Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Hoka Stinson 7 Review : 5 Comparisons

Article by Jeff Beck and Jeff Valliere

Hoka Stinson 7 ($170)


Jeff B: The Hoka Stinson has been one of the biggest and burliest trail shoes since its inception. It gets bigger, the rest of the running industry catches up, it gets bigger again, 5mm taller and wider than the ATR 6. The 7th time around doesn’t break the cycle, and if anything, it seems like Hoka is getting better at making shoes a little bit wider for those of us who fit a Brannock device just a bit over a D width. And even though it’s still plenty soft with lots of squish, there’s a new midsole design to keep everything a little more stable. But is too much of a good thing still too much?


Outstanding traction. Jeff B/Jeff V

One of the biggest midsole stacks on the market, ultimate protection. Jeff B/Jeff V

Stable platform. Jeff B/Jeff V

Midfoot and toebox are adequate width. Jeff B/Jeff V

Breathable upper. Jeff B/Jeff V

Forefoot rocker isn’t overdoing it, but is effective. Jeff B/Jeff V

Comfort Jeff V


Tips the scales over 13 ounces in a US11. Jeff B

No heel pull tab. Jeff B

Midfoot and toebox are adequate width, another mm or two would be welcome. Jeff B/Jeff V


Weight: men's 12.9 oz  / 365g (US10)  /  women's 10.8oz / 305g (US8)

  Sample: men’s  13.2 oz / 376g US11

Stack Height: men’s      42mm heel / 37mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  40mm heel / 35mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec) 

$170  Available Now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeff: And yet again, the biggest and burliest trail shoe around gets bigger and burlier, and the 5mm of extra stack height and width are immediately noticeable. The shoe’s upper also got a little refined - the last few Stinsons have had a round profile, very similar to the road oriented Bondi. So while the shoe did get heavier with all the extra midsole, it looks a little more dialed in.

Fitwise Hoka sent me an 11D, a half size up from my normal 10.5, though lengthwise they fit just about perfectly with just about a thumb’s width between the end of my big toe and the end of the upper. 

That extra size also translates to a wide enough fit that while no one will mistake the toebox for something from Altra or Topo, this is one of the better (read, wider) toeboxes Hoka has put on their biggest trail shoe.

The midfoot is also wide enough that my feet didn’t feel pinched, though it’s not the roomiest shoe.

The upper is an engineered mesh that’s got a few overlays to give the shoe some solid shape, but not enough to lock the foot in for some hairy technical terrain. It is breathable, and there’s a toe bumper that’s not overly obtrusive. 

The tongue is decently padded, I wouldn’t refer to it as plush, but it’s close, and definitely enough to keep from lace bite. The tongue has a small mesh section on the medial side keeping it in place - think of it as a half gusseted tongue. 

There’s a bit of an elf heel, but between the deep set Hoka signature bucket seat of rising foam side walls and moderately reinforced heel counter, I didn’t experience any heel slip.

Jeff V:  I have run in the first few Stinson’s, as well as the 6 and now the 7.  Even by Hoka standards, the Stinson has been a big shoe and it has only gotten bigger.  Out of the box, I am impressed by the sheer scale of the Stinson, only surpassed by the 10/9 in the Hoka line.  

The 7 is notably larger than the already massive 6, with 5mm more midsole and weighing an extra 0.6 oz. in my US men’s 10 and with a completely new upper and outsole as well.  

Jeff describes the upper well, but he and I had a bit of a role reversal here in our perceptions of fit, as he tested a size up from his normal size.  In my normal size 10, I find that the new upper is very well held and find them to be secure in technical terrain, steep off camber and have full confidence in the foothold.  

When I first tried them on, I found them to be a bit on the narrow side, even for my low volume foot, but after a few runs they broke in a bit and felt slightly more relaxed.  While the fit works well for me, I think one would benefit by sizing up a half size if they have wider feet and/or want a bit more space for longer days.  While I don’t find the Stinson 7 to be the most breezy ventilated shoe, I have been out in 90+ degree temps and never had a problem, so I can report that they regulate temperature well.


