Sunday, March 05, 2023

Hoka Trail Code GTX Review - The Ultimate Hiking Boot?

Article by Jeff Valliere

Hoka Trail Code GTX ($185)

Introduction:  Made with responsible manufacturing practices, featuring recycled content mesh and recycled polyester laces, 100% recycled textile ripstop upper, the Trail Code is a Gore Tex wrapped hiker with added topically applied water repellency treatment and a waterproof membrane bootie construction.  

The Trail Code has a plushly cushioned compression molded EVA midsole, late stage Meta-Rocker and even a Molded PU sockliner with 50% soybean oil.  Traction is superb with a Vibram Megagrip outsole and 5mm lugs.  While a touch on the heavy side, the Trail Code offers amazing performance for wet, rugged or snowy outings.

Pros: Comfort, cushion, waterproofing, recycled content, traction, protection, durability

Cons: A touch on the heavy side (but a fair trade for all that is offered)


Weight - Official: 15.3 oz/434g US Men’s 9

Sample weight: 16oz/453g US Men’s 10

Stack height: 30mm heel/24mm forefoot (6mm drop)

Available now: $185

First Impressions/Fit/Upper:

Out of the box, it is obvious the Trail Code is a full on Hiking Boot and NOT a maximal running shoe that you can hike in, as it is heavy, sturdy and more well constructed/protected than even the most burly trail runners I have seen.  At 1lb per shoe in my US Men’s 10, I needed to recalibrate my expectations a bit, but once I thought of it as more of a better alternative to the classic leather hiking boot, I was all in!

The upper is very thick and protective from water, with a Gore Tex liner, additional water repellency treatment and has a waterproof membrane bootie construction.  It has a bit of a thick, crinkly feel and sound to it at first, but softens over time with use and getting it wet several times.

Additionally, the upper is very well protected from impact, with a burly toe bumper, thick welded rands and a tall, well padded collar to protect from rocks or chaffing your ankle with traction devices.

The bootie construction is comfortable and one can see that the Gore lining rides high for deep plunges in water.

Lacing is secure and provides a nice solid compression over the midfoot and the lace hooks are very sturdy and made of metal.

Waterproofing is excellent, as I have doused them in mud, slush and puddles without any seepage.  They are quite warm on cold days, with no issues even walking/hiking in temps below zero.  This will be a warm boot in the summer though and I will for sure lean towards a more minimal breathable trail runner, but in the Fall/Winter/Spring when conditions are cold, wet, snowy, the Trail Code is a great choice.

Fit is true to size with just enough room when wearing a medium thickness wool sock, but if you want to wear thicker socks, consider sizing up a half size.  The heel and midfoot are very secure, as is the toe box, but there is not much extra room in the toe box and if you have wider feet, you may want to reconsider (as of this date, I don’t see a wide version).


The compression molded EVA midsole is appropriate for the job of a hiking boot and provides a very stable, predictable, well cushioned, yet supportive platform.  It actually feels much more like a trail running shoe underfoot than you would find in a typical boot (I have not used a traditional hiking boot in many years, but have always found them to be overly firm and harsh underfoot).  The Trail Code midsole feels very soft, comfortable and dynamic and feels lighter than its weight would suggest.  The late stage Meta-Rocker also greatly contributes to the easy forward motion of the shoe and while not responsive by any means, they are great for effortless all day hikes and would be plenty substantial enough for backpacking.

The Swallow tail heel for me is neither here nor there, I don’t find that it gets in the way (often), but I do not find any real advantage to it either.


The Vibram Megagrip outsole is top notch, with a sticky rubber compound and aggressive, well spaced/positioned lugs for maximum grip on a wide variety of terrain.  I have found the outsole to grip well on packed snow, frozen snow, moderate ice (within reason of course), wet rock, mud, loose off trail, you name it, grip is confidence inspiring and durability thus far is proving to be excellent.

Ride: The ride is smooth, well cushioned, yet very supportive and predictable for long days on the trail hiking on any surface or terrain with superior protection and confidence.  

Conclusions/Recommendations: The Trail Code GTX is a great alternative to traditional hiking boots that are historically heavy, stiff, clunky and have inferior traction.  The Trail Code feels much much lighter on the foot, better cushioned, more lively and dynamic, with excellent waterproofing and superior traction.  I would recommend them to anyone looking for a durable, protective and waterproof hiking shoe for Fall/Winter/Spring, or even summer in cooler, wet climates or the high mountains.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.7/10

Ride: 10 - For a hiking boot, the ride can’t be beat

Fit: 9 - Those with wide feet beware

Value: 10 - for such a high quality, durable, fully featured and performance oriented hiking boot, $185 is a bargain.

Style: 9.5 

Traction: 10 - top notch, class leading traction

Rock Protection: 10 - bomber protection, never once a jab

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Trail Code GTX available now!
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Trail Code GTX available now!
Men's & Women's  SHOP 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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