Hoka One One is a young running shoe company. They started in 2009. They are known for their massive midsoles that are incredibly lightweight. This makes them recognizable when you see someone wearing them.
The Gaviota 2 is the 2nd edition of Hoka One One maximum stability shoe. Hoka One One offers two stability options: the Arahi and Gaviota. The Gaviota provides more cushioning and stability than the Arahi.
When I opened the box I immediately thought these shoes look like tanks. They have the biggest midsole I have ever seen on a running shoe. I enjoy the various shades of gray on the upper.
The accents of seaport blue and orange are just right and add visual appeal to the shoe. One outstanding aspect of the uppers is the variation in materials used, like suede on the heels.
I expected them to feel like tanks when I first slipped them on. I was pleasantly surprised by how light they felt. They do feel bigger than most other running shoes, but not in an overbearing way.
The amount of cushioning felt like a comfortable pillow. The first run out of the box was a 3 and a half mile relaxed pace run. The shoes felt stable and light on my feet while providing me with the stability I need.
Hoka One One Gaviota 2 Sole Unit
Hoka midsoles are what set them apart from other running shoe brands. The size and weight of the midsole make the Gaviota 2 stand out. The midsole is dual density and is comprised of RMAT: rubber and EVA.
This mixture allows for more cushioning and less weight. This dual density midsole feels incredibly plush yet remains remarkably responsive on runs.
Hoka employs proprietary J-Frame technology for stability. The J-Frame is a denser midsole cushioning. It starts at the forefoot and runs down the medial side of your foot before wrapping around your heel.
The J-Frame is similar to Brooks’ Guard Rails technology. There are no medial posts and it steers your foot on both sides of the heel.
I was aware of the J-Frame technology on my first few runs because I could feel the guidance on both sides of my heel. I found it to be highly effective in providing stability for my foot and ankle, once I got used to it.
Another midsole technology Hoka employs with the Gaviotas is Meta-Rocker. This is a combination of a 5mm heel to toe drop along with a uniquely shaped midsole. I am used to much larger heel drop.
My lower legs — calves, achilles and ankles — took a few runs to adjust to the drop. My feet ached slightly due to the feeling of the J-Frame midsole applying pressure where I was not used to it.
Once I adjusted, the soreness went away and I was back to enjoying myself. This lower drop resulted in a more natural stride with more frequent midfoot landings.
The bottom tread of the Gaviota 2 handled all weather conditions, dry and wet, including ice and snow. They use a denser rubber in the high wear areas along the forefoot.
This made for a responsive toe-off on every stride. It also provides the shoe with the right amount of flexibility and durability.
Hoka One One Gaviota 2 Upper Info
The upper of the Gaviota 2 have been redesigned since the 1st edition. The material used for the forefoot has changed to an engineered mesh.
This was done to make the shoe more breathable. The tongue of the shoe is attached to this engineered mesh, which feels similar to the “Saucony Iso” technology.
Around the arch of the foot, the material changes into a canvas that’s as soft as suede. This material is covered by the arch lock wings.
Around the heel is suede with the embossed logos on both sides of the heel. The embossed suede is a unique touch. This visual redesign of the shoe makes the shoe more appealing.
The arch lock wings are more prominent on these Gaviotas 2. The wings serve a similar purpose as Nike Flywire and Saucony Iso technology: to lock your feet in and provide more stability and support.
Finding the right tightness took a few tries while lacing up. The wings definitely add some stability and support, but not as much as the J-Frame in the midsole.
The Gaviota 2 does have seams due to the three different materials used. I had no issues with hot spots or points of irritation while I was running in these shoes.
The Gaviota heels were a snug fit without being overbearing. The cushioning was standard in the back and the tongue of the shoe. The snugness continues through the arches. At times I felt like the arch area was a little too snug.
They ran true to size lengthwise. I loosened the laces to adjust. The snug fit continued in the toe box. This could be a drawback for those who have big feet or like a roomy toe box for pushing off.
Hoka One One Gaviota 2 Conclusions
The Hoka Gaviota 2 is one of the most balanced running shoes I have worn. The cushioning and responsiveness are top notch. I expected over-the-top cushioning, but I was wrong.
It does have a great amount of cushioning and is responsive in the right areas, particularly in the forefoot for toe offs.
While running in these I noticed my stride was more natural. I had more midfoot strikes and smooth transitions to toe-offs.
My feet and legs needed less time to recover after my long runs. I was looking forward to the next run in the Gaviotas soon after I finished a run.
They are narrow throughout the shoe, especially in the arch. The snugness was there during runs but didn’t affect my stride.
The Gaviotas look like tanks. You’d think they would feel like running in tanks. The size of the shoe never entered my mind while was I running in them.
I never felt like they slowed me down or affected my stride. I wouldn’t recommend doing speedwork in them, but I will say they handle longer runs very well.
This was my first pair of Hoka One One I have run in and I will say they make a great shoe. If you are looking for a max-cushioned, lightweight daily stability trainer ready for many miles, I would check out the Gaviota 2.
We purchased a pair of Hoka One One Gaviota 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.