From the brand that pioneered and continues to evolve the maximal cushioning category of shoes, Hoka serves up an updated version of the Bondi road shoe. The fourth incarnation is all about soft, cushy comfort and efficient running. With one of the thickest midsoles in the marketplace, the Bondi is in an extreme class of high-off-the-ground, oversized cushioning shoes. But it’s not just the amount of cushioning, it’s the balance of the shoe and its unique design features—specifically the rockered profile, beveled heel and significant toe spring—that make running in the Bondi 4 such an exalted experience. It offers a super-smooth, rolling sensation that our wear-testers describes as enabling “an almost effortless stride” and “the feeling of forward momentum.” The cushion is significant and fairly soft, but the ride is actually quite stable and supportive.
While the Bondi 4 doesn’t inspire speed for fast workouts, most of our wear-testers thought it most certainly promotes a healthy stride rhythm and offers protection against the stress and strain of long-distance running. It might not be the best starting point for a runner new to max-cushioned shoes, given how high off the ground it is. But it definitely has a short learning curve. (Wear-testers said it took maybe 2-3 runs to get the hang of it.) We liked this shoe for a variety of moderate to long runs and slower to moderate paces, although it should be noted that several wear-testers took to this shoe as a post-race recovery shoe and an everyday weekend shoe. “By far the most cushy shoes I’ve ever been in,” said wear-tester John Tolbert. Added wear-tester C.J. Welter: “I loved the forward energy of this shoe. Every step has this bit of energetic oomph just before toe-off.”
This is the shoe for you if: you’re looking for a super-cushioned shoe for longer, moderate-paced training runs and slower recovery runs on hard surfaces.
Weights: 10.6 oz. (men’s), 9.4 oz. (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 4mm; 33mm (heel), 29mm (forefoot) for men; 31mm (heel), 27mm (forefoot) for women
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