Finding the most comfortable pair of running shoes is one of the most challenging tasks. With the market saturated with several running shoe brands, knowing which brand suits your unique needs and tastes can be daunting.
However, amidst your search for the best running shoes brand, you’ll likely stumble upon two titans: Brooks and Hoka. The two brands lead the pack when it comes to the production of premium-quality shoes.
Both offer various shoe models that are tailored to suit different needs, such as cushioning, overpronation, and trail running. Choosing between the two is not an easy feat since they both have their strengths and work best for different types of people.
If you’re tongue-tied on what brand to choose, here is our thorough comparison between Brooks and Hoka to help you drill down and decide which style resonates with your unique needs and preferences.
However, before we jump straight into the comparison, let’s look at the brands’ background.
Dating back to 1914, when it started as a ballet slippers and bathing shoes company, Brooks has come a long way to become one of the world’s prominent shoe brands. Brooks evolved from a small garage in Venice, CA, to its modern headquarters in Seattle, WA.
Since the release of their first running shoe, the Villanova, in 1972, Brooks began its genuine commitment to developing premium-quality shoes that energize and cushion athletes with every stride.
Brooks is famed for playing a critical role in the evolution of running shoes. With its innovation and cutting-edge shoe designs, Brooks has positioned itself as a go-to brand for runners looking for a better and more comfortable running experience.
Fun Fact: Brooks controls all its shoe development processes from initial design to finished product.
Here are some of the more popular Brooks running shoes, as rated by us:
Hoka One One is a French-based company that came into the scene in 2009. A brainchild of Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, Hoka One One drew runners’ attention with its uniquely designed shoes that featured an oversized outsole for enhanced cushioning.
With a minimalist design that encourages smoother and more efficient runs, Hoka has become a popular choice for runners and the general population.
In 2013, Hoka One One was fully acquired by Deckers Outdoor Corporation, which owns other shoe brands such as Teva and UGG. Today, Hoka sponsors various professional runners and professional training groups.
Fun Fact: Its name was coined from the Maori Language, which when translated means “fly over the earth.”
And here are some popular Hoka One One running shoes you can set your eyes on:
Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Running Shoes: Brooks vs. Hoka
Now that we know a brief history of the two brands, let’s get into the finer details that make each brand stand out.
Both Books and Hoka shoes come with similar construction and are designed to support your foot’s natural contours. Both offer an excellent cushioning system and have shoes that are designed for wet weather and trail runners.
Overall, Brooks running shoes are constructed under a more traditional model. They come with a heel-to-toe drop of about 10mm-12mm and don’t implement a rocker geometry.
In contrast, Hoka adopts a more modern construction model with a pronounced meta rocker technology that rolls you in a forward motion. The brand’s shoes are equipped with a heel-to-toe drop of 5mm to facilitate natural landing amidst the extensive cushioning.
So, when it comes to construction, both Brooks and Hoka offer solid construction but differ in various sectors aspects.
For running shoes, the upper material molds the shoe shape and contributes to its overall fit. Both Brooks and Hoka come with a similar “open mesh” upper part that features Boa dials and metal eyelets overlays.
By Contrast, Hoka running shoes are known to have a minimal upper material. This translates into a slightly smaller toe box. The brand is trying to address this issue in its latest releases.
While Brooks comes with a much thicker upper for extra comfort, it isn’t easy to clean.
Hoka boasts midsoles that are heavily padded with a unique foam material. Although different shoe models come with midsoles that differ in midsole thicknesses, Hoka is renowned for offering ample cushioning. This is quite beneficial for individuals who participate in high-impact activities, such as long-distance running.
Hoka’s midsole is very soft and supple. There is a unique theory that this company narrows the upper to accommodate the midsole’s extra width for increased shock absorption and cushioning.
While Brooks also features soft, cushioned midsoles, they’re not as plush as those in Hoka. Their midsoles are made of BioMoGo DNA or post-consumer recycled rubber. These materials compress and release upon impact to provide runners with the flexibility and comfort they need.
Brooks aims to balance responsiveness with cushioning. Brooks running shoes feature guide rails that help maintain proper alignment for more comfortable runs.
Despite the differences in cushioning, Brooks and Hoka shine in different areas. Hoka is best suited for long-distance running due to its extra cushioning and stability. However, Brooks is a great alternative when running for shorter distances due to its balance of cushioning and responsiveness.
But we have to agree that Hoka is superior when it comes to cushioning and shock absorption.
Both Brooks and Hoka come with very different designs when it comes to the outsole. However, both have a wider outsole for extended contact with the ground.
Brooks features a more webbed outsole to spread the weight throughout the shoes evenly. On the other hand, Hoka focuses on providing a stable platform with its large outsole lugs at the middle and forefoot.
Brooks comes with completely rubber outsoles strengthened with a thermoplastic EVA sheath at the front to protect your foot against objects such as branches and rocks.
In contrast, Hoka is renowned for its springy foam. Hence its outsoles are made of rubberized foam that is highly responsive to fast movements. Due to their rocker bottom, they boast an oversized outsole for better traction and improved stability.
While Brooks features trail shoe models with TrailTak rubber outsoles, Hoka shoes are generally suited for uneven terrain and wet and muddy conditions.
If you haven’t made your choice based on shoe construction, here are other considerations to help you make your decision.
Brooks running shoes are reliable and will give you an average of 400-500 miles depending on where you’re running. This is because of how liberal the company is with the outsole rubber. They use an adequate amount of rubber in the outsole leading to improved traction, stability, and longevity.
On the other hand, Hoka running shoes can also give you up to 400 miles. However, this will depend on whether you’re using a shoe model for its intended terrain. Since Hoka shoes’ midsoles are left exposed, this tends to accelerate their wear and tear. For this reason, reaching the 400-mark mile can be daunting.
While both brands offer a pretty commendable lifespan, Brooks has a proven track record of delivering long-lasting and reliable shoe models.
Overall Fit and Comfort
If you’ve tried several running shoes and have not yet found the right fit, you should try Brook or Hoka.
Brooks’ shoes offer a wide toe box, extra layered upper, and comfortable midsole. They offer a snugger fit, a lightweight feel and boast an excellent heel cup that enhances stability without being intrusive.
Brooks is well renowned for its running shoes as well as regular walking shoes. They are also excellent for cyclers and swimmers due to their wide-toe box.
Hoka running shoes are famous for their rocker technology that reduces the pressure on your foot as you take every stride. Their high-volume heel cup, tons of cushioning, and ventilation make them an ideal choice for long-distance runs and well-suited for heavy runners.
Besides what we have discussed, other valuable features can help you choose between Brooks and Hoka.
Brooks provides customers with a 90-day trial to test out the shoes and return them if they are not satisfied. It is also environmentally friendly since it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases by up to 7% annually.
On the other side, Hoka takes pride in its recognition by the American Podiatric Medical Association as a top-quality, efficient and safe brand that creates shoes that guarantee proper foot health. Its shoes also come with sturdy and solid outsoles that are durable yet lightweight.
From what we have seen, Brooks and Hoka are undoubtedly two of the top running shoes in the market. Both have some innovative technologies and offer several shoe models to cater to different needs.
If you’re looking for a pair with a deliberate forward role and heavy cushioning, Hoka is the best brand for you. Shoes from this brand are fantastic if you have existing knee or feet problems and a large frame.
Those who seek a more traditional brand with excellent fit, highest build quality, and a solid reputation, look no further than Brooks. The brand delivers shoes with a supportive frame and plush and responsive DNA midsole for enhanced comfort and stability.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.