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(The Gear Loop) - You’ll probably have heard of Hoka already. The company is a big-hitter in the running world, creating slightly unconventional-looking shoes that focus on lightness and comfort, with out-of-the-box readiness. In fact, you may have seen recently we gave its new Mach 5 runners a full five-star rating and our Editor’s Choice award. We feel Hoka is arguably one of the biggest names in running right now. 

But it has also been expanding into the hiking boot category. Traditionally a segment that is obsessed with robustness and all-round rugged usability, you could argue that this clangs against a company that has its groundings very much fixed in the pursuit of light weight. But boots like the Anacapa Mid - that we’re looking at today - are here to show that Hoka isn’t content with just creating award-winning trail and road running shoes. 

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So here we have a super-lightweight boot that also has some sustainability woven into its make-up courtesy of recycled polyester, a sockliner that is 50 per cent derived from soybean oil and even PFC-free waterproof treatment - to name but a few features. But do all of these combine into a decent set of hiking boots? We laced up to find out.

Our quick take

The Hoka Anacapa Mid’s rather unconventional appearance might not be for everyone, but their plush ride and impact absorption is likely to win over a lot of naysayers. Though the build definitely verges more on the trainer than the traditional hiking boot, this is still a pair of shoes that’ll take a lot of the aches and pains out of day hikes and longer stretches. Gore-Tex technology means they’ll keep your feet dry and warm, too.

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX review: plush hiking boots with in-built trainer tech

Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX

3.5 stars
For
  • Super lightweight
  • Generous midsole absorbs impacts well
  • 5mm lugs on sole provide decent traction
  • Eco-friendly construction
Against
  • Uppers may not be robust enough for some
  • Extended heel rocker feels odd at first
  • Broad sole means they feel a little imprecise

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Hoka Anacapa Mid in short:

  • Nubuck upper has Leather Working Group gold standard for sustainability
  • Recycled polyester in collar, mesh and lace
  • Full Gore-Tex liner
  • Vibram Megagrip sole with 5mm lugs
  • Quick hook lacing system
  • Gusseted tongue and robust heel pull
The Gear LoopHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 1

First impressions

Upon opening the box, the Hoka Anacapa Mid doesn’t look like a traditional walking boot. There is an uber-chunky midsole, with our pair of boot’s striking teal exterior colour being nicely contrasted by equally arresting orange elements, such as lace hooks. 

Don’t fancy the blue? Hoka offers the Anacapa Mids in five other shades, so there are plenty of options out there. 

HokaHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 9

Hoka’s range of road and trail running shoes certainly don’t take a conventional approach to design, so we’d almost be a bit disappointed if the Anacapas toed the line tin the design department. However, they maintain a good compromise and don’t go as far as the madcap Tennine Hike models with their super large heel sections. 

However, these are sensationally light boots, coming in at just 453g. Alas, some of those weight-saving measures come to the fore when you have an initial inspection of the ankle protection, which is relatively thin and more akin to that on a high-top trainer, rather than a reinforced hiker. 

The Gear LoopHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 3

At £160, they’re definitely in the middle ground in terms of price, but we’ve got plenty of must-have features like Vibram soles and Gore-Tex to help justify that cost. 

Plus, if ankle support isn’t an essential part of your shopping list, then Hoka also offers a low version of the Anacapas for an even more lightweight trekking option. They’re a little bit cheaper, too. 

HokaHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 12

Features

Though lightweight, the Anacapa Mids aren’t short on features. They pack Gore-Tex technology for waterproofness, alongside a Vibram Megasole with 5mm lugs for added traction. 

But, as we’ve mentioned, the Anacapas have been made with a real focus on sustainability - the nubuck material used throughout the boot, for instance, has been given a gold rating by the Leather Working Group, which looks at the environmental performance of a tannery prior to use. 

The Gear LoopHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 4

Even the waterproof treatment on the Anacapas is PFC-free - PFC being a completely man-made chemical that doesn’t break down quickly and can cause damage to the environment. So it’s best avoided. 

Other notable features include a quick lacing system with robust hooks to provide a secure yet adjustable fit. At the front, the rubber sole rises up towards to toe to provide a little bit of protection against impacts. 

HokaHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 10

On the feet

It’s hard to ignore just how featherweight these boots are when you first pick them up. Against a set of more traditional hiking boots, there is a night-and-day difference, and though the ankle support might not be as reinforced as in some of the Anacapa’s rivals, the secure lacing system means that you’re able to draw these supports around your ankle well. The rear of the ankle collar does fall away quite aggressively, mind you. 

The Anacapas provide a supremely comfortable ride, with almost all of the surface imperfections isolated from your feet. There’s definitely more roll than you might find in other hiking boots, but this has the benefit of propelling you forwards as you stride.

The Gear LoopHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 6

That lack of weight means that there’s very little fatigue or pinching, too, but it’s that level of cushioning that will ensure these boots can be worn for multiple days on the mountain with very little issue. Our only gripe with this sole set-up is about its potential longevity, with super-soft foam mid-soles often proving less robust than others as the miles rack up. 

One drawback is that the Anacapas do run a little warm, no doubt as a result of the full Gore-Tex liner. 

The Gear LoopHoka Anacapa Mid GTX review photo 8

During our later summertime sessions with the Anacapas, we did find our feet getting quite hot. This is unlikely to prove an issue during autumn and winter, but if you’re going to predominately wear these boots during warmer seasons then it’s worth bearing in mind. There’s also no non-waterproof version available to mitigate it. 

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To recap

The Anacapa Mid GTX successfully takes Hoka’s approach to running comfort and transfers it into a generously cushioned day hiking boot. Though these boots do run slightly hot and might not be as robust in their design as others on sale today, they counter with a super-plush ride that takes all of the jolts and harshness out of the trail. If you’re after a lightweight boot that fuses a speed-focused construction with a fatigue-busting approach to cushioning, then the Hoka Anacapa Mids are well worth checking out.

Writing by Jack Evans. Editing by Leon Poultney.