The Hoka One One Sky Kaha boot is the closest to a ‘traditional’ hiking boot in the Hoka range but you won’t have experienced this level of comfort in your typical leather hiker. The deep midsole combined with the rocker makes you feel like you are almost floating across the trail. They are part cushioned trail runner and part-leather hiking boots.
The upper is nubuck leather with a Goretex membrane to keep your feet dry but the similarities with most hiking boots end here. The Kaha is surprisingly light for a leather boot weighing in at under 500g per boot (UK8) and they feel even lighter on your feet.
There is a spacious toe box with plenty of space for all but the widest of feet. I found them to be true to size compared with my other trail runners and boots. They are certainly roomier than Hoka’s Speedgoat if you’ve found them to be too narrow.
The sole is wider than most hiking footwear which makes for an incredibly stable platform. Even on very uneven ground, the wide sole gives confidence and support. This is combined with what Hoka call the ‘Active Foot-frame’ – the sole isn’t as deep as it looks as your foot sits in the midsole like a car bucket seat increasing support and stability.
The most important feature of the Kaha for me is the cushioned midsole which is designed for comfort and to reduce the impact of each step. They really do work, especially on descents. After 3 long days in the Cairngorms taking in several Munros, the descents felt much easier than usual. I often suffer from sore knees which is made worse on long steep descents but the Kaha boots made a huge difference. I woke feeling stronger each day rather than nursing aches and stiff joints.
The Vibram outsole offers superb grip on wet rock, giving loads of confidence on the sort of wet surfaces that many hiking boots slip and slide on. The one downside of the sole unit is the lack of a heel brake as there is no step in the sole unit so downhill on really wet grass they can slide rather than digging in. I’ve had a couple of comedy slides but nothing serious. I can forgive them for that one weakness given how well they perform everywhere else.
They are very flexible boots which combined with the deep sole means they aren’t suited to scrambling where you need precision but that’s not what they are about.The Kaha’s are perfect for long treks and really seem to help cushion your joints. Combined with the superb stability, the Kaha are a great choice for backpacking.