Brian Metzler reviews the HOKA Bondi 7, the top-selling max-cushioned shoe known for being the best friend of high-mileage runners.
The Bondi is HOKA’S top-tier maximally cushioned, neutral-oriented road running shoe, and it serves up a luxuriously soft ride for high-mileage training and cushy recovery running.
The Bondi is one of the highest shoes available in 2020, but it’s also relatively light for its size.
The HOKA Bondi has always been a comfy cruiser and this edition excels at that more than previous models. You’ll find there is a lot of shoe under your feet when you lace them up, but that means there’s a lot more to love.
Aside from a smartly redesigned upper, not too much has changed from the previous edition of the Bondi.
The new engineered mesh upper enhances the fit, adds some support around the ankle and also improves the shoe’s breathability in hot weather.
The new upper configuration has slightly more structure around the ankle than the previous version, but it is considerably more vented than last year’s model. Soft TPU overlays add a little bit of structure and support along the sides of the foot to round up the fit.
To keep the Bondi lightweight, HOKA developed a segmented outsole with sections of durable rubber in high-wear areas interspersed with exposed foam.
The rubber provides exceptional grip on wet and dry surfaces, and the foam is durable enough that it won’t wear down significantly after months of high-mileage running.
The men’s version of the Bondi 7 has slightly higher loft specs, about 2mm higher off the ground than it was last year.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The HOKA Bondi 7 fits true to size with a medium-volume interior, but with a slightly wider toe box. The step-in feel is unique and almost astonishing, given that it’s so soft, semi-stiff and very high off the ground. (You’ll be almost 2 inches taller standing in these sneakers!) Any sense of awkwardness quickly disappears when you start running.
Like all Hoka shoes, the Bondi 7 features a Meta-Rocker design geometry and a slightly beveled heel. These create a rolling effect as the foot transitions from touch-down to toe-off instead of the distinctive flexing movement common to most shoes.
The Bondi 7 features a rigid internal heel counter and soft memory foam collar. These keep heel and ankle from moving around in the shoe as it rolls forward through the gait cycle.
The midsole is soft but firm, not marshmallowly soft. It won’t compress as much as other thickly cushioned HOKA shoes like the Clifton or Rincon models.
Once you get used to that, you’ll find the Bondi 7 satisfyingly smooth.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who enjoy soft, thickly cushioned shoes will love the Bondi 7, especially for longer runs.
The HOKA Bondi 7 is best at running slow to moderately paced long runs and recovery runs. However, it could be a good choice for mid-pack or first-time marathoners or runners venturing into ultra-distance races.
However, it’s not a shoe that will inspire speed or quick-cadence running for faster workouts.
PROS: HOKA BONDI 7
This shoe isn’t light, but it certainly runs light for its size, thanks to an airy, compression-molded EVA midsole foam that helps the shoe maintain a high cushion-to-weight ratio. One of our wear-testers described it as “a day spa for your feet,” which is good inspiration to lace them up every day.
The soft midsole chassis and durable rubber outsole are unchanged from the previous edition, but that’s great but they’re the key to the Bondi’s soft, smooth-riding demeanor. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from the juiced-up racing shoes, but that’s OK too. They feel good, look good and run great.
CONS: HOKA BONDI 7
This might seem obvious, but the Bondi 7 is a high-off-the-ground shoe and not especially nimble.
If you’re a runner who likes feel-for-the-ground proprioception or likes a shoe with agility, this isn’t going to be your jam.
SHOP HOKA BONDI 7