If you’re looking for a pair of running shoes that offer the most cushioning, you’ve likely stumbled upon the Hoka and Brooks brands.
You might be interested to know which brand has the best to offer in running or walking cushioned comfort. How do they differ, Hoka vs Brooks, which one should you choose?
We assessed the shoes from each brand, looking for the best maximalist shoe for running or walking and the models offering the most padding and cushioning for the road.
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These shoes are high-quality, efficient, and well padded. I’ve compared each characteristic, feature and specification so that you can pick the most suitable pair for your needs.
So Hoka One One or Brooks, which is the most cushioned shoe?
Hoka versus Brooks—An Overview
Comparing the two offerings we have kept in mind the versatility element of the athletic shoes. Are overly cushioned sports shoes suitable for other uses?
This brings up the whole subject of the difference between a running, walking and regular training shoe.
I find that Hoka and Brooks are two of the top options when looking for the best-cushioned shoe. Here’s an overview of each company and model:
Hoka One One
Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard co-founded Hoka in 2009, in the French Alps region. They started making their own running shoes with extra-thick soles before their success brought them to expand to a larger scale.
The Bondi 7 model is a high-tech pair providing runners with stability, comfort and great cushioning, in fact, known for it’s cushioning even more so than the previous Bondi 6 model. The cushioning is plush.
Their shape and design encourage a smoother and more efficient run or walk. The heel, especially and EVA midsole offers the most cushioning to absorb shocks. A little heavier than other models (a bit under an ounce more than the Clifton 6) but still quite light considering the cushioning material.
The shoe might look a bit clunky and the considerable cushioning look as though they may exacerbate ankle turns ( I hate that) but they actually embrace the foot and are extremely stable.
The toe box is generous, markedly more so than comparable models including another Hoka One One, the Clifton 6.
Although we’re looking at walking and running shoes, this model of Hoka is very popular in professions like nursing. Those who are on their feet and walking on hard surfaces a lot.
The outsole on the Bondi 7 has added rubber panels for more traction and gives the shoe more durability than previous or comparable athletic shoe models.
Although the midsole is a bit stiffer than a lot of serious runners may prefer I like the rocker effect of the shoe in motion which works both for running and walking.
No one is left out; these shoes are available in both men’s and women’s.
|Weight||8.7 oz (female) 10.9 oz (male)|
|Material||EVA midsole, high abrasion rubber outsole|
- Suitable for the heavy athlete, running or walking.
- Meta-rocker shoe shape for a smoother ride.
- Optimum heel and midsole cushioning.
- Plush cushioning.
- Durable material.
- May run a little narrow.
- They may appear ugly (to some).
- Most expensive of the two brands.
On the other hand, Brooks is an American company with headquarters in Seattle. They’ve been making shoes for over 100 years, starting with bath and ballet shoes in 1914.
Brooks’s range of shoes has been a stalwart of the running community for many years.
Today, Brooks Ghost 13 combines experience with never-ending testing and research to provide high-cushioned running shoes. They’re available for both genders and are specifically designed to support medium and high arches.
The Ghost series has always been at the forefront in providing heel cushioning and overall stability but the Ghost 13 Brooks have improved the cushioning in the forefront of the shoe, making it an even more comfy ride.
The Ghost series design centers around Brook’s proprietary features such as the DNA Loft and the BioMoGo DNA.
Combining these two technologies means support and plushness for the heel on striking (DNA Loft) while giving the sort of cushioning for a responsive, springy feel when in motion.
This balance of cushioned support and responsive rebound is more important for runners with the bigger impact although walkers and anyone seeking comfort and support in their activities will benefit.
The uppers in the shoe have been jazzed up with 3D Fit Print as opposed to other popular brands as well as the Ghost’s previous model.
The fit is slightly wider than the ASICS which runs more narrow.
|Weight||9.03 oz (female) 10.04 oz (male).|
- Legendary superior cushioning now extra at the forefront.
- Designed to absorb high impact.
- Soft but responsive.
- 3d printed seamless uppers.
- Recommended for new runners as well as old.
- Cheapest of the two.
- Uppers may generate extra heat.
- Size runs smaller than users expected.
Comparing the Features
While both models are designed for road running, the Brooks Ghost 13 and the Hoka One One Bondi 7 are also very versatile and suitable for other physical activities. Let’s dig deeper to evaluate the main differentiators.
1. Cushioning and Shock Absorption
Both models of shoes offer great comfort through advanced cushioning methods and have done it a little differently. Both shoes have been designed for the runner and probably from the casual to the club.
The fact that a runner can pound out mile after mile of training runs with amazing comfort it follows that such running shoes are chosen for walkers and as a workhorse for all manner of activities including professions that are on their feet all day.
So good shock-absorbing running shoes can turn out to be the best cushioned shoes for work.
The Brooks model includes the brand’s softest cushioning. The outsole also includes a Segmented Crash Pad to absorb vibrations as you run.
In my opinion, I feel that extra padding can sometimes feel unstable. To remedy this, Brooks Ghost 13 comes with a BioMoGo DNA feature to ensure you stay balanced and comfy in your shoes.
As for the Bondi 7, the midsole is made of light and soft EVA foam material that the manufacturer describes as “marshmallow-like”, but then I guess they would.
The design is made up of marshmallow-like structures though so should mean superior comfort across the foot and premium shock absorption.
And to tackle any worries about instability Hoka One One have made the base of the Bondi 7 wider than normal which further adds to the comfort of the shoe as well.
We have to agree for heavier runners or walkers this Hoka is superior.
2. Heel Drops—Various Heights
The heel drop is the height difference between the heel and the toe of the shoe. Both men and women models should include one although there are shoes with zero drop HTT (heel to toe) – we will go into that another time.
