HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra HI hiking boots are HUGE, brightly colored, and could even be confused with clown shoes. These boots have taken six years of HOKA’s running shoe technological developments and implemented them to create the most comfortable hiking boot out there. They are the only boot that scored a 10 in comfort on our metrics ratings – no boot compared to them in that category. A hike in Grand Teton National Park proved that the HOKAs are making their way into the minds of local outdoor enthusiasts.
Many of the mountain guides that work in the Tetons swear by these boots – their job entails a 14-mile round trip commute from the valley floor at 6,800 ft to a base camp at 10,500 ft. On the trail, we were surprised to see HOKAs on the feet of nearly every one of the guides. Their prevalence spurred us to try them out…we were not disappointed.
The HOKAs didn’t slack in other departments either, scoring highest overall in our metrics ratings. For these reasons, the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra receives our Editors’ Choice Award this year. They are exceptional in comfort and support while still managing to hold up well on uneven, wet, difficult terrain with the best of the more traditional hiking boots we tested.
The comfort and stability that the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra provides makes this boot a top pick for long distance hiking or backpacking, while the lightweight running shoe-inspired design makes them a great option for day hiking. This revolutionary boot is the top pick for any hiking objective.
Unlike most other hiking boots, the HOKAs have very thick, soft soles. The three components that make HOKAs different is what they call the “marshmallow, the rocking chair, and the bucket seat.” The marshmallow is the midsole that is oversized, both in height and width, providing lots of cushion for the foot. The rocking chair is the rocker that is added to the sole, turning both the toe and the heel up a bit, to help maintain an even gait. Finally, the bucket seat is the deep heel cup that keeps the heel in place and adds comfort.
Made with HOKA‘s eVent waterproof and breathable technology, the Tor Ultra proved to be as water-resistant as its competitors. The uppers are nubuck leather and mesh and appear thin, which allows the foot to breathe, but they are waterproof enough to endure creek crossings and perform in rain. The height of the sole also helped keep water out in small puddles and streams; the water didn’t even reach the fabric of the upper. Using the same eVent technology as the HOKAs, both of the Ahnu boots proved that they are also incredibly waterproof and breathable.
The eVent liners on the Ahnu boots proved that they are also incredibly waterproof and breathable. The Salomon X Ultra GTX 2 – Womens was the closest competitor to the HOKA in terms of water resistance. The Salomon X Ultra were the HOKA‘s closest competitors in water resistance, as both boots kept our feet dry after being submerged for over 3 minutes in moving water. The GoreTex uppers of the Salomon protected our feet, but the height of the ankle shaft was lower than that of the HOKA, allowing water to get in from the top in deeper crossings. The HOKAs have not only a water resistant coating, but they also have super thick soles and a higher ankle height that kept us above the water for most of the creek crossings we encountered.
During the testing period, the Tor Ultras showed very little signs of wear. The nubuck and suede leather upper held up on the trail and are what sets these boots apart from HOKA‘s other running shoes and lighter weight hiking boots. This leather upper overlays on top of an eVent membrane, giving the boots a feel of durability throughout. We were concerned about wear on the super-sized sole, but during our testing period, the sole showed little sign of wear. Because of their simpler design with fewer seams, and certainly thinner soles, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid – Women’s, Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX, and Oboz Bridger Mid BDry – Womens offered a touch more durability, scoring 9 out of 10s for this metric.
As the company’s first stab at making a boot specifically for hiking, HOKA ONE ONE did an amazing job when they created the Tor Ultra. These boots are amazingly comfortable, require no break-in period, and have so much cushion underfoot that knees and hips feel supported all day. The leather and eVent inner membrane provides support along the top of the foot and around the ankle and also keeps water out. The lacing system was well thought out and adds adjustability and support, especially around the lower ankle area. The Tor Ultras held up on rocky, off-trail adventures in the Yosemite backcountry with their grippy rubber soles and smart lug placement. Overall, the Tor Ultras were hard to beat in all of our metric ratings, but their comfortable design was what really took the cake.