As a journalist and avid runner, I’ve been testing running shoes at least once a month over the past five months. My favorites are unequivocally Hoka sneakers, and despite being very familiar with the brand's footwear, I had no idea that Hoka also designed running apparel. In fact, I only found out they produced such garments because I loved their shoes so much that I wanted to see what else the brand made. Enter: any and all the best Hoka running gear I could get my hands on.
Because of the top-notch performance of the sneakers I've tested, I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with giving my workout wardrobe a Hoka renovation (i.e., one specific to running). Turns out, I was right.
Why it's important to have gear specifically for running
I used to think that all workout clothes were created equal, that I could just use the same-old gym clothes that I would wear on the weight-room floor or yoga class on my runs. However, I quickly realized that running requires its own wardrobe because it’s a completely different motion. Instead of being stationary, I’m moving forward constantly. Moreover, I often run outdoors, meaning I need to consider the weather and dress accordingly.
Up until a few weeks ago, my workout gear was still basically comprised solely of yoga sets, which aren’t exactly designed to help you run miles on miles on miles. Tired of having leggings with no pockets and too-short outfits that led to my thighs chafing, I decided to quit playing around and get some actual running gear.
What I look for in running gear
Functionality and technical elements come first and foremost. Running gear should be designed for running and everything that comes with it. It should be moisture-wicking and quick-drying for when things get sweaty. It should be stretchy and ready to move with you, yet compressive and sleek as to avoid chafing. It should be lightweight and comfortable, as to not weigh you down or annoy you mid-run.
Then, there's the extra, thoughtful touches that make running more enjoyable. I used to run with an armband, which was great for holding my phone. But now, I have a fob for my apartment building and a solid key to my actual apartment, so I need pockets. And yes, pockets plural—I am unimpressed by just a singular pocket because where am I supposed to put my phone, keys, and any cards I may need? What’s great about the Hoka running gear, specifically, is that the bottoms all have plenty of room for my things.
Honestly—and I am so unbothered by how this might sound—I’m a sucker for cute running clothes. When I’m shopping for anything, even workout clothes and running gear, I want it make me feel confident in my appearance because that helps make me feel more confident in my running.
The 10 best pieces of Hoka running gear
Available sizes: XS-XXL (select sizes/colors sold out)
This is the first piece of Hoka running gear I tried, and there was a lot to love about it. It’s super lightweight, has a chest pocket on the left side (which is great for storing keys), and has thumbholes at the wrists, which make my runs extra comfy. I’m also into the fact that Hoka produces this half-zip in sizes XS-XXL in four pretty colors. It’s also thin and lined with fleece, making it perfect for an outdoor run when the weather is on the chilly side.
For reference, I’m five feet tall, weigh 135 pounds, and am a B-cup. I would classify myself as petite, so I tried a size small, and it fits pretty well. It’s loose enough to be extremely breathable, but not so loose that I can feel it bouncing while I run. While I am curious how the smaller size would fit, I’m glad I got the small (instead of the extra small) because I’d rather wear clothing that’s a little big over a little small. If you prefer to run with tighter garments, though, I’d definitely recommend sizing down.
- Fleece lining
- Pockets and thumbholes
- Runs large
Originally $52, on sale for $40
Available sizes: XS-XL (select sizes/colors sold out)
Because of how short these are, I thought the Hoka Hupana Short might lead to chafing in my inner thighs on my runs . Once I actually ran, though, I realized that they’re the perfect length and there was no chafing in sight. I also love that these shorts are basically pockets galore: They have a zipper pocket on the right side, an open pocket on the left, and a small pocket in the seam of the waist. I usually keep my phone in the left pocket and store my keys or cards in the pocket with a zipper.
These shorts are made of a recycled polyester-Lycra blend and are available in sizes XS-XL. I got a medium, which is a bit tight around my thighs and has a good fit around my waist—though I do wish they had a drawstring. When I’m running, I want my bottoms to be ever-so-slightly snug so that they don’t fall down as I stride, and I find myself pulling them up every so often. If I could order these all over again, I would definitely add the small to my cart.
- Perfect length
- Ample pockets
- Stretchy yet compressive
- No drawstring—can slide down
Available sizes: XS-XL
I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about this sports bra—it’s comfortable, it provides amazing support for my breasts regardless of how fast I’m running, and it has a very chic, semi-circle cut-out on the back for extra breathability. That said, I noticed that the internal Hoka label peeled after a handful of runs and washes. I wouldn’t necessarily classify that as a bad thing, though, since it doesn’t affect the stellar performance of the bra.
I would fully suggest sizing up if you’re stuck between the smaller and bigger sizes. Even though I’d say I’m petite, my chest and rib area are rather wide, which is why I opted to get a medium when I tried this sports bra. In addition to a range of sizes, the Hupana Sports Bra comes in six colors (which you can match with the tights and shorts).
- Lightweight and breathable
- No specific cup/band sizes available
Ever since I started my journey as a runner, I’ve been searching for outstanding running bottoms, a feat that’s much harder than I’d imagined. Much like Goldilocks, I would find that some tights were too loose while others were too long for my 5-foot frame. While the Hoka running tights are slightly tight on my waist—because I got a small instead of medium as I did with the shorts—but I find that preferable because they don’t slide down at all.
