I’ve been hiking in sneakers my whole life. Good hiking sneakers–I don’t head out in a pair of Keds or Chuck Taylors–but sneakers nonetheless. For the last two years or so I’ve rocked a pair of Saucony Excursion trail runners that are obviously not going to cut it in the Grand Canyon. I needed to marshal my Google-Fu to root out my boot.
This was a tough call for me. Poking around the web, comparing prices with ratings with features and overall quality, I knew which hiking boot I wanted. But it was pricey. Like, I’ve never bought shoes this expensive in my life pricey (and I have a lot of shoes). I’m planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip, though, and I understand myself well enough to know my mood can alter for the worse if my physical comfort is impaired, especially if I could have avoided the discomfort by spending a little more on my shoes. So I thought, eff it, I’ll just buy them.
Reader, I give you the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP:
These boots are indeed super comfy and they are grippy as all get out. In wet or dry conditions, these bad boys keep you on your feet. The WP in the name stands for waterproof, and they certainly are. My feet stayed perfectly dry during a recent downhill trail section that also happened to be a creek. I think the unusual height of the outsole on the Tor Ultra Hi helps a bit here, too, by keeping most of the shoe and foot above the water. They are impressively breathable, especially for a waterproof shoe. My feet stay pleasantly cool in all conditions. And they are light. Looking at the size of them you’d expect them to weigh a lot more than they do (each shoe is ~11 oz).
I haven’t experienced any foot fatigue on the step mill or on shorter hikes, but at about mile five my feet do start to get tired, although not painful. I had a minor sock mishap on my first trip out in these boots that resulted in a couple of blisters. The very next day I did a pretty challenging rock scramble followed by a steep descent (in different socks) and, amazingly, I didn’t feel the blisters at all. I forgot about them, in fact, until later that night. So, yeah, these boots are comfortable. I haven’t tested them with a heavy pack yet, so stay tuned on that one.
My personal fit for the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi is good overall. The toe box is a bit wide for me. The fit over the insteps and up the ankle is spot on. The laces stay tight and tied. The ankle support is good but not perfect; twice (on the same hike) I thought I might roll an ankle on rocky downhills. Both times, though, the outstanding grippiness came through. I was able to adjust my weight distribution and trust the boots to keep me anchored. Also in the ankle department, I deeply appreciate the ankle collar, which effectively keeps out those annoying little rocks and twigs and whatnot. I haven’t had to stop to shake out my boots at all.
Appearance-wise, they’re a lot cuter than I thought they would be. This boot comes in four color schemes: aqua/royal blue/pink; olive/sage/pink; black/gray/orange; and plum/violet/pink. I, obviously, bought the orange ones (which the marketing folks at Hoka One One awesomely call “Black/Flame”). The humongous outsoles read a bit clowny but somehow it works. I won’t rule out the possibility, though, that I’m just assigning cute points because they’re so darned comfy.
My review so far: 9/10
I have to take a point off for the high cost. (Annoyingly, while poking around the ‘nets for this blog post, I found a few websites have these boots on sale this week. But I guess them’s the breaks. Sometimes you get what you want on clearance and sometimes you don’t.) I’m confident so far I made the right call when I chose the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP, although I’ve only been wearing them for about a month. Obviously I’ll be back with an update on how they do over time, as well as how they do with a heavy pack. There is always the possibility that the boots will fail in some way. I hope if that happens I’m prepared to suck it up and buy another boot. For right now, it’s looking pretty good for my Hokas.