Jeff: And now the part that put Hoka on the map, the massive midsole. The Stinson 7 grew 5mm in stack height in both the forefoot and the heel, now up to an enormous 42/37 stack. But it isn’t just one big slab of foam, Hoka is using what they are calling “H-Frame Technology” with two different CMEVA midsole foams intertwined to give a more stable ride. I believe the two levels are slightly different densities/consistencies of CMEVA but I don’t have actual numbers.

The Stinson also has what Hoka refers to as an “early stage MetaRocker™”, which is their long-time take on the modern geometry forward rocker we’ve been seeing in more shoes for the last few years. 

The forefoot swoops up, which helps each step happen just a little bit faster, but in this case it’s subtle so if you are going slow, or even standing still, you don’t feel like you’re going to fall forward.

Probably not a shock, but with 37mm of foam underneath the forefoot, there’s plenty of rock protection even without a rock plate of any type. This type of trail shoe is one that I always think of as a trail cruiser, where you aren’t trying to be nimble as much as just going with the flow. And the Stinson continues to do that very well.

Jeff V:  The CMEVA midsole is impressively effective, providing a very good mix of deep deep cushion, while maintaining enough firmness to not feel mushy, tippy or hard to control.  Stability and protection are impeccable, as the Stinson is the monster truck of trail shoes where you just basically steamroll over any terrain.  

The meta rocker is subtle, but effective, providing just enough to help edge the shoe forward without feeling overly tippy in a forward direction.  While I would never come close to calling this shoe responsive by any means, mostly because of it sheer bulk and weight, yet the CMEVA midsole feels effective, efficient and appropriate for long distances.


Jeff: Hoka didn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to outsoles, but this version has subtle improvements over previous iterations. The rubber is noticeably softer than the Stinson 5, and as a result it has better traction. 

It still has various lugs all over the shoe that seem to be multi-directional - which has come in handy going down some pretty slick terrain. The lugs also have far more texture than earlier versions, also to aid in traction. There’s still some exposed midsole, but it’s in the very center of the shoe, and has much less exposed foam than it used to have. The shoe’s platform is very wide, and there’s tacky rubber covering most of it, so traction isn’t anything most people are ever going to have a problem with. Durability seems good too, with all of the textured lugs still intact after more than 20 miles of mixed use.

Jeff V:  The outsole has been completely redesigned, with more sticky rubber compound, less foam, and sharper more aggressive and textured lugs.  I found traction to be very good on all of the terrain I have run/hiked in Colorado, Montana (Glacier National Park) and Wyoming, be it loose gravel, slabby rocks, steep off trail, snow and even in the limited wet conditions I encountered, wet traction seemed to be good as well  With 60+ rough miles, durability thus far is proving to be excellent.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff: The closest comparison I can make to bombing down a trail in the Stinson 7 is a full-suspension wide tired mountain bike. You feel everything, kind of. The weight of the shoe doesn’t hinder its performance because the ultra thick midsole is the very essence of its performance. There’s a little more rebound to the shoe, but ultimately it’s about softening the blow as each footfall lands.

I effectively wore out two different pairs of the Stinson 5 a few years ago, and while this shoe is bigger in virtually every way, it feels far more refined than the 5. It’s more cushioned, but not remotely mushy (though the 5 bordered on mushy, so you figure that part out), the traction is much improved, but mostly the fit has gotten substantially better. It’s a Hoka with a very adequate toebox, and that’s something I’ve been hoping for for more than decade. There’s no getting around its substantial heft, but I’m not sure there’s anywhere they could pare things down to get the weight down by appreciable amounts. It’s not my first pick for technical terrain, but for easier trails to all day events, it is absolutely going to be the first shoe I reach for going forward. It also runs well on the road, making the king of cush more versatile than it should be - and easily infringing on its road brethren, the Bondi, territory.

