Monday, July 05, 2021

Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex Review

Article by Dominique and Sam Winebaum

Hoka One One Anacapa Low Gore-Tex ($155)

Dominique: Hiking in a HOKA hiking shoe/boot, whether in a mid or a low, is akin to running in a HOKA running shoe.  The Sky Toa was my first pair, which I wore on a hiking Trek on the Via Jacobi, in Switzerland, from Rorschach to Romont, 13 days and 200 miles, albeit on easy trails with some road walking.  That year, 2019, my Sky Toa became my go-to hiking boots though I could have used a bit more protection hiking in the rugged terrain of the White Mountains (NH).


In 2020, late in the season, I received a pair of Kaha low GTX, which are full-on hiking shoes in terms of protection, from the rugged all leather upper to the outer sole, and super cushiony.  


The Anacapa showcases Hoka’s commitment to sustainability and is distinctly the most comfortable of the three but offers less stability than the bullet proof Kaha.  It’s a great day hiker and a fast one to boot on the uphill.  


Sam: Dominique and I enjoy hiking, when we are not running! Over the last 3 years or so, shoes and boots from Hoka’s Sky Collection have been our goto hikers for their max cushion and great Vibram MegaGrip outsoles. 


The Anacapa Low GTX ( a mid is also available) modernizes, let’s just say, the Hoka hike ride using a new rocker design and swallow tail shared with their newest road shoes such as the Mach 4 and hikers such as the more radical Ten Nine. The extended rear swallow tail allows for smooth stable landings and movement forward with the front rocker now also having some flexibility unlike prior Hoka such as the Speedgoat and Kaha Low.  The midsole is softer and squishier than the Kaha for sure and also the Speedgoat 2 Mid and is about the same softness as the EVO Speedgoat. 


The construction focuses on sustainability with leather certified by the Leather Working Group, recycled content in the collars/mesh/laces,  PFC free water repellency, a 50% soy based sockliner, and recycled fabric in the Gore-Tex bootie.

We took them on a 10 mile round trip to 10,700 feet with 2300 feet of vertical in Little Cottonwood Canyon. We both noted how well they climbed due to the flexibility in the rocker. The deep 30/24 midsole of compression molded EVA was soft, stable, and bouncy not at all resembling the usual firm hike boot/shoe cushion.

We traversed loose gravel/rocks, mud and soft snow patches and the grip everywhere from the MegaGrip was fantastic. We also took them on three hikes of 6-9 miles on smoother Park City single track trails with relatively fewer obstacles and it was on those kinds of trails  where they really shine.


At 13.67 oz  / 387g in a men’s US9, they are light for such a substantial hiking shoe. I think they are also run-able due to the agile front rocker and flex.

Pros:

Dominique:

A sustainably crafted shoe made with nubuck leather, soy based and recycled materials.

Footwear innovation driven by sustainability.

Best comfort and protection combined in a lightweight hiking shoe. 

Perfect fit (I selected a half-size smaller than my regular size 9).

Available in a low and a mid hiking boot. 

Fast on the uphill due to rocker plus some flexibility 

Great grip on every surface 

Protective upper with a supple feel. 

Achilles-cradling pull tab keeps the heel safely and comfortably in place.

Soy-based sockliner creates a secure and comfortable zone for the foot.

Extended-heel geometry (a plus in my book), which is not overly extended. 

Waterproof.

Sam: What Dominque says and I would add a very decent value for a full featured Gore-Tex hiking shoe. 

Sam: Very roomy (width and height)  and well held toe box and upper with the achilles collar key to securing  the foot. 


Cons:

Dominique/Sam: The trade-off for all the comfort (roomy upper and soft high stack of foam)  is perhaps stability in more technical terrain, especially downhills. Kaha is more adapted to rugged trails than Anacapa.

Sam: Due to high stack and low collars not recommended for use with a substantial after market orthotic.


Stats

Approx. weight: men's 13.67 oz  / 387g (US9)  /  women's / (US8) 11.8 oz (335 g) 

  Samples: men’s  13.37 oz / 379g (US8.5)

Midsole Stack Height: 28 mm heel, 22 mm forefoot

Available  June 2021. $155


First Impressions and Fit


Dominique: A lightweight hiking shoe that is extremely comfortable and protective.  For a low top, it’s got some height both in the front and in the back, keeping the foot nicely and securely cradled.  So many features in the Anacapa Low GTX that makes this hiking shoe a great choice as a day hiker/weekender, but preferably when the terrain is not too rugged. There is so much padding all around keeping the foot comfortably and securely in place. 

The upper, which is made with waterproof nubuck leather and has a Gore-Tex bootie, is sturdy and protective, but not rigid.  The outsole has plenty of traction with the midsole and outsole protective, more so than my retired Toa.  

