HOKA ONE ONE Sky Arkali

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The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is a new type of hiking shoe that takes the traction and grip from a climbing shoe, cushioning and responsiveness from a running shoe and protective features from a hiking shoe and blends it into a performance-oriented shoe that will rock the trail running world. There aren’t many, if any shoes like the Arkali on the market (for the time being), which makes this shoe worth trying out.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Hybrid hiking shoe
  • Responsive
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for trail running, hiking, rock climbing
  • Good traction across various surfaces
  • Great design
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Great underfoot protection
  • Durable materials
Cons
  • One runner didn’t find the Velcro straps stabilizing enough
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Hoka One One Sky Arkali is made from the famous Vibram Megagrip rubber compound made to ensure excellent traction on a variety of different surfaces. The Resilient and grippy outsole features multidirectional and differently shaped 5mm lugs that protrude a bit outside of the shoe platform providing some much-needed extra stability, along with exceptional traction. The Arkali’s outsole features deep X-shaped midfoot flex grooves, and the tread pattern itself allows for a lot of sole flexibility due to the spaced-out nature of the aggressive lugs. The Vibram Megagrip logo is in the midfoot area, and the long-wearing rubber extends high up to the top of the midsole, forming a protective layer of rubber that is bound to increase the shoe’s durability.

Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The PROFLY midsole featured in the Hoka One One Arkali hybrid hiking shoe is the same used (and loved) in the Torrent and features a well-thought-out blend of cushion and responsiveness in the toe area. This midsole configuration consists of the top EVA foam layer that provides cushioning without adding too much weight to the shoe, while the bottom layer of the midsole features the Rangi foam that is firmer, more durable and provides substantial energy-return. The top EVA layer is actually a dual-density foam that is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot, allowing for an energetic toe-off. This kind of midsole configuration provides structure, support, responsiveness and comfort on uneven terrain. The Active Foot Frame technology enables the foot to settle into the midsole rather than just standing on top of it, which is aimed at providing a unique feeling of being ’one’ with the midsole.

Upper
Upper

Upper

The MATRYX upper of the Hoka One One Sky Arkali is made out of lightweight weave comprised of Kevlar strands that are durable, sturdy and abrasion-resistant, without any bulkiness to them. The vamp is covered by the high-abrasion toe cap which extends almost to the midfoot area for added protection and increased longevity of the upper. The elastic and resilient upper material is complemented with the innovative heel and ankle velcro straps. These straps are reminiscent of some running and basketball shoes, and along with the fact that they make the shoe look cool, they also provide a lot of structural support and stability. Taking cues from approach shoes, the Sky Arkali borrows the specific-looking laces that go all the way down to the toe, which allows a customized and precise fit needed for tackling technical rocks.

Weight
Weight

Weight

The Hoka One One Sky Arkali isn’t the lightest in the trail shoe category, but it can hardly be described as heavy. At 432g or 15.24oz in weight per half-pair, there are some walking and road running shoes that weight the same as the Arkali, without the sturdiness and versatility that this hybrid shoe has to offer. However, if you’re really keen on trying out a very lightweight trail shoe, you can opt for less supportive and more speed-oriented Adidas Outdoor Terrex Agravic Speed Plus.

Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

This hiking shoe is fairly breathable, thanks to the weave upper with Kevlar strands that provides sufficient ventilation throughout the run. While this upper material isn’t dominant in the vamp area, where the non-breathable rubber toe cap takes center stage, the rest of the shoe, namely the midfoot and heel area, are covered in the breathable material that provides air flow and will keep your feet dry, preventing blisters from forming. However, if you’re going on a trail in very hot weather, you’ll probably experience some sweating and heat, but nothing that will take away from your overall hiking experience.

Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Given the cushioned sole that is characteristically thick, along with the Active Foot Frame, provides great comfort for the foot as it offers a soft ride throughout the entirety of the run. The flexible and ultra-adjustable upper won’t create any tight pressure spots on the foot, while the roomy toe box will allow your toes to flex, stretch and bend without restrictions, improving both the comfort and the stability of the ride. The velcro straps around the ankle have a snug and supportive fit, and the elastic upper, along with the tongue, offers a sock-like experience. The fit of the Hoka One One Sky Arkali is true to size. All in all, this hybrid shoe is specific because it provides the level of comfort of a road running shoe while also offering various useful aspects of trail, hiking and approach shoes to it.

Style
Style

Style

The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is one of those shoes you either love or hate – and a lot of runners seem to love it so far. Maintaining its unique hybrid nature and translating it to design, the Arkali looks cool, loud, bright and modern. The Velcro straps are reminiscent of some basketball and even lifestyle shoes, while the rubberized toe cap and the peculiar lacing system make you look twice before realizing it’s not a basketball or a lifestyle shoe at all. The bright yellow Vibram logo on the side of the vamp gives off the trail-oriented nature of the shoe, and the Hoka logo on the midfoot area is the same color as the eyelets and a part of the midsole. All in all, this is a well-designed shoe that will probably turn heads – in a good way.

Durability
Durability

Durability

Given that the Sky Arkali has been released earlier this year, it’s still early to talk about durability with absolute certainty. That being said, the Vibram Megagrip compound is known to have great longevity, and seeing how it not only makes the majority of the outsole but also enwraps the greater part of the vamp, it’s fairly safe to say that the durability of the upper and the midsole has likely been increased by this design as well. The Kevlar strands integrated into the upper weave are sturdy and long-wearing, while the dual-density EVA and Rangi foam midsole seems like it will be capable of logging upwards of 400 miles with ease. As time progresses, we’ll keep you updated on the Arkali’s durability in detail.

