Thursday, February 02, 2023

Hilma Running Women's Fit One & Fit Two Multi Tester Review: 8 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark and Kathleen Valadez

Hilma Fit One and Fit Two ($159)


Renee: Hilma advertises itself as a “performance running shoe brand” that offers what they refer to as custom fits designed for women runners. Runners need to take a quiz on the brand’s website to find their perfect “fit” or any information about the shoes. The quiz is supposedly a patent-pending prediction system, and customers have to take the quiz and provide an email before gaining access to any content about the shoes. 

The quiz features questions about preferences for weight, speed, comfort, width, etc. The quiz pairs runners with one of three shoes: Fit One, Fit Two, or Fit Three. The cushion and drop are the same (29mm/23mm) on each shoe. The Fit One has a narrow fit and angled toebox. The Fit Two has a wider toebox. Both the Fit One and Fit Two have the same midfoot and heel fit. The Fit Three has a wider midfoot and heel. 

Not willing to give up your email address? I’m sure that aspect is a deterrent for a number of potential buyers/runners (as it should be). Hopefully our review can shed some light on whether a Hilma is the so-called “custom” shoe you should try.


All around comfort: Renee/Kathleen

Versatile outsole: Renee/Kathleen

Aesthetics: Kathleen/Renee


Weight: Renee/Kathleen

Upper security: Renee

Having to give an email just to read info about the shoe: Renee

Cost/use ratio: Renee


Sample Weight: women’s 9.84oz / 279g (US8)

Stack Height: 29mm heel / 23mm forefoot

Available now. $159

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: If you haven’t already, take a quick second to read our Introduction section. As a new brand that launched in October 2022, Hilma is not a household name (yet). You won’t find a lot of content about the shoes on their website until you enter an email address and take a quiz. 

In the near future, I hope the brand removes the need to enter contact information. When a company offers free and available information about their product, it says something about their confidence. 

The quiz itself is interesting, but essentially only a few questions help to determine a runner’s preferences. Otherwise, most of the questions did not necessarily lead to a more “tailored” fit of shoe. For example, asking what brand of shoe fits the best isn't necessarily helpful unless the specific model from that brand is discussed.

At times, I felt like I was taking a quiz about my purchasing habits rather than a quiz that truly determines my perfect shoe. I’m hoping the quiz/email lead-in is a tactic that the brand will ditch once they get “early adopters” into their business model. With company personnel who worked at On and Nike, and investors from successful well-known brands, I’m assuming the company will find its niche soon. 

The quiz led me to the Fit Two, which offers a wide toebox as compared to the Fit One. As written in the Introduction, not a lot of information is available about the shoes upfront on the website. 

The Fit One and Fit Two are the same aside from the Fit Two having a wider toebox. The Fit Three appears to have a wider midfoot and heel. All shoes have the same cushion and stack at 29/23 mm and drop at 6 mm. For me, the shoe runs more like an 8 mm drop shoe than a 6 mm. 

For sizing, true to size should work. Runners between half sizes should go with the half size up for the Fit Two, which the quiz will tell you (you can’t purchase until you take the quiz and offer your email). The upper overall is very comfortable and roomy. The tongue and heel counter/collar have moderate padding and the upper material has a lot of stretch. The security is okay for a casual/comfortable/easy run days shoe that’s not meant for speed or tempo days. 

I found the upper aesthetics to be great for casual use. The suede overlays seem more aesthetic than practical. The upper material is comfortable and flexible, so the overlays don’t necessarily help with security. 

I ran in frigid, well below 0 ℉ temps (yes, in farm overalls) and the toebox has breathability but works fine with some wool socks during cold weather because the flexible upper allows for thick socks. 

Kathleen: I agree with Renee that the introductory quiz - while fun in that you receive a seemingly customized shoe - is a bit silly when you learn there are only three options, and you can’t really see them up front. Plus, I don’t know that giving information like “Nike is my favorite brand” or “I liked the style on Topo” is really going to be beneficial to me, or Hilma, in making the selection. Ultimately, I’d be in favor of a “regular” shoe selection, with the quiz as an optional addition (because I’m sure it will help some runners).

But! Once I had the shoe in hand - the “Fit One,” I was immediately impressed. The aesthetics of the shoe are great; it certainly presents as a running shoe, but with a more casual or “all-arounder” vibe to it, compared to (for example), a Mizuno Wave Rider. I elected the purple colorway, and really like it - I think it’s even better in person (slightly paler) than online.

For sizing, I’d also recommend a true-to-size fit (which is a relief, as new brands are liable to muck this up). The upper here is tremendous - probably my favorite part of the shoe. It’s snug and high-quality, and the suede overlays provide a nice look without getting in the way. 

