Hoka One One Vanquish 2 General Info
The Vanquish 2 is an updated version of last years original Vanquish. I have not had the opportunity to run in the original Vanquish.
The goal of the Vanquish line is to provide an ultra cushioned shoe while maintaining a “springy” and responsive ride.
It features a seamless air mesh upper, dual layer midsole construction, and early stage meta rocker technology. It weighs 10.1oz and has a 5 mm heel to toe drop.
The first thing I noticed about this shoe is the softness of the dual layer midsole. I could feel my foot sinking into the cushioning while standing still. It feels a little narrow throughout but fits true to size.
When looking at the shoe you can see that the shoe is constructed differently. You can see the foam from the first midsole layer and how the outer midsole layer wraps around it.
It gives the shoe an interesting look. Putting the shoe on made me eager to run in and experience this type of cushioning for the first time.
Hoka One One Vanquish 2 Sole Unit
The dual layer midsole of this shoe is what makes it unique. It is definitely maximum cushion but the construction of the shoe hides the cushion well.
You can see both layers of foam but it doesn’t necessarily have that goofy oversize moon shoe look like a lot of other max cushioned shoes. The reason behind this is in the design of the midsole.
This shoe is basically an upper with a very soft and shock absorbant layer of cushion. That upper and layer of cushion is then wrapped with more Eva foam and an outsole which basically equates to This shoe having 2 midsoles.
The first layer is incredibly soft and your foot just sinks right into it. It feels like the consistency of a gymnasts mat, dense and soft.
The second layer is still soft but it is firm enough to give the shoe some structure. This type of construction has its good and bad elements.
The shoe also features early stage meta rocker technology. Rocker technology is common in many other Hoka shoes. It has to do with the shape of the midsole. It tapers up at both ends allowing the shoe to rock forward while running.
This is a feature that I really like and that many other companies are starting to incorporate into their shoes. It helps smooth out a shoes ride and gives the feeling of being propelled forward.
The best part about this shoe is how cushioned the ride feels. It has a ride that I’ve yet to experience in another shoe.
Your foot feels like it melts into that first section of foam and then as you push off you feel the second layer of foam softly stop your foot from sinking into the cushion allowing you to push off.
It can feel “springy” when running at a slower pace. I tried various types of runs with this shoe and found that it worked best for what it’s intended, long slow distance.
When you start to run faster in this shoe the “springy” feeling in the shoe can’t quite keep up. The way I would describe the feeling is it’s like running in wet sand.
Your foot lands and the shoe can’t recoil quickly enough so it feels like your trying to push off but your not as efficient as you could be because the responsiveness is not there.
I also ran into some small stability issues when running at speed and on downhills. I would point out two key aspects of this shoe that caused this.
The first is the dual foam layers being of different density. The second is that this shoe is relatively thin. It doesn’t have that overly wide base that many other hokas have.
The wide base can usually compensate for the instability cause by the cushion. The Vanquish 2 doesn’t really have a wide base.
Hoka One One Vanquish 2 Upper Info
The upper of the vanquish 2 has an upper composed of a high quality mesh material and has seamless construction. The mesh has some thickness to it which makes it durable.
It is comfortable but it does lack the breathability you find in a thinner mesh.
It was still fairly cold in my region while testing this shoe so it wasn’t an issue for me but it was noticeable that the shoe doesn’t breathe exceptionally well. The upper also feels a little bit stiffer than I would prefer.
There is not much give or flexibility to it. The seamless construction makes this upper comfortable with no areas of irritation or rubbing. It hugs your midfoot and forefoot.
I found it to be comfortable but it is definitely a more narrow shoe. If you are the type of runner that likes an upper to feel more roomy and loose then this is not the shoe for you.
There is no large toe box and although I didn’t require it I did find myself wanting a little more width up front. It stays pretty narrow throughout.
Hoka One One Vanquish 2 Conclusions
I believe this shoe delivers on its promises of being an ultra cushioned yet responsive and “springy” shoe in most instances.
My first few runs in the shoe were at a relaxed pace and I was very happy with the shoes cushioning and it really did feel springy.
As I tested the shoe further I found that the shoe struggled to deliver responsiveness when picking up the pace. This resulted in some instability which left me feeling like I was fighting against the shoe when running fast.
The soft cushion just could not recoil quickly enough for me to feel any sort of efficiency in my stride. Trying to run a slow relaxed pace downhill brought out the same stability issue.
This is a long distance relaxed pace shoe which is perfect for most of my runs. It has a unique ride and probably the softest cushioning I have ever felt in a running shoe.
It is a durable shoe as well and from the looks of it so far seems like it ill be able to withstand many miles. The upper is fine for me but I could see it being an issue for others.
This is a shoe you absolutely must try on before buying or order from a reputable vendor with a return policy. Despite the stability issues I will continue to run in this shoe and plan on putting a lot of miles on it.
If you’re looking for a shoe with unmatched cushion for those long relaxed pace runs this is absolutely an option worth considering. It is at a pretty high price point which may deter some given that its really not an all purpose shoe.
We thank the nice people at Hoka One One for sending us a pair of Vanquish 2 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.