Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Hoka ONE ONE Arahi 5 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dominique Winebaum, Jana Herzogova, and Sam Winebaum 

Hoka ONE ONE Arahi 5 ($130)


Dominique: Along with October foliage, HOKA footwear from the Spring 2021 Collection landed on our patio, and with two road shoes and one hiker to test, off I go equipped with the latest.  With the Mach 4, it was love at the first step and I gave it a rave review declaring it my favorite HOKA road shoe ever (RTR Review).  With the Arahi 5, it has been a different experience, mostly because I am a neutral runner who tends to gravitate toward super cushioned shoes with a more marshmallow feel.  

As a stability shoe, the Arahi 5 is a great fit for moderate overpronating runners given the extra support built into the shoe from the upper to the midsole and outsole, albeit in a sleek and performing way.  This is my first introduction to the Arahi model and the making of a great stability shoe, one that delivers comfort, yet calls for performance.

Sam: At approx. 9.35 oz / 269 g this very subtle (on the) stability trainer loses close to 0.5 oz in weight and gets a far more dialed in performance oriented upper than the Arahi 4. 

The mild J Frame stability element is provided by a slightly firmer rear medial side foam frame which also wraps around the lateral heel. With a 29mm heel /24mm forefoot stack, it is the same stack as the Clifton 7, Clifton Edge and upcoming Mach 4 which all while the same stack heights provide very different ride experiences with the Arahi 5 the stability option. As with the Mach 4 and Clifton Edge, the Arahi clearly also has a new Meta-Rocker geometry and miracle of miracles for the big 24mm front stack some nice flex something missing in the Arahi 4 that is for sure!

Jana: When I saw an opportunity of testing a stability shoe from Hoka, I wanted in on the ride. Most of my shoes are build for higher speed, with some sort of propulsive toe-off platform, so I welcomed the chance to test in this category. 

Does it deliver? Read on!



Comfortable and performing shoe providing great support for moderate to overpronating runners.

Stability shoe with a sleek and attractive look.  

Lightweight and breathable supportive upper.  

Significant upgrades from its predecessor: the Arahi 4. 

Design for support and durability. 


Light stability that doesn’t get in the way even for neutral runners

Light in weight at 9.35 oz for a max cushion stability shoe, loses approx. 0.5 oz over Arahi 4.

Superbly comfortable and secure upper.

Vast improvements in fit (no longer baggy and voluminous) and gains front flex as well as more effective rocker geometry compared to Arahi 4


Considering this is not a race day design and price tag, these shoes feel light, and perform well. 

Grippy, with breathable and fast drying upper, cushioned mid/outsole, it is a stable secure ride over all. 


Dominique: Cushioning is a bit too firm. Stability shoes are not for everybody. 

Sam: Firmer lateral heel feel favors faster daily training paces even with generous cushion

Jana:  Have not found any so far

Tester Profiles

Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 

Jana Herzgova took up running in 2016, after a back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, starting with shorter ultra distance races she quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner. She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climates, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She runs about 100 miles per week: 40 miles on road and 60 miles trail mostly at high elevations. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.

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.


Official weight: women/s 7.8 oz /221g, men’s 9.7 oz / 275g 

  Samples: men's US9. 9.35oz / 265g, men’s US8.5  9.13 oz /259g

Stack Height: women’s 27mm heel / 22mm forefoot, men’s 29mm heel / 24mm

Available Feb 2021. $130

First Impressions and Fit

Dominique: It has taken me a few runs to break them in as the shoes are a bit stiff.  The fit is very comfortable and true to size.  I tend to run in shoes that have softer cushioning so it has been a bit of an adjustment to find my groove while running in the Arahi 5.  As a rule, I run in neutral shoes and I have had little experience running in a stability shoe.  Unlike the Mach 4, I don’t feel this is the type of road shoe that is designed for my preferences.  Given that I am presently experiencing a bit of heel soreness, I decided to run in them with a heel gel cup.  It is the kind of shoe that should be run at a faster speed (sorry I am a slow runner) to really experience the smooth ride.  I am trying hard to get there.   

Jana: As Dominique mentioned, I too had a bit of a weird feel for this model at first. My guess is that I got used to Hoka Carbon X2 propulsion toe-off too much (a shoe I was reviewing prior to the Arahi), and switching to a stability shoe like Arhai  5 made for the initial strange feel. 