A heel drop absorbs impact and removes pressure from your heel, providing more comfort.
The design of shoes with extra cushioning in the heel over the forefoot came about because it was thought to reduce stress on the lower leg, especially the Achilles and calf muscles.
This made running easier and more comfortable for the non-athletic elite of us the more casual exercisers.
In addition, a heel drop also encourages the right foot positioning when running depending on whether you’re a heel striker or whether you land nearer the midsole.
Both the Brooks Ghost 13 and Bondi 7 models include elevated heels. The Brooks model, however, is over three times as high as its competitor—4 versus 12mm.
Keep in mind that the lower heel means that your Achilles tendon will work more. It also means that you may need some time to adapt to the shoes if you are used to running with a higher elevation.
I personally don’t take a lot of notice between low and high HTT drops. Comfortable cushioning and stability are more important.
If a higher drop is good for lower leg stress then the impact force has to go somewhere so no doubt this can display itself to the knees and hips.
For sufferers of shin splints, we have dedicated another section on the best shoes to choose from.
A strong heel striker, as I am, will benefit from the higher drop and the pronounced cushioning. Lower HTT drops may suit midsole strikers.
Because there have been no conclusive studies the decision on which trainers to buy in terms of differing HTT drops is an individual one.
And for walkers and other activities, it is even less of a concern and more of a personal choice – let’s not get further bogged down in drops. We have covered more on walking shoes here – in particular for the older person.
3. Foot Support
Brooks Ghost 13 has been designed to provide support for anyone with medium or high arches.
The heel counter is an extra form of reinforcement that’s added to the back of a shoe giving more support to the foot. The Ghost 13 is an improvement on previous models. It’s soft and textured holding the back of the foot firmly in place.
The mesh material combined with the 3D Fit Print technology embraces the feet, an improvement on previous models and means better support.
The Hoka looks like a rocker. The wheel-like shoe shape follows your natural running movement while enhancing efficiency. The shoes also contain an embroidery reinforcement to better support the middle section of the foot.
Hoka has also made attempts to improve on previous models with the new mesh uppers although they feel a little less likely to wick moisture away.
The Bondi 7 is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Whichever running shoes you decide on, selecting the right size is critical for comfort, but also to prevent injuries. Always check the manufacturer size chart as they’re all slightly different.
Hoka men’s and women’s versions are available in regular and wide sizes. The Brooks model, however, comes in narrow, normal and wide models suitable for all sizes of feet.
I tend to use shoes for running or walking a half a size larger to allow for hot feet to expand.
The Bondi 7 has a more roomy toe area and the Ghost 13 is a more average size.
We found the Hoka to be a slightly more narrow fit than standard.
5. Shoe Weight
When I started to run, I didn’t pay much attention to the weight of my shoes. It didn’t take me much time to realize that the added mass can affect my speed.
Generally speaking, running shoes’ weight doesn’t vary much, about 2 ounces. Yet, when running long distances, this little difference can play a significant role in a competitive race. The lighter the pair, the faster you’ll run.
For us mortals, the overall weight of the shoe may be inconsequential.
Both Brooks and Hoka One One models are similar weights. Both are great shoes, particularly for steady training runs.
For the best-cushioned shoes for heavy runners or walkers, when choosing trainers the weight of the shoes is really insignificant.
The design can be somewhat subjective. I personally like bright and fun colors, but my running partner will only go for classic shades and shapes.
Brooks comes with 22 designs for men and another 22 for women. I also like how the shoes look from the outside—sturdy but elegant.
Hoka only offers nine colors for each gender, and to some, they look a bit clunky because of the beefed-up cushioning.
If you’re someone who likes to have choices, or if you’re buying the shoes as a gift, Brooks will give you more alternatives to suit all tastes.
In addition to the features described above, I found the following ones valuable:
- Recognized by the American Podiatric Medical Association: APMA ensures that the product’s quality, efficiency, and safety guarantee proper foot health.
- Sturdy outsole: The shoes come with a high-abrasion rubber area for better durability while maintaining a light weight.
- Offers a 90-day trial: Go for a run, and if you aren’t satisfied, the company guarantees reimbursement within three months.
- Environmental friendly: Brooks is committed to respecting the environment. It ensures product sustainability and reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases—by 7 percent year-over-year. Lastly, the company guarantees the responsible sourcing of materials.
Both companies are consistent in the excellent support they provide as witnessed not only by us but by many satisfied customers.
Hoka or Brooks – a Conclusion
All in all, when comparing Hoka vs Brooks, both models offer fantastic performance, cushioning, and comfort while running. However, they have some unique features that make them more suitable for specific uses, running conditions, and requirements.
Use Brooks If You:
- Want value for money with your comfort.
- Want more color choices.
- Have medium to high arches.
- Need standard sizing.
- Want the best breathability.
Use Hoka If You:
- Are a heavy athlete.
- Particularly need shoes for hard surfaces.
- With their ‘rocker’ technology ideal for walking.
- Work on your feet all day.
- Are looking for a model combining comfort and smooth transition.
Being an older runner, walker and big-time user (and fan) of trainers I very much prefer runners that provide a lot of cushioning and support. It’s a long time since I would even consider risking joint stress and stability with a so-called minimalist shoe.
I’ve used Brooks running shoes for many years and Hoka One One more recently and both continue to make improvements on their sports shoes. For me, I would choose the Brooks Ghost 13 – they are by far the cheapest of the two and great value.
However, for heavier runners, I would definitely recommend going with the Hoka One One Bondi 7 for their “cloud-like” cushioning.
I reckon if you’re looking for extra cushioning and superior comfort in a sports shoe and for general use you’ll likely not be disappointed with either model.
We have much more athletic shoe stuff here.