Immediately obvious upon unboxing was the less-plasticy looking upper; it’s a tight-knit mesh with an otherwise similar style. My 4-year-old didn’t miss a beat, calling them my “new tiger shoes,” which, that alone is a positive right off the bat.
I was surprised at the stiff feel of the shoe. (Maybe spending all day in a 0° UPS truck had something to do with that), but I was eager to compare this second version with last year’s model.
The ride is more responsive than I was expecting — I think I was remembering the Clifton. But unfortunately the reworked upper is not more accommodating to my medium midfoot.
After the first 12 miles (in 3-4 mile runs), I thought it was a better fit, but with some longer runs and repeated days in them, the “pinched ache” on the lateral side made its return. See the “upper” section for more details.
Hoka One One Arahi 2 General Info
The top competitor to Arahi that I’ve run in is New Balance’s Vongo. Both shoes take unique approaches to stability with Arahi’s early stage rocker, which “rocks” you forward near the heel, and J-Frame, as contrasted with Vongo’s Varus Wedge midsole, which is thicker on the medial aspect angling down to a thinner lateral edge.
Vongo’s upper fit better suits my foot: narrow heel, shallow toe box that accommodates my more medium foot toward the ball. But, I have to note that Vongo’s first version better stabilized my foot than Vongo 2.
Arahi fits a narrow foot if you snug the laces and can accommodate a medium foot without pinching, if you don’t mind a touch of movement inside the shoe by loosening laces.
Brooks PureCadence is a competitor to Arahi that matches the drop height and comfortable sole yet presents a more fitted upper (with no lateral pressure) and minimal thickness of midsole: it offers a more connected running experience.
Hoka One One Arahi 2 Sole Unit
The shoes’ sole unit remains unchanged from last year; it’s the pinnacle of what gives this shoe the descriptor “stability.”
In addition to HOKA’s standard wide base, Arahi features a more durable sole unit in key areas along the medial aspect and lateral heel, with the brand’s J-Frame midsole technology as well as more durable rubber in parts of the outsole.
An important aspect toward durability is the firm rubber in the heel, which is primarily on the lateral aspect where shoes typically take higher wear, and covers the contact surfaces of the forefoot.
Below a thin layer of cushy softness, a “J” of firmer-density EVA foam wraps around the heel and extends medially, keeping the shoe lightweight while allowing it to withstand repeated pounding. I notice a counter to overpronation from the tip of the J-Frame as I toe off.
Hoka One One Arahi 2 Upper Info
Arahi’s new upper material is more breathable, true to claim. I was so so hopeful that the reworked upper wouldn’t put pressure on my lateral midfoot, but the fit is very similar to the first edition.
The pressure is slight but becomes more noticeable into longer runs. I can relieve it by loosening laces more than I prefer, but then I have to use the top laces to hold my heel in the shoe, since the fit here is loose.
The forefoot, similarly, offers room for toe movement. Size up a half size (or order wide) if you have a medium-wide foot and can handle the extra length (about .5 cm)
The take home is that the fit is best for a medium-wide heel into narrow midfoot, or a medium foot, if you don’t mind a little movement inside the shoe from loosened laces.
The bold stripey pattern is similar to the debut model but with two reflective stripes on the heel loop—increased from one wider stripe in the first edition—and a reflective “sparkle” motif that encases more of the heel.
It wraps around the sides as opposed to last year’s reflectivity being centered on the back.
Hoka One One Arahi 2 Conclusions
I started running in Arahi 2 a week before my annual Snow Scamper race in early February: a hilly trail race through the woods on a course that’s often covered with snow and ice.
It turns out that there was enough snow for snowshoes this year—a race option, but I’d left mine at home—so I took on the challenge in Arahi 2, chosen for its wide base of stability to counter uneven footing.
Thick sole to resist pokes from ice and sticks, and durable rubber patches along with deep treads on the outsole, for grip. The shoe performed superbly; I was happy with the decision.
The new breathable upper became soaked through, however (as running in foot-deep snow will do). It’s not a great choice for wet runs.
All in all, Arahi 2 is very similar to its first model in fit and stability but is built with a more breathable upper material. HOKA fans who want the more durable build of Arahi, should be very happy with this shoe.
We purchased a pair of Hoka One One Arahi 2 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.