Thursday, February 01, 2024

Hoka Arahi 7 Review

Article by Matt Kolat 

Hoka Arahi 7 ($145)

Introduction


Matt: Hoka is one of those brands that I have been curious about ever since it started running many years ago. It is the brand that started the maximalist movement in running back in the day when minimalism was all the jazz. That was a big risk but it paid off, next time you go on a run, try and count how many other runners you can spot wearing max cushioned shoes and compare that to how many pass you by in Five Fingers.


 The Arahi is a Hoka’s lighter stability option, compared to the Gaviota (my review). It has a firm ride. Let’s have a closer look at what’s under the bonnet (that’s under the hood if you are based on the west side of the big pond). 


Pros

  • Feels light (Matt)

  • Fast for a stability shoe (Matt)

  • Fresh looks (Matt)

  • Plenty stable without a post (Matt)

  • Feels broad and secure on landing (Matt)

Cons

  • Gave me a hot spot (Matt)

  • Outsole longevity not bad for a Hoka but still below industry standards (Matt)

  • Tongue too short (Matt)

  • ZERO reflectivity (Matt)


Stats

Sample Weight: men’s 11.5 UK / 12 US:  11.4oz / 324g US9  9.6oz / 272g

Stack Height: men’s  34mm heel / 29mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec) 

€150  / $145 / £129.99 Available at our partner SportsShoes.com HERE


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Matt: When I first got the shoe out of the box I thought it looked really fresh and modern, it also felt very light in hand. 


The shoe fits me in my usual Hoka size, which is a half size up from nearly every other brand. 

The upper I would describe as a thick, very structured knit. There is ample padding around the heel collar and the heel counter is semi-structured. 

I had no problems in terms of lockdown and hold. 


The most unfortunate part of the upper is the lack of reflectivity. Dear Hoka - please fix that, unless by daily trainer you meant a shoe that’s only intended for day time running. 


As mentioned in the cons of the review the tongue is very short and bunches into the inside of the shoe when I put the Arahi’s on despite being fully gusseted. Despite all this negativity I have to admit that the foothold itself is excellent, absolutely nothing to complain about. 

The fit of the shoe is quite tapered. I don’t run in extra  wide shoes but my feet are slightly wider than average. The heel part of the shoe fit me very well but the midfoot and forefoot felt slightly too narrow. Especially the midfoot where I experienced slight overhang which I guess contributed to my hotspot. 


Midsole

Matt: The Arahi midsole is made from CMEVA (Compression Molded EVA) and is definitely on the stiffer, firmer end of the spectrum. This is something I personally prefer in daily trainers but for people looking for a bit of energy return, springiness or softness this shoe might be challenging. 

The J frame is still in place as it was from the conception of the Arahi series. For those who are unfamiliar with this technology the J frame is a J shaped wedge of firmer foam running along the medial side of the midsole and curving into the heel area. It is a modern take on a medial posting without giving the runner the sensation of a plastic wedge pushing against the arch. (Please check out the final section of the review where I give a quick comparison of Arahi’s J frame and Gaviota’s H frame.) When it comes to the width of the CMEVA midsole it is not particularly wide however it does feel wide during the run, which contributes to a sense of security - a very big positive for me. 


Outsole

Matt: Hoka’s outsoles are always a mixed bag for me. I do get really good traction from them and Arahi is no different. That said however, be it road or trail Hoka’s wear and tear of the outsole is always somewhat of an achilles’ heel of any of their models. Arahi is no different. It is not as bad as the wear I’ve managed to achieve on Gaviota but still far too worn compared with other brands which set similar price points. 


The rubber coverage is only about 50% of the midsole and this has two effects - reduces weight but also contributes to the wear of the shoe. It is particularly surprising to me that there is no rubber coverage on the medial side of the shoe where overpronators (target audience of the shoe) will put more stress through the gait cycle rather than the lateral side where there is plenty of rubber. Perhaps a design decision that should be revisited for the future models of Arahi.

 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations.

Matt: My first run was a bit of a mixed bag experience. The reason for that was because the shoe gave me a hot spot in the right foot, somewhere right in the middle of the mid foot, where the edge of the medial side of my foot rests on top of the sockliner. I’ve had issues like this before but not for a few years. If you are prone to such hot spots I would recommend giving Arahi a go on the treadmill first and perhaps judge if a wide version suits you better. Nothing that a simple plaster won't fix, which I have applied for all future runs and the hot spot did not bother me again. 


