a powerful new hiking option.

Sam’s Score: 9.1 /10

Ride: 9.3  (30%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 8 (10%) Style: 8.5 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)

Canice: For my part I tested the Hoka TenNine Hike’s on the trails around Park City, in the Wasatch Mountains and in Moab, Utah. I wore them on dry dusty trails, technical rocky descents, off trail bushwhacking my way up local summits, the slick rock of Moab and most recently in snow in the Wasatch Mountains. Other than on technical descents in rocky terrain the Hoka TenNine Hike performed incredibly well and remained comfortable regardless of the terrain. 

For light hiking or light long distance packing such as the PCT, the Hoka TenNine Hike is an excellent choice. It’s comfortable, waterproof and the TenNine heel works incredibly well. You’ll experience less impact on your knees and less muscle fatigue and generally be incredibly comfortable. I would not use the Hoka TenNine Hike for trips with heavy loads or in technical terrain where heel placement is critical. The Hoka TenNine Hike would be great on long walking trips like the Camino de Santiago and supported efforts like you might find in New Zealand. 

They’re worth trying and you’ll likely find yourself with a smile on your face once you get moving. Think comfort and less fatigue on your knees.

Canice’s Score: 9.3  /10

Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 8 (10%) Style: 9 (5%) Traction: 10  (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka ONE ONE Kaha GTX (RTR Review)

Sam: The Kaha GTX has a soft leather upper and while supportive is not quite as supportive as the TenNine’s. It is focused on long distance trekking on more moderate terrain while the TenNine iis more rugged long distance hike focused. The TenNine actually weighs about 0.4 oz less and has 2mm more forefoot cushion with same heel stack. It’s a tough call but I would lean towards the more modern design TenNine 

Hoka ONE ONE Kaha Low GTX (RTR Review soon)

Sam: While the same underfoot in terms of stack height as the high top Kaha and about the same as the TenNine the low top Kaha (releasing January 2021.. $200) is actually closer in focus to the TenNine, rugged terrain hiking. Incredibly supportive for a low shoe it has a very thick Nubuck leather upper, stouter heel counter, Gore-Tex bootie, MegaGrip outsole and very protective toe bumper and a bit more room up front. Muted in colors it can fit in anywhere anytime and when dusty or dirty looks almost the same as when new.  Overall it is a more versatile hiker (and can be used as an outdoor work shoe) than the radical Ten Nine for all but potentially long distances with a pack.

Hoka ONE ONE Toa GTX (RTR Review)

Sam: Much closer to a trail runner than the other Sky hikers, the “speed hiker” Toa is 2.7 ounces lighter with its design focused on weight reduction. Pairs took us across 200 miles of mellow Switzerland roads and  trails last year with more than adequate cushion from a lower (than TenNine) stack of 26/22 vs 33/29 in the TenNine but not nearly as much support and stability as we would have experienced in the TenNine. It’s upper is much more voluminous as it is lighter and less supportive than the TenNine so much so that we sized down in both our pairs while at true to size in TN

Hoka ONE ONE Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX and or low (RTR Review)

Sam: If you don’t go all the way to TenNine in a hiker go Speedgoat! And you can also run them, not something you are likely to do in a TenNine. A full 4.6 oz lighter at 13.2 oz with a MegaGrip outsole, a similar stack height to the TenNine  and a stout ankle collar it can go almost everywhere if not everywhere the TN will take you. Its midsole is a touch less dense and protective and its fit similar, on the narrower side up front but with the TenNine having more toe overhead room but no stretch gusset as the Speedgoat has. At $170 overall if your hike activities are faster and lighter and you also want a run able shoe it is a better value,

Inov-8 Roclite G 400 (RTR Initial Video Review)

Sam: Another radical premium boot ($235) but in a different way. Instead of a wide platform, the rear of the G 400 relies on a plastic exo-skelton to stabilize the rand very well but not at the level of the TenNine’s Hubble geometry and swallow tail  Instead of a rocker its more than adequately but not as copiously as TN cushioned forefoot relies more on flexibility and a segmented shank for forward motion. Clearly runnable and 3.6 oz lighter, and also clearly more agile, the G 400 is focused on fast, while TenNine long and smooth motion over any terrain.

Topo Trailventure WP (RTR Review)

Sam: If you have a wideforefoot clearly the Topo is the better option. It is 3.3 oz lighter has firmer thinner but still very decent cushion and a MegaGrip outsole as the TenNine has. Its rear upper collar support is not at the level of the TenNine or the Inov-8 but similar to the Toa's. It is more easier day hike focused than the TenNine and is a significant $90 less.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

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