Every November we hold the TGO Gear Awards; our celebration of the best pieces of kit released over the year. This was the winner in the footwear category at the 2015 event
Over the last few years Hoka One One has been making waves in the running world by going against the trend for shoes with thin soles and instead producing footwear with extra-thick cushioning underfoot. Now the company has turned its attention to hiking boots with the Tor Ultra Hi.
These look very unusual due to the thick midsole, which is 32mm deep at the heel and 28mm at the forefoot. This drop from heel to toe of 4mm is actually similar to thin-soled shoes and far less than most hiking boots.
The midsole is made from two layers, the upper one being EVA, the lower one a proprietary blend of rubber and EVA. Hoka One One says this combination retains its cushioning after extended wear. The sole also has quite a pronounced rocker.
The tread is a combination of materials with hard Vibram rubber round the edges and across the forefoot and softer material elsewhere. The removable insole is quite thick but provides little support, the only weak point.
The uppers are mostly leather with some synthetic panels. There’s a rubberised toe bumper and a hard heel cup. The boots are lined with eVent to make them waterproof but also quite warm. I’ve found them perfectly ok in freezing conditions and suspect they’d be too warm on hot summer days.
The fit is just wide enough for me though I could do with a little more space for my toes. Overall the comfort is superb though. The thick cushioning really works at absorbing shocks. On long walks in the Cairngorms my feet have been fine. At the same time the boots are quite supportive, being stiff side to side and flexible toe to heel.
I was concerned that the thick soles would lead to a lack of contact with the ground and the extra cushioning might give a spongy unstable feel. This didn’t happen – the boots felt great. The rocker sole is noticeable, giving a feeling of propulsion to each step.
If they fit, these are excellent lightweight walking boots – especially for those who suffer from sore feet.