Built on a dual layer midsole from two EVA compounds, the $170 Hoka Vanquish 3 is a light, super cushioned and versatile shoe further refines the Vanquish 2. Look to the adidas Ultra Boost for a different but similar technology.
First impressions? It’s impossible to ignore the cushioning these shoes provide. What’s always really interesting is that it doesn’t come at any cost in terms of additional weight. It feels responsive too, nice and flexible.
Expect elevation – and lots of it when you wear these shoes. The heel stack sits on top off 32mm, yet you’re working with a 5mm heel to toe drop. That means there’s a competitive feel to the shoe but in an armchair environment. Such radical technology always gets people talking. What’s not in debate is the extent of cushioning but does that come at a cost if you race in the shoes? They are light enough to make you feel tempted but how much energy is going into the ground – our test team suspects not much and are huge fans of this brand, but they’re not for everyone. Fans know they are buying into Hoka’s point of difference which are the huge oversized midsoles. In short, they have a reputation for well cushioned pillow-like shoes good for slowly cruising about it.
Another point of difference between the Hoka’s and ‘normal’ shoes is the way the midsole is sculpted. Your foot sits inside the midsole rather than on top of it. This is known as Hoka’s ‘Active Foot Frame’ AKA ‘the bucket seat’!
Another Hoka design feature is the curve of the shoe, known as the Meta Rocker. Designed to encourage your natural running gait, they actually look like they feel, you really do experience a very smooth flowing motion from impact through to take off again and it’s a good experience.
The Vanquish, along with other Hoka shoes, has got quite a following with ultra distance runners, so it’s no surprise the seamless upper and general good, all-round foot-hugging upper provides a comfortable home for your feet. They are nice and breathable so perfect for spring and summer. Hoka uses a technology called Active Foot Frame which allows your foot to sink into the midsole rather than sit on top of it. You’ll here it endlessly with Hoka shoes, but they’re like sinking into your favourite comfy chair.
They can take a while to get used to, but for long, long days they are a great choice. Short speed merchants look elsewhere but for marathon and beyond – only comfort is promised.
How was the ultra cushioned and ultra marathon friendly Hoka Vanquish? Let us know, we’d love to report your findings.
Dual Layer EVA Midsole provides high rebound as well as soft cushioning.
Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry is a rockered midsole design engineered to deliver a smooth ride and increased propulsion.
Full Ground Contact provides increased traction and a smooth heel to toe transition.
Hi-Abrasion Lightweight Rubber is strategically placed for increased traction and durability.
Air Mesh on the upper is lightweight and allows for excellent airflow and breathability.
External Web Design provides added zonal support for an enhanced foot wrap.
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