However, after roughly 5 miles in, I settled more and more into a relaxed, smooth and stable ride. My second and every training run after, I ran with a heavy weighted vest on, due to my specific training for an upcoming event. They felt incredibly stable, with a soft landing (even with carrying 10+ extra pounds), great grip, and with an overall comfortable and secure fit. 

My initial sense is that it is not designed specifically for races/speed work, but rather for long distance/easy pace run days yet the possibility of going fast is there as well. 

Sam: A secure comfortable fit right out of the box which is a vast improvement over the Arahi 4 baggy overly voluminous fit for me. Yup the laces are long. Why or why! The addition of an elastic tongue gusset ensures the soft pliable engineered mesh upper has plenty of structure to support the foot. 

The “elf” like achilles/rear collar relieves pressure at the rear is un noticed yet totally secure in hold. It is a perfect true to size fit for me in all dimensions.


Dominique: The upper is made with an engineered mesh that is both breathable and supportive.  The stability component of the shoe extends to the upper which is reinforced with both stitched (seen at the red lace loops above) as well as non stitched eye stays for the laces.  

A padded tongue made with breathable mesh along with the shoelace system creates a comfortable and secure fit.  Extra support is integrated into the upper in a sleek and attractive fashion with minimal impact on the weight of the shoe. The collar of the ankle is well padded and is designed to alleviate pressure on the Achilles.   

Jana: As expected from Hoka, the upper looks and works great. Lightweight, flexible, and breathable. I purposely took them for a spin in a heavier rainy weather, and was pleasantly surprised how light, soft, and fast drying the upper stayed. The padded tongue stayed light and securely in place dry or wet, causing no chafing or discomfort at all. I had no issues with laces either, they kept my feet well locked down well, dry or wet conditions. Thumbs up to the heel design, which is strong, comfortable, and resists pull out well. Plus, I like the overall look it adds to the shoe design. 

Sam: My fellow reviewers have described the upper well. Every late 2020 and early 2021 Hoka be it road or trail has variations on this type of engineered mesh and basic design. Soft, pliable, very breathable, yet supportive, every Hoka upper so far has been superb and in sharp contrast to the often awkward fitting uppers of the past. In particular, the Arahi 4 had a strangely loose, in elastic and overly voluminous upper which to add insult to injury didn’t even have an obviously needed mid foot elastic gusset to lock down the foot, especially narrower lower volume feet , to the platform. All those issues gone with the 5!

There is plenty of pliable somewhat stretchy room in the toe box which should work for even moderately wide feet. While the Arahi 4 upper was not “terrible”, the difference in fit and security here is “huge”. And the changes move down to the midsole with a completely new geometry underfoot.


Dominique: Every element of the Arahi 5 is built for support without compromising comfort and performance.  Notably, at the level of the midsole, a firmer, EVA J-Frame™provides both support and cushioning to help stabilize the foot in case of over-pronation while delivering a smooth ride.  As a fairly slow runner, I need to crank up the pace in order to experience the early stage Meta-Rocker, namely a faster rolling of my foot leading to a smoother and more enjoyable ride.  The flat-waisted geometry of the midsole provides inherent stability by maximizing the contact zone between your foot and the ground.    

Jana: As someone who does not run in stability type shoes that often, I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable and smooth, yet rather on the firm side this shoe feels. 

However, coming from a few weeks of running in Hoka Carbon X2, which has an integrated propulsive toe-off from a carbon plate the "flat feel" of the Arahi can take the "fun" out of the run over longer distances. At faster paces, it lacks the extra bounce and spring to propel you forward. 

I do appreciate the extra support and cushioning packed in by the J-Frame, adding to the overall stability and secure ride. 

Sam: Dominique and Jana have described the midsole well. At 29mm heel 24 mm forefoot of stack there is plenty, plenty of cushion here. In a A/B test with the Arahi 4 I could tell the 5 has slightly softer foam overall, which is welcome. The heel with its firmer wrap around to the lateral side foam in the J-Frame favors faster daily training paces over slower if you are a heel striker as at slow paces the heel is quite firm. Pick up the pace, and for me when I hit 9:30 or so per mile, and off the heel and the picture changes with the slightly firmer J Frame acting as a stable platform, the transitions relatively smooth and then with the new front rocker geometry both a rocker effect and some flex something the Arahi 4 had none of being very stiff and flat feeling. 

