Hoka Kawana Review

by iRUN Singapore on January 19, 2022
Hoka Kawana

Specs

Weight: 283 grams / 10oz (Men’s US 9)
Price: $239
Stack Height: 25/30mm (5mm drop)
Hoka Kawana

Background

The Hoka Kawana is a brand-new edition to Hoka’s line-up.  It is positioned as a versatile shoe that can handle both runs and workouts (HIIT & gym). It features a “new lively foam that provides solid rebound without packing out, and delivers an incredibly well-balanced ride”.
Hoka Kawana
A daily trainer that is intended to fit in between the Clifton and Bondi, the Kawana raises questions as to whether it can find a place in Hoka’s line-up or end up in no man’s land (Bondi X I’m looking at you).

Upper & Fit

The upper is made from an engineered recycled jacquard mesh. Its breathable and adequately padded. One thing that Hoka gets right here is the thickness of the ankle collar and tongue; they both provide a comfortable fit but are not overly plush. While I did not experience any heel slippage, I used the last lace holes for better lockdown (and also because the laces were long).
Fit is true to size here, though those with wide feet might want to wait for a 2E version. My slightly-wider-than-average feet managed to fit in these, although it’s on the snug side. For a reference, the upper fits similar to other Hoka models.

Midsole & Ride

The midsole utilizes a new compression moulded EVA foam (cmEVA). When I first heard about this, I was really disappointed. I was hoping that Hoka moved away from their standard EVA foams, given the number of interesting midsole materials that are currently available. The midsole here is noticeably firmer than what one would expect from Hoka shoes. 
Hoka Kawana
I’ve heard other reviewers describing the new foam as firm and dull. I wonder if its due to the way EVA foams react in different temperatures, but the foam wasn’t as bad as described. While firm, this new cmEVA foam has a slight dense bounce to it. The firmness is similar to the Skechers Max Road 5 in durometer tests, though denser and not as lively. 
Runners who don’t appreciate the current trend towards softer and bouncier midsoles might just appreciate the firmness that the Kawana offers. It’s not rock hard like the REPETITOR+ foam in the Adidas Adistar, nor is it as soft as the foams in the Nike Invincible Run or Asics Novablast 2. As a midfoot striker, I did not experience Hoka’s ‘Swallowtail heel geometry’ which was meant to aid in smoother heel strikes.
Hoka Kawana
That said, Hoka seems to be marketing this as a hybrid shoe. Other than the 3 big lifts in the gym (Squat, Bench-press, Deadlift), the Hoka Kawana provides decent stability on other exercises. It’s more laterally stable than many other running shoes when used for HIIT movements such as jumps, due to its wide base. 

Outsole & Durability 

‘Durabrasion’ is the name of the outsole rubber that Hoka uses in the Kawana. It covers both the forefoot and heel sections of the outsole, leaving the midfoot exposed. Outsole grip is good, even on wet surfaces.  

Areas for Improvement

  • Wider Upper 
  • Livelier Midsole

Conclusion

The Hoka Kawana is a good option for runners looking for a firmer ride that they could also take to the gym. I don’t think that being positioned in between the Clifton and Bondi is an accurate description, given that it runs much firmer than both shoes. If we were to look past the misleading marketing descriptions, The Hoka Kawana works best as a versatile cross trainer.
Hoka Kawana
Reviewed By Xtride Running

See the full Hoka Kawana collection here.

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