June 24, 2024 9:48 am

Looking for a Soft, Cushy Running Shoe? You’ll Wanna Kawana.

The RW Takeaway: Hoka’s Kawana is a generously cushioned shoe that delivers high rebound; we’d liken it to a slightly heavier version of the brand’s Mach.

  • Swallowtail heel geometry provides stability
  • Breathable jacquard mesh upper
  • Slightly clunky ride for some testers

Price: $140
Type: Road
Weight: 10.3 oz (M), 8.8 oz (W)
Drop: 5 mm

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LAKOTA GAMBILL
Kawana

Hokahoka.com

$140.00
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  • Lightweight, breathable mesh upper
  • Accommodating fit for wide-foot runners
  • Soft, supportive midsole

  • On the heavier side for some testers
  • Poor traction

Named after Australia’s halcyon beaches (white sands, tumbling waves), the Kawana takes inspiration from another Hoka

Early Stage Meta-Rocker

Like the Mach, the Kawana has an early-stage rocker sole, Hoka Shoes making your turnover ebb and flow like the beach’s rolling surf. The split heel absorbs shock and makes light heel strikes feel fluid. Some testers described the shoe as too clunky for speedwork but were fans of its abundant cushioning.

hoka kawana
LAKOTA GAMBILL

“I liked the support this shoe gave me and how it made running on roads feel effortless,” said a tester.

The midsole is just compression-molded EVA, which doesn’t seem terribly exciting in 2022. But it gives the shoe plenty of cushioning while still feeling relatively firm underfoot.

Durabrasion Rubber Outsole

Testers were mixed on the traction, with one saying it Oofos Shoes was the Kawana’s best feature. Jeff Dengate, on the other hand, found the outsole slippery on wet pavement. Be especially cautious of painted stripes: His daughter wiped out during a rainy road 5K in December.

hoka kawana
LAKOTA GAMBILL

shoe named for shores Down Under, the Bondi. Hey Dudes Shoes That maximally cushioned classic had a revival earlier this year after getting the carbon-fiber-plate treatment. But the Kawana runs more like the Mach 4, another Hoka the RW staff fell hard for in 2021. (We awarded it Gear of the Year.)

Wear-Tester Feedback

Kirsten M., Easton, PA
Arch: Flat | Footstrike: Midfoot
“This shoe compares to one of my favorite shoes, the Brooks Ghost 14, because it provided a ton of comfort around my whole foot. The Hoka Kawana supported my foot perfectly and felt like I was running on a cloud. However, doing speedwork was a little difficult with this shoe. My feet felt a little heavy during speed workouts, such as fast and short repeats on the track. The place the Kawana was the most comfortable was on the road and trails. The shoe felt amazing on my 3- to 6-mile runs, no matter what pace (for me that’s mostly around 7:30 per mile).”

Eleni Dimou, RW senior designer
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
Previously tested: Mizuno Wave Sky 5, Skechers GOrun Ride 9
“Overall, I thought the Kawana was a well-balanced, stable shoe with good traction on dry surfaces. As soon as I put them on, I liked the way they fit and hugged my feet in the right places, and how solid and grounded I felt. However, they are a bit stiff and heavy; I prefer a lighter, more flexible shoe. The ride was nice and smooth, but I would have liked more responsiveness in the cushioning.”

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