It feels slightly chunkier than my everyday trainers (I tend to run in the NB FuelCell Rebel or Brooks Hyperion Tempo), but that was to be expected - it’s a more solid, traditional trainer. More on that below!


Renee: The midsole is a sugarcane-based EVA midsole. On foot, they don’t feel like a running shoe and especially because of the overall weight. In a women’s size 8, 9.84 oz is heavy. I have technical trail shoes with a Gore-Tex uppers at that weight. While the brand states the shoes are “light-weight,” within comparable shoes, that’s not the case. 

However, the shoes run much better than they seem on standing around and do not feel nearly as heavy as the actual weight suggests. The forefoot flex is good, and the midsole is firm with some give. The drop and traditional ride (no rocker) should work for any foot strike. The cushion is enough (for me) as a long run shoe.

Kathleen: Hilma says that the sugarcane-based EVA is better for the planet than traditional petroleum-based EVAs, and if that’s the case, I’m all for it - but it does create sort of a dense, bottom-heavy trainer. I don’t want to be too critical here, because on the run (as described below), I did enjoy the Hilma quite a bit - but lightweight, it is not (all the more noticeable in comparison to the usual lightweight trainers I wear). As Renee noted, the shoe runs better than you’d think from the spec sheet! 

The dense slab of midsole is only questionably flexible, and I found it to feel firmer on outdoor winter runs than inside on the treadmill (typical for EVA). If you’re used to particularly flexible or energetic midsoles, you may be let down slightly here - but in comparison to a run-of-the-mill, everyday trainer, I think that Hilma has taken the right path by blending traditional with sustainable. It may not  ‘wow’ you, but it definitely won’t hamper your running - it’s more than good enough.


Renee: I like the outsole. The shoe is meant to be a road-to-trail or hybrid shoe . I won’t take the shoe on single track because of the upper security, but it will be fine as a hiker or for running on trails that are well groomed and dry. 

The outsole wraps around the back heel too, which adds some durability for anyone who aggressively heel strikes. I ran on grass, dirt, gravel, and snow and found the outsole a good choice for these combination runs. On the treadmill, the shoe works well too although it is heavy for the treadmill for my preferences. At 50 miles, I have some wear on the lugs but nothing more than normal usage. 

Kathleen: Huge fan of the outsole; most of my running is on the treadmill with the dark and cold of the winter, but for indoor and outdoor runs, I found the lugged rubber more than adequate, even on snow and ice. It has a nice old-school look to it that I also found appealing, and didn’t notice any wear after several runs (but again, primarily on the treadmill).


Renee: The ride is surprisingly smooth for a shoe that is heavy compared to similar options. The upper is plush and comfortable, so the security is compromised as a speed day shoe or a shoe for rough, uneven terrain. 

For casual paces, the shoe works fine. I consider it as an easy day shoe or a long day shoe. The ride is neutral, although I think runners needing stability will find the ride smooth too. The outsole lugs help with landing. 

Kathleen: I found the ride to be considerably better than I had expected at first try-on; it’s not particularly springy the way the FuelCell Rebel is, but it has a comfortable and even ride, and my legs appreciated the amount of cushion underfoot. I did find them slightly clunky for the treadmill (where I can usually get away with a lighter, faster shoe), but I don’t think that’s really Hilma’s purpose anyway - they are all about getting out in nature, running outside, and exploring - and for that, I think the performance is great. I’d take these on long runs, but would lean towards something else for any workouts or faster runs.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The Fit Two is comfortable and runs much smoother than I expected. I’m not sure where it fits into my running rotation, but for runners who need “one shoe” only for daily wear and running, the Hilma is a good choice. I’ve been wearing it as a casual shoe because it’s comfortable, aesthetically pleasing (in my opinion), and it has an outsole that rolls along nicely on gravel and some amounts of snow. 

For scoring as a running performance shoe, there’s a few aspects that aren’t great for me personally. I’m hoping the brand adds more detail and access to information about their shoes rather than asking buyers for an email and requiring a quiz just to see their options. As a purchase, there are several other shoes at a lower cost I’d choose for running performance. The weight and upper security aren’t ideal for speed workouts, and for easy days several other shoes are available at a lower weight and lower cost. For purchasing help, we’ve added several comparisons below to help our readers.

Renee’s Score: 8.3/10 (-.50 cost/use, -.10 running performance, .-50 weight, .-20 upper security, -.50 needing buyer’s email and quiz)


Kathleen: It’s not so often that you get a running shoe that looks one way, but performs another, but I have to say - I am pleasantly surprised by the Hilma. 