Hoka sizing is always a bit of a dilemma for me.  I am a regular size 9 in almost all run shoes, but opted for a size 8.5 (40 ⅔ Eu) and the fit is great, though it can be a matter of preference, namely how much space one is comfortable with between the toes and the front of the shoe.  It is an attractive shoe to wear on the trails, especially in my color of Cherry Mahogany/Hot sauce.  The name “Anacapa” derives from a small volcanic island off the coast of Port Hueneme, CA, in Ventura County where Hoka HQ is located.


Sam: Dominique describes the fit well. I am at my usual 8.5 and the fit is roomy for sure. I found that with thicker socks the fit dialed in well  although  I could likely size down half a size as I have narrower lower volume feet.   Sizing may also depend on terrain and season as in more technical terrain such as at our hiking haunts in the rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire I would want a snugger fit whereas for Utah more mellow single track with few obstacles and often heat the lighter socks and roomier fit works.

The fit is for sure influenced by the giant stature of the shoe. Below, compared sole to sole with a Hoka Speedgoat EVO and Speedgoat Mid. 

At the upper level the toe box approaches most Altra and Topo, if not exceeds it in over the toes volume. Wider foot hikers will be very happy here and those who found Speedgoats too narrow and snug will be overjoyed. Note though the fit is not at the level of run security overall of a Speedgoat but is far more comfortable.  


Upper

Dominique: A sustainably crafted upper made with gold-rated waterproof nubuck leather and GoreTex footwear fabric that is protected with a PFC-Free water repellency treatment. The combination of nubuck leather and mesh backed by GoreTex provides protection against rocks and shocks without the feel of a rigid carapace and creates a malleable environment around the forefoot making the shoe noticeably faster on the uphill.  

The gusseted tongue is well padded  and the shoelace system stays firmly in place. The Anacapa Low GTX is probably the most fitted and comfortable Hoka hiking shoe/boot I have tried thus far. 


 In addition to the generous padding around the collar, the Achilles-cradling pull tab adds another level of comfort and snugness.

Sam: Dominique describes the upper well. The combination of what is a thin quite pliable main mesh (backed by the Gore-Tex) down the center of the front of the shoe leads to a distinctly flexible and easy flow on flats and upthills. The main mesh is backed by the side leather lace up wings and a stout but not overly rigid (as the Kaha Low has) protective toe bumper.

The upper is ideal for long days on moderate trails, I think multiple days in fact. I was surprised in relatively warm (up to mid 80’s F) Utah weather that the Gore-Tex breathes very well indeed and if I didn’t know I would say so well that I would be surprised if someone told me they were aGore membrane backed waterproof shoe. Having a nicely breathable waterproof shoe as here removes the deciding for me of going waterproof or not. Happy it is on board. 


Midsole

Dominique: Compression molded EVA midsole. ( EVA stands for Ethylane Vinyl Acetate.)  Supportive and responsive, I am enjoying the feel of putting one foot in front of the other, so to speak.  The super cushioned midsole might be a bit of a trade-off in terms of stability.  

Sam: The Anacapa has an exceptionally soft midsole. For a hiking boot for sure for sure and in terms of trail runners I see it as softer than the regular Speedgoat and about the same softness as the race EVO Speedgoat.

This translates for me to exceptional cushion and trail comfort on smoother terrain. The combination of the swallow tail to initiate a smooth transition after landings and an Early Stage Meta Rocker with some front flexibility is something new we are seeing in 2021 Hoka including the road Mach 4. Almost all if not all pre 2021 Hoka were stiff. 


On the trail, the flexibility (plus rocker and swallow tail at the rear and let’s not forget the influence of the center of the upper to the toe box ) translates to an exceptionally smooth uphill and flat terrain flow. Tables turn a bit on downhills, particularly more technical ones as the softness, roominess of the upper (if well held) and flexibility make the shoe not quite as stable as traditional hikers or Hoka stablemates such as Kaha Low for sure and Speedgoat.



Outsole

Dominique:  Vibram Megagrip outsole with multi directional 6mm lugs.  Great protection and traction. Even though there is massive outsole, I might select to wear my Anacapa when hiking more mellow trails and save my Kaha for rough terrain.  

Sam: The MegaGrip outsole is exceptionally aggressive and massive, maybe overly so for most terrain but in our testing shined everywhere including mud and some snow. Reducing the lug height somewhat and moving the rubber to more coverage (for durability and also to add stability) might be something Hoka considers.

Sam: In terms of coverage we have 2 areas of rubber: heel and forefoot with exposed midsole elsewhere so expect some wear there. It will be cosmetic unless it affects outsole adhesion and I see one small delamination on the medial side of one shoe at 25 miles which occurred the first hike but hasn’t moved. The softness of the midsole is likely causing some pulling and tugging of  the outsole. 


Ride

Dominique: The extended-heel is not over pronounced but is enough of an extension to create a smooth heel to toe transition.  The extended-heel geometry is a fairly recent development in Hoka shoes, running, hiking, lifestyle, recovery, and something that I appreciate as a heel striker. 


