Those looking for a trail shoe that doesn’t feel like they’re lugging around a few stones on their feet will find the updated Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 of great benefit. This responsive, lightweight trail runner has an updated cushioned heel, responsive forefoot, and continues to provide a generous cushioning in the midsole. Its full rubber outsole features multi-directional lugs that improves traction and allows the runner to negotiate tough terrain in all directions. Meanwhile, it's refined upper offers an adaptive fit and is constructed out of breathable mesh that provides support in the midfoot. Put, this is a comfortable, high-performance trail running shoe that will keep you moving forward up mountains, over loose rock, and back down again.
Agile and able to traverse rocky, difficult technical trails and smoother trails alike, the Instinct 2 is a refined update to the popular Hoka One One Speed Instinct. This lightweight neutral trail shoe is made for distance, difficult terrains, and speed while it’s versatile enough to run well on asphalt, sidewalks, and treadmills as it is adapted to keep its grip and perform on loose gravel and inclined planes. Molding to the shape of the runner’s foot to provide a snug but never tight fit, the Instinct 2 is tough and durable, with an extra layer of outsole protection to keep the runner’s foot protected throughout a ride on rough terrain.
The updated upper in the Instinct 2 is made of a web of overlays that cover the shoe with an intricate pattern that keeps the foot secure and fixed a common complaint of the original by making a more breathable mesh that also improves the overall fit. While it may be a little more pricey than other trail runners, the Instinct 2 is worth the price for its durability, light upper, improved breathability, and high-performance outsole that keeps the trail running enthusiast safe, secure, and moving forward over a variety of surfaces.
Keep reading our in-depth Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 review to find out if it is worth the investment.
Overall great fit
Improved cushioning on the heel
Durable outsole protects against rocks
A low drop without going completely zero drop
Versatile, able to run on tough technical trails
Even more important are its multi-directional lugs, which are both sturdy and numerous and offers great grip on a variety of surfaces, from smooth asphalt and well-trod trails to technical trails and rocky, uneven terrain. Its rocker-like construction guides the runner’s foot through the gait cycle, offering smooth movement throughout a ride. With a surprisingly short stack height and low drop (3mm), the outsole of the Instinct 2 will protect the runner’s foot while also aiding them in running, hiking, and trodding even the toughest trails out there.
After all, an ultra-soft midsole would not be optimal for a hard-charging trail shoe. However, this is not to say the midsole of the Instinct 2 isn’t comfortable: soft but stable with a firm forefoot, the midsole is both comfortable and responsive, with extra cushioning in the heel for comfort and to provide heel strikers with some extra protection upon impact.
Holding the runner’s foot firmly in place after lace-up, the synthetic mesh material of the upper doesn’t irritate, such as blistering, even when running without socks. Although there is a trade-off, in that this open mesh upper will not protect the foot from water, so be careful of sinking your foot into a puddle. Although there have been some complaints that the tongue tends to slide to the side during a run and its stretch laces may fall forward when descending from a steep incline, these have been sporadic and certainly doesn’t reflect a universal experience.
Its lightweight construction also makes it a versatile trainer that can hold up on a technical trail while providing a comfortable ride on more standard surfaces (although some may find its 3mm drop a little uncomfortable on the even pavement and asphalt of one’s neighborhood). However, overall this is a surprisingly comfortable serious trail runner.
Bright yellow outsoles with blue uppers dotted by light red overlays lashed about the top like the shoe itself is a frenzy of activity and outlined by orange. Considering the shoe was built for some rather intense activity, where the runner is racing over rocks and up steep inclines, this sleek, eye-catching shoe shines best when the runner decides to pick out a pair with the most vivacious color schemes.
Barring that, there are more muted color palettes for those who would rather not have their shoes overshadow their activity.
- Superior grip over rough running surfaces
- Incredibly durable construction
- A great investment trail racer
- Increased breathability from its former edition
However, it’s also adaptable to more standard surfaces, so even after wearing a pair to get up, over, and through rigorous pathways in nature, runners may be surprised to find themselves reaching to put on a pair for their daily run through their neighborhood, as well.