Editor rating:
9/10 on
User's rating:


  • Incredible cushioning to weight ratio!
  • HOKA ONE ONE + wide toe box = AWESOME
  • Low lugged carbon rubber outsole works great on a variety of terrain.
  • Firmer forefoot cushioning combined with softer heel cushioning offers surprisingly efficient toe-off and spring.
  • A racing flat-like fit makes the Speed Instinct feel like a go-fast shoe.


  • A wide but shallow toe box may prove to be a problem for some runners.
  • External Web design in forefoot upper seems like it could be fragile over the course of 500 miles.
  • A low profile outsole works best on non-technical, dry terrain.


The HOKA ONE ONE Speed Instinct is a lightweight neutral trail racer that features a wider toe box which is a bit of departure in last for HOKA. The combination of ample soft cushioning with a racing flat feel is a must try for any trail runner.
Speed Instinct
8.40 oz. (238 gr.)
130 US$
3 mm
Heel Drop
Sep / 2016
Release Date
The Speed Instinct is a lightweight trail running shoe designed for neutral runners looking for a secure fit. This is the type of trail shoe that works best for smooth trails and hybrid road/ trail runs.

The HOKA ONE ONE Speed Instinct is, to a large part, the trail shoe I’ve been waiting for from HOKA. I’ve struggled in the past with the narrow last and toe boxes of other HOKA shoes such as the Challenger ATR, Clifton, Speedgoat, and ATR 3.

Over the years I’ve anxiously awaiting new releases from HOKA whose fit matched the incredible cushioning offered.

I know that I’m not alone in my complaints about the narrow lasts, and often while training in past HOKA models I would notice that I felt like I was sliding off the platform of the shoe and wearing out the upper.

With the Speed Instinct I finally got the HOKA fit I’m looking for (minus a couple of tweaks) and this really is the type of shoe that I could run a road marathon in one day and take to the trails of the front range of Colorado the next.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct General Info

Hoka One One Speed Instinct - Lateral Side

Hoka One One Speed Instinct – Lateral Side

The HOKA ONE ONE Speed Instinct is a neutral trail shoe which performs best on non-technical terrain. It offers superb cushioning for its 9 ounce weight, and the 3mm heel drop makes it feel fairly minimal and fast despite loads of cushioning.

The Speed Instinct is definitely on the minimal end of the HOKA line and can be compared to the HOKA Tracer, the lightweight racing flat of the HOKA line.

Priced at $130, the Speed Instinct is a relative bargain in the HOKA line, and after spending 250 miles in the shoe I think that it earns it’s price tag.

Upon unboxing the fit is accommodating but snug, suggesting speed and control on both uphills and downhills.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct Sole Unit

The Speed Instinct uses Pro2Lite +10 EVA cushioning which is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot. My guess is that the “+10” refers to the forefoot being 10 units higher in durometer than the heel.

This really isn’t noticeable, but what is a benefit is that heel to toe transition of the Speed Instinct feels snappy but plush.

This is a great shoe for faster runners who are struggling with metatarsalgia or other forefoot maladies and most other road or trail shoes in this weight class completely pale in comparison to the amount of cushioning available in the Speed Instinct.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct - Medial Side

Hoka One One Speed Instinct – Medial Side

With all of this semi-firm EVA the Speed Instinct has is cushy I don’t want to give the impression that it is sloppy or has a high platform in any way.

As many HOKA wearers are aware, with the higher stack heights the foot sits in a cradle within the shoe, and this is definitely the case with the Speed Instinct.

The outsole of the Speed Instinct is composed of carbon rubber with low multi-directional lugs that handle a variety of terrain.

I love the fact that the don’t get in the way on road runs and the rounded corners of the shoe make running on cambered surfaces more comfortable.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct Upper Info

The upper of the Speed Instinct features Seamless Air Mesh cover by a welded webbing which is highly breathable and lightweight. I initially questioned the integrity of the webbing but I have yet to have a rip or tear.

This webbing does create the feeling of a rather shallow toe box, similar to what I’d expect from a Salomon S-Lab shoe, but the performance is very locked down on steep downhill terrain.

Addionally, the wideness of the toe box creates more comfort during longer runs than I’ve ever experienced with HOKA.

A well cushioned tongue and flat laces keep everything in place throughout the upper and I’ve had very few complaints about the fit and performance of this upper overall.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct Conclusions

If you’ve been waiting for a HOKA ONE ONE shoe with a wider toe box, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Speed Instinct.

This is the kind of shoe that could be worn for all types of running, including road, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it could be used as a great marathon shoe as well.

The amount of cushioning in this nine ounce package is pretty staggering, and the web overlays on the upper make this a really locked down fit.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct - Top

Hoka One One Speed Instinct – Top

The only runners I’d anticipate having issues with the Speed Instinct are those with high volume feet or those who despise low toe box height.

Please don’t get this confused with toe box width in any way, as toe box height simply means the amount of up-and-down-wiggle room your feet have.

I’d recommend the HOKA ONE ONE Speed Instinct as a “Must Try” for the 2016 season as these will accommodate the needs for most trail runners on all but the most burly terrain.

Additionally the incredible cushioning here is not to be ignored, and the well cushioned but wider platform offers a great trail feel for runners doing higher mileage.

We thank the nice people at Hoka One One for sending us a pair of Speed Instinct to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct Price Comparison

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