Hoka One One Zinal

9.4
9.4 score
[Editors rating (9.4)] = Runnerclick score (9.4)/10

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Editor rating: 9.4 / 10
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Editor’s Conclusion
It’s exciting when Hoka One One releases a brand new line of trainers, and the Hoka Zinal lives up to the hype. Hoka is often reluctant to make too many changes to their established designs (like the Clifton or the Bondi) for fear the launch will create an angry mob outside of their offices demanding they revert back to the previous style. When they launch a new shoe, they are free to implement many of their newest technologies and modern design features without fear of public pushback.

What makes the Zinal so special is that it’s a trail runner that is made for speed and agility. Most trail runners out there on the market are designed for distance. It’s pretty rare you find a light and snappy trail runner that isn’t bogged down in heavy stability features.

What I love most about this shoe is that it is super lightweight and breathable, it utilizes some of Hokas newer cushioned materials, and it keeps my gait cycle light and bright.
Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Super responsive ProFly midsole cushioning

Grippy rubber outsole

Lightweight and breathable upper

100% vegan and made from recycled materials

Great for speed

Weighs only 8.5 ounces

Cons

Minimal toe protection

Key Features

Key Features

MIDSOLE

The Zinal utilizes Hoka’s newer midsole cushioning called ProFly. The midsole is broken down into two parts to provide added support where you need it most, and extra cushioning right where you want it. On the Hoka website, there is a sharp little animation that shows how this cushioning works.

When you move through your gait cycle, it is as if the heel is made from soft marshmallows, and the toe box is composed of tiny springs for strong and confident toe-offs. This ProFly midsole walks that perfect line between cushioning and responsiveness, which is very beneficial out there on the trails.

While this shoe is super lightweight and responsive, it also boasts a few Hoka stability features to help keep your gait cycle nice and even. The midsole is built with an early-stage MetaRocker that acts as a rocking chair for your feet. It helps naturally position your foot into an even gait cycle to reduce putting added pressure on certain areas of your feet that can lead to fatigue or even injury.

In addition to the MetaRocker, the Zinal also boasts a carbon plate. This lightweight plate is sandwiched between the outsole and the midsole and curls up under the toes. It helps to craft even movements, and it also provides a good deal of protection underfoot without heavy and bulky materials.

OUTSOLE

One of the things that runners love most about this shoe is that the outsole is built for trails, but can transition easily to sidewalks and treadmills. To keep the overall weight low, the outsole is composed of a rubberized EVA foam cushioning that feels very soft yet responsive underfoot. This rubberized foam is incredibly lightweight (and just as durable as other Hoka trainers), and it helps to reduce the impact on your joints when running on hard surfaces.

The lugs on this shoe measure to be 4 mm, which is thick enough to really grip the trails, but not so thick that you can’t wear them off of the trails. I found that these shoes transition quite well when engaging in speed work off of the trails.

The bread and butter of the outsole is the Litebase rubberized EVA foam, but it also benefits from a modest layer of rubber as well. The Zinal hosts a very thin yet grippy Continental rubber outsole that is placed on key areas of your feet. It has a higher concentration of rubber on the heel and the toe box, which gives you a bit of a boost on your toe offs. Plus, it boosts the Zinal’s overall agility and durability as well without adding too much weight to the shoe.

UPPER

Trail runners have a reputation of being a little too hot and stiff, and the Zinal is designed to change all of that. The upper of this design is composed of a thin layer of recycled mesh that is also 100% vegan. This mesh upper has very few synthetic overlays, which reduce stability but really boosts the overall breathability of this shoe.

The upper on this design feels similar to a neutral road running shoe and provides ample flexibility that is great for those super rocky and uneven trails without slowing you down.

While the upper is insanely breathable and flexible, there are a few downsides that are worth noting. Many runners found that it provides little protection, especially in the toe box, when running on difficult terrains. While Hoka claims that there is a toe guard built into the toe box of that shoe, it doesn’t quite offer much protection.

When running on trails, you want your toe box to be stiff to protect your toes, and the toe box on the Zinal is a bit more floppy.

PERFORMANCE

What makes the Hoka Zinal special is that it is a trail runner that is made for speed. When shopping for trail running shoes, I found that most brands opt for rugged durability and distance. These design features are great but translate into heavy, hot, and bulky running shoes.

What makes the Zinal different is that it is one of the few trail runners that are designed for speed and agility. The lightweight 8.5-ounce build of this shoe will help to keep you light on your feet, and it will also help you make quick and speedy turns without heavy rubber and stiff uppers holding you back.

Overall, I would recommend this shoe for casual trail running where speed is your ultimate goal, or for shorter trail races. Due to its versatile design, the Zinal also transitions quite well off of the trails as well. The 4 mm lugs are aggressive enough to really grip the bumpy trail under your feet, but they can also be worn when running on sidewalks or even working out at the gym.

FIT

Overall, the Hoka Zinal runs true to size. If you are a size 10 in other Hoka One One training shoes, the same can be said for the Zinal. If this is your first introduction to Hoka, be sure to take good measurements of your feet and compare them to Hoka’s sizing chart to ensure you get the right size for your feet. If you are able, I recommend heading down to your local shoe store and giving them a spin before you slam down your credit card!

The Zinal boasts all of the hallmarks of many Hoka trainers. This shoe has a wide toe box that allows your toes to naturally splay inside of the shoe for added stability and comfort. The upper is composed of stretchy materials that really contours to the shape of your foot for excellent lockdown while keeping things light and airy.

STYLE

Hoka’s are known for being a bit thick and clumsy, but the Zinal is a little more streamlined. This design has a slightly bulky silhouette, but it is a far cry from many of the thicker Hoka stability shoes.

One of the things that I love most about the Zinal is that it comes in unique and modern color options. If you aren’t a big fan of bright and flashy colors, this shoe is not for you! It comes in two different color options that include a teal blue with orange accents, and a shoe that is composed entirely of various shades of orange.

Personally, I fell in love with the orange option - it makes me look like my feet are on fire as a blaze through difficult trailheads. Your competitors will certainly see you coming in any of the color options in the Zinal lineup!

PRICE

The price tag of the Hoka Zinal is slightly more expensive than other designs in the Hoka lineup, but I feel that it is well worth the higher price point!

Few Hoka’s are able to capture speed and stability in one sleek and modern shoe, and the Zinal really shines in this department.

It is the perfect blend of Hoka’s patented comfort features with a lightweight and breathable frame that is ready to tackle whatever the road ahead has in store for you. If you can swing the slightly higher price point, this shoe is well worth every penny.
Verdict

Verdict

If you are having a hard time finding a good trail running shoe that is built for speed and agility, the Hoka Zinal is a great option.

What runners love most about this shoe is that it is incredibly lightweight and agile, and provides you with just enough support to keep your feet supported when running on uneven surfaces. It boasts a lightweight upper that is incredibly breathable and provides excellent lockdown and a secure fit.

It may cost a little bit more than other trail runners out there on the market, but it is an investment worth making to shave a few seconds off of your PR!