Hoka One One Tracer

The Hoka One One Tracer entered the running shoe world in April of 2016 as the company’s first fast, firm, and well-cushioned racing flat. Fans of the Hoka One One lineup instantly recognized that the Tracer was not a typical Hoka shoe. Representing a new Pro2Lite line of shoes, the Tracer introduced new technologies and constructions not previously seen. The Tracer is the first Hoka shoe that does not incorporate some kind of active foot frame, meaning the foot is not cradled by the midsole. The base of the shoe is also narrow compared to previous models. The uncharacteristically low stack height (10 mm less than the average Hoka) of the shoe eliminates the need for an active foot frame and wide base.

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Pros & Cons
  • Innovative midsole construction that delivers a springy feel and underfoot protection.
  • No-sew upper construction that provides a seamless interior to avoid irritation
  • Solid, protective feel underfoot
  • An attractive shoe with splashy graphics
  • Cons
    • Forefoot may be too narrow for some runners
    • Outsole wore quickly with heavier runners
    • The sole unit wore down too quickly
    • Not suitable for runners needing extra stability.
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the Tracer is composed of RMAT® material which is a blend of the traditional Hoka super soft foam and Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) rubber. This soft, yet durable foam-rubber provides for reliable traction while running on roads. It also adds cushioning for a high energy return and a more responsive ride. High abrasion carbon rubber is strategically placed in high wear areas on the sole unit for added durability. Some heavier wearers reported the sole unit wore down quickly, but most had no complaints. Unlike plusher Hoka models, the Tracer has a bit more firmness upon impact, but this firmness provides an excellent response when on the road.
      The midsole of the Tracer features new dual density foam construction. Softer foam (usually white) is used in the heel area of the shoe which meets with firmer foam (usually colored) in the front of the shoe. Hoka calls this their Pro2Lite technology which is a balance of "PROtection and PROpulsion". An early stage meta-rocker geometry used in most Hoka models means runners will still experience efficiency in their running stride as their foot is gently pushed through the running cycle. The shoe also features a raised arch pod in the midsole to ensure support to the runner’s foot.
      The Hoka Tracer features a lightweight and ultra-breathable upper with structural thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlays that helps to stabilize the midfoot. Many runners raved about the upper material. The no-sew construction provides a seamless environment for the foot which helps prevent blisters and hot spots. The Tracer tongue is made of a very thin leatherette material, and except for a bit of padding down the middle, is unpadded. Some runners said the thin tongue gave the shoe a secure fit. The laces are flat and there were no complaints about them coming undone. The heel counter is semi-rigid halfway up the heel of the shoe and then the material becomes flexible and soft against the Achilles tendon.
      The men’s Tracer weighs 7.0 ounces (size 9) and the women’s version comes in at 6.3 ounces (size 8), making it a very lightweight shoe. The use of the RMAT® midsole material reduces the weight of the shoe yet still provides ample support. Some runners compared the Tracer to the Saucony Kinvara which is a very lightweight racing shoe.
      The Hoka Tracer has a very breathable mesh upper which sheds water and sweat well and provides ample airflow around the foot. The mesh is thin, yet durable enough to protect the foot. One runner who wore the Tracer for a wet 10K said the shoe held up very well and dried out as good as new. Made for running long distances, the shoes manage to keep the runner’s foot cool and dry regardless of the running conditions. A thin Ortholite insole offers additional breathability underfoot.
      The Tracer offers the perfect balance of cushion and responsiveness thanks to the Pro2Lite midsole materials. Although not as thick as most Hoka shoes, the midsole is still adequately cushioned for great road impact. The inner lining of the shoe is also very comfortable next to the foot. A raised arch pod in the midsole ensures support to the runner’s foot. The shoes provide a firm lock on the heel and a tight fit in the midfoot area for a more natural and efficient gait cycle. The toe box area is adequate to promote a natural position of the toes for more powerful takeoffs. Some runners with wide feet found the toe box to be a little narrow. Unlike most Hokas which run a little large, most runners had to size up with the Tracer to find a comfortable fit. A thin Ortholite insole offers additional cushioning to the shoe.
      The Tracer comes in several different attractive colors with the Hoka name wrapped around the back of the shoe. Men’s colors include citrus (yellow) with blue, black with citrus, cyan with black, cherry tomato with acid (actually looks quite nice), and medieval blue with white. Women’s colors include bright green with neon pink and deep teal with meadowbrook. Although the Hoka website only shows two colors for the ladies, two more colors are offered on Amazon’s website. The overlays and use of color on the outsole give the shoe a very fast and streamlined look. Flat laces are colored to match the color scheme of the shoe.
      With a style and weight comparable to most racing flats, the Tracer offers superior durability through its outsole and midsole materials. The RMAT® material of the outsole is highly durable whether used for short races or marathon training runs. The midsole material is also very strong, giving a cushioned ride from the first few miles and even after several hundred miles. The thin upper material also provides strength to the shoe. Most runners were able to get many miles out of these shoes before noticing significant tread wear.
