The Hoka Sky Arkali. A shoe that combines attributes of a trail running shoe with a low-cut hiking boot. The theory is that taking the best features from each category would yield a jack-of-all-trades shoe for hitting the outdoors. The idea is sound, but in a vein similar to hybrid bicycles, which combine of a road bike with a trail/mountain bike, it does not always go as planned.
Don’t get me wrong, the Hoka Sky Arkali is a great shoe, but as I go over my findings, it will become more clear which activities one should undertake with these shoes.
I originally received my pair of Hoka One One Sky Arkali from the folks at www.runrepeat.com and I wore the shoes for about a month. I hiked, ran, walked, cycled, kayaked, and worked in them and this is what I found.
For hiking, these shoes are wonderful. They are lighter than other hiking shoes I’ve worn, they appear very durable, and they grip the ground so well. My feet felt great while hiking and walking about in the woods, partially due to Hoka’s cushioning, and partially due to the breathability of the upper.
However, the Sky Arkali are a different story when it comes to running. Don’t get me wrong, these shoes are well constructed, but the breathability factor severely goes down because you are moving so much quicker and often. Also, the Sky Arkali are heavier than my other trail running shoes, which is weird to me because as a pair of hiking shoes, they are lighter than my old hiking boots.
The Hoka One One Sky Arkali has several features that make it stand out from other trail shoes. From the top to the bottom they are:
The MATRYX upper, which includes strands of Kelvar for durability and strength. Being a former Army guy, I can tell you that Kelvar is not breathable, but it takes a whole heck of a lot to rip and tear. Fortunately, the MATRYX upper is really just a sleeve-like layer that goes around the shoe and not on top where the tongue and toe box are located.
The front has a high-abrasion rubber toe cap to protect that area. It is not the same at a steel toed boot, but I did appreciate the small extra padding whenever I did hit fallen branches or more roots.
The PROFLY midsole appears in other Hoka shoes but I personally don’t know of any of my friends using them, but the PROFLY’s usage shows up in the Mach 2, the Cavu 2, and the Elevon. All I know is that I had a very cushy ride while wearing the Sky Arkali.
Two Velcro straps to fitting the shoe around your ankle and heel. The forward and back Velcro straps are a great boon since they help lock in how tight, yet comfortable, you want the shoes to be. Only once did a strap come loose, and that was when I tripped over a root and almost fell hard. Almost fell, but twenty feet of stumbling later I recovered. Because of the location of the Velcro straps, the Sky Arkali sits like a high-top shoe, and this greatly helps with reducing debris coming into the shoe and I definitely did not need a gaiter while out on the trail. The shoes also feature the longest length for shoelaces I’ve seen yet; I’ve never owned or seen a pair of shoes where the laces start at the top and end almost where my toes end.
The outsoles are the best part of the shoes, in my opinion. I have been a huge fan of Vibram outsoles since my deployment times in the military. Over half my boots had Vibram outsoles and they lasted a lot longer than other boots’ outsoles in Middle Eastern dirt, sand, and rocks. Vibram outsoles have a history of durability, reliability, and dependability. They will outlast any other outsole that I have owned or worn. The grip is phenomenal, but I would expect nothing less from Vibram.
While the hiking and running are what most people would be interested in, I do like the Hoka Sky Arkali when it coming to cycling as well. I do not own clip shoes that most cyclists wear, but I absolutely love wearing trail shoes whenever I ride my bicycle because the outsoles grip the pedals so well, I never have to worry about losing traction while pedaling.
The shoes are not waterproof, but I still wore them while kayaking. I had a few muddy areas that I had to traverse before getting in and getting out of the kayak, and the Sky Arkali definitely helped keep me upright and not fall while getting in my little ride.
Besides the shoes not being the best suited for long distance running, my major sticking point with the Hoka Sky Arkali is the price point. At $200 USD, £170.00 UK, and 200,00 € EU, you need to be sure that you want these shoes. They make great hiking shoes, especially in cooler weather, but considering I live in in the southern United States, I am reluctant to wear them in warmer temperatures. When winter comes, there is no doubt that I would break these shoes out for a winter trail run or hike, though.
You can see my first impressions of the shoes here:
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