Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hoka Torrent 3 Multi Tester Review: 8 Comparisons

Article by Dom Layfield, Shannon Payne and Jeff Valliere

Hoka Torrent 3 ($130 )


Dom:  The Torrent is something of an outlier for Hoka, a brand inevitably associated with ‘maximalist’, super-cushioned footwear. Compared to their signature trail running offerings (like the Speedgoat 5, with 28 mm of cushion in the forefoot), the Torrent has a much more svelte 18 mm of stack up front. The Torrent is best suited to shorter distances on trail, and performs best on softer ground.


  • Lower stack makes the shoe nicely stable.  Dom, Shannon, Jeff

  • Competitive pricing.  Dom, Jeff

  • Striking looks.  Dom, Shannon

  • No real weaknesses.  Dom, Shannon

  • Versatility in terms of both technical and more tame terrain. Shannon, Jeff

  • Accommodating fit that allows for plenty of room without feeling boxy. Shannon, Jeff


  • Harsh ride on pavement. Trail-only shoes.  Dom, Jeff

  • Traction on wet rock disappointing.  Dom, Jeff

  • Lacking in personality.  Dom

  • Underfoot protection in rocky terrain.  Jeff


Approx. Weight: men's 9.1 oz  / 258g (US9)

  Sample: US M10 9.6 oz  / 272  g

Stack Height: 

men’s 23 mm heel / 18 mm forefoot ( 5 mm drop) 

women’s  21 mm heel / 16 mm forefoot (5mm drop)

$130. Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Dom:  Recent shoes from Hoka (Tecton-X, Challenger 7) have used a thin, but tough mesh upper, so it was a surprise to me that Torrent 3 has a multilayer, foam-filled upper, which seems more at home in a ‘comfort’ shoe.  The forefoot is a little narrower than I expected, but in keeping with the Challenger last.

Shannon: I have not run in the Torrent since the original, and it was a most excellent trail shoe and has remained one of my favorites. I was thrilled with the opportunity to try version 3, and could only hope that Hoka didn’t veer too far off of what made the original Torrent so great: a lower profile, versatile, lightweight yet protective ride without a lot of bells and whistles that handled a variety of trail surfaces with ease. Out of the gate, I was not disappointed.

Upon unboxing my pair, I will say that although I’m not one to be picky about color, Hoka sure knows how to make a fun looking shoe and you could see these coming from a mile away. The outsole, midsole, and overall profile of the shoe wasn’t much different from the original Torrent that I ran so many miles in, so needless to say I was already excited. Lastly, I have finally learned to drop down a half a size in Hoka at this point, and while I am normally a women’s 8, my 7.5’s were a perfect fit. The shoe’s interior has ample space and is very accommodating, but accomplishes that without feeling boxy or sloppy. 

Jeff V:  I have run in all 3 versions of the Torrent and the Torrent 3 carries on the torch respectfully with just a very minor update to the upper and an update to the outsole compound to “improve grip on uneven terrain”.  

Out of the box the Torrent 3 looks very familiar and feels very similar upon step in and lace up.  Hoka claims to have stripped back the upper to improve breathability and while I do find the 3rd version to be a little more breathable, the upper is not lighter or more minimal than the previous version (both are somewhat beefy uppers for the relative faster/lighter intent of the Torrent).

Above Torrent 2 left, Torrent 3 right,  you can see the more open ventilation in the toe box.  The toe bumper has changed slightly as well, to be a bit more pared down and less of a full wrap rand, but this is unnoticeable and offers the same protection, though may not offer as much water protection.

Fit is true to size and the security is very good, enough to hold my feet generally well in technical terrain, though I do feel a bit of movement when pressing hard on the steeps/off camber terrain. However it is manageable with a predictable feel and strikes a good balance between comfort and control.

Running in the Torrent 2 vs. the 3 in a side by side test, I honestly cannot detect a difference between the two, though the 3 might have just a smidge more room in the forefoot and a touch more ceiling height.


Dom:  Compared to most Hoka shoes, there’s a lot less midsole here.  The lower stack height (23/18 mm in men’s, 21/16 mm in women’s) and snug upper make the shoe nicely stable.  But the trade-off is that there’s not much cushioning.  This shoe feels great on soft ground, but can feel under-cushioned on rocky trails, and definitely harsh on pavement.

