Hoka One One Sky Toa: Comfortable but Disposable
I wanted to love these boots. I really did. They looked like the complete opposite of my usual, and that was okay with me. I admit, in boots I normally lean towards the mountaineering side and sacrifice flexibility and light-weight for durability. This has yet to let me down. However, what has was a 180 on this philosophy in the form of the Hoka Sky Toa.
The tourist shot before the Hoka's were put to the test.
It hasn't been all bad. The Sky Toa's are incredibly comfortable right out of the box. No break-in was needed, though I was reluctant to chance this before I really put them to the test. I did some local hikes on hard-pack trails and was happy and confident for their big test out west. Yosemite and Sequoia, here we come.
The good did travel. The comfort of these boots kept my feet happy on several demanding trails in Yosemite. But the bad quickly outweighed the good. The grip from the Vibram soles used on the Toa's is just not there on loose or wet rock. Scrambling over boulders was fine, but descending Yosemite's Upper Falls trail was a lesson in humility as I slipped multiple times. Doing it again at the end of a 22 mile hike a few days later was even worse. The combination of fatigue and lack of grip made it treacherous. I was cussing myself for being so clumsy, but in reality, the gear was letting me down.
The Sky Toa's did offer good grip for scrambling.
As bad as the lack of grip is, that is not even my main complaint. These boots took a beating, and they were beat. After 5 days of scrambling and hiking in Yosemite, I did expect some wear and tear. What I didn't expect was that the Hoka's would look more worn after their first two weeks of use than my 9 year old mountaineering boots do to this day. The upper is fraying, and the thin toe guard is delaminating. In general, the boot is falling apart. Had I known about it, I would have definitely taken Hoka up on the 30 day return policy.
I know several people who love their Hoka runners, and I even am married to one. But the Toa's are just not there for a boot, even a light hiker. I cannot recommend these, and I suggest you look elsewhere unless you want a boot that can be ruined in a few days on rocky trails.
*I have some Salewa light hikers on the way and am quite excited. Expect a review on them in the near future.