Jeff's Score 9.43/10

Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 10 (10%) Style: 9 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)


Jeff V:  The Stinson 7 is an absolute beast of a shoe, one you can run all day, steamroll any terrain and be no worse for the wear. With it’s massive stack height, wide platform, stable and predictable ride, great traction, the Stinson 7 is a fine pick for long long runs on just about any terrain, handling technical terrain surprisingly well (for such a big shoe) and cruising along efficiently.  

While I have run in them and they perform well for slower paces and recovery runs on moderate to less technical terrain, I personally am more inclined to reach for them for long hikes, like back to back hikes my wife and I did in Glacier National Park that were 20+ miles with ~5,000 vertical each day. The Stinson 7 was an ideal choice for the varied terrain and time on feet.  I see them more of a fast hiker that you can easily run in if you feel so inclined (or get chased by a violent thunderstorm and have to make a break for it, as was recently the case).

Jeff V’s Score: 9.3/10

Ride: 9 (30%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 9 (10%) Style: 9 (5%) Traction: 9 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)


5 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Stinson ATR 6 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The 6 has a bit more roomy fit and I think is more appropriate for long slow distances, where the 7 has a more refined and dialed in fit, offering more confidence in technical terrain.  The 7 weighs more, but is really not all that noticeable, as they are both very large shoes that are not all that lightweight anyways and in the 7 get 5mm more cushion and a much better outsole.

Hoka Bondi 8 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: Bondi 8:“I’m the most cushioned Hoka!”

Stinson 7 “Hold my beer.”

In the battle between the Hoka heavy cushioning heavyweights, there’s really one clear winner. While the Bondi is almost an ounce lighter, it doesn’t really feel it, and the subtle-but-effective rocker of the Stinson makes it run faster than its road-restricted brother. The built up outsole of the Stinson also makes it the more durable choice, and even though the Bondi toe box is a bit more pliable with no toe bumper, the Stinson’s wider platform makes it the easy choice.

Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: I’ve long had a tenuous relationship with the Speedgoat and it’s lack of width; when worn against the Stinson 7 the difference is borderline painful after just a couple of minutes. I will give the Speedgoat its due, the hold on the foot is much greater, allowing you to attempt just about any terrain with confidence, but every other aspect of the shoe has the Stinson winning by a country mile. It’s not just the amount of cushioning, it’s the quality of it.

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat fits my foot well, but I find them best for half day runs and are superior in technical terrain and are much lighter, faster and runnable than the Stinson.  The Stinson is better though for longer distances at hiking speeds or slow run paces.

Altra Olympus 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: The Olympus is Altra’s biggest trail shoe, and while it easily wins the wide toebox contest, it doesn’t have nearly the midsole stack to play with the Stinson. It does have a similarly robust platform width, which gives the shoe much better traction than its fairly tame lugs would suggest, but the midsole doesn’t offer the same level of protection, especially under the forefoot.

ASICS Trabuco Max 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: ASICS really hit it out of the park with a max cushion trail shoe with an accommodating fit, decent traction, and an exciting midsole. But when worn against the Stinson the midsole is still exciting, but it’s a far cry from max cushion. The TM2 has a little more interior width and toebox space, and it also has a forefoot rocker. But the Stinson’s overall platform is so much wider (~10mm wider in the forefoot and nearly 20mm wider in the heel) that just makes the shoe that much more planted. I’m still impressed with the TM2, especially considering how little ASICS likes to play in the dirt, but the Stinson really outclasses it.

Jeff V:  The TM2 is lighter, quicker and more agile and has a more relaxed fit, yet one that is still secure enough for technical terrain.  The Stinson is much more maximal, protective and wider/more stable-not that I have any stability issues with the TM2 .