Shannon: If you’re looking for the uber-plush ride that’s typical of Hoka, this midsole doesn’t deliver that feel. What it does deliver is a stable, lower-profile platform with just enough material between your foot and the ground to allow for a nimble ride and just enough protection to tackle a variety of trail surfaces and feel confident doing so. 

Jeff V:  The midsole remains unchanged from the second version.  As I described in my Torrent 2 review, the ProFly midsole is quick, responsive, firm and I find that the cushioning, while not pillowy, is very comfortable and compliant for long runs without feeling beat up, offering more than the 23/18 stack would suggest.

While there is no rockplate, there is plenty of protection and I really was only reminded of its absence when running fast in rocky technical terrain and the occasional misstep on a pointy rock, but the impact is generally minimal

Ground feel and flexibility are excellent, especially in comparison to other Hokas without me being overly aware of pointy rocks or sharp features underfoot.


Dom:  Although not 100% of the sole is covered by the outsole, the overall coverage is high, with just a few small areas of midsole exposed to improve flexibility and save weight.  The outsole thickness really helps with rock protection, which was surprisingly good for a comparatively low-stack shoe.  The toothy lug pattern has good bite, and provides excellent traction on soft ground.   On hard, gritty surfaces, the grip was decent, but nothing special.  Friction on wet rock, however, was notably disappointing.

Shannon: The 5mm lugs handle dry, hard-packed terrain and gravel as well as wet, soft-ground type conditions with ease. Where the Torrent did deliver a bit of a surprise disappointment was on slick-rock type terrain, particularly climbing and descending such terrain, where the purchase was not much better than a road shoe. That said, the outsole grip is solid but worth re-thinking if you find your run is going to feature much of  that type of terrain.

Jeff V:  At first glance, the outsole appears to be the same, same look, same lug design pattern, but upon closer inspection, the rubber compound has changed , where Hoka claims to provide improved grip on uneven terrain.  Dom and Shannon describe its performance well and I can also report that while traction is good in dry conditions, loose terrain, soft ground, off trail, snow, slush and mud, traction is below average in wet conditions, especially on wet rock and slab, where I find myself being very tentative.  I will say that outsole durability of version 2 was somewhat lacking with a softer compound that showed somewhat of an accelerated rate of wear, but version 3 feels more durable to the touch and that is backed up by showing almost no signs of wear thus far after 30 miles of hard use.  If you run in mostly dry conditions, I think you will be pleased with traction, but I would not recommend this shoe for wet conditions or prolonged steep rock/slab sort of use (again, especially not when wet).


Dom:  The relatively low stack height and lack of rocker make the Torrent 3 ride feel harsh on pavement and on rocky trails.   On the other hand, the shoe excels on soft ground, where it feels stable and grippy, and with excellent ground feel. 


Shannon: I love the ride of this shoe every bit as much as the original version that I have previously run in. For those who like a sure-footed, stable, closer to the ground feel that’s responsive and doesn’t deliver any added squish or bulk, it’s excellent. 

Jeff V:  The ride of the Torrent 3 is the same as the 2, where I find the ride to be very smooth and forgiving, while providing great response, speed and agility for fast runs on all but the most rocky, all mountain alpine terrain .  I find my legs feeling fresher than expected, even after long, very hard downhills, especially when comparing it to other shoes with similar stats.  There seems to be magic in this combination. Hoka has done exceptionally well here, again.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dom:  Compared to Torrent 2, Hoka didn’t change much in this update.  The upper is new, and supposedly lighter, but T3 weighs about the same as T2.  The midsole is apparently unchanged.  Outsole mold appears identical, but with reformulated rubber.  That’s absolutely fine, as there wasn’t much wrong with the Torrent 2.

Like the Torrent 2, the sweet spot for the Torrent 3 is shorter, faster runs, especially on soft ground.  In this environment, the Torrent excels, feeling secure, nimble, and stable. Personally, I found the forefoot a little under cushioned to go long distances on hard surfaces.   

Shannon: If you like road shoes like the Kinvara, the Launch, the Rincon and trail shoes like the Peregrine and Terra Kiger, or other lighter weight, slightly lesser cushioned shoes with everything you need but nothing you don’t, you’re going to love the Torrent 3 and it’s going to rock your world. If you’re expecting the traditional, hyper-cushioned, rocker-type feel typical of Hoka, you’re going to be disappointed. 

