Whether you’re new to running or you’re interested in trying a new shoe brand, you have many options.
One of the most popular brands is Brooks. But a serious up-and-comer is Hoka One One (pronounced OH-nay). These shoes differ quite a bit, representing classic running shoe design and on-trend maximalism, respectively.
In this article, we’re going to compare and contrast these two major running shoe brands so you can drill down and decide which style fits your running best.
This comparison is no a matter of quality – they are both known for being amazing brands. But each brand tends to work best for different types of people. By the end of this article, you’ll know what camp you fit in!
Hoka One One
If you know anything about Hoka One One, you know that they are known for their max-cushioned shoes with a rocker bottom. Their shoes are typically made in very bright colors and thus have a unique look to them.
They were first rolled out in 2010, and they have become immensely popular. Hoka One One running shoes are the opposite of zero-drop minimal shoes (we’ll save that trend for another post). Instead, they provide lots of cushioning, making them a popular choice among master’s runners and runners with foot issues. Thye are especially popular with trail and ultra runners, although there are plenty of people wearing the road models, too.
By contrast, Brooks is known for being one of the most popular running shoe brands (if not the number one running shoe brand). They make a more traditional running shoe that tends to have a great overall fit with a cushioned midsole.
Their entire portfolio of shoes is popular with runners of all types and experience levels. Think of Brooks as the Goldilocks shoe: a middle-of-the-road design that appeals to the masses. Not too cushioned, not too minimal, but just right. From occasional runners to serious amatuers to hardcore trail runners to winners of big-city marathons, Brooks are popular year in, year out. They are ideal for runners who want a more traditional shoe with the comfort and durability of a lasting brand.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a shoe, the construction of a running shoe can make a huge difference. For example, the way that Brooks shoes are constructed versus Hoka One One shoes is completely different.
Brooks is known for having a larger toe box. They aren’t as wide as a zero-drop, foot-shaped Altras – but compared to some other major brands like ASICS and Saucony, they run wider in the toes. You shouldn’t have to worry anymore about your feet being crammed in a toe box with a pair of Brooks shoes.
By contrast, Hoka One One is traditionally known for having a slightly smaller toe box, though recent updates have attempted to address this issue.
Both brands feature traditional lacing and a seamless upper, which is the norm for running shoes these days.
A seamless upper is one piece of material molded into a shoe shape. It eliminates the need for stitching panels together. This not only reduces weight, but adds comfort with a softer feel when you put your foot in the shoe.
Hoka is known for its extremely cushioned midsoles, although they do have a variety of thicknesses. The idea is to help with shock absorption and promote comfort, especially on very long runs.
The company calls its midsole the “bucket seat” because it functions like the bucket seat of a race car. It cushions the heel and foot without posts or guide rails. Brooks, by contrast, is known for its guide rails, so its midsole is very different.
Brooks also has soft, cushioned midsoles, although not at the same level as a Hoka. They strive to balance responsiveness with cushioning.
The guide rails in Brooks’ stability shoes help to keep your feet in their preferred alignment so that you have a more comfortable run. You’ll get the support you need without altering your natural path of motion. However, they do have neutral shoes with less support.
Additionally, the Brooks DNA Amp midsole is known for returning significantly more energy than other comparable running shoes on the market—10-20% more. If you want good responsiveness, you’ll definitely get it from a Brooks shoe.
Since Hoka One One is known for its springy foam, it’s no surprise that it has rubberized foam outsoles that are responsive to fast movements. They are also known for having oversize outsoles due to the rocker bottom.
Typically, Brooks have a completely pure rubber outsole. If you’re running on the trail, you’ll also find a ballistic rock shield made of a thermoplastic EVA sheath that helps to protect your forefoot against objects like rocks and branches.
Brooks trail running shoes also feature a TrailTak rubber outsole that helps give you traction in both wet and dry conditions with a “sticky” like feeling.
If shoe construction hasn’t made the choice between Hoka One One and Brooks clear for you, we’ve also included some other things to keep in mind, like how long they last and how comfortable they are.
Brooks is known for reliable, durable shoes. Depending on where you’re running and how hard of a runner you are, Brooks shoes will likely hold up for you for between 300 to 500 miles.
Hoka One One shoes that are designed for trails have been known to have some difficulties on the roads with heavy wear and tear on the outer soles. If you want to run on the road with Hokas, make sure you get ones designed for the road.
With cushioning, you can’t beat Hoka One One. Their shoes are known for having over two times the volume of a traditional running shoe. People have referred to Hoka One One shoes as running in soft, pillow-like shoes. There is a trade off in responsiveness, though. All that plush cushioning can feel a little mushy is you are used to traditional shoes with a firmer feel.
Brooks also has plenty of cushion in its shoes, but not to the degree of Hoka One One. They give a more responsive feel, but the trade-off is the all-day comfort designed into Hokas. This is not to say that Brooks shoes are stiff or unforgiving – Brooks shoes hug your feet with the DNA Loft and BioMoGo DNA. The great part about the DNA Loft is that not only will it cushion your feet but also it will hold up for a long time.
Overall Fit and Comfort
If you’ve tried a bunch of different shoes and haven’t had any success in finding a pair that is comfortable for long runs, you just might like Hokas.
Hokas are known for their meta rocker technology that helps your foot to roll as you take a stride, meaning that you’ll put less pressure on your forefoot. Additionally, they have an active foot frame that provides plenty of support. They are popular with runners with foot and leg pain or who are recovering from injuries.
Brooks shoes are also comfortable, and they are known throughout the running community as producing a great shoe. They also makes shoes just for walking if you’re a walker rather than a runner.
Brooks is ideal if you want an all-around quality running shoe. They work great as a daily trainer or for road racing.
The average price for Hokas is roughly $150. A comparable pair of Brooks will set you back about $130. That means if you’re looking for a less spendy shoe, you’d be better off looking at Brooks.
However, if you know that Hoka One One shoes are the best for you, it might be worth the extra $20.
Given that Brooks shoes tend to last longer than Hoka One One shoes on the road, it’s definitely a better buy to purchase Brooks shoes if you want the most bang for your buck.
If you need more cushioning, Hoka One One is the clear choice. They are also made so that you can put orthotics in their shoes if you have a need for that.
But once people start wearing Brooks shoes, they tend to be very loyal users. They are popular for both runners and walkers. It’s hard to beat Brooks’s consistency. People know the fit, materials, and overall vibe of what Brooks stands for.
Additionally, Brooks is known for making two versions of the majority of their shoes—stability shoes and neutral shoes. Hoka One One has fewer stability shoe options.
In the end, whether you get a Brooks shoe or a Hoka shoe probably depends on the type of runner that you are. If you’re a runner who wants the look and comfort of a traditional running shoe, go with Brooks.
However, if you need some extra cushioning, tend to run long distances, or you’re a master’s runner, Hoka One One might be the better brand for you.
Best Selling Brooks Running Shoes
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Brooks Glycerin 19
Best Selling Hoka Running Shoes
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Hoka One One Clifton 8
Hoka One One Arahi 5