FIT LIFE: New competition in the maximum cushioning shoe segment

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 8:27 AM CDT
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On this Fit Life, we're talking about maximalist shoes with Eric Johnson of Fleet Feet Sports.

Eric tells us seven years ago, Hoka changed the paradigm for cushioning and shoes. They came out with a shoe with 50-percent more cushioning than the standard running shoe.

Fleet Feet describes the evolution of Hoka this way, "The idea for HOKA’s maximalist running shoes started in the French Alps where the brand’s founders dreamed of premium cushioning and a ride that carried momentum. But one thing makes HOKA shoes stand out from (and above) other running shoes: the midsole.

The midsole on HOKA running shoes takes many forms. The most-cushioned HOKA shoes, like the HOKA Bondi and HOKA Clifton, pack tons of cushy foam underfoot for a supremely soft ride. Other HOKA shoes, like the HOKA Tracer 2 or HOKA Mach 3, use dual-density PROFLY midsoles for soft landings and responsive takeoffs."

Now other companies have joined the fray.

"Yeah, there's just an opportunity for all these other brands to bring the same thing to life. And so, we have an example here from New Balance (New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v10). And, here's a shoe from Saucony (Saucony Triumph 17). These are their maximalist offerings," noted Eric Johnson of Fleet Feet Sports.

He also showed us the way the technology has evolved to make these shoes quite a bit more attractive than when they first came out.

Some have questioned whether the shoes absorb too much and wind up costing runners in speed.

"So inherent in this design is in addition to the cushioning, there's going to be a rocker. Because, with this much cushion up front the shoe just doesn't bend as much. So they, build in a rocker and if you care about things like speed, you get that out of the shoes," Johnson told us.

The price range will vary from $130 to $150 for a premium running shoe.