      The rockered midsole does a good job of protecting the runner’s foot from sharp rocks and other road hazards while still providing excellent ground feel. The dual density midsole material helps reduce overuse and impact-related injuries. The soft cushioning of the heel area and the firmer cushioning of the forefoot delivers a great combination of protection and propulsion (Hoka’s Pro2Lite technology). Although the mesh upper of the shoe is very light, a toe bumper on the toe box provides sufficient protection to the front of the shoe. The design of the upper also keeps the foot centered in the shoe to help avoid lateral movement injuries.
      The Pro2Lite technology of the Tracer’s midsole works well to give the runner good rebound, ground feel, and cushion. The cushioned midsole adapts nicely to the movements of the runner’s foot and creates a bouncy feeling that also absorbs road impact. As a shoe built for speed, this type of quick response is good for runners with a high turnover rate. The internal construction of the shoe provides a tight fit from the upper which is needed fast speeds.
      Runners needing arch support or extra stability may not like this shoe. The Tracer is a neutral shoe designed for speed and distance. The upper is very flexible but provides a secure fit around the foot. The meta-rocker geometry of the outsole supplies the support by guiding the foot through the running gait cycle. Marathon runners praised the Tracer for its overall solid support. A form-fitting heel construction offers a secure, plush fit around the heel that prevents slipping.
      The Tracer was designed for the road running. The shoe has great traction and breathability and works for long runs or short runs on virtually any paved surface. The shoe can be used on soft trails and grass, but there are no lugs for extra traction. The shoe also got good reviews on wet surfaces.
      The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of the Tracer is $130, making it a moderately priced shoe. Compared to the lower priced Saucony Kinvara, the price is a bit high, but owners of both shoes claim they got twice the mileage out of the Tracer, making it the better buy. Discounts and online coupon codes can usually bring the price down a little.
      The Tracer is listed as a road shoe. The outsole design is rather smooth but comprised of soft yet durable foam-rubber which provides for reliable traction while running on paved roads. High abrasion carbon rubber is strategically placed in high wear areas on the outsole to increase the durability of the shoe over long distances. The tread design of the forefoot provides good grip when running on wet surfaces. Heel strikers will also find good traction in the softer heel for more consistent and safe landings.
      The Tracer is a very flexible shoe thanks to the thinner rubber outsole and the Pro2Lite midsole. The light mesh upper gives the foot a secure fit while moving with the foot, rather than stabilizing it. Runners needing a high stability shoe may not like the feel of the Tracer.
      The Tracer is not a high stability shoe although there are some stability elements through the dual density midsole. The low stack height eliminates the need for a wide base and runners who overpronate will probably not like the Tracer. Runners with good form who normally wear neutral shoes will find no lack of support while running. The full-length EVA cushioning does a good job at offering cushion and support underfoot. The decorative overlays on the upper also work to secure runner's feet in the shoe. A form-fitting heel construction offers a secure, plush fit around the heel that prevents slipping.
      The Tracer brags of a 4mm heel-to-toe drop with a height of 18mm in the forefoot and 22mm at the heel. Low drop shoes are preferred by many runners because it helps prevent heel strikes which can lead to poor form and high milage injuries. A low drop also makes for softer landings and improved form. Most long distance runners prefer a shoe with a low drop.
      Unlike previous Hoka shoes that were built around the concept of comfort and distance, the Tracer was built for speed. Weighing in at 7.0 ounces, the Tracer has become a choice of runners looking for a fast trainer and race shoe. The Tracer still has a good deal of cushioning material relative to its weight, but the massive Hoka midsole is gone giving the shoe a more refined and series look. Runners afraid to try the Hoka due to its comical appearance now have a streamlined and attractive shoe choice that will help them fly over distances from 5Ks to marathons.
      Key Features
      • Excellent impact protection delivered thru RMAT® material midsole
      • Seamless and breathable air mesh upper
      • Meta-rocker design encourages better running form
      • Lightweight and flexible Pro2Lite midsole
      • Attractive, streamlined shoe available in many colors
      Bottom Line
      The Hoka One One Tracer is a superb, lightweight trainer/racer, unlike any prior Hoka model. Reviewers stated that miles were “easy” in this shoe. The Hoka Pro2Lite midsole PROpulsion and PROtection marketing are more than just a selling tool. Although not as cushy as some models, runner’s described a unique sensation of having such a “light, stable, cushioned, and lively shoe underfoot”. Runners also commented that they did not have sore legs after long runs.

      The transition of foam densities was a favorite with midfoot strikers and felt more comfortable at higher speeds. All runners agreed that the Tracer is a great racing shoe from the Hoka company and should appeal to runners who enjoy the feel of the Saucony Kinvara, New Balance Vazee Pace, New Balance 1400, and similar racing flats. Runners looking for a “serious” and fast shoe should consider taking the Tracer for a spin.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
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      Holabird Sports Link
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      rei.com Link
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      Road Runner Sports Link
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      By Abbie Copeland
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 04. 2021

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