Last Updated: August 8th, 2022
Brooks Vs Saucony Vs Hoka. All of these sports shoe brands are among the most popular running shoe brands…
They are comfortable and they have their own set of fan-following…
But between these three brands, is there anyone who shines the most? Let’s find out…
Brooks Vs Saucony Vs Hoka: Differences
1. Hoka shoe’s maximum drop is 6mm whereas both Saucony and Brooks have a maximum drop of 12mm.
2. Both Hoka and Brooks produce more types of sports shoes, whereas Saucony produces only running shoes.
3. Brooks manufactures all types of sports apparel including socks, Hoka has shorts, tops, and leggings and Saucony manufactures tops, bottoms, and innerwear for women.
4. Brooks has 4 trail-running models and 25 road running models of shoes, Hoka has 12 trail-running models and 20 road-running models of shoes, whereas Saucony has 5 trail-running models and 15 road-running models.
5. Between three brands Hoka has the thickest cushioning with a 40mm heel stack and a 36mm forefoot stack (Bondi) closely followed by Brooks Cascadia (39mm hs/35mm fs) and Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 and Saucony Hurricane 23 (39mm hs/31mm fs).
6. Between the three, Hoka has the most models of running shoes, followed by Brooks and Saucony in that order.
7. Between the three, Brooks shoes look more stylish whereas both Hoka and Saucony shoes have a bulky appearance.
Hoka and New Balance: Similarities
- The minimum drop of Hoka, Brooks, and Saucony is 4mm.
- Brooks, Saucony, and Hoka are shifting towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
- All three have running shoes in the maximal cushioning category.
- All three manufacture running shoes for trails and roads.
- All three brands have a non-restrictive fit.
- All three use engineered mesh in the upper of their running shoes.
- All three use a foam material that is a derivative of EVA foam.
- All three have at least one model that has a carbon fiber plate.
As a runner, you may already have a favorite brand. It may be Hoka, Saucony, Brooks, or any other brand…
Choice of a running shoe is very personal…and between these three brands which you will prefer will also be completely based on the comfort that you feel in them.
For some, they may like the flex grooves of Brooks or the meta rocker technology of Hoka. Or, they may like the no-fuss minimalistic Saucony Kinvara.
There is no definite way to tell which shoe you will like the most, although, all of these are well constructed and all the companies have spent years together to perfect the comfort that these shoes provide…
So, let’s find out what these brands have to offer and how they will benefit you…
When selecting a running shoe, one of the main things that you will look at is the midsole. This is a make-or-break for your purchase decision.
Then between Hoka, Brooks, and Saucony which fares the most and which is worthy of your investment…let’s find out…
When it comes to Brooks, there are only a couple of types of midsoles that are present. Each of these midsoles has its own characteristics and will provide you with a unique experience. We will describe each of them below…
Brooks midsole type: Cushion
The midsole material that falls in this category is the DNA LOFT. This is a carefully calibrated mix of mesh, air, and rubber to provide you with one of the softest and cushiest midsoles available on the market.
Another type of midsole that belongs to the cushion category is the BioMoGo DNA. This was a similar type of material to DNA LOFT. However, in many shoes, Brooks is transitioning to DNA LOFT from BioMOGo DNA as the former is a bit softer and cushier.
Brooks midsole type: Energize
The cushion material that belongs to this category is the DNA AMP. It is a responsive material and provides you with excellent energy return rather than absorbing it.
The material is springy and bouncy and is not as soft as the DNA LOFT.
It is made from polyurethane (PU) foam which is encased in a thin layer of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).
In this variation of PU that is being used in these shoes, you will find plastic combined with rubber for the firmness and the elasticity. The TPU also provides DNA AMP with additional rigidity.
Shoes that belong to this category are Brooks Levitate.
Brooks midsole type: Speed
This type of cushioning is meant for fast and adaptive energy return. The midsole material that is created for this purpose is built with nitrogen infusion.
It is a very lightweight midsole that is meant for speed and good energy return.
Another aspect that imparts the speed to these kinds of midsoles is the Carbon Fiber Propulsion Plate. This is an ultralight plate that helps to keep you in your preferred motion path so that you run more efficiently.
Holistic GuideRails System
Apart from the midsole cushioning, there is another component that comes into play if you are dealing with overpronation.
To provide you with stability, Brooks has come up with something called Holistic GuideRails System.
This is excellent for providing you with support and bringing your knees back in the line of motion and protecting the knees from injuries.
