Hoka One One (57 articles)

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"How can we blast downhills even faster?" - this simple question was at the origin of Hoka One One. The question was posed by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, former Salomon employees and themselves experienced adventure racers. They found the solution on the one hand in the extra-wide skis, which allow them to surf smoothly through the powder, and on the other hand in the fat mountain bike tyres with their grip and additional cushioning. Initially, the two of them did not have the idea of developing a complete boot. Originally, they wanted to build a kind of overshoe that you could slip into at the summit and then plough down the downhill.


It was 2009 and minimal or barefoot shoes were all the rage. So it's not surprising that Nicolas and Jean-Luc initially thought of an overshoe, because their ideas were downright revolutionary and ran completely counter to the current trend. Fortunately, the two of them did put together a shoe and this prototype was later to become the Mafate. With an oversized and heavily padded sole and bright neon colours, the shoe looked more like a model from space research than a running shoe. Minimalist shoes were booming on the market and Hoka One One countered this with the maximum possible shoe.


Hoka One One: Time to fly


Hoka One One (pronounced O-Nay, O-Nay) is Maori and the proverb means something like: fly over the earth. The company's motto is also derived from this: Time to fly. When Nicolas appeared with his shoe at trail running events, he tried to get exactly this message across to people. Most people initially regarded this new, massive running shoe with suspicion.


When they took the Hoka in their hands, their first doubts evaporated - contrary to its appearance, the shoes were incredibly light. How could that be? How could these fat slippers with the huge cushions weigh so little? After much fiddling with various plastics and baking methods, Nicolas and Jean-Luc had succeeded in developing this extra-wide sole with 29 millimetres of cushioning that actually weighed no more than the soles with a maximum of 10 millimetres of cushioning that had been common until then.


Due to this maximum cushioning, trail and ultra runners in particular were interested in the shoes at the beginning. Perhaps it was luck, perhaps fate, that Hoka One One appeared on the scene at precisely the time when these niche disciplines of running were becoming increasingly popular. Finally, there was a shoe that still felt soft after 80 kilometres. What's more, you could fly downhill with it like never before. This was not only due to the thick padding, because in addition to the cushioning, the French built a meta-rocker into the sole for better propulsion. Moreover, the foot doesn't sink into soft foam and lose all control - quite the opposite - the sole reacts sensitively to the ground, has plenty of bounce and lets you surf over the trail.


Speedgoat - a legend and a legendary shoe


The first athlete who was instantly won over by the Hoka principle was the legendary ultra runner Karl "Speedgoat" Meltzer. No runner has won more 100-mile races than him. So you can say he knows the value of good shoes. Karl Meltzer not only became the company's first figurehead, he also helped develop the Speedgoat. The shoe is now at least as legendary in mountain running circles as its namesake.


Among trail and ultra runners, the Hoka One Ones quickly became an insider's tip, because their running feel could not be compared to anything else on the market. In addition to the technical principle, something else about the shoes stood out: the look. No, they never wanted to be discreet, if they had to be fat and wide, then they had to be colourful and unusual. Hoka has remained true to this to this day, which is why you recognise the shoes in every line-up, in front of every start line, in every crowd and at every finish line. Hoka runners recognise each other.


Outgrowing the niche, true to the roots


The insider tip from back then has now become the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. Hoka One One has long since risen from its niche. In addition to grippy trail shoes and mega-cushioned ultras, the range has constantly expanded. You can also find the right Hoka for road marathons and urban trails in the forest or park. The range extends from more comfort-oriented models to uncompromising racers like the Carbon X.


Hoka remains true to itself and its roots: visually distinctive, technically excellent and committed to the trail. As proof of this, Hoka athlete Jim Walmsley broke his own course record at the Western States 100 in the Mafate Evo. In the new version of the former prototype, he ran the 100 miles (161 kilometres) in a staggering 14 hrs. 9 min. 28 sec. The reason for this was of course his incredible fitness, but an amazingly light trail shoe with a 30 millimetre thick sole, biting tread, comfortable width and first-class stability certainly suited him.


Since 2012, Hoka One One has been part of the Deckers Outdoor Corporation (Teva, UGG Shoes, Sanuk, etc.). As a result, they turned their backs on Annecy and moved to Goleta, California.


Find all Hoka One One footwear here:


Hoka One One at Bergzeit


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