Monday, August 15, 2022

Hoka Bondi 8 Review: The OG Max Cushion Road Trainer Gets a Sleek Makeover. Stays True!

Article by Jeff Beck

Hoka Bondi 8 ($165)


Introduction


Jeff: The Bondi has been Hoka’s biggest cushioned road shoe for effectively a decade - and the Bondi 8 is the biggest of its namesake. Measuring just a hair under 40mm in the heel, this Bondi is as big vertically as it has been, but it’s also grown laterally as well. But for a shoe that historically has been limited to the easiest runs, has going even bigger helped it make the leap to an incredibly well-cushioned daily trainer? Spoiler alert: Shockingly, yes. Maybe not for all runners, but exponentially more than any previous version of the Bondi.


Pros:

About as much refined plush forgiving ride and comfortable upper as one can find; Sam/Jeff

New foam is lively with noticeable rebound despite its softness Sam/Jeff

Well balanced front to back weight distribution for a 4mm drop shoe: Sam/Jeff

New geometry has a easier final toe roll than prior Hoka:  Sam/Jeff

Tired legs, slow run, recovery run excellence: Sam/Jeff

Excellent walking and all day on your feet shoe Sam/Jeff

Spacious, very well held comfortable upper, even narrower feet. And even available in 2E Wide and 4E Extra Wide Sam/Jeff

Most versatile Bondi ever:  Jeff

Toe Box width is good, borderline great Jeff


Cons:

Weight: Almost 11 oz US9 is felt. Oh my a lighter supercritical foam would be out of this world here:  Sam/Jeff

Too much of a good thing: 39/36 soft stack? Sam

Narrow midfoot/arch is problematic Jeff

Stats

Approx. Weight: men's 10.97 oz  / 311 g (US9)  

Approx. 0.4 oz 12 g lighter than Bondi 7

  Samples: men’s  10.72 oz / 303g US8.5 | 12.69 oz / 360g US 10.5

Full Stack Height: men’s mm 39mm heel (measured) / 35 mm forefoot (4mm drop spec) Available now. Regular, Wide (2E), Extra Wide (4E).  $165 


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeff: I’d seen pictures of the B8 before my review pair got to me, and I still wasn’t prepared for just how big it would be. It makes a lasting impression with its substantial midsole - but I’ve always been a fan of big shoes. Initial step in is one of those audible “Ooooh” as it goes on the foot. There’s no disguising that this shoe is incredibly cushioned. The fit isn’t quite so straightforward.

Lengthwise, it’s spot on true-to-size with a little room in front of the toes. The toebox is among the best Hoka has ever made, with plenty of room for splay and virtually no vertical limitation. For a company that’s struggled to make accommodating toe boxes, this feels like a paradigm shift for Hoka, and genuinely hope that this is the toe box shape/size they’ll continue to use going forward. 

However, the midfoot/arch area is very restrictive - and I normally don’t have arch issues. The inset “bucket seat” geometry that Hoka uses is what puts pressure on the back part of the arch leading toward the heel. 

Even pulling the insole out of the shoe, the midsole intrudes on the foot more than I’d like. I know we’ve had other reviewers at RTR have issues with Hokas causing blisters around their arches, and I didn’t experience rubbing that bad, but for a shoe all about comfort it’s one place that’s a miss.


And speaking of comfort, this is one of those uppers that really gets it right. The majority of the upper is an engineered mesh that’s too thin to be considered truly “plush” but is incredibly soft and comfortable. 


The memory foam collars do cross the line into plush, with every surface around the opening of the shoe soft and pliable. 

The gusseted tongue is planted, and the forward/bottom half of the tongue appears to be a single layer of the mesh upper, while the top half of the tongue is thick and padded. This is an ingenious design, with plenty of material to prevent lace bite from tying the laces too tight, but not overdoing it by cushioning a large portion of the tongue that doesn’t need it.



Midsole

Jeff: The star of the show, this midsole has a new iteration of EVA foam (conspicuously it doesn’t have a cool name though) and mated with this updated geometry, Hoka has a hit on their hands. While they claim this midsole is softer than the previous version, their application of it has taken the Bondi from a day spa level of comfort to an actual performance shoe - albeit the most cushioned one around.

The shape of the shoe is striking, with an actual flaring out of the forefoot, something Bondi’s don’t typically do. And while the heel is 4mm higher stacked than the forefoot, the forefoot’s level of cushioning is truly next level. I know many Hokas are purchased for professional use by folks who spent all day on their feet and for walking, and I’d be willing to wager the Bondi 8 is going to continue that trend due to the extreme midsole cushioning.


That said, physics are what they are, and it’s not feasible to create a shoe with *that* much midsole that has any flexibility to speak of. I didn’t mind the stiff nature of the midsole, and I didn’t think it ruined the ride at all, but runners who like some flex under the foot are not going to find it in the Bondi 8.


Outsole

Jeff: The outsole makes very good use of limited rubber, with large empty pods running along the medial and lateral sides, giving runners plenty of grip and durability without making a thick midsole even less flexible. The exposed midsole spots aren’t in failure spots, so even if you do wear them down early they should affect your gait. 


