Here’s what we think about each running shoe

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Which functioning shoe manufacturer is superior: Hoka or Brooks? Request this concern of a normal runner like me, and you’ll in all probability get a great deal of hedging. The truth is, there’s a explanation that Hoka and Brooks are just about every amazingly well-liked in their individual suitable. They equally deliver best-notch managing sneakers with the American Podiatric Clinical Association Seal of Approval.

Above the very last month, I check-drove (test-ran?) a preferred model of every single brand: Hoka Clifton 9 and Brooks Glycerin 21. If you have been striving to make your mind up among the two, here’s our thoughts on both.


Hoka vs. Brooks Execs and Cons

The major similarity amongst the two shoes is that they are extremely a great deal running shoes of the instant — and by “of the moment” I necessarily mean “maximalist.” Cushion-ahead managing footwear are the massive “it” craze appropriate now. For equally sneakers, there is some extraordinary cushioning heading on below, with the soles of both equally sneakers manufactured from a lightweight but dense foam known as compression-molded EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate).

Hoka in unique is acknowledged for its wildly large  stack heights (the technical time period for the thickness of the sole). In simple fact, I have a pal who calls her Hokas “my large heel running sneakers.” But the Brooks pair I selected is the plushiest model that Brooks helps make — so its soles are comparably thick.

What’s various is that the HOKA Clifton 9 is a fairly degree shoe — which means that the top of the heel isn’t a great deal diverse than the forefoot. (It is just a 5 mm distinction.) But the heel of the Brooks Glycerin 21 is 10 mm increased than the forefoot. This is named the “heel-to-toe fall.”

Read on to master how this big difference can have an effect on a shoe’s performance, as properly as my general perception of each shoes.


Courtesy of Jennifer Kizer

$145 at Hoka $145 at Dick’s Sporting Goods

  • Professionals: My in general feeling about the Clifton 9 footwear was: “This is just one mild and bouncy experience!” The Hoka Clifton 9 shoes weigh just 7.3 ounces, and nevertheless the cushioning and shock absorption are definitely productive. I also cherished how the rounded heel (aka “meta-rocker” structure) would make the shoe rock forward normally from heel to toe.
  • Downsides: Some people are not insane about maximalist operating footwear like Hokas due to the fact they say they have a very low ground-contact really feel (i.e., the foam cushion stops the runner from experience the road beneath their feet). Whilst I individually didn’t come to feel unstable in the Clifton 9 footwear, I can realize why an individual may want to be a tiny nearer to the ground. A further quibble: From an aesthetic level of check out, these sneakers appear massive. If you’re hunting for shoes that make your feet seem dainty, these are not them.


Brooks Glycerin 21 running shoesCourtesy of Jennifer Kizer

$160 at Brooks $160 at Dick’s Sporting Goods

  • Pros: The Brooks Glycerin 21 sneakers have numerous of the exact same excellent rewards I loved about the HOKA Clifton 9 shoes (which is not shocking — because this is the brand’s comparably plushy model). The cushioned soles built for a gentle and stable run with loads of shock absorption and bounce-again responsiveness. One added as well as: A higher heel-to-toe fall (i.e., the heel is 10 mm larger than the forefoot) decreases tension on the Achilles tendon.
  • Drawbacks: Although the Brooks Glycerin 21s have a marginally rounded heel, they do not have the pretty pronounced rocker shape that propelled me ahead in the HOKA Clifton 9 footwear. At 8.8 ounces, they are a little bit heavier than the HOKAs (however not in a absolutely game-switching way). Once again, like the HOKAs, these are some fairly beefy-hunting sneakers (not dainty). And you’re restricted to 9 shade possibilities, as opposed to 21 colour choices for the HOKA Clifton 9s.

Fit and Sizing


HOKA Clifton 9 running shoesCourtesy of Jennifer Kizer

When judging irrespective of whether the sneakers suit adequately, I took guidance from Dr. David Alper, a podiatrist in Burlington, Massachusetts, and a trustee of the American Podiatric Health-related Association.

“You must be capable to set your hand all-around the stomach of your foot in the chute, and it should be equipped to just wiggle a minor bit,” he says. “And you should also be capable to seize the stop of the shoe with out touching the finish of your huge toe when you are sitting down — that will allow your foot to splay out when you put excess weight on it.”

Primarily based on this recommendation, my standard shoe size in good shape me flawlessly in the Hokas. (If you are getting on line, HOKA features a sizing chart.) HOKA is usually praised as a great shoe for men and women with extensive toes, however the Clifton 9 particularly is a little bit narrower in comparison to previous HOKA types. It does arrive in frequent and huge sizes.

More: What to search for in jogging sneakers


Brooks Glycerin 21 running shoesCourtesy of Jennifer Kizer

I purchased my standard measurement in the Glycerin 21 footwear, and they were being a bit cosy in the duration. If I had been to purchase them again, I would go a fifty percent measurement up, so they are not just correct to dimension. Brooks shoes are acknowledged for their large toe containers, which is why men and women with bunions are generally drawn to this brand name. I uncovered the toe box to be roomy and quite comfy. (Brooks also offers a sizing chart on the net.)

For the Brooks Glyerin 21, you can choose among medium and vast. But some of the other Brooks operating sneakers arrive in 4 different width choices: slim, medium, vast, and further broad. The web-site will permit you know your alternatives in the shoe’s description.

Overall performance


The Clifton 9 footwear performed very well as I ran my common route — on sidewalks and roadways, up and down hills, occasionally on wet and slick pavement. The extensive base held me secure, and the cushioning foam soles gave me good bounce while absorbing the shock of my system pounds.

If I was likely to be carrying out far more running on trails or uneven terrain, I would likely consider the HOKA Speedgoat 5 which are made with a great deal additional traction for gripping the terrain. Like most runners, I tend to land initial on my heel and roll foreword on to my forefoot. The plush heel on the HOKA Clifton 9 footwear supplied the help I essential.


The Glycerin 21 sneakers had been equally successful at giving me cushion, bounce and steadiness as I ran my regular working route — which was on (in some cases moist) pavement. If I ended up likely to operate on a rocky path or on uneven terrain, I may choose for the Brooks Caldera 7 sneakers, which have been built to genuinely grip the ground.

I was primarily amazed with the Brooks Glycerin 21s, though, when I was operating uphill. As another person with an aged ankle harm, I appreciated the extra heel and ankle support in the course of those angled moments. (Don’t forget, the heel on the Brooks footwear have extra cushioning than in the forefoot.)

Ultimate Views

So which is the much better functioning shoe, Hoka or Brooks? Sorry, but I merely can’t select one particular as superior. Both footwear have amazing shock absorption and bounce. And the two deal with this feat whilst also getting light-weight.

For those people who love curved sneakers that rock you forward, the HOKA Clifton 9s could be a marginally much better choice. And for these who adore the added cushion on the heel (with considerably less cushion on the forefoot), the Brooks Glycerin 21 shoes may possibly have a slight edge.

But honestly? You just cannot go improper with either of these top rated-notch working shoes. It will come down to personal desire. But if you want a tiny excess expert suggestions on picking your sneakers, test out what to seem for in your subsequent pair underneath.

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