Hoka Zinal Review
April 6, 2021
The GoodComfortable - "slipper-like"LightweightFast break-in
The BadForefoot somewhat long and sloppyNot enough traction for wet or technical trailsMinimal protection in the upper
The Zinal ranks somewhere in the middle of this season's line-up. It is lightweight and the foam is fairly responsive, giving it the potential for some fast running, yet just enough cushion to bomb a fast downhill. It is a comfortable shoe, particularly through the heel and midfoot, that requires no break-in period. I could easily stand in them at work all day, then head out for a run without my feet feeling fatigued or developing any uncomfortable areas of pressure.
With the added flexibility of this shoe compared to others in the Hoka series, the forefoot in the women's model feels a little long and sloppy. This means less turn and burn around switchback corners and sacrifices some agility/dexterity on the trail. The upper also does not offer much protection from sharp rocks and roots. Even though the Vibram soles are supposed to be "gecko-like," the short lugs are just not sufficient for loose or muddy technical trails.
This shoe would be most at home on a fast, fairly low-grade technical course, probably in the under 50k race setting.