I've been running since the fifth grade, and I can tell you from years of experience that this high-impact sport puts a lot of wear-and-tear on your body. The culmination of middle school running, high school competitions, and strength training that I now perform has done a number to my knees, shins, and bunion. For years, I haven't been able to find many running shoes that tick all the boxes: one that is irritation-free for my bunions, doesn't worsen shin splints, and delivers on arch support. So, I went on a quest to find a cushioned shoe that would perform and support me during my workout routines.
Enter: Hoka Bondi SRs ($175). I can confirm that this pair is the most cushioned pair of running shoes I've ever tried. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the Bondi SRs.
Sizes available: 6-11, in half sizes and two widths
Heel-to-toe drop: 6mm
- Offers stability
- Cushioned midsole
- Slip-resistant tread
- Leather outer
- Not as stylish
- Only available in two colors
Pros of the Hoka Bondi SRs
In a lineup of tried-and-true contenders (think: Cliftons, Bondi 8, and the Challenger 7), the Hoka Bondi SRs are the most cushioned road running shoe in the lineup. The midsole is made of a comfy and plush EVA foam that makes it feel like I'm walking on pillows. It's seriously that soft. While I haven't been able to run outdoors in these shoes yet (because New York stays cold), I put these shoes through a series of outdoor walks and indoor workouts, and I found that they consistently supported my knees and shins during treadmill runs. As someone who goes through the rounds of shin splints, knee pain, and crunchy joints, I didn't experience any pain or popping with these shoes during high-impact activities.
Because I have a bunion, finding running shoes is an uphill battle, but not with the SRs. "Since they have a lot of cushioning, these are a great sneaker for those with forefoot deformities like bunions and hammertoes," says Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon based in New York.
I'm also a fan of low-impact activities while wearing the SRs. The shoe propels me forward during my daily walks, be it outdoors on my way to the local gym or for my sweaty 12-3-30 treadmill walk. The rocker-like style of the shoe makes transitioning from heel-to-toe seamless without the added friction and foot fatigue that I normally feel from super cushioned shoes. Even more, "the rocker bottom forces a greater angle of knee flexion during walking and allows for a smoother toe off," adds Dr. Lobkova. "The rocker bottom is 'early-stage,' so it may help people with mid-foot and heel pain." Early stage means that the sole of the shoe's transition zone is placed behind the metatarsal heads, so that people can transition faster on their forefoot during runs. It's what helps propel people forward and "run faster."
Photo: AuthorIn terms of balance, the shoe offers stability to help me get through my workout routine: warm-ups, strength training, a run or walk, and stretches. "The balance comes from the arch support that Hoka is well known for," says Nam Tran, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon based in Dallas, Texas. As someone with flat feet, the arch-supportive midsole, which is uniquely shaped to fit people with flat or neutral feet, gives me the stability and support I need to walk, run, and conduct upper-body lifts, and I never feel unstable when exercising. I also appreciate the comfort, stability, and support that the EVA midsole provides for my flat feet.
My favorite part of the shoe has to be the oil- and slip-resistant sole—which is made of an ultra-grippy rubber that fastens my feet in place no matter the terrain. I've tested these baddies while walking in rainy and lightly snowing conditions, and they stood the test of going up and down slippery subways stairs, pounding the treadmills, and hitting the pavement. Going down my stairwell in my apartment building (where I once slipped and fell, true story) is no longer a nerve-wrecking experience, and it's all thanks to the rubber grippers. I even stood my ground in the moving train cars of the Manhattan-bound 7 line (a rare occurrence), never once slipping or flying across the cart as I normally would with other footwear (New York train-approved).
Cons of the Hoka Bondi SRs
These aren't ideal for weightlifting—especially on leg and glute day. As a weightlifter who squats, deadlifts, and uses the leg press machine, I wouldn't recommend these shoes for heavy lifts. The thick sole lessens my contact with the ground, which is essential during deadlifts and squats.
Another not-so-great feature of the shoe is the price point. Retailing for $175, these shoes are not cheap by any means, but considering that they are made with a water-resistant leather that's durable and weather-proof, I foresee these shoes lasting a long time. As mentioned before, I walked outside in pouring rain with the SRs and didn't have to blow dry my socks at the gym (yay).
Lastly: They're not cute. Of all the Hoka styles available and that I've tried, this is the least stylish, IMO. It's only available in black and white, so I hope there will be more colors to choose from, eventually. Fingers crossed that new colorways are in the Bondi SR's near future.
Who should (and shouldn't) purchase a pair of Hoka Bondi SRs
Since the Hoka Bondi SRs already have built-in arch support and offer neutral stability, Dr. Tran recommends them "for someone with a neutral or flat foot type." And because of the thick sole and plush cushioning, walkers, runners of all levels, and people who are on their feet most of the day would benefit from having the Hoka Bondi SRs.
Don't believe me? Head to Hoka's review section and take customers word for it. "I'm in healthcare and on my feet up to 12 hours. Plantar fasciitis...Gone! They are a game changer," said one Hoka customer. Even Dr. Tran is a fan. "In fact, these are the shoes I wear on a daily basis! The support and cushion in the shoe make it a great shoe to wear for things that require lots of steps that may fatigue your feet. I wear them when I'm in the clinic, in surgery, and during exercise," he says.
However, if you're a weightlifter, you might want to re-think clicking the "buy" button. For me, the shoes are too cushioned for heavy lifting on leg days, so I'd recommend sticking to upper body lifting with these (alongside cardio).
My pair of Hoka Bondi SRs have been in my workout regimen for two weeks now, and I have been loving how they feel on my feet. They offer support during low- and high-impact workouts, don't irritate my bunion, and bring me much-needed balance (literally and figuratively) to my life. Every time I go on a hot girl walk (which is still a thing for me, BTW) or need extra arch support and cushion, I'll be grabbing the Hoka Bondi SRs before heading out the door.
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