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v3 (RTR Review)

Jeff B: The only shoe on this list that’s legitimately bigger than the Stinson, the FFMTv3 is just a little bit taller (by 2mm), kind of a hair wider (2mm in the forefoot, 3 mm narrower in the heel), and surprisingly just a little bit lighter - and it’s noticeably softer than the Stinson. That said, it doesn’t have nearly the usability of the Hoka. The ultra soft midsole lets you sink in, and you don’t really ever escape, while the Hoka soft-but-not-mushy midsole doesn’t let you sink in, and the forefoot rocker keeps you moving forward. Also, the traction of the Hoka is substantially better than the New Balance, and I’d argue that its firmer midsole is also better rock protection. The New Balance wins the toebox war, but the model they sent me was a 2E instead of D width, so it’s not exactly apples-to-apples. Both are trail behemoths, but the FFMTv3 is arguably too big to be of service on the trail, while the Stinson doesn’t lose its effectiveness on the dirt.

Jeff V:  Jeff nails it, agreed on all points.  I tested both in normal D widths and I do find the NB to be more comfortably accommodating in the toe box, however foothold is not good and on that high of a stack of soft foam, they are really sketchy on even mellow trails.  The Stinson is much more trail competent, the foam is firmer and more predictable, yet is still forgiving.

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Tester Profiles

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 20 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.

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 ski (all forms) 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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Martin said...

What about comparison between Topo Ultraventure 3 and Hoka Mafate Speed 4? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Looks very interesting!
Give me some more colorways, dammit. The Stinson 6 had only one or only few, at least I always only saw one version for sale.

Jeff said...

Hi Martin,

I haven't run in the Mafate Speed 4, but Jeff Valliere did - and he will be chiming in on this review once he's got a few more miles in the Stinson and I'm sure he'll include a comparison.

As for the Ultraventure 3, I didn't include it in comparisons because it's so much less cushioned. While it's Topo's most cushioned trail shoe, it's nearly 10mm less under both the forefoot and heel, which is substantial. That said, the Topo toebox (and overall fit) is much wider, it's considerably lighter, fit isn't quite as dialed in, and traction/durability is much less than the Hoka. The upper of the Topo is also more breathable.

Anonymous - I'm 100% with you. I don't hate either of the two colorways out thus far, but don't really love 'em either. I had the navy and green in the Stinson 5 (in half size up 11 and full size up 11.5 for the second half of my 50 mile race in 2019) and was even more underwhelmed with those options, so at least things are trending in the right direction.

Adam said...

I love these shoes. I've been fighting plantar fasciitis, and these shoes have allowed me to go further with zero foot problems for my first few runs. Huzzah!! Soóo ugly though. Why do runners feel the need to dress like tropical birds? Black is always the first color way to sell out in every running shoe because it's the best. I want shoes not plumage. These colors are like someone is trying to be funny by making people look like clowns.

Jeff Valliere said...

Adam, agreed, these are not the most stylish shoe/colorway. Wish more companies would always offer a classy subtle grey/blue combo as default.

Martin, I find the Mafate Speed 4 to be more of a runnable shoe, as it is lighter, more compact and agile (relatively speaking), but it is also more narrow and I find them to be less stable in tech terrain. If you can find a closeout Mafate Speed 3, do that, one of my favorites!

Anonymous said...

How would you compare this to the Speedland GS TAM? Looking for an all day shoe that can do trail and maybe some road. Stinson seems like good option but also interested in the Speedland. Have a non technical first 50k coming up.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%
I have plantar faciitis and while I love the design of these shoes they come in the of the ugliest color combos one ever seen in my life. 80's disco hell. I'm considering buying some blaxk spray on fabric paint just to attempt to cover them up. I feel like it's an epic marketing fail that they don't realize how ugly the colors are... they did one nice color combo in their speedgoat 5 line (duffel bag and thyme) which has u surprisingly sold out everywhere. With a few pairs on eBay selling in the $250 range!

Marcus said...

I'm so confused by this shoe. My main shoe is Arahi 6. Compared to Arahi the cushioning in the Stinson 7 is listed as plush, while the Arahi 6 is listed as moderate. But I don't think the Stinson is even half as plush as the Arahi. For me the Stinson is a very burly and stiff shoe, I don't even wanna run on roads with it.

I mainly run trails and I still like the shoe quite a bit. But it's not what it's supposed to be. Maybe I just got a faulty pair.