Although this is marketed as more of a hybrid athletic/casual shoe, the Hupana is completely credible as a solid high performance road running shoe. The primary drawback is the fit issue through the heel for some users, otherwise the comfort of the knit uppers works well. Our testers were impressed by the energy return and durability of this material, and the Hupana would be suitable for fast workout days as well as long distance road racing.
Hoka’s Hupana runs slightly on the large side, so users between sizes should probably drop down a half size. The last is snug through the heel and midfoot, with a somewhat narrow forefoot space that proved difficult for testers with wide feet. The seamless knit upper has a sock like fit and stretches well with the foot, but we’d like the toe box to be roomier. Some users reported heel lift in the rearfoot, but this was addressed with a modified lacing system. The knit upper has internal overlays on the medial and lateral sides of a traditional lace system, which keeps the upper locked down to the midsole platform very effectively.
The Hupana features Hoka’s first knit upper, and our testers were pleased with its overall feel and performance. Its construction is seamless and open knit, and the upper moves easily with the foot without creases or irritation. The material breathes fairly well, but the Hupana is warm to wear on hot days. Moderate padding around the ankle collar and on the tongue secure the foot in place comfortably, and the profile of the ankle collar allows full range of motion. Comfort underfoot is excellent, in that the midsole compound diminishes road impact very effectively.
The knit upper sits on a full RMAT foam midsole, which is a new implementation from HOKA; on previous models, a thinner RMAT layer is combined with traditional EVA foam. RMAT is a blended rubber compound that has higher elasticity than regular EVA, with increased durability and strong grip. Our testers loved the energy return of the Hupana, which is firm and responsive without feeling clunky.
Our testers were impressed with the Hupana’s ability to provide a comfortable amount of cushion while maintaining a lot of bounce. The RMAT compound comprises the entire lower half of the shoe; that is, it serves as the outsole in addition to the midsole, similar to the Nike Lunarepic. Hoka’s RMAT material isn’t quite as lightweight as Nike’s Lunarlon, but we give RMAT the edge over the Lunarepic in two key ways: 1) it doesn’t have laser cut flex lines that are magnets for small stones and pebbles, and 2) the grip of the RMAT is quite impressive, especially in wet conditions. Durability of the RMAT material hasn’t been an issue in our testing, although there is concern for rapid deterioration with high mileage, particularly for runners who pronate. Finally, the 5mm heel-toe drop of the Hupana makes it an attractive option for midfoot strikers as well as heel strikers.
Energetic midsole response and overall light weight make it easy to ramp up your speed in the Hupanas. We had no difficulty achieving fast leg turnover or quick rebound; the only caveat is to make sure the heel fit is secure to avoid pistoning and possible friction in the rearfoot.