Like the Hupana shorts, these leggings are made of 75 percent recycled polyester and 25 percent lycra, making them comfortable, light, and stretchy. They have three pockets: a small one on the left side of the waist, an open pocket on the left thigh, and a zipper pocket on the right side (in which you can see my key fob). These tights come in sizes XS-XL, really hug your figure, and are available in five different colors. I wish they had a drawstring for a more custom fit, given the price tag.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Recycled materials
- Ample pockets
- No drawstring waist
Available sizes: XS-XL
Coincidentally as all heck, I’m wearing the Hoka Merino Midlayer as I write this article. The sweater is made of merino wool, an ultra-soft, cashmere-like wool used in luxury apparel and some sportswear. Merino wool is also extremely cooling and is amazing at soaking up moisture. What’s more: This midlayer has reflective lines printed vertically across each elbow; has a mesh back that makes it super breathable; and it covers about half of your neck to keep you warm.
This midlayer comes in two colors: red-orange and black. I tested it in black, and it was more of a deep navy blue than a true black. Don’t get me wrong—I still love it, and the color obviously doesn’t affect its performance. I’m just saying that if you’re looking for a black midlayer that goes perfectly with your black bottoms, this top isn’t it. If, however, you’re shopping for a breathable, light, and comfortable long-sleeve that helps you power through your runs, this will do the trick. This sweater runs in sizes XS-XL, and I tried a medium. It’s the tiniest bit loose, but I’d still stick with this size over a small.
- Warm yet breathable
- Almost all sold out
- The black is more a navy blue than true black
Originally $78, on sale for $55
Available sizes: XS-XL
I’m an LA girly, so I can’t say that we really have super cold winters, but the early months of this year were uncharacteristically chilly. When I would head to the gym or go on a 6 AM run (which honestly was only a handful of times), this cropped pullover was my best friend. It’s made of French terry material, making it super soft, cushiony, and warm. It also has thumbholes at the wrist and a drawcord to adjust the tightness of your hook.
One note: The product page says that this hoodie features a kangaroo front pocket, but the pullover I tested had zero pockets. I got a size small (from a range of XS-XL), which fit well as an oversized hoodie. That said, because I’m only five feet tall, there’s extra material when I put my thumbs into the holes of this hoodie. Knowing this, I’d probably get the extra small instead of the small—but I’d still get this light green option instead of the blue or pink picks.
- Warm and comfortable
- Drawstring waist
- Slightly cropped for layering
- Runs large
- Advertised with kangaroo pockets but there was no pocket when tested
Available sizes: XS-XL
If I’m spilling the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea: This three-quarter sleeve isn’t the most aesthetic garment on this list. Instead, it’s one of those functional shirts that I’ll turn to time and time again because I can wear it whether it’s hot or cold. Also, if I had an Apple Watch, its sleeves allow me to easily check it (instead of having to reach into my pocket for my phone).
On to the materials: This shirt is made of 100 percent recycled polyester, which means it’s adept at keeping sweat on the outside of your shirt and quickly drying it. At first, I didn’t believe the claims about this material, which Hoka and other running lines refer to as “sweat-wicking.” However, last week, a friend and I ran more than four miles outdoors. He was wearing a cotton shirt and I was wearing this three-quarter sleeve. While his shirt was basically soaked, mine was completely dry to the touch—on my back and, yes, even under my arms.
- Quick-drying and moisture-wicking
- Sleeve length works well with watches and trackables
- Form-fitting—size up if you prefer a looser fit
Out of all of my hats, the Hoka Performance Hats is the lightest by a long shot. I live in LA and am very serious about going the extra mile to protect my skin from harmful UV rays, but I don’t really log my miles with a hat on. In fact, I was kind of against it because I found that hats would get heavy after a while and I’d breakout around my forehead.
However, this baby has earned a spot as one of my go-to running pieces because of how light and breathable it is. This five-panel hat is available in six fun colors and has a flexible brim that makes it a breeze to pack in any bag—big or small. From running in it, I discovered that this hat also dries with ease. To adjust, you’ll use the cord on the back of the hat, effectively making it once size fits most.
- Lightweight and quick-drying
- Perforated sides for breathability
- Only one size
Available sizes: S-XL
I didn’t get to test these no-show socks for myself because they were out of stock at the time, which made me feel like they had to be good. Instead, I headed to the reviews on the product page and found a total of 156 reviews. Those reviews awarded the no-show socks 4.5 out of five stars, which is pretty dang good.
One reviewer, who gave these socks five stars, mentioned that “They have little areas of extra padding that aid in cushioning your foot and have a vented area to help with keeping your feet cool.”
According to the product page, these socks are made of nylon, polyester, Coolmax polyester (which is engineered to wick moisture), cotton, and elastane. Simply put, this means that the no-shows are form-fitting, breathable, flexible, and they stay dry. While the No-Show 3-Pack is $35, they also have a 3-pack of crew socks for $45. Both packs come with white, black, and grey colors and are available in sizes S-XL.
- No-show design
- Light and breathable
- Highly reviewed
- Frequently sold out
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