My go-to-shoe is the Skechers GoRun Ultra (v1 and v2). And I’ve heard a lot of people say that if you like Hoka, you’ll probably like the Skechers Ultra series and I assumed this woud also work the other way around. So, I got curious about the Hoka brand and decided to buy a pair of Hoka Bondi 4, which is supposed to be their max cushioning road shoe.
I’ve tried a few other shoes besides the Skechers, but in the end I always returned to the Skechers GRU. Since Hoka focuses on maximalist running shoes and that’s what I prefer to run in, so this seemed a good fit. And since the Skechers GRU are quite similar to the Hoka Bondi 4, all I could really do was compare the two. The first thing I noticed about the Hoka was that the toebox was pretty narrow. My forefoot is a bit wide, so what I like about the Skechers is that it was enough room in the toebox for my toes to move around a bit. In the Hoka that wasn’t really the case.
The other thing I noticed was that the Bondi 4 wasn’t very flexible, which is hard to get used to when you normally run in the Skechers, which are very flexible despite their stack height. The drop was fine (7 mm), with me being used to 8mm. The rocker shape of the Hoka helps you roll onto your forefoot more easily, while the M-strike technology from Skechers helps you with your mid-foot strike.
But the thing that really put me off the Hoka Bondi 4, was that it seems to absorb a lot of the energy. Yes, it’s a cushioned shoe, so it should absorb the shock. But the Hoka seems to have less energy return, which gave me the feeling that I had to work harder than usual. Running seemed to be more of an effort in the Hoka’s than in the Skechers. Therefore, I didn’t run a whole lot of kilometers in them and I have no idea how fast they wear. I’ll just continue looking for another shoe. So you might like the Skechers GRU, when you are used to Hoka, but I’m not sure it works the other way around. At least it didn’t work for me, but I’m curious about trying some other Hoka model in the future.
I like my Bondi 4 shoes (Bondi 5 is coming out in January), but I understand what you say about the narrow toe box and the lack of flexibility. These aren’t problems for me, but now I’m tempted to try Skechers GRU.
I’ve heard really good things about the Clifton 3, might give them a try. I liked the first 2 versions of the GRU, but with version 3 they made two separate versions: road and trail. I’ve tried the road version, but it has less cushion than before, so not a huge fan. The trail version is supposed to be good, but I have trouble getting a hold of them, since they are not for sale in Europe.