Hoka One One is best-known for their squishy-soled maximalist shoes, but the Speed Instinct 2 is nothing like the Hoka’s you’re used to. Yes, the Speed Instinct 2 does have a good amount of cushioning, but these are made for speed and efficiency.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 Features:

  • PRO2Lite™ midsole for heel cushion and forefoot efficiency
  • Adaptive fit upper with flex laces
  • Neutral cushion with responsive cushioning
  • 3mm drop
  • Weight:
  • MSRP: $130
Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 Review

Bright colors, mesh uppers and neutral of support.

Speed Instinct for sure

Hoka One One fans have played a huge part in the continued growth of maximalist shoes. The funny thing is that Hoka’s trademark marshmallow shoes came to be about the same time the minimalist/barefoot movement was gaining devotees. I distinctly recall seeing another runner way off in the distance, bouncing towards me wearing Hoka’s. It’s a funny visual that I vividly remember to this day and a stark contrast to the minimalist shoes I was likely testing at the time.

Fast-forward 6 years and we all know how the minimalist/barefoot movement has gone compared to the maximalist movement. These well-cushioned shoes are being received with accolades from weary runners who need the squish they provide. Speaking personally, I always grab my maximalist shoes when easing back into a routine or if my body feels tire or sore. With good reason, these well-cushioned and lightweight shoes are allowing people, like me, to run longer and more comfortably. Now that I’ve set the table with Hoka’s reputation for squishy shoes, how about the less-squishy Speed Instinct 2?

For starters, the Speed Instinct 2 is not quite the typical squish-machines that the Hoka faithful would expect. As the name suggests, these are made for speed and efficiency. Don’t get me wrong, the midsoles do offer ample cushioning for everyday use, but if you want the ultimate in squishy comfort, you may want to look elsewhere.

Since the last is more traditional, the toe box doesn’t offer extra wiggle room and requires me to upsize an full size (as opposed to my usual 1/2 size). With good wiggle room in the toe box, I can easily cinch these down for a responsive fit. I’m really loving the flex laces here — they provide plenty of support, but do flex just a touch under load to avoid any constricting fit issues. I wish more shoes would use these laces.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 Review

Gravel roads and Speed Instinct 2’s became besties.

Not overly-squishy, but stable and efficient

The Speed Instinct 2’s are built for efficiency and some have said that they are the firmest Hoka’s in the line. Not having tried their full line, I can’t speak to that. But, I can say that yes, they are more on the firm side, but definitely not stiff or harsh. The cushioning is predictable and sufficient for my typical runs and even occasional pavement.

I’ve found the stability to be excellent with no issues on uneven or off-camber terrain. Traction has been excellent on all terrain both uphill and down. Like any low-profile outsoles, they do lose traction on loose, pebbly stuff (but all shoes do).

With a low-drop design, these feel natural to me and offer the type of stride I’ve come to expect from modern trail runners. I am a mid foot striker and these progress from landing to toe-off quite smoothy.

The uppers are mostly mesh and breathability is outstanding. On cold runs, I’ve felt a bit chilly, but once warmed up the breathability has always been welcomed. These do well as the temps increase.

Aside from needing to size up (which really isn’t a big deal), the only fit niggle I’ve got is the insole width. I can feel the edge of the insole’s arch and it gets a little annoying. I think the insoles should be just a touch wider so that won’t be felt by runners with low arches (like me).

The Good

  • Really efficient feel on the trail
  • Flex laces are awesome
  • Low-drop design feels great
  • Stable
  • Excellent mesh uppers with superb breathability

The Bad

  • Insole may need to be a touch wider in the arch area
  • Non-gusseted tongue, so scree can enter

The Bottom Line: Hoka Speed Instinct 2

Hoka’s offering in the race department is good, but not class-leading. Nothing wrong here by any means, but keep in mind that these aren’t the squish machines you’ve come to expect, but are more of a go-cart that will speedily propel you down the trail. Good stride and love the flex laces.

Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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