"It never gets easier, you just go faster." - Greg Lemond

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hoka One One Stinson B Evo Low Review

By Jason Robertson

I had been considering getting a pair of Hokas.  While I couldn't find the correct size, Jason (who is also a shoe nerd) picked up a pair of the new Stinson B Evos, and I begged him for a review.  Enjoy!
Get the name right damnit!  Minimalist shoe label from the running store.

A little narrow in the toe box.  My left foot is larger than my right and pinky toe was slightly rubbing.  I was able to change out the standard-sized, left insole for the thinner one provided-no more rubbing and nice customization.  This was the only concern I had with the fit of this shoe.  The upper has great lock-down and provides day-long comfort.  It also has a taller (more volume) and slightly more narrow fit than, say, a MT110 or the Brooks Pure Grit.  I run a size 10 in those models and have found the 10.5 in Hokas very nice, in addition to the thinner insole in my left shoe.
Accessories:  Extra insoles and laces

Traction rocks on this shoe.  You can hear it grip on pavement and the dry hard pack we’ve experienced here in Northeast Indiana this summer.  It does lack the deep lugs of a Salomon Speedcross, but I’d say the rubber is on par with the MT110 for tackiness. I felt very secure on wet, downhill corners during my outings in the Smokies and no problems on wet rock (the Brooks Pure Grit really let me down on the slick rock during our last trip so I was very cautious and was pleasantly surprised with the Stinson B Evo).  This outsole also receives high marks for self-cleaning action.
Wear resistant, very tacky Hoka outsole, very nice!


Goes without saying…this shoe has lots of cush.  Confidence inspiring, feels like cheating, unfair advantage cush.  This shoe has allowed me, over the past month, to become a downhill bomber.   I’ve also, at the same time, been able to handle an increase in mileage as I’ve had time off from work this summer.  My legs have not had that “beat down” feeling they usually receive from such an increase into the 100 mile per week range. 

Some might say, and mentioned by Marshall Ulrich in his review of Hokas, that having so much cushion could prevent or hinder the gains (i.e. muscle breakdown-healing, ligament, joint, tendon strengthening/changing) of running in a more minimally cushioned shoe.  I do wear and run in the Minimus 00, Kinvara and the Pure Grit a few times each week and know there is benefit in low slung shoes.  I recovered from an injury 2 years ago through a process of running barefoot and utilizing minimal shoes.  Not having a serious injury since, I want to maintain my form.  The Hokas have allowed for more vigorous miles to be put in each week and I believe they have allowed some strengthening in areas that lesser cushioned shoe might not.  For instance, pounding the down hills helped strengthen my quads.  I also noticed my ankles feeling a bit worked-similar to when I do barefoot speed work on the soccer fields.  The Hokas also allow for the same cadence and running stance that I have developed with my other lower shoes.  It is interesting to note that Playmakers have a minimalist label on the box as seen in my first picture.

Lots of cushion in these bad boys
Search out the sharpest stingers on the trail.  Nothing short of a 3” nail will hurt your foot.  I totally understand why Darcy Africa (a PI sponsored runner) would opt for the Hokas at Hard Rock, even when she has Isoseeks at her disposal.  4-4.5 hour run/hikes in the Smokies had my feet begging for more. Usually after the four hour mark of running trail, especially in the Smoky Mountains, my feet start letting me know that they’re feeling the rocks, roots and uneven terrain. No matter what I stepped on, I felt no pain.  I am very excited to try these out in some fall 50 milers and next year’s mountain 100’s.
Next to none.  This did make my left arch sing a little (same tightness I had with the MT100/101s).  After some foam rolling on the calf, all was well.  With such a well cushioned midsole, the Hoka is a stiff shoe.  You can’t roll it up like a Nike Free.  This is just fine with me.  The stiffness actually inspires quite a bit of confidence when rolling fast on the downs and the rockered shape of the shoe allows for a nice seamless foot strike to toe off.

·        Awesome cushion and protection.  I will never again have to choose what shoe I’ll wear on a run over 3 hours…or question whether or not to bomb a downhill.
·        Great drainage.  After the several crossings we did in the Smokies, I was very impressed.  This shoe, surprisingly, drained and dried as well as a pair of 101s, which in my opinion; earned the title for the quickest drain/dry shoe.
·        Nice alternate insole/lacing options (comes with quick lace intact-laces optional, but you have to cut the quick lace in order to remove).
·        Overall fit and wear.  I plan on wearing this shoe through next summer and have no concerns about this shoes making it to 1,500 miles-seems very durable at this point. Also, the fit and drop of the shoe does not interfere with wearing my other shoes.  I simply throw on the extra cushion, no worries about a large ramp angle when switching to a more cushioned shoe. 
·        Weight claims.  I read from several sources that these shoes weighed in anywhere between 9 and 10.5 ounces for a men’s size 9.  The shoes I purchased, a size 10.5, weighed in at 13 1/8 ounces on my extremely accurate food scale.  This is about the weight of a pair of Cascadia 6s in the same size.  Interestingly enough, I planned to buy a pair of Cascadia 7s.  I tried on the Hokas 1st, ran around the store, ran a 5k with Scott Jurek(! Stopped in on his book tour) in a trial pair then tried on the Cascadias.  They felt very flat and unresponsive comparatively.  I dropped the extra $60 for the Hokas. 
          The Hokas do a good job of feeling lighter than they really are.  Just        looking at them, you would think they are heavy clodders.  Upon picking        them up they feel uber light.  Same thing happens when running in      them.  They have such a good bounce and energy return, that they seem          to shrug off some ounces and feel about the same weight as a pair of Pure Grits.
·        Cost.  These are the most expensive in my shoe quiver and gave me the most wife feedback.  But, if they last as long as I think, cost will be a mute point.  Plus, they do come with extra laces and another set of insoles allowing a more customizable fit.

Writer Bio
My name is Jason Robertson (33 years old).  I’ve been married for 15 years, have 3 kids and teach middle school Language Arts.
I grew up riding/racing dirt bikes and fell in love with running in ’09 after finally getting the right pair of shoes on my feet, ridding myself of shin splints, and completing my first 50k. 

Jason why so modest?  Jason has run over 20 Ultras, including 3 100 mile races.  Always up for a long run,  he is a constant source of inspiration and enthusiasm.

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