Protection
Protection

Protection

Not surprising from a trail shoe made by the Hoka One One – it’s cushioned and absorbs shock efficiently and consistently throughout the hike. The foam configuration used in the Arkali’s midsole is denser and firmer than their road running models, but this bouncy nature of the outsole is well-appreciated on the trail. This firmness doesn’t take away from the underfoot protection offered, it just feels a little different than a soft sole that is exclusively cushion-oriented. The protective, anti-abrasive toe cap will protect your feet from flying stones and other obstacles on the trail, which is a must-have for trails shoes, but the Hoka One One really went all-out on the protective vamp reinforcements this time – something that most runners will appreciate.

Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The PROFLY midsole of the Hoka One One Sky Arkali has a softer heel in order to provide necessary underfoot protection for heel strikers, while the forefoot part of the midsole is responsive and made to propel the foot forward as you run on uneven terrain. The heel-to-toe transition in the Arkali shoe is smooth and energetic, and the Rangi foam layer of the sole makes great use of the absorbed energy upon impact, returning it right back to you as you run.

Support
Support

Support

The Sky Arkali trail runner is made for people that have neutral pronation, meaning that it’s most suitable for runners with high, medium-high and normal arches. So far the runners with high arches have had great things to say about the arch support that this shoe has to offer. As far as the lateral support is concerned, the sturdy weave upper enwraps the foot, positioning it in place, and the heel and collar straps add structural support to the ankles. If you have issues with mild overpronation, this shoe is deep enough to enable you to use your custom-made orthotic insole for added arch support, which means that around 60% of all runners will probably be satisfied with the arch support of the Arkali.

Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is primarily a hiking shoe that can be used for climbing rocks, running, as well as boulder hopping. This means that there are a lot of different types of terrains and trails that can be tackled with the help of this hybrid shoe, ranging from (almost) vertical rock to grass or terrain full of roots and rocks. While all approach shoes can clearly be divided into ones that are more suitable for either climbing or hiking, the unique thing about the Arkali is that it remains a severely upgraded running shoe at its core. This makes it an equally good of a choice for trail running, hiking and climbing.

Price
Price

Price

To say that the Sky Arkali is affordable wouldn’t exactly be true; after all, any shoe that makes you part from two C-notes isn’t something to take lightly. However, if you look at its price from a different perspective, you’ll find that if you purchase the Arkali, you probably won’t have to purchase a hiking and a climbing shoe – you’ll sort of have a three-in-one situation at your hands, which makes the Arkali’s price reasonable, if not affordable. The quality materials and the quality build are promising, which makes this purchase quite rational.

Traction
Traction

Traction

The aggressive, 5mm lugs of the Arkali’s outsole provide a good grip across various surfaces, and the Vibram Megagrip rubber compound is famous for being sticky and providing excellent traction. One runner proclaimed that the Arkali offered better grip than any other hiking shoe they have worn, especially given its relatively lightweight nature. The prominent lugs allow the shoe to perform well on descents, as well as grip onto the rocks, both wet and dry.

Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The MATRYX upper of the Hoka One One Sky Arkali uses the Kevlar strands which are tough, but elastic and flexible. This makes the upper pliable and able to adhere to the foot and adapt to its movements, while the sole, as thick as it is, still has a lot of flex to it, especially in the forefoot area. The tongue area is also flexible, given that it isn’t too padded, making it easy to move around in the Arkali without any uncomfortable spots.

Stability
Stability

Stability

There are several stability properties of the Sky Arkali that a lot of runners are happy about. The sole platform is marginally wider than the shoe box, which doesn’t add to much weight, but increases the stability of your step significantly. The approach shoe lacing system allows you to tie the laces firmly and stabilize the foot, preventing it from sliding around the shoe box. The heel and ankle straps allow you to adjust the fit of the shoe and stabilize the heel. However, not everyone’s happy about the stability choices made by the Hoka One One in this instance. While one runner praised the shoe’s performance on slick terrain, another user stated that the heel didn’t feel as stable as it should and that the strap system was too cumbersome to deal with.

Drop
Drop

Drop

The stack height of the Sky Arkali is impressive, although it’s not the highest we’ve seen from the brand. The cushion at the heel measures 29mm, while the forefoot stack height is 24mm. This puts the heel-to-toe drop to 5mm, which a lot of runners will find to be a great compromise between the zero-drop shoes and the standard, 10mm drop that can be too uncomfortable for forefoot strikers.

Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

● Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole with 5mm lugs
● PROFLY midsole
● Active Foot Frame
● MATRYX upper with integrated Kevlar strands
● Velcro straps at the heel and ankle with an approach-shoe lacing system
● Breathable
● Extremely comfortable
● Reasonable price
● Durable materials
● Trail running, hiking and climbing hybrid shoe
● Flexible
● Responsive
● 5mm drop
● 432g / 15.24oz for a half-pair

Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Hoka One One Sky Arkali is a unique and forward-thinking shoe straight from the brand’s SS19 line, made to revolutionize trail running, hiking as well as climbing. While it looks strange at first, it soon becomes clear that the design makes perfect sense. The grippy, lightweight, protective, cushioned and responsive nature of the shoe is sure to acquire a faithful fan following. If you’re a fan of hiking, don’t let the tech-oriented, trail running look fool you – it might be just what you need.