Like Brooks, Hoka also uses EVA foam as the base material for its midsoles however, it is being made into CMEVA or Compression-Molded EVA foam. This is the primary material for the midsole of Hoka Shoes.
Apart from CMEVA, for a more smooth and natural heel-to-toe transition, Hoka uses meta rocker technology which is present in almost all the Hoka shoes.
However, as mentioned earlier in the Hoka Vs New Balance post, there are basically two types of rocker technologies. The early-stage meta rocker and the late-stage meta rocker.
The difference between these two types of meta rockers is the position where the transition zone is placed.
In the case of an early-stage meta rocker, the transition zone is placed behind the metatarsals, whereas for a late-stage meta rocker, the transition zone is placed in front of the metatarsal.
For stability, Hoka uses a J-Frame which is basically a firmer foam on the medial side in the shape of a J. This provides additional support to the runners with overpronation.
For Hoka, there is another H-Frame technology that comes into play in some shoes like Gaviota. The midfoot H-Frame provides you with increased upper support and also locks down the midfoot.
Saucony midsoles are also using the base material of EVA foam and have changed it to suit different types of running and cushioning requirements.
Here are some of the technologies that come into play in the midsole of Saucony running shoes:
PWRRUN is one of the primary materials that are used in the midsoles of Saucony. It is a TPU EVA blend and provides you responsive and cushioned feeling.
All the subsequent midsole materials are mostly an enhanced version of PWRRUN except for VERSAFOAM.
PWRRUN+ is an enhanced version of PWRRUN and is lighter, softer, and springier than PWRRUN.
This will provide you with excellent feedback and will keep your feet well protected.
Shoes that belong to the PWRRUN+ category are Hurricane, Triumph, Cohesion, etc.
This is yet another improvement in PWRRUN. The PWRRUN PB midsoles are made from a PEBA-based midsole and are very soft.
The responsiveness of these midsoles is slightly less and will provide you with excellent cushioning.
Running shoes from Saucony that uses PWRRUN PB are Endorphin Pro, Freedom, etc.
This is a durable cushioning that is based on EVA foam and is very responsive. This holds its shape for a variety of activities.
Shoes that use VERSARUN are Cohesion.
Carbon Fiber Plate
The carbon Fiber Plate is introduced in the Endorphin models of Saucony. This is extremely lightweight and durable and improves the responsiveness of these shoes.
It is great for speed shoes and is excellent for speed drills.
SPEED ROLL technology
This is an advanced technology which is basically a footwear geometry that provides you with an always forward feel.
S-CURVE Carbon Plate
This is the kind of carbon plate that is present in midsoles of shoes like Endorphin PRO. It is shaped in the form of a curve at the arch of the foot and it bends downwards slightly at the balls of the foot.
This improves the responsiveness of the shoe…
To improve the stability of the support shoes, Saucony uses an extended medial post. This stabilizes your feet and controls your overpronation.
If you try to compare the cushioning level of Saucony, Hoka, and Brooks, you will find all of them have all the varieties from ultra-plush cushioning to very responsive running shoes.
All of them have some models that incorporate the carbon fiber plate.
However, I felt, that the cushioning of DNA LOFT was slightly softer than that of PWRRUN and CMEVA. Being said that, I personally prefer a soft running shoe and have always liked DNA LOFT for that matter.
So, setting my bias aside, the kind of cushioning and responsiveness that these shoes provide is very good and you can consider them at par.
However, if you want to go for something which has an ultra-high level of cushioning then Bondi will be a great choice for neutral runners.
Go for Beast or Ariel if you are an overpronating runner. If you like minimal springy cushioning, the Saucony Kinvara should be your choice.
The outsole of Hoka is mostly made of durable blown rubber which is highly abrasion-resistant.
This will provide you with an excellent grip on both wet and dry surfaces and is excellent for any kind of terrain.
The outsole of Hoka shoes is not completely covered with rubber. Instead, it has rubber stips placed on the high wear and tear prone areas. This reinforces those areas and improves durability.
Another type of outsole is common in Hoka. In this type, Hoka uses a rubberized version of CMEVA. Actually, this is not any separate layer, rather the exposed midsole layer is rubberized.
This way they saved up on the rubber strips of durable rubber and simultaneously lighten the overall weight of the shoe.
However, durability-wise, these outsoles are a bit less durable, and also the traction felt slightly lesser on the wet surfaces.
The outsole of Brooks employs similar things as in Hoka and Saucony to provide you with a durable outsole that has a good grip on both wet and dry surfaces.
It uses HPR rubber strips on the high wear and tears prone zones like the forefoot and the heels. The area between the forefoot and the heels is often devoid of such kind of rubber.
However, those areas are made in such a way that they don’t come in contact with the ground.
One thing that is common in all three brands is that they employ similar techniques to improve the flexibility of the sole.
To improve the durability of the shoe, the usage of hard rubber is probably the only option. However, that adds to the stiffness of the outsole.
For that, there are flex grooves present on the forefoot. For Brooks, they are called Omega Flex Grooves. However, based on the shoe model, the type of grooves that are used also differ.
For example, in Brooks Ghost, the grooves are almost horizontal, whereas, in Launch, it is more in the shape of an arrow pattern.
You will not see such a difference in the rest of the two brands which use almost horizontal grooves for imparting flexibility to the forefoot.
For trail running shoes Brooks uses TrailTack. This is a sticky rubber compound that provides excellent grip on the trails.
The outsole of Saucony basically uses blown rubber that is spread across the forefoot and the heels.
Also, the kind of techniques that Saucony uses is similar to that of Brooks and Hoka for improving the grip and flexibility of the shoes.
However, the technologies that Saucony uses vary greatly from these brands and also from its shoe to shoe.
The technologies that Saucony uses in its outsole are:
It improves the force dispersion over a larger surface and provides excellent flexibility and traction. It is often used with the EVERUN topsole.
This is a carbon rubber compound that is used for improved durability. They provide excellent traction as well.
This is a carbon rubber that uses excellent traction and durability. It is an improvement on XT-600.
It provides you with very high durability and great traction. This material is more flexible than the XT series and provides you with a more natural movement.
Grip-wise, I would consider all the three brands at par. However, the rubberized midsoles that are used in some of the models of Hoka and Saucony have slightly lesser durability. Other than that, the outsoles of all these three brands are at par.
There are a lot of things that go into the upper of Hoka, Brooks, and Saucony.
However, what is common in all of these brands is that mostly they use Engineered Mesh.
Hoka mainly uses two types of mesh materials…one is the engineered mesh and the other is engineered jacquard mesh.
In Jacquard mesh, you will find complex designs are directly knitted in the mesh…whereas engineered mesh will give you a more open feel…
The breathability of both of these types of meshes is good…However, the appearance of jacquard mesh is denser and thicker.
To reduce its carbon footprint, Hoka has started using recycled materials for its upper…although not all of the models have recycled material, Hoka is speedily shifting towards that…
Most of the upper of Hoka shoes have TPU overlays…these overlays are used to reinforce the midfoot structure of the shoes.
The tongue of Hoka shoes is made from a similar mesh material as that of the upper and gives it a more uniform look like that of the upper. This makes the tongue breathable and comfortable.
Also, the tongue may be gusseted/integrated or non-gusseted/free…However, being anatomically designed, they will sit on the top of your foot properly and will not move around unnecessarily.
Hoka has started using that extended pull tabs in many models like Clifton or Mach. This is an Achilles support and also helps you to wear the shoe more easily…Also, it enhances the overall appeal of the shoe.
The heel counter of Hoka shoes are well constructed and locks your heel in. This doesn’t allow your heels to move around for any unforeseen accidents and/or create blisters.
Most of the shoes from Hoka have a Silicone Print Logo, some are glossy and some have a matt finish. This only enhances the appeal of the Hoka Shoes.
These Hoka Shoes have a sockliner which is from OrthoLite and most of them are removable. These are molded EVA sockliner and provide you with comfort and proper arch support.
The upper of Brooks running shoes are mostly made up of engineered mesh with the exception of the shoes that use GORE-TEX or GTX. It doesn’t use jacquard mesh as Hoka uses in some of the models.
The mesh material is well ventilated and keeps the airflow high inside the shoe.
Brooks is gradually moving towards a more sustainable type of mesh and is using recycled materials in its upper.
This is helping them to reduce their carbon footprint and is contributing to a cleaner environment.
Similar to Hoka and Saucony, Brooks also uses a removable sockliner that is meant to provide you with excellent comfort and arch support.
These sockliners are also breathable keeping the overall in-shoe environment dry.
Apart from this similarity, Brooks like Hoka is shifting towards the extended pull tab look. This not only improves the style of the shoes but also provides you with an easy way to put on the shoe.
The tongue of the running shoes of the Brooks brand is well padded and is mostly made of mesh material.
This makes the tongue comfortable and breathable, and it sits comfortably between the laces and the skin of the top of your feet. This avoids rubbing the laces which may cause blisters.
Like Hoka, the tongue of Brooks shoes may be gusseted or non-gusseted based on the model. However, what I’ve seen is no matter which model you choose, the tongue stays in place while running.
If you look at the upper of Saucony, it also has engineered mesh on the different models. The mesh that Saucony uses is also very breathable and like Brooks will help to keep the in-shoe environment cool and dry.
However, it uses FORMFIT in different models to provide you with exceptional fit and stretch according to the shape of your feet.
Most of the models of Saucony have adopted that extended pull tab. However, that pull tab is not as evident as that in Hoka or Brooks. If you are not observant, you will surely miss it. However, this also provides that added support to your Achilles area.
Also, the tongue of the shoes of Saucony is thick and well padded like its collar. This will keep you comfortable and will not move around while running.
In most of the models of Saucony, the tongue is anatomically designed and will provide you with the utmost comfort.
The laces that all these brands have adopted is a flat lace. They are mostly polyester laces that remain in place and are properly tied when you are running.
All the models have overlays on them. This reinforces the support of the upper and also enhances the overall style of the shoe.
Comfort-wise, the upper of all the three brands are at par, however, style-wise, I like Brooks more, followed by Hoka and then Saucony. This is a personal preference though, and it may vary for you.
Hoka, Brooks and Saucony have a lot of similarities. All the brands produce running shoes whose most models are true to size although the way represent sizing may differ a bit. The cushioning is great, and so is the overall comfort.
However, there are a lot of differences. Firstly, Hoka is a low-drop shoe brand whereas both Saucony and Brooks have many models that have higher drops.
But most importantly, it is how they handle their cushioning which we have covered in great detail above.
Typically a Hoka shoe will last you for around 350 miles. After that, you may start to see the wear and tear.
Since most of the Hoka shoes fall in the max cushioned category, this is expected. I would invest in a good shoe that lasts for some lesser miles than spend the same money on a physician to fix the problems caused by a cheap running shoe.
For Brooks and Saucony, the durability is slightly higher around 400 to 450 miles. From a running distance perspective that may be another 1 month extra of running.
This is where I feel, Brooks fares slightly better.
The primary cushioning material of Hoka is CMEVA. It is a very cushy and responsive material. However, I feel, this is slightly stiffer than DNA LOFT which is one of the primary cushioning materials from Brooks.
Also, the PWRRUN or its further enhancements that you find in Saucony is soft and cushy. The cushioning is good and comfortable, but the bounciness could have been better.
However, that is slightly better with Hoka and Brooks.
It is hard to decide on which one is better as all the cushions score some points in one aspect and lose some in the other. But nonetheless, all of them are very comfortable. The final choice will be the kind that you would want…
Overall Fit And Comfort
The overall fit of both Brooks and Hoka are similar as both of them has a wideish fit. Saucony on the other hand, for some of the models, has a bit of a snug fit.
However, one big shortcoming of Hoka is that, apart from the popular models like Bondi and Clifton, most of the other models don’t have a wide fit.
This is true for Saucony as well, where apart from the models Kinvara and Triumph there are no wide shoes.
Brooks shines in this aspect. It has a wide and extra wide-fitting shoe for most of its models. This is good news for runners like me who have bunions. We need running shoes that are wider on the forefoot.
The starting price of Brooks running shoes is around $75 and in the range between $75 to $100, you have a lot of variety including trail running shoes.
However, with Hoka, the starting price of their road running range is around $130. You will not find a road running shoe in the $50-$100 range.
For Saucony, the starting price is around $85. Also, in the price range up to $100, you will not have a lot of options.
So, if you want to just try out a Hoka or Saucony, then you will have to pay a little more than Brooks. Also, the choices that you will have, may not be what you want.
However, for the most premium shoes, all the models, the prices reach slightly above $200.
So, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, then you can go for Brooks…
However, if you have a budget of $100 or above, you have options from all of these brands.
If you compare Saucony Vs Hoka Vs Brooks, all of these brands almost are at par.
There are a couple of places where Hoka gets a few extra points and in others, Brooks or Saucony scores high.
So, if we want to pick a winner then it will not be fair to the other two Brands. The whole thing that the choice between these brands will boil down to the kind of comfort you feel in these shoes.
For me, I prefer Brooks and I cannot describe all the reasons why…but it feels more comfortable for me…and I don’t end up with bunion pain.
Other than that, I loved the shoes of all the three brands and you will love them as well…
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.