Known for its unparalleled (and yes, maybe a bit ~dramatic~) supportive midsoles and rocker shape, Hoka is *the* sneaker brand you want if you're a serious walker or long-distance runner. Ultra-light, breathable, and highly-cushioned, Hoka running shoes are designed to provide best-in-class comfort, response, and give you the bounce you need, especially if you're looking for recovery footwear.
The foamiest of all the Hoka styles is the Bondi—a best-seller that runners and walkers (and celebs like Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz) alike swear by for its dreamy fit and performance. It's so good, it's earned the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. And so it's really no surprise that the brand is on its eighth iteration: The Bondi 8 ($165).
The Bondi 8, which hit shelves July 17, offers some exciting new upgrades, including an extended heel for more stability, foam that's even lighter than the Bondi 7 (yet more firm, which runners will like), and a pillow-y, no-budge tongue.
My experience wearing the Bondi 8
For the last five months, my go-to walking shoe has been the Bondi 7 ($160). I really don't run outside of my OrangeTheory classes (and even that is a new development), so I can't speak to running performance. However, I do a lot of walking—about three miles every day with my dogs, mostly on sidewalks, but sometimes through grassy parks and dirt trails (never on hikes, though—and I'll explain in a bit). The v7 has been life-changing. I've never worn a shoe so bouncy, shock-absorbing, and yet simultaneously stabilizing. When you have two 90-pound power breeds who just want to GO, you need a shoe that, quite honestly, keeps you safe.
At first glance, I was taken aback by how cartoonishly thick the foam is—it's even more intense than the Bondi 7. But one minute into my power/hot girl/dog walk, and I was all about it. I completed my standard 3-mile loop around the neighborhood, and was so delighted by how comfortable they were. Just the memory foam collar alone is a huge selling point—so many sneakers leave my Achilles roughed up due to too much friction, but the material is so soft and pillow-y, I felt like I was wearing marshmallows.
The cushion-y EVA midsoles and outsoles are obviously the stars of the show, giving me incredible support, rebound, and protection. The energy return is definitely on the higher side, which is ideal for my needs (a comfortable shoe that gets me through at least three miles of non-stop walking, sometimes on volatile surfaces). The Bondi 8 does have the highest stacked height, which might not be ideal for sprinting (and definitely not for strength-training or hiking—you'll likely lose out on balance, big time). Like I previously said, I'll stroll through grass and dirt, but never on a steep incline.
The shoe also just fits so expertly snug. The memory foam collar hugs my ankles, and the tongue doesn't slip to one side or the other (maybe it's just me, but tongues that are unable to stay put are really distracting). The mesh upper is really air-y, so when I come home after about 45 minutes in 80-degree heat, my feet aren't gross and swampy. These required zero break-in time, and my feet actually feel less sore after wearing them.
If you have wide feet...
You'll probably want to choose the wide or extra-wide fit—the Bondi 8 is a bit more narrow than its predecessor. That's one note I've seen consistently come up while researching the shoe. "As a woman with wide, troubled feet, a Men's 84E is not easy to come by in any brand. Hoka delivered the perfect shoe for my foot shape in the Bondi v7. When I first saw the v8, I thought they did it again. But it's a trick of the eye. The upper knit portion (bad at sneaker-speak) is actually (or feels like) slightly narrower in the forefoot. The base/knit is narrower at the midsole. It's a slightly straighter cut, even though the foam underneath looks like it provides a wider base/same width on top," one customer writes.
For what it's worth, I'd say I have "average" feet (not too narrow, not too wide), and the regular fit was perfect for me.
Which activities are the Bondi 8 best for?
Hoka's website recommends the Bondi 8 for "everyday running, walking, and comfort." While I've only tested these while walking, I've read countless reviews stating that these are truly a dream for recovery walks and runs post-training, especially if you're sore.
It's going to take a lot for me to switch to another brand of sneaks for all my walking endeavors, let alone decide between the v7s and v8s. But the harder those decisions get, the more likely it is that you've just created yourself a really solid footwear lineup. Happy strolling!
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