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HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 5 Multiple Tester Review
By Chief Founder Matt Klein and Contributor David Salas

The Hoka Arahi series has always held a unique place as a lighter weight, maximally cushioned, moderate stability shoe. Despite being a maximally cushioned stability shoe, the weight has been on the lower side. In the past, the Arahi series has been used by many as a ultra or long distance racing shoe for those that need stability, while others have found it to provide a  more unique method of stability with the J-Frame. The Hoka Arahi 5 is stable shoe worth talking about, although the weight increases continue to slowly change its versatility.

Specifications for the Hoka Arahi 5 (per Hoka)
Weight: 9.7 oz (men's size 9), 7.8 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 24 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Moderate Stability Maximal Trainer


Matt: The Hoka Arahi 5 returns with a completely redone, very well fitting upper and an updated rocker for a smoother ride once you get up to speed. While the shoe gains a tiny bit of weight from the previous version, the Arahi 5 is a far more refined shoe. Best for recovery runs and mileage, the J-Frame continues to provide full length and versatile stability for those with mild to moderate stability needs.

David: The HOKA Arahi 5 continues its J frame stability geometry while also providing some beneficial updates. The Arahi 5 now adds more rubber outsole to the heel, an updated fit throughout the heel and upper, as well as adding a little bit of weight. The result is a uniquely designed stability trainer that provides a fluid and versatile ride that builds upon what many already love about the Arahi line. 


Matt: The Hoka Arahi 5 fits me true to size and is a tiny bit snug throughout the length of the shoe in my normal men's size 10. The newer mesh upper is a huge improvement from prior versions and provides a nice secure fit without the normal "boxy" and awkward fit I used to associate with Hoka. The mesh is secure, but stretches nicely to accommodate the fit throughout the length of the shoe. For those with extremely wide feet, this may be a bit too narrow. For those with normal to narrow feet this shoe will do extremely well fit wise. There is a heel counter, but I almost did not notice it the cushioning in the heel collar.

The elf heel fits the Achilles extremely well and the heel overall is very locked in. I did not have to lace lock the shoe and it still stays very secure (even on turns and pounding down hills). The tongue is attached to both sides of the upper, is secure and mildly cushioned. There are thin overlays in the midfoot that do a great job of securing the foot on both sides. The upper is also fairly breathable, which is a big upgrade from previous versions. Overall the Hoka Arahi 5 does a great job of doing what an upper should: providing security, comfort and getting out of the way.

The HOKA Arahi 5 fits true to size in my normal 9.5. The shoe does fit a hair narrow throughout, though this seems to be something that I have found with many HOKA shoes. I never received any blistering or excessive rubbing though. The toe box is wide enough for some toe splay, but not overly wide. The heel is updated with the dovetail heel design coupled with a semi rigid heel counter. The counter serves a little bit more of a cup around the calcaneus and isn't very large vertically. The upper breathes well and locks down well over the dorsum of the foot and through the midfoot. The laces come very long, but if you heel lock the shoe the lacing doesn't come off quite as long. I did not need to heel lock the shoe, but I did just to shorten the lacing length (I don't know if I just got abnormally long laces on my pair). The upper fits great throughout and provides just enough security throughout without being overly structured. 


Matt: The Hoka Arahi 5 provides a stable, cushioned and relatively smooth ride. The J-Frame provides full length stability along the medial side and guidance in the rearfoot along both the medial and lateral side. The Arahi 5 feels very balanced and behaves like a mild to moderate stability shoe depending on how much you compress the foam. I did not feel the typical "post" pushing into my arch and the stability is integrated very well. The overall design of the shoe is stable as well, with elevated side walls in the rearfoot, mild sole flare on both sides. So the stability does not just come from J-Frame and those who have mild to high stability shoe will this shoe may work well for them. As usual, the beveled heel provides a super smooth landing into a stable midfoot.

The forefoot is a bit stiff and feels best when you hit your normal pace. The metarocker in the forefoot has been updated and feels best when you get into a groove. When warming up, the forefoot is noticeably stiff and a bit uncomfortable. However the improvement is that this shoe feels better at uptempo paces. Putting more force into the shoe provides a little kick from the stiffness during toe off, but is not super comfortable running slow paces. From a purpose standpoint, the Hoka Arahi 5 is best for easy to uptempo runs and farkletks if you are beat up. The 9.7 oz weight (men's size 9) is a little on the heavier end for this shoe, but it can still at uptempo paces. Attempting to do faster workouts in this is not advised as the size of the shoe can make those efforts fairly clunky. For bombing long road downhills, this shoe provides a smooth landing and nice toe off to keep up the pace. The other use for this shoe is as a marathon shoe for those need stability and want a slightly lighter trainer with stability. I have used this shoe for long runs, a fartlek and recovery runs and while it can do all of them, this shoe does better for long runs, normal runs and uptempo efforts given the additional stiffness in the forefoot rather than recovery efforts.