I loved the original version of the Torrent, never ran in version 2, and was so relieved that few things had changed about version 3. I found it to be an excellent, just-enough-cushion trail shoe that accommodated a big variety of terrain over a good amount of distance. It’s light, it’s nimble, and it latches on to most surfaces with the exception of anything with a smooth, slicker surface such as climbing or descending smoother rock surfaces, which is where it fell a little short of a higher score. Overall though, it’s a splendid, simple shoe that gets the job done and I hope Hoka continues to keep it in the rotation.

Shannon’s Score: 9/10.


Jeff V: The improvements here over version 2 are very minimal, with the advantages being a slightly more breathable upper and better outsole durability.  Versatility, weight, cushioning and performance all convene here, making the Torrent 3 ideal for just about anything, daily training, uptempo training, PR or FKT attempts and certainly racing at about any distance on all but the most rocky, technical high mountain terrain and especially NOT when wet.  If you liked the 2nd version, you will for sure be very satisfied with the 3rd, but I would say there is no need to run out and buy the 3rd version if you have not yet worn out your pair of version 2.  If you can find a discount on the 2nd version, I would for sure suggest doing so.

Jeff V’s Score:  9./10


Ride: 10

Fit: 9 I have a thin foot. I still feel a touch of movement under certain circumstances, but likely not an issue if you have a fuller foot than mine or are not pushing in tech terrain.

Value:  10 at $130 (a $10 increase), this shoe is a great value for all that it offers.  The increase in price is worth it for the added outsole durability alone.

Style:  9.5 subjective, but I think it looks very sharp.

Traction:  8.5 - wet traction is lacking

Rock Protection:  8.75  Very good for not having (or needing?) a rock plate, however if on rocky terrain moving fast, expect a zinger here and there.  Still very good though.


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Testing wet surface grip!

Hoka Torrent 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V: Compared throughout.  Essentially the same shoe, though the 3 has slightly better ventilation with the new upper and for sure a more resilient outsole.

Hoka Challenger 7  (RTR review)

Dom:  Challenger is both more heavily cushioned and (surprisingly) lighter.  But Torrent is more stable, and has better ground feel.  In some ways, the Torrent falls in a no-man's-land between minimal and heavily-cushioned shoes, and left me a little underwhelmed: it’s a very capable shoe with no glaring weaknesses, but it’s just not very exciting.  Personally, I preferred the Challenger, even with its titanic heel at 31mm vs. 23mm here.  

Shannon: To me, the Challenger 7 just feels like an absolute tank of a trail shoe compared to the Torrent. The difference in feel between these two is tremendous, but it doesn’t need to be said that they’re tremendously different shoes. The Challenger will offer similar grip, although not quite as aggressive as the Torrent's, as well as a greater amount of cushion for those who feel that the Torrent is just not protective enough and too harsh of a ride. 

Hoka Torrent 3 (right) compared to Hoka Challenger 7 (left).  Challenger heel is monstrous in comparison.

Jeff V:  Two very different shoes.  The Challenger 7 has much more stack and cushion and a better choice for longer distances on less technical terrain, where the Torrent is a better pick for shorter distances on more technical terrain where stability and ground feel are a priority.

Hoka Zinal (RTR review)

Dom:  Hoka describes the intended use of Torrent 3 as “lightweight trail running” and Zinal as “trail racing”.   Torrent is generally a little stiffer and with less compliant upper.  Stack heights are similar, but Zinal comes in about ½ oz lighter.  I find that Zinal is a much more engaging ride, with more ground feel than the Torrent.  The roomier last of the Zinal also suits my foot better.  On the other hand, Torrent is cheaper ($130 vs $160 MSRP) and has a toothier outsole that may make it a better match for soft ground.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Dom.  The Zinal is lighter, more responsive and has even better ground feel, which can be an advantage for shorter races at high speed on less technical terrain, where the Torrent would be a better choice if you needed more lug in loose terrain.

Nike Terra Kiger 8 (RTR Review)

Shannon: Two fantastic options for those who like “just enough” trail shoe to move fast, feel nimble, and have just enough protection underfoot. These shoes could be close cousins with how similar they feel in terms of that low-to-the-ground, stable feel. Where they do differ is the Terra Kiger’s glove-like fit, versus the Torrent’s roomier, more accommodating interior. Interestingly, despite the Torrent’s more aggressive appearing outsole, I often felt like I had better grip on a number of surfaces in the Terra Kiger. Regardless, both are fantastic options for those seeking lighter weight and protection in one package.

