Hoka One One’s offerings throughout 2018 seemed to increase at an almost-exponential rate. While they continue to update classics such as the Speedgoat and Challenger ATR models, other models like the Napali ATR appear to be a derivative of the latter. Earlier this year, I reviewed the EVO Mafate, a shoe that I was very excited to put through its paces. It impressed me and I certainly thought it was one of Hoka’s strongest offerings and one of the best new trail shoes of the year.
At about the same time, I started testing the Hoka One One Torrent ($120), which at first I considered a lesser model not truly worthy of ultramarathon distances and likely a Tracer racing flat with a trail outsole. After I finished testing the EVO Mafate, I started wearing the Torrent almost exclusively. I came away from each run more and more impressed. The Torrent is a surprisingly un-Hoka-like experience with a more accommodating fit for runners needing a wider toebox, firmer cushioning, and one of the best outsoles I’ve run in.
Hoka One One Torrent Upper
There is no doubt that Hoka running shoes are getting better looking, and while appearances are the last thing I care about in a running shoe, the Torrent looks sharp. Open mesh dominates the upper, allowing this shoe to stay cool and drain incredibly well. My favorite aspect of the Torrent upper is a rubber rand layer that encircles the upper above the midsole. This improves durability by making it impervious to punctures and blowouts from excessive pressure. This simple rand overlay allows the rest of the upper to be open mesh and airy without being fragile. These features together make one of the simplest and most effective uppers I’ve seen in trail-shoe design.
Flat laces that stay tied and a stable, gusseted tongue keep this upper locked down on the foot and debris out. The fit throughout the upper is fairly moderate and it should appeal to a lot of different foot types, especially runners wanting to wear models like the Speedgoat 2 and finding the forefoot too tapered. The Torrent has just enough space for some toe splay and it is the widest Hoka model that I have tried. Initially, I worried that the wider midfoot fit would lead to slipping on downhills, but somehow the Torrent stays put on my foot.
Hoka One One Torrent Midsole
The Torrent doesn’t feel or transition like any other Hoka model I’ve tried, and PROFLY midsole cushioning is used, which places firmer EVA foam in the forefoot and softer foam in the heel. This is similar to the technology used in the Tracer racing flat, but not quite as aggressive in durometer. Noticeably absent as well is the Meta-Rocker technology used on many popular Hoka trail shoes. The resulting effect is a ride geared more toward midfoot and forefoot strikers than anything else, and the PROFLY midsole feels geared toward faster running and racing.
Despite the lack of a rockplate, the Torrent performed really well on technical, rocky trails, and I never experienced any bone bruising or anything poking through the midsole. Given the relatively tame stack height of 26mm with a 5mm drop, the amount of protection is surprising. Additionally, the forefoot cushioning seemed to improve the more I ran in the Torrent. Initially, I considered this a shorter-distance racing shoe, but after several runs I started using it for everything, including trail speedwork, hills, and long runs.
Hoka One One Torrent Outsole
After testing the EVO Mafate with the Vibram outsole, I didn’t think the Torrent’s relatively simple outsole lug pattern could compete. But, the Torrent’s outsole just continued to impress on everything from loose, decomposed granite to mud and clay. Better yet, after about 120 miles, I’m not seeing any wear on the Torrent outsole.
What surprised me most is that the Torrent outsole, with its substantial lugging, runs great on smooth trails as well. Road-to-trail runs felt smooth, and fire roads and dirt/gravel roads felt just as at home in the Torrents as technical trail. In my humble opinion, this currently is my favorite outsole of any shoe from any brand.
Hoka One One Torrent Overall Impressions
I was very surprised by the Torrent. Initially, this was a shoe that I considered an unnecessary add-0n in the Hoka line-up, but the Torrent is now my favorite Hoka model. The ultimate proving ground with the Torrent was using it on the 40-mile Grand Traverse Mountain Run from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado earlier this summer, and I finished this challenging course with less-beat-up feet than I have in a long time. I felt confident on loose and technical terrain, and when I wanted to increase the pace on the jeep roads, the Torrent didn’t get in the way.
For $120, I would hands-down recommend the Torrent over the EVO Mafate, and for runners needing a wider toebox I would recommend the Torrent before the highly popular Speedgoat 2. For a 9-ounce trail shoe, it’s difficult to cram more cushioning and durability into a shoe while maintaining a fun and go-fast ride for racing. If you’re a midfoot/forefoot striker looking for a lightweight and protective trail shoe with exceptional traction, look no further than the Hoka Torrent.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Have you taken the Hoka One One Torrent for a spin yet? If so, what do you think of the shoe overall?
- What details of the Torrent’s upper, midsole, and outsole work the best for you? And where do you think improvements could be made?
- How do you feel about the features that Tom really likes, the upper’s design as well as the outsole’s performance?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]