However, I did notice that some of the low-lying spots in between the pods were showing wear on my pair - apparently my large frame is collapsing the pods just even to bottom out. I can’t imagine that’s a bad thing, just pointing it out and you can see it in the picture.


Ride

Jeff: The ride is hard to quantify - it’s almost easier to take a page out of David Rose’s book and go into detail about all the things it's not to get an idea of what it is. It’s not really bouncy or springy, and it’s definitely not sluggish or overly squishy. It is soft, but not too soft, and it doesn’t suffer from any instability issues with the very wide platform. It reminds me quite a bit of a well-cushioned daily trainer, like the Saucony Triumph or Brooks Glycerin, just cranked up to a 12 in all things midsole. The result is a new take on ultra-cushioning, and it works really well.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff: Hoka has out-Hoka’d themselves by shifting the Bondi from an ultra plush lounge chair to the most cushioned daily trainer ever made. The upper is soft, breathable, and comfortable with a surprising amount of room in the toe box, but the midfoot indentions bite into the arch, creating potential problems in an otherwise exceptional shoe. It’s not as svelte as it could be with a more cutting edge foam, but the new geometry is top notch, and if this is a sign of things to come - I can’t wait to see what comes next.


Jeff’s Score 8.93 out of 10%

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 7.5 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Smiles: 😊😊😊😊😊

Watch Sam's Hoka Bondi 8 Video Review (9:55)


6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Hoka Bondi 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The 7 was the ultimate shoe for the day after your hard/long run, the 8 is the super cushioned version of the shoe you wear for the majority of your miles. Give me the 8 without hesitation, and not just because of the vastly improved toebox.


(for fun) Hoka Speedgoat 5  (RTR Review)

Jeff: If I ever get invited to a Hoka mixer, I’m going to do whatever I can to introduce the folks who designed the Bondi 8 toe box to the people who design the Speedgoat toebox - because this could be incredible on the trail. Not many shoes make the Speedgoat feel truly minimal when worn Left/Right, but the Bondi is a behemoth that makes the Speedgoat seem lacking.


Hoka Bondi X  (RTR Review)

Jeff: The closest thing in the Hoka lineup to the B8, the BX tried to be massively cushioned but not overly soft, and used a carbon fiber plate to keep things moving forward. When worn against each other, the BX feels moderately cushioned and incredibly bottom heavy, though its midfoot doesn’t dig into the foot. The X now seems like a proof of concept, while the 8 seems like the iteration where it works.


New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer  (RTR Review)

Jeff: The one shoe in my lineup that’s even higher stacked than the 8, the SC Trainer is much softer and bouncier than the Bondi, though with the narrower platform it’s decidedly less stable (though again, nothing jabbing into the arch of the foot). The SC Trainer is a faster and lighter shoe, with much more aggressive geometry and carbon fiber plate that when paired with the Fuel Cell foam results in a fast ultra-cushioned shoe, as opposed to the Bondi 8’s ultra-cushioned daily trainer profile.


New Balance Fresh Foam More v3  (RTR Review)

Jeff: This shoe lines up perfectly with the Bondi 7 as an ultra cushy easy day exclusive shoe, the Bondi 8 outclasses it.


adidas Adistar  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Three-stripes daily trainer that’s massively cushioned with a wide platform, the Adistar is similar in height but substantially firmer compared to the Bondi 8. Not just the heel, which uses a different ultra firm midsole material, the entire shoe feels very dull compared to the Hoka.


Tester Profile

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 30 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Hoka Bondi 8 is available now including at our partners below!

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes.RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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6 comments:

Jeff said...

Following!

Anonymous said...

Vs the Saucony Endorphin Shift? Especially with the upcoming Shift 3….

Jeff said...

The Shift 1/2 are both much lower in stack height, more narrow, but firmer, and with a much more pronounced rocker. The Bondi 8 midsole is so much bigger in ever facet, it's kind of like comparing a standard mountain bike tire to a 27+ tire. Reading an increase from 2.4" to 3" doesn't seem like it'll change it that much, but it really does - same thing with the Bondi 8. It truly makes the Bondi X look and feel middle of the road, and when that shoe showed up it was a paradigm shift.

Philip Pieterse said...

Thanks Jeff. I really like the Shifts, had v1 and v2 and once they break in (about 50 - 60km for me) they soften up a bit and just eat up the km effortlessly. The v3 is purportedly softer and more energetic so will definately try those but maybe also the B8's as I like to have several pairs in rotation. Really like the Hoka trail shoes and can't wait to try a pair of the Speed 4's, had the Evo Mafate 1, 2, and 3.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts vs the Nike invincible?

Jeff said...

Hi Anonymous,

Sorry for the delayed response. The ZoomX Invincible kind of feels like the Bondi Junior. The Bondi is one of the few shoes that make the Invincible stack height feel pedestrian, and the overall width of the midsole feels almost minimal by how massive the Bondi is underfoot. The Invincible is much bouncier though, however, it also brings some instability compared to the Hoka. The narrow midfoot of the Hoka is a strike against it though, and I'd give a slight toebox width advantage to the Invincible.

If you have any specific questions between the two, let me know and I'll follow up.

Thanks,
Jeff