Jeff V:  I had a slightly different experience to Shannon, with the Kiger being less secure in the upper, though traction is somewhat similar (good in the dry, but lacking in wet), with the Torrent being better in steep, loose terrain.

Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Shannon: Again, two fantastic options for those not wanting an overly-plush feeling ride. The Xodus Ultra however, delivers a little bit more of a protective ride, and has a burlier outsole. I like the fit and feel a little better overall in the Torrent, as it simply felt like it moved with my foot better. Overall the biggest difference between these two lies in the fact that the Xodus Ultra is overall a more aggressive trail shoe.

Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2  (RTR Review)

Dom:  V2 of Trailfly G 270 (formerly known as Terraultra G 270) just launched, but the shoe is substantially unchanged.  Weight-wise, the shoes are within a few grams of each other.  G 270 has slightly more cushion in the forefoot and comparable heel stack (around 22 mm, zero drop vs 23/18 mm for Torrent 3) .  

For me, the difference is stark: Torrent 3 feels slightly under cushioned in the forefoot, providing an overly firm ride when not on soft ground.  G 270 feels generally softer and more flexible.  Since I have no problem with zero-drop, I much prefer the bouncier, more cushioned ride of the G 270, which remains low enough to the ground that it remains very stable.   However, one must remark on the substantial price difference: Torrent 3 is a competitive $130, Trailfly G 270 is $170.  That said, I expect Inov-8 durability to be excellent, as V1 had excellent durability, and Inov-8 claims that V2 upper fabric is more durable.  I may be dead wrong, but the soft, foamy fabric of Torrent 3 forefoot doesn’t seem promising. 

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Mountain Racer 2 is a bit more burly, weighing about an ounce more and is not quite as quick as the Torrent 3, but is more protective and offers better cushioning and protection for longer runs, has far superior traction and a more roomy forefoot for long distance comfort.

Topo Athletic MT-4 (RTR Review)

Dom:  Of all the Topo Athletic trail shoes, the MT-4 $125 seems the closest match to Torrent 3.  This is another shoe that prioritizes lightness and ground feel over plush cushioning.   At 25/22 mm official stack specs, it has slightly more height than Torrent 3 (23/18 mm).   MT-4 is more flexible, has a wider forefoot, and arguably better grip with Vibram outsole rubber.  Torrent 3 feels a little stiffer, with firmer ride.  My choice would be MT-4, which feels like a more balanced shoe than Torrent 3.  But I’ve always found that Topo shoes fit my foot well.  Runners with narrower feet, or those who prefer a higher-drop shoe might prefer Torrent 3.

The Hoka Torrent 3 is available at our partners below

Tester Profiles

Dom 51, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  In 2019, his only notable finish was at the multi-day Dragon’s Back race in the UK.  In 2022 Dom finished 4th in the Angeles Crest 100 and was 10th in his age group at UTMB.

Shannon is a Colorado native currently residing in Northern California. NorCal is nice, but Colorado will always be home. Having run competitively for around 20 years, she was a 7x All American at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was a 2x member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, 2x winner of the Mt. Washington Road Race, and was 3rd at the 2014 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship. While running will always have her heart, she recently segued into DEKAfit and qualified for the 2022 World Championships. Looking ahead, she has goals of doing more DEKAfit (only faster and better), more gravel bike races, the Mt. Washington double (the running race and bike race in the same year), and returning to the Pikes Peak Ascent podium.Her favorite shoes currently include the Hoka Torrent and Saucony Kinvara, and her favorite runs include anything that goes uphill. 

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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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Jeff Valliere said...


Anonymous said...

I use the Speedgoat's Ortholite insole with the Torrent and the ride is smooth as butter. The original Torrent insole is quite dull and deforms easily with use, tbh.

PAP said...

The only thing this shoes need is a vibram sole. As it is those are not durable enough to be considered as trail shoes.
I shredded several lugs after only 16k of mountain trail (rocky but not extremely harsh terrain).
I sent mine back and went for the peregrine 13 instead. It's shame really because they have the perfect blend of comfort and dynamism imho.