While the forefoot lacks, as Jana says, that “extra bounce” or response to send you off as say a plated shoe of a lower stack forefoot with lots of rubber might what you will notice is ample cushion and a smooth roll to toe off. 

I sensed the J Frame as somewhat firmer feeling area on the medial side (shown as the light green above) and then around the lateral side where I thought the firmer green foam is uncalled for making the heel firmer than I prefer at slower paces.

The contrast in firmness between areas is not the sharp line of a traditional posted support  shoe, just an area of extra support quite seamless to the rest of the midsole.

Seen from below one can see the firmer J-Frame does not extend all the way across the bottom of the shoe and is, as named, more a frame of foam around the softer white areas.


Dominique: The rubber outsole is built for extra stability and durability, and on the firm side to be sure.  This type of outsole, in comparison to the Mach 4 or Clifton Edge which are made of rubberized EVA, is much firmer, less springy, but also more stable and durable. 

Jana: To add to what Dominique mentioned, if the outsole does a good job without me being aware of it, it works well for me. No issues with traction, even in very wet conditions (even on steep downhills). It is on the firm side, but the tradeoff for stability and cushioning is decent.

I have run them roughly 260 miles so far, seeing very minimal wear/tear. However, roughly150 of miles were on a softly packed snow, so the wear to the outsole is much lower in comparison to all road/concrete surface. I am not sure what's the expected longevity of these shoes, but so far so good. Happy feet!

Sam: Plenty of rubber in strategically placed pods.  I think the thick firmer heel rubber in combination with the lateral extension of the J Frame leads to a somewhat overly firm heel at slow paces. I wouldn’t make it thinner but might segment it more or better yet soften the foam in the J-Frame there.


Dominique: The Meta-Rocker helps offset the firmness of the shoe in regards to the ride.  As a slow runner, I need to increase the pace in order to experience the smooth feeling of the ride. The stability features of the Arahi 5 along with its performing platform are truly noteworthy, allowing pronating to over-pronating runners to enjoy a lightweight shoe and a smooth ride.  

Jana: A smooth ride, but lacks the bounce of a fun training shoes if that's something you are looking for. I really enjoyed the lighter weight and stability of this shoe for longer/easier runs. 

This is not a shoe (at least for me) to use for speed workouts, however the possibility to go faster is there as well. It feels soft and grippy, and the fast drying upper made it a shoe that I use quite often now in any weather conditions (except ice).

I can not add anything more to what Dominique mentioned in terms of over-pronation control needs, but given the "flat like feel stable ride", I can see the benefits she mentioned above.

Sam: We have a well cushioned ride here that due to the J Frame of firmer foam at the heel favors somewhat faster over slower paces and a landing just ahead of the heel. The ride here will not get you in trouble and is, while not wildly exciting, just what the runner needs, be they a support shoe fan (or neutral fan as I am) to keep stable aligned and moving along. As such, it is a fine daily training ride for high mileage runners of all types and a good option for stability support runners look for a lighter option that also has a plentiful cushion stack, particularly at the forefoot.

Conclusions and Recommendations


This fifth iteration of the Arahi is sleek looking, lightweight, and performing, with plenty of support incorporated into the shoe from the upper to the midsole.  By all means, it could pass for a neutral shoe from the look of it, yet when running in it, I keep finding the cushioning too firm, especially in regards to my sore heel.  This is a great shoe for runners who need the extra support and like to run fast. 

Dominique’s Score: 9.4 /10

Jana: A solid addition to the lightweight/stability road shoe category. You are not gonna set a WR in these (at least what I am guessing), but at the $130 price tag, it is a very solid and comfortable shoe. An easy days go to shoe for me indeed. Happy with the smooth ride.T he higher score on my side is also due to the fact that they performed well on a soft and packed snow, on steeper snow covered  uphills and downhills. Although designed for road, I trust them enough to take them on non-technical trails as well. Easily one of my favorite shoes with a top place in my shoe rotation. 

Jana’s Score: 9.5/10

Sam: The Arahi 5 was a vast improvement for me over the Arahi 4 in fit and ride. More flexible upfront, with a far more effective rocker it is stable front to back without being overly intrusive and prescriptive in its support features although clearly they are there. Thus, it can be very good daily training ride for both support and neutral shoe runners seeking a supportive shoe. It’s sweet spot are those day in day out miles faster than easy and slower than up tempo. It’s upper is a highlight with solid support and great comfort from its soft and pliable materials, a not always easy to pull off combination.  