I thought that with an overbuilt upper and clean (almost casual-shoe) looks, that running performance would be on the back-burner. Instead, I found the Hilma pleasant for nearly all of my running, and while it isn’t a performance trainer (nor does it advertise itself as one!), runners who just want a do-it-all shoe should give this a serious look . If you’re someone who has a shoe for every type of run workout, I don’t know that this is for you - but if you’re someone who is just starting running, has had trouble finding proper-fitting (women-specific!) running shoes, or just wants a pleasant, everyday trainer, I’d highly recommend Hilma!

Kathleen’s Score: 8.8/10


8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 (RTR Review)

Kathleen: I haven’t dared move into the v3, as the Rebel v2 has been doing overtime as one of my favorite trainers ever post-collegiately. The comparison to the Hilma is an interesting one - the Hilma has a more stable and firm underfoot, and is probably a better choice for off-road running as the Rebel is not great on rocky terrain or uneven roads. But for anything fast, I think the Rebel is more lively and fun, as opposed to the more muted Hilma.

Saucony Tempus  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Tempus is a light stability shoe that also runs very well for neutral runners. The shoe is lightweight for its stack height. Both shoes retail at the same cost. The Tempus is more than 2 full ounces lighter in my women’s size 8. While the Fit Two has a lower drop, it feels like an 8 mm drop (same the Tempus). The Tempus has a gentle roll forward and the Fit Two’s ride is more traditional with a softer midsole. The upper security is better on the Tempus although not as plush. For running performance, I’d choose the Tempus.

Saucony Ride 15 TR  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Ride 15 TR is a road-to-trail version of the road Ride 15. The midsole is much softer and bouncier than the Fit Two’s. Neither are technical trail shoes, although the lugs of the Ride 15 TR are better for trail surfaces and the upper has better security. The Ride 15 TR weighs about 1.5 ounces less in the same size. For running, I’d choose the Ride 15 TR in any instance. Treadmill runners or those looking for a daily/casual use shoe might prefer the Fit Two. Both have roomy toe boxes. 

New Balance 880 v11  (RTR Review)

Renee: I ran the v11 (not the 12), so I suggest reading through the RTR Review of the v12 which has some differences from the v11. Of all shoes, the Fit Two reminds me the most of the 880 v11. Both have plush, comfortable uppers. The security for running purposes is much better in the 880, although the toe box does not have as much room as the Fit Two. The drop is higher at 10 mm, although both shoes ride similarly. For cost and running performance, I’d choose the 880. 

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Trail 4 is a hybrid shoe. I found it much better for trail use than road . The forefoot flex is better in the Trail 4 and it runs quick and nimble on single track. The Fit Two might work for smooth trails, but the security of the upper and overall weight make it more of a road shoe. The Fit Two has more cushion underfoot for longer runs, but at a higher cost and much heavier weight. Sizing is comparable. The Fit Two has a wider overall fit, including the toebox. 

Hoka Challenger 7 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both shoes are hybrid shoes capable of road and light trail. For trail surfaces, I prefer the outsole of the Challenger 7. The Challenger 7 has a Hoka rocker while the Fit Two ride is more traditional. The midsole is more forgiving in the Fit Two. Both have good stack height for long runs, although the Challenger 7 offers more cushion underfoot at a dramatically lower weight. The toebox of the Fit Two is much roomier and overall it’s a wider, more accommodating shoe. I wore a 7.5 in the Challenger 7 and an 8 in the Fit Two. 

ASICS Novablast 3 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Novablast 3 is a well-priced daily trainer capable of fast(ish) speeds with enough cushion for long runs. I prefer it as an easy and long run shoe (one of my favorites). The Novablast 3 does feel somewhat clunky at slow speeds and the over-built heel is not my preference for speed days. The Fit Two does not work well for fast/speed either, but it does work better as a walking/casual shoe. The Novablast 3 is available with a more “trail” outsole, the TR to compare to the Fit Two’s hybrid outsole. For running, the Novablast is a far better option. For walking or casual wear, the Fit Two is better.

PUMA Run XX Nitro (RTR Review)

Renee: The Run XX Nitro is a women’s specific shoe, much like the Fit Two. The Run XX Nitro features a narrow heel with a wide midfoot and toebox. The XX has stability features that felt overbearing for my stride. The Run XX Nitro is lighter than the Fit Two, but both are overly heavy for my preferences. For neutral running, a softer midsole, and more comfortable upper, the Fit Two is the better shoe. 

Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U. S.Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Kathleen is a former collegiate runner for Washington University in St. Louis, where she ran 18:03 for 5000m and 37:52 for 10,000m, and competed at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships. Kathleen now runs recreationally, where she logs miles indoors on the treadmill, or outdoors on the roads, often accompanied by her trusty dog, Waffles.

The Hilma Fit is available from Hilma HERE

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

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