Looking for your first maximalist shoe? The Hoka Bondi 8 may just be the one
Alex: Because I got the shoe a couple of weeks later than Ivan and Tim, I haven’t run enough in it yet. And what a bummer. From the first feelings I got, I think this could be the next daily trainer in my personal rotation. And when a running shoe reviewer actually integrates a shoe in their own rotation…well I think that means a lot! I should update my parts of the review after 50kms or so in the shoe to confirm the above.
HOKA Bondi 8 – Specs
Weight: 360g insize US 11 (measured), 307g in US9 (claimed)
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 33/29, 4mm drop
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 36,1/100
Introduction: more Bondi than ever
Ivan: The Bondi is HOKA’s max cushioned daily trainer and this version is upgraded with an extended heel, upgraded midsole foam and pillowed tongue. It is already one of the all time favourites of long distance runners as well as one of the most popular walking shoes. This is especially due to the superior level of cushion and comfort over extended periods of time on the feet. The big and bold look of the Bondi is even amplified in this new version and I was eager to discover if this would translate into my runs as well.
Fit: beware of the midfoot snugness in the Hoka Bondi 8
Ivan: I have always had some issues with the fit of the Bondi. Having a fondness for narrow platforms, the very wide and boxy Bondi never felt that natural to me. Also, the so-called ‘bucket-seat’ geometry creates a pressure point around my arch. It does not hurt during runs but it has always been quite noticeable. This is also the case in the Bondi 8. That being said, I do find the materials used very comfortable. The mesh is soft, light and breathable and the fit overall is comfortable. I would definitely go true to size in this one. No heel slipping and a bit of space up front. The semi-gusseted tongue combined with a more cushioned tongue also makes for a secure midfoot hold. All in all a pleasant and accommodating fit which is appreciated for those longer runs.
Alex: I have to concur with Ivan’s position here on the fit. I found it rather snug in the midfoot and while ok running with the stock insoles, the arch pressure got even higher when I tried the shoe with some custom orthotics. Let’s flag however that the Hoka Bondi 8 is available in a larger width. So if you have wider feet, do not even consider the regular one. Regarding the comfort, it is indeed plenty of plushness and padding. It is maybe a little too much for me but it works well especially when compared against other maximalists shoes like the New Balance More v4.
Ride: cushion, cushion, oh and yes a bit of extra cushion
Ivan: The level of cushion in the Bondi is amazing. Especially considering the weight of the shoe. This is the case for all Hoka shoes but somehow more noticeable in the Bondi because of the giant looking midsole. The new extended heel geometry even amplifies this visually. It was also noticeable during my runs as this new version feels even more stable. Actually remarkably stable considering that this is a neutral shoe on paper. The width of the platform and the overall stiffness of the shoe certainly contributes to that.
According to HOKA the midsole has been updated with a softer new foam. I honestly can’t say that I notice that. However, it is definitely an extremely dampening sensation. You do lose any kind of ground feel but what you get instead is an unrivalled level of cushion and the meta-rocker further contributes to a smooth ride. The outsole is almost identical to the last version. I have had no issues in wet conditions and I expect the outsole to be quite durable as always with these high mileage HOKA models.
Who and what is it best for?
Considering the sheer size of the Bondi 8 I don’t think it is a fast shoe by any means. This is not the intended purpose of this model as HOKA also offers lighter and more aggressive models in their lineup. Such as the Rincon, Mach, Rocket X and Carbon X. I think it is best suited for the majority for those easy runs. But for a lot of runners this could work just fine as the only shoe in the closet. Especially heavier runners or just runners who prefer max cushion and comfort and don’t care about faster workouts or races. Also, I have noticed that many runners, as well as pedestrians, prefer the Bondi as their go-to shoe. The deep cushion and rocker helps a lot with foot related injuries such as heel spur or sunken forefoot.
Stride running and stability
Alex: As a stride runner myself, I’m probably more an obvious target for this shoe compared to Ivan. My easy runs can sometimes be done at around 165-168 steps per minute and it’s only coming closer to my threshold that I’ll be running above 180 spm. That style of running that I have, combined with my midfoot/forefoot striker creates a legitimate expectation for something decent to push on. Shoes too plush in the forefoot are not my thing as I feel that I’m becoming less efficient. The Hoka Bondi 8 reacts well to my midfoot stomping and that’s partly due to the higher durometer score. That being said it also has a nice roll coming back from the heel, allowing me to adapt my footstrike depending on the paces I’m running at. Now like Ivan mentioned this shoe is not designed to go fast and anything below 4’45/km makes it feel heavier and clunkier than it already is.
I wanted however to make a point on stability as this shoe features three separate specs providing for some inherent stability. First the higher sidewalls (the midsole looks higher than the 33mm stack height in the heel and that is precisely due to those sidewalls) that help your feet stay aligned in the shoe. Second the higher durometer score that prevents from too much collapsing on both the lateral and medial sides. And third the central groove on the outsole which helps to create an alignment “guide” for your gait cycle.
Conclusion – no wow effect but a safe purchase nevertheless
Ivan: Being a very light runner with a high cadence, I am defenitely not in the main target group for a substantial shoe such as the Bondi 8. However, that does not mean that I do not acknowledge the advantages it offers. The uncompromising level of cushion at this weight class is appreciated by a huge amount of loyal customers. I think that the Bondi 8 slowly but steadily keeps improving upon that by offering an even more stable platform, deeper cushioning and an improved upper. Does it ‘WOW’ me during runs? Probably not. But is that what the main purpose of this particular model? Probably not. It is still just the perfect shoe for a big part of the population looking for a reliable and protecting cruiser for long distance adventures. On runs, walks and anything in between.
Alex: Have I been blown away by the shoe? No. But like Ivan nicely said it’s not the reason to be of that shoe. The Hoka Bondi 8 has one role and that’s to offering a great amount of deep cushion to people just looking for that. And that’s what it does. How to improve it? I feel like the main point of attention should be the fit in order to make the Bondi 8 more attractive to a variety of foot shapes. One could wish for a slightly softer landing but in the end it’s not the purpose of the Bondi to provide with anything too bouncy or soft.
5% OFF with code AFILITTI