Sam: Smooth and flowing on flatter terrain and uphills, this big stack hiker is light on the foot, has a pleasing combination of the extended heel for landings, soft cushion, and that front rocker plus flexibility combination mentioned previously. There is a lot of trail feel but with plenty, plenty of protection and any terrain traction. I have many, many trail running shoes and hikers and for more mellow trails Park City hikes but with plenty of vertical during the test period I reached for the Anacapa everytime. Something about the smooth ,soft ride… I was more cautious than usual on the downhills than in many but that was a tradeoff I was willing to take.

Or… as Dominique was nursing a bum ankle we made the hikes up or flatter and took the lift down.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Dominique: The Anacapa Low GTX delivers the best comfort zone for my feet when hiking and they are runnable given their forefoot flexibility in the forefoot.  I was surprised at how well they perform on the uphill as I found myself speed hiking (going downhill is not my forte) and even running a bit on the flat.  Less clunky than the Kaha and more protective than the Toa, the Anacapa is my choice when hiking this summer, though I may still grab my Kaha when hiking rugged trails in the White Mountains.  The sustainable platform of the Anacapa adds to the appeal of the shoe. 

 

Disclosure: I wore a pair of insoles with added support with a molded piece of orthotic glued at the arch under my arch (left foot), which added a substantial amount of height (half an inch); something I would not recommend doing as my ankle started to rub against the collar, which led me to loosen up the shoelaces, and at some point, my foot landed on a small rock and I twisted my ankle.  This was on a 10+ mile hike and the terrain was a bit rocky.  I wasn’t being careful for sure but from now on will be hiking with the original slim insole that comes with my Anacapa to increase the stability of the shoe.  

Dominique’s Score: 9.7/10


Sam: Not a recycled Speedgoat or a board firm hiking shoe, the soft and pleasing Anacapa is a smooth cruising, incredibly well cushioned, stoutly lugged choice for long, long days on smoother trails and especially long uphills. It is primarily a day hiker but if your trails are smoother I think it can go multi days with a lighter pack. 


With a very comfortable and roomy upper with plenty of hold, as with the ride, the Anacapa does not remind me of a Hoka running shoe or any hiker.  It is of course a Hoka with a massive stack of soft cushion, the extended heel, Meta Rocker and new to Hoka front flexibility but its on trail personality while using the technologies is all its own.


I would like it to be a touch more stable for downhills and heavier packs ( a mid height version is also available) maybe by adjusting the outsole’s coverage by potentially reducing the lug heights and also by beefing up the upper’s main mesh for a touch more support. The outsole change might affect the incredible grip a bit on softer ground  and snow but would make the shoe more versatile.

Sam’s Score: 9.31 / 10

Ride: 9.3 (30%) Fit: 9.3 (30%) Value:9.3 (10%) Style:9.5 (5%) Traction: 9.8 (15%) Rock Protection: 9.8(10%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Hoka One One Anacapa Mid Gore-Tex    
We did not test the mid height version. It is identical but for a higher mid height which may make it more suitable for more technical terrain and backpacking. It is $15 more than the low so still a reasonable price for a premium, sustainable materials hiker.

Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX (RTR Review)

Sam: The Kaha has a firmer midsole and incredible rear stability and overall upper hold back to front from its thick all leather upper. It is a far stiffer, more substantial shoe suited to more technical terrain than the Anacapa and also makes a great rugged work shoe. Also with a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membrane due to its dense upper it runs warmer than Anacapa. 


Hoka One One Kaha Trekking Boot (RTR Review)

Sam: The higher top Kaha has a firmer more traditional boot feel underfoot  and a similar easy and generous fit as the Anacapa with far softer leather than its low cut Kaha sibling. It like the Kaha Low has a rigid rocker profile with no flex as the Anacapa has and thus is more stable.  Its boot high collars add more security. If I was carrying a pack on smoother terrain I would select it over the Anacapa but for day hiking on such terrain the lighter Anacapa is plenty of shoe.


Hoka One One Toa (RTR Review)

Sam: Lower stacked, lighter,  firmer and with lower profile lugs the mid height Toa also has a lighter, less supportive upper. It is closer in fit and ride to a Hoka running shoe but doesn’t quite get there. 


Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)

If you want light and for sure runnable with best in Hoka technical terrain capabilities go Speedgoat (regular of mid height)  but you won’t get to the level of soft cush and easy comfort of the Anacapa. If you want cush for long and more mellow terrain hikes go Anacapa.

  

Inov-8 RocLite Pro G 400 (RTR Review)

Sam: A study in contrasts. The G 400 has an agile, less cushioned trail shoe chassis underfoot and a relatively light mid height upper with comparable support to the Anacapa. For fast hikes on rough terrain it is superior to the Anacapa but is no smooth comfy cruiser on the more mellow.


The Anacapa Low Gore-Tex and its mid height sibling are available now
Hoka One One  HERE as well as at our partners below

Some tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content
The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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