Published on October 4, 2013
Hoka One One Rapa Nui
There’s no denying that Hoka One One shoes look a little… odd. Like many runners we were skeptical when these over-sized shoes first hit the market, but with ultra runners like Christophe Le Saux and the UK’s own Mimi Anderson counted amongst their many fans they were impossible to ignore for long. Having dabbled with (and loved) the Hoka One One Bondi B road version, RunningMonkey couldn’t wait to get off-road and muddy with the Rapa Nui trail shoe.
Trail is really the spiritual home of the Hoka One One; the brand was the brainchild of adventure off-roaders, Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud, who understood that fatigue, impacts and muscle strains were challenges that runners of all stripes had to deal with and set about designing a shoe that would tackle those problems. The word Hoka is derived from Maori, roughly translated to ‘now it is time to fly’ and the Rapa Nui features the same oversize sole (up to 2.5 times the EVA in the midsole compared to standard running shoes) and unique ‘rolling’ design that sets the range apart; together making for a potent trail speed option that does, at times, feel almost like flying.
The rocking effect gives an incredibly smooth and energy-efficient stride transition from the heel strike to the push-off (that will still benefit forefoot strikers), for a run that feels ‘barefoot’ but adds the protection of a frankly huge amount of cushioning. It sounds contradictory, but works brilliantly in practice – speed feels almost guaranteed and the running gait as natural as trotting shoeless across sand. It takes a leap of faith to try these, but the results, we feel, are impressive.
Given their size you might think that the Rapa Nui would come in on the heavy side. Far from it; at 580g (UK size 8.5, pair) there only 200g heavier than the very minimalistic NB Trail Minimus and 50g lighter than the Inov-8 RolLite 315 – both shoes we’d consider for similar terrain and racing. The lack of weight helps considerably in reducing fatigue and even when mud-clogged felt good after long runs.
On the subject of mud: The Rapa Nui scores well for both grip and stability in the wet stuff. The lugs, although quite low profile, are well distributed and dealt with climbs and descents admirably and the extra width (designed, in part, to counter the shoes unusual height) makes for a stable and surprisingly responsive run.
Yes, there’s no denying that they do look a little odd. But come on, we love a sport than involves blood, sweat, tears, Lycra, luminous t-shirts… We look odd. Get over it and try the Hoka One One Rapa Nui for yourself.
Hoka One One Rapa Nui retail at £120.00 and are widely available online.