Fans of the Clifton who find its heel somewhat unstable ( I do) looking for a complimentary shoe with the same cushion stack and more stability should definitely consider the new Arahi. It is not the most exciting of rides but a reliable, well cushioned one and at a weight of just over 9 ounces it is a light for its substance, particularly for a trainer with support features..  

My only suggestions for improvement would be to eliminate or reduce in scope the lateral side’s firmer J-Frame foam to soften the heel landing there which could help increase the shoe’s comfort and versatility for slower paces. I might also like to see the medial side’s J Frame shortened up front, ending it closer to the mid foot to give the shoe more toe off  snap

Sam’s Score: 9.2 /10 

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9.7 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style:9(5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka One One Arahi 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: To summarize the 5 is a brand new shoe seeking to accomplish the same light support mission as its predecessor and it dramatically succeeds, improving both fit and ride. The voluminous, non stretch, awkward fitting 4’s upper is replaced by a foot conforming secure and comfortable beauty of an upper. The stiff flatter feeling not very flexible rocker is replaced by a new smooth rocking and more flexible geometry. 

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite  (RTR Review)

Sam: ASICS Kayano Lite shares a broad on the ground platform with the Arahi to provide inherent stability. Unlike the Arahi, it includes no firmer foam elements as the midsole is all one density. As such it is somewhat softer in rear cushion feel and more consistent in cushion feel throughout. It’s upper is also soft and supportive, maybe a touch more plush but not quite as locked down as Arahi, nod to the Arahi. Kayano Lite, as it is a bit more forgiving, leans easier paces, while Arahi more uptempo. Both are great, modern light stability options.

New Balance Fuel Cell Prism  (RTR Review)

Sam: A solid ounce lighter,, the Prism has a co-molded post for medial support of foam slightly firmer than the main midsole’s. The post’s feel is similar to the Arahi J Frame, subtle compared to traditional  posted shoes. The Prism is not nearly as cushioned at the forefoot and leans shorter runs and is not nearly as good a daily training option.

Brooks Launch GTS 8  (RTR Review)

Sam: The GTS 8 launches January 2021. Instead of a internal frame of firmer foam for the support element it uses rails just above the midsole, noticed more than the Arahi’s deep in the midsole J Frame, with a focus less on pronation control and more on stabilizing the knee although its mid foot outsole coverage does help control pronation. 

At $100, and about the same weight, it is firmer and less cushioned, especially at the forefoot with a more responsive snappier toe off. Its upper,, while fine, is not quite as secure up front and somewhat plasticky in feel. The Arahi is a better daily training option and more versatile with the GTS 8 a higher drop, firmer ride, and for me is more uptempo focused.

The Arahi 5 will be available Feb. 2021

Please Check out our Big Holiday Runners' Gift Guide HERE

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Michael said...

Hi Sam,

Hoka question. The mafate speed 3’s are available on Hoka’s website. Will you be reviewing them soon? Wanting to see how they compare to ten Evo Mafate 2’s.


Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Michael,
We asked for MS 3 but Hoka told us they would not be seeding for review at the time.
Will ask again! Think it just a different upper
Sam, Editor

Lewis said...

Hi folks.

How would these compare to the Brooks Adrenaline? I run in the 20's and find them to be a great shoe for longer training runs and those times where I need a bit of cushioning. I love the guiderail support on them. How does the J frame compare and would you consider the cushioning to be on par?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Lewis,
I haven't run an Adrenaline in a long while but have run other Brooks Rails shoes such as Launch GTS 8. They've improved the rails but generally not my way to support, if I go support shoes which is rare it's just for reviews.I find rails generally in ithe way of transition. The J Frame is entirely underfoot and is effective. The ride at the lateral heel is firmer than it should be IMO. It is responsive shoe with a relatively unobtrusive approach to support. I would say it leans shorter runs than longer runs and tempo rather than easy paces. Just completed my first run in the March release Puma Eternity Nitro. Soft, stable from "soft" foam rails, super roomy with lively spring to the nitrogen infused foam. Review soon on that one!
Sam, Editor

Unknown said...

How's the energy return in the Arahi's?