A word of warning about breaking the shoe in. It felt slightly different for the first 10km than in other runs, specifically the medial side of the shoe felt very firm on the first run and once broken in it has blended into the rest of the midsole without sacrificing stability. The J Frame adapting to my stride characteristics? 


As with most of my recent reviews, the first few runs in Arahi were done on a treadmill. This is partially not by choice (the weather in the NE of Scotland has recently been awful) and partially has become a part of my reviewing process. 


I think treadmill running gets far too much stick and hate, it is not as bad as people make it out to be. The key is to make it a bit more interesting and fun. What I do is try to make my treadmill run progressively harder by increasing the pace and setting up a playlist where songs become much more fun and hyped as the run gets hard. 


I have to say that Arahi in the above scenario was an absolute delight. The shoe is quite firm and there is very little rocker like feeling which I find a very satisfying combo on a treadmill. When it comes to road running what we are dealing with is a shoe that runs much lighter than it actually weighs and is mainly intended for runners who enjoy a firm, snappy ride (for a stability shoe of course). I had no issues on pavement be it dry or wet, taking corners is something that comes very naturally in this shoe, I've never worried I will roll an ankle.  


When it comes to changes I would recommend for this shoe there would be three main aspects. 


First, increase the room in the midfoot and toe box - this one is partially alleviated by the wide version of Arahi being widely available (see what I did there, Dad jokes are always in, no matter what people say). 


Second, I would like Hoka to come up with a new rubber compound to increase the lifespan of the outsole and particularly put more rubber on the medial side of the shoe where a lot of pressure takes place in a gait cycle of an overpronator. 


Third, would be adding reflective details to the shoe. This is particularly important to me personally because I live in the northern part of the northern hemisphere where during a good chunk of the year we get very little daylight outside of ‘usual’ working hours - I want to feel safe in my shoes.


If you are in the market for a stability shoe that feels firm and snappy, in a world where this is harder and harder to come by, in other words a world of super trainere Arahi might just be the shoe for you. If you want to find out how the shoe compares to some other recent stability shoes please keep on reading!

Score: 8.5/10


Comparisons

ASICS GT-2000 12 (RTR Review)

Probably my favourite stability shoe at the moment. It would take a truly amazing shoe to come even close to it, in its category. Arahi is much firmer and with a duller ride, but if you prefer that kind of cushioning Arahi might be more suitable for you. Arahi also can be better for runners who prefer a good level of traditional stability on the medial side of the shoe as GT approaches stability in a progressive, modern way - please refer to my review for more details. 


Hoka Gaviota (RTR Review)

Very different experiences. Gaviota is softer and the stability feels more centered due to the shape of the H frame. Arahi is firmer and snappier and also feels more traditional as the stability module, J frame, runs on the medial side of the shoe and the heel. Two very different approaches to stability not necessarily providing more or less stability just different. Arahi is more suitable for a variety of paces and Gaviota for steady cruising.


New Balance 860v13 (RTR Review)

If you are not a fan of Hoka but would still like a shoe with a traditional approach to stability (medial post) the NB 860v13 might be the choice for you. The shoes are very different in terms of ride though. The Hoka is stiffer and snappier and the NB having a bit of softness and bounce with a sprinkle of fun factor. NB on the other hand might feel a little heavier but this does not translate, at least to me, into any difficulty while picking up the pace. 


The Hoka Arahi for men and women is available at our partner

SPORTSSHOES.COM 

SHOP HERE

Use our code RTR235 for 5% off all products

Tester Profile

Maciej 'Matt' Kolat- 38 years old, hailing from Poland but pounding Scottish pavement and trails since 2007. Mainly runs shorter distances on pavement 5-10 km and reserves longer runs for the beautiful Scottish Glens. Matt’s perspectives sometimes may differ from other RTR testers as he is the slowest of the bunch (5k at 25:38). Matt also uses running as a way to stay healthy having shedded 100 lbs so far (and counting).


Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes


Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes by SportsShoes.com and Hoka. RoadTrailRun 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'.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL


Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE 
Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun

Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

No comments: