Last Updated: July 10th, 2022
Hoka Vs New Balance. Both of these sports shoe brands are very popular. They are comfortable and are crowd favorite…
It is a difficult task to compare New Balance and Hoka…
We have compared them in detail below…let’s find out, which one we prefer…New Balance or Hoka…
Hoka Vs New Balance: Differences
1. The maximum drop of a Hoka shoe is 6mm whereas the maximum drop of a New Balance shoe is 12mm.
2. New Balance produces more types of sports shoes, however, Hoka has orthopedic shoes and recovery sandals in the mix.
3. New Balance manufactures dresses and skirts, whereas Hoka only has shorts, tops, and leggings.
4. New Balance has 6 trail-running models and 37 road running models of shoes, whereas Hoka has 12 trail-running models and 20 road-running models of shoes.
5. Between Hoka and New Balance, Hoka has the thickest cushioning with a 40mm heel stack and a 36mm forefoot stack (Bondi). The closest that New Balance has is a 38mm heel stack and a 28mm forefoot stack (880).
6. New Balance has a toe spring for easier heel-to-toe movement, whereas Hoka uses rocker technology.
7. New Balance Fresh Foam X feels a bit softer than Hoka’s CEVA foam.
8. New Balance has more models of running shoes than Hoka combining both road running and trail running shoes.
9. Hoka is currently available in India whereas New Balance is yet to be.
10. New Balance shoes look more stylish whereas Hoka shoes have a bulky appearance.
Hoka and New Balance: Similarities
- The minimum drop of both Hoka and New Balance is 4mm.
- Both New Balance and Hoka are shifting towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
- Both have running shoes in the maximal cushioning category.
- Both manufacture running shoes for trails and roads.
- Both the brands have a non-restrictive fit.
- Both use engineered mesh in the upper of their running shoes.
- Both use a foam material that is a derivative of EVA foam.
- Both have some models which have a carbon fiber plate.
When it comes to running shoes, all of us have different preferences. Obviously, that is mostly dictated by the kind of feet we have but still, we like different brands for our feet.
For example, both Hoka and New Balance make shoes that are for overpronating runners. However, being an overpronating runner, which brand you will like most completely depends on you.
You may like the softer cushioning of New Balance or the rocker technology of Hoka.
There is no one size fits in the running shoe world and how that can be? There are varied types of feet like, wide, narrow, flat arch, and high arch…or some have different feet requirements like bunions, plantar fasciitis, or Achilles Tendonitis.
Your choice of shoes will be a lot dependent on all of these factors…
More than anything else, the choice of a running shoe is heavily dependent on the feel of the midsole, and both Hoka and New Balance have done a lot to make this as comfortable as possible for you.
The main type of cushioning that Hoka uses is CMEVA or Compression-Molded EVA foam. This is basically a derivate of EVA foam, which is the base midsole material of most running shoes.
New Balance on the other hand uses Fresh Foam X. It is gradually making this change to most of its running shoes. It all started with Fresh Foam, which was developed after taking input from thousands of athletes.
Initially, Fresh Foam had a mixed review, but with gradual fine-tuning, the perceptions of the runners changed and it became one of the most loved cushioning for the running shoes.
The first improvement that Fresh Foam got is in the form of Fresh Foam More. It was lighter and slightly softer than that of the Fresh Foam.
Continuing in the same line, the latest generation of shoes has Fresh Foam X which is even lighter and softer. The softness is not squishy but has a firmness to it, but it is responsive and cushy.
Another technology that Hoka heavily uses in its shoes is meta rocker. There are basically two types of rockers, one is an early-stage meta rocker and the other one is a late-stage meta rocker.
The difference between these two types of meta rockers is the position where the transition zone is placed. In the early-stage meta rocker, the transition zone is placed behind the metatarsals, whereas in the late-stage meta rocker is where the transition zone is placed in front of the metatarsal. This provides a more stable midfoot.
For New Balance, they have the normal toe-spring as in most of the shoes, but also have segmented transition zones for an easier transition.
Also, there are a couple of models in both the versions like Carbon X and Rocket X in Hoka and FuelCell RC Elite of New Balance has a carbon fiber plate. This makes these running shoes more responsive and peppy.
For stability Hoka uses J-Frame. This helps runners with overpronation. It is basically a firmer foam on the medial side in the shape of a J.
New Balance uses a supportive medial post for stability. This is a dual-density foam handle 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.
Comfort-wise Hoka and New Balance are almost at par. The choice of the midsole will boil down to mainly what kind of comfort you will like. If you want a slightly softer comfort, go for New Balance, whereas if you like something on a slightly firmer side, go for Hoka.
The outsole of Hoka is mostly made of durable rubber. This type of rubber is highly abrasion resistant and will last for a long time.
Also, the grip on both wet and dry surfaces of these outsoles is also good. You have fewer chances of tripping, slipping, or falling.
However, if you are thinking of a full-blown outsole covering the entire outer surface of the midsole, then you are mistaken.
Hoka uses, what can be dest described as rubber stips on the high wear and tear prone areas. This reinforces those areas and improves duarability.
With Hoka, you will find another variation in the outsole and it is the rubberized EVA. In this type, what Hoka does is make the outer surface of the midsole rubberized.
This way they saved up on the rubber strips of durable rubber and simultaneously lighten the overall weight of the shoe.
However, I felt that the durably of such shoes are slightly less than that of the rubber sole shoes. Hoka also uses this similar method for the exposed areas of the midsole in-between rubber-covered areas.
Also, most of the outsoles of Hoka are complete ground contact, which is not the case with New Balance.
With New Balance, the techniques on the outsole that they use are similar to that of Hoka.
They also, don’t cover the entire outer surface of the midsole with durable rubber. Instead, they also use rubber stips pasted on the high wear and tear-prone areas.
The exposed areas of the midsole are made rubberized to withstand the daily running and stress of workouts.
The grip of New Balance on both roads and trails are also very firm…this will not let you slip or trip, even on a wet surface.
Another aspect of using these rubber strips is to impart some flexibility to the sole of the shoe. A complete rubber outsole will add to the stiffness of the sole and will make it harder for you to run.
However, having strips of rubber on the outsole will make it that much more flexible and easy for running.
Another way to improve the flexibility of the outsole is to have flex grooves in the forefoot. This is more predominant in New Balance than in Hoka.
The main reason to have that is to help in easier heel-to-toe transition which is handled by Hoka using its meta rocker technology.
New Balance on the other hand doesn’t use such a thing and alternatively, uses flex grooves to improve its flexibility.
Does it change the way you feel when running?
Not really. Although you may feel the slightly improved flexibility of the New Balance, Hoka will also provide you with a similar feel in the case of the easy heel-to-toe transition.
Grip-wise also, both of them feel similar on the roads and the trails.
Durability-wise, they differ slightly…we will discuss it in detail later on in this post…
There are a lot of things that go into the upper of both Hoka and New Balance.
However, what is common in both of these brands is that mostly they use Engineered Mesh.
In Hoka, you will find a couple of varieties, which are either engineered mesh or engineered jacquard mesh.
Now, what is the difference between an engineered Mesh and Jacquard mesh…
In Jacquard mesh, complex designs are directly knitted in the mesh whereas, in engineered mesh, such a thing is not there…
For example, the upper of SpeedGoat is jacquard mesh whereas Bondi is open engineered mesh.
The breathability of both of these types of meshes is good…However, the appearance of jacquard mesh is denser.
Also, Hoka is trying to make most of its upper materials from recycled things. This makes it more sustainable and reduces the overall carbon footprint.
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 to heavily adopt that extended pull tab design and apart from a couple of models like Bondi or Arahi, most of the others like Clifton or Mach have this structure. This provides additional support to the Achilles area plus, you will be able to easily wear this 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 Hoks 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.
However, not only jacquard mesh, but you will also be able to see engineered mesh in some of the other models of this brand.
In some of the models like in 990, you will also find pigskin in the mix of materials that are used to create the upper.
Also, the 990 is one of the few models in the entire running shoe universe that is being completely manufactured in the US.
The breathability of any kind of upper is good…there is enough ventilation to keep your feet comparatively cool and dry.
The only exception to this is the GTX or GORE-TEX upper of both of the brands…
Since this kind of material is meant to stop water, snow, or dirt to seep into the shoe, they are made in a less permeable way. This in turn reduces the airflow as well causing the shoes to be much warmer than their mesh counterparts.
The tongue of all the running shoe models of New Balance is not only made of engineered mesh. Some of them are and have good padding, but for the others, there is neoprene material as well, which is a much thinner tongue compared to the mesh ones.
With a neoprene tongue, you will feel a bit of the lace, which is not uncomfortable, but the feeling of them will be there.
Like most of the Hoka models, the New Balance also is adopting the flat laces approach. These laces stay tied throughout your run and don’t come undone.
Most of the models from New Balance also have adopted the Achilles support kind of pull tab and the heels are also comfortable and allow lock-in.
The Ultraheel that the New Balance introduced with 1080v11 was not a hit and they have changed that to a more traditional heel in 1080v12. This has solved the heel-slip problem and is a very comfortable heel cup for the runners.
Although a very personal preference, I like the look of New Balance more. I find them more stylish and sleek. For Hoka, I find their appearance bulkier and the roundish toe-box of Hoka is not my thing.
If you have to compare Hoka and New Balance without bias, they are pretty much similar and come with almost all the things that are present in one is present in the other.
Hoka and New Balance has a lot of similarities when it comes to shoe construction. Both 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 also there between both brands Hoka is a low-drop shoe brand whereas New Balance has many models that have higher drops.
Typically a Hoka shoe will last you for around 350 miles. After that, you may start to feel the wear and tear.
However, with a running shoe brand that provides you with this amount of cushioning, this is common. I would have been worried to invest in these shoes if the durability was less. They are right in the ballpark of 300-500 miles which is a standard for most running shoes.
New Balance on the other hand will last slightly longer from around 370 to 400 miles. But then again, the durability of the shoe will depend on a lot of factors and the overall durability will vary from user to user.
This is a very slight difference and the durability of these two shoes can be considered at par.
As mentioned above, Hoka uses most CMEVA which is a very cushy material. They will provide you with excellent cushioning and is great for long as well as short runs. For some of the models like Bondi, you will literally feel like walking on the clouds.
The main material for cushioning in New Balance running shoes is Fresh Foam X. This is an exceptional material when comes to cushioning. It will hug your feet in total comfort and be resilient and responsive.
You can consider these two shoes at par when it comes to cushioning.
Overall Fit And Comfort
The overall fit of both New Balance and Hoka are similar as both of them has a wideish fit. However, apart from the very popular models of Hoka like Bondi and Clifton, most of the other models don’t have a wide fit.
For New Balance, this is not the case and you will get a wide or an extra wide in almost all the models of this brand.
So, runners with a wider foot or have a requirement for wide shoes may gravitate towards New Balance.
The starting price of New Balance road running shoes is around $50 and in the range between $50 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.
So, if you want to just try out a Hoka shoe, you will have to pay a premium.
However, for the most premium shoes, for both the models, the prices reach slightly above $200.
If you want to try out any of these brands and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then New Balance is the only option for you.
However, after $150, you have both these shoe models and you can pick them based on your preference.
Vegan or not?
Most of the running shoes from Hoka are Vegan apart from a couple of them. For the rest, Hoka is yet to come up with a plan to create a vegan shoe.
The same goes for New Balance. Some of the shoes from New Balance have their Green Leaf standard, in which they have used 30% or more recycled materials.
They are yet to have some more things to do when it comes to going vegan. They have some of the models that are vegan friendly, like, they have come up with a vegan version of 990, but then again, another version still has pigskin.
So, when it comes to being vegan, Hoka will be a easier choice…
If you compare New Balance Vs Hoka, both of these brands almost are at par.
There are a couple of places where get gets a few extra points and in others, New Balance scores high.
So, telling that one of these brands is better than the other will be a gross misstatement. The choice between these shoes will boil down to the kind of comfort you like.
Like, if you have wide feet, you will gravitate towards New Balance, if you are a vegan, your natural preference will be Hoka…
Other than that, I loved the shoes of both 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.