The HOKA Arahi 5 is a very fun shoe. The shoe features a unique design for creating stability with its J frame technology. This essentially is an increased density foam that starts on the posterior lateral heel that wraps around the heel and down nearly the entire medial side of the foot right before tapering before the forefoot. The midsole is split up with some topsole and midsole throughout and helps integrate the J frame without making it feel too dense or firm through these regions. The heel is also beveled well and integrates with the geometry well. There isn't much of a lateral bias to the bevel, but this is a good thing with the J frame design. In theory, the foot will travel the path of least resistance, and the bevel will help get that initial contact phase quickened and shorten the transition time into mid stance.

Where I'm going with this... is that the bevel centers the foot and allows the foot to travel linear throughout the gait cycle, especially in the mid and terminal stance phases of gait. The bevel, midsole, and J frame all integrate really well with each other. The shoe feels like a stable neutral shoe, not a stability shoe, though it very much is. The shoe also has a wider platform similar to most other HOKAs that also provides added stability. For how light the shoe is, the shoe provides a great deal of protection and stability while also not sacrificing performance. I've been able to take this shoe through most paces, though it does respond best as a daily workhorse trainer. The geometry of the shoe is also really fun with the serious rocker design, especially when fatigued. It feels like the shoe just continues your momentum, regardless if you are feeling good enough to keep it yourself. This is why many people are probably using this line of shoes as an option for ultra racing or for long runs. 


Matt: I am a big fan of the J-Frame stability design. The medial aspect sits along almost the entire medial side of the shoe AND there is a lateral side at the heel. The densities of the medial and lateral components are the same density and the design is really more about cradling and guiding the foot rather than motion "controlling" it. The key component here that is different from many other companies (although Brooks as added this in many of their stability models as well) is the lateral aspect of this stabilization technique. Many stability shoes only feature medial components, rather than addressing the many areas where excessively uncontrolled motion can occur.  In some people, excessive lateral motion is as much a problem excessive medially motion (excessive being relative to what the individual has control over). Rather than trying to drive everyone the same direction (laterally), having guidance down the middle is a far more optimal path. The J-Frame has been around for a while but I like the "centered" approach to this design rather than biasing in one direction in the rearfoot and midfoot. 


Matt: The Hoka Arahi 5 is for those looking for a maximally cushioned, a mild to moderate stability shoe with a slightly snug and secure fit. The stability will work very well for those who want a stable shoe with balance stability for a large part of the shoe. The ride is fairly smooth in the rear and a stiffer forefoot makes efforts ranging from normal to uptempo efforts feel best. The durability has been good so far for a Hoka after 80 miles, although I have already chewed through the outsole (so expect a fairly average number of miles). The fit is the biggest improvement and a drastic change for Hoka, provide great security and moving away from the previous "boxy" feeling. The Hoka Arahi 5 continues the moderate stability line from Hoka very well and should be on the try on list for anyone looking for maximal cushioned stability shoes or those who have worn previous iterations of the Arahi series.

David: The HOKA Arahi 5 is a daily training stability shoe that will check most boxes for many runners. The shoe has enough structure for daily training, but also lightweight and responsive enough to also pick up the pace in a little as well. The stability mechanisms are integrated well enough to a point where the shoe does not necessarily feel posted, and more like a fluid neutral shoe with stability elements. For me this shoe is best as a daily trainer, easy days, and for long runs. You can pick up the pace a little bit, but it still leans heavier towards daily training sectors. One of the most fun things about this shoe is the geometry. For those who like a rockered sole and feel, but still need some aspects and hints of stability, this is definitely a shoe worth looking into! Normally I'm not a huge stability guy, but this is one of the stability shoes I have greatly enjoyed. 

GRADING (Trainer)

Fit: A (Secure, comfortable, slightly snug fit with adaptable mesh upper)
Performance: B+  (Great for normal to uptempo paces. A little stiff for recovery runs and too bulky for all out paces)
DPT/Footwear Science:   B+ (All around stability for a variety of people. Several different stability elements. However forefoot may be too stiff with a low toespring, which may affect natural forefoot rocker)
Personal:  A- (Great Trainer, fit and ride at normal paces. Just too stiff for recovery runs in the forefoot)
Overall Grade:  A-

Fit: A - (Locks down well with great durability, though still a little on the narrow side throughout) 
Performance: B+ (Great for daily training, fun ride throughout, but still a little much for pushing the pace)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (The platform and geometry should work well for a lot of people. The J frame provides good stability and a nice central path to follow throughout)
Personal: A (One of my favorite HOKA shoes. A daily training shoe that is incredibly fun to run in that can also respond a little if you want it too. The shoe is really stable, but still incredibly fluid throughout) 
Overall Grade: A-

Thanks for reading!


Visit Running Warehouse here to purchase the Hoka Arahi 5. Using the link to purchase the Arahi helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!!

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Visit our Stability Shoe Guide for more on stability and comparative shoes to the Paradigm 6.

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Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Hoka One One for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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