The Hoka Gaviota would be ideal for a runner who needs cushion and stability for training for a marathon or ultra.
Runners who are looking for a tempo or speedwork trainer.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the name Hoka? Other than seeing them on the feet of more people lately, I would say the cushioning. This is certainly the case when you lay your eyes on the new Gaviota 4.
Hoka has two stability trainers, the Arahi and Gaviota. The Arahi is their mid tier stability trainer while the Gaviota is the max tier stability trainer. The Arahi is the stability version of the Clifton while the Gaviota corresponds to the Bondi.
The Gaviota retails for 170 dollars, which is a 10 dollar price increase from previous years. It competes with the Brooks Glycerin GTS, ASICS Kayano, and Saucony Hurricane. The trainer most similar to the Gaviota would be the Altra Provision 6. They both have a similar amount of cushioning along with lower heel to toe drops. 5 mm for the Gaviota and 0 mm for the Provision.
This was my second Gaviota review. I previously did the 2nd edition. Much has changed since that edition.
When I opened the box I instantly liked what I saw. The upper was redesigned since I reviewed them, gone were the thick overlays of the lacing system.
The upper looked sleek and fashionable. The royal blue base made the pops of lighter blue stand out. The J-frame was recognizable because it was gray compared to the white of the rest of the midsole.
It was no surprise to slip the Gaviota on and feel the comfort from all the cushioning.
It is both plush while having some hints of firmness, giving the trainer structure and stability. The Gaviota is a big shoe but doesn’t feel bulky or heavy after initial wearing.
The maiden voyage of the Gaviota 4 was a 5-mile run. I was quickly reminded it is not a shoe for speed but for comfort.
It allowed me to go at a nice easy pace with a bounce.
I did have some rubbing on the side of my heel, luckily no blisters but I was curious to see if this is something I would be dealing with all the way through putting in my miles. Aside from that, the first run was an easy and comfortable ride.
Keeping up with tradition, the Gaviota 4 updated the material used for the upper. It is a stylish and flexible engineered mesh. It is breathable as well.
The Gaviota was reviewed during a steamy midwestern summer and had no problems allowing the feet to breathe. These aspects of the new mesh build on the comfort of the trainer.
In the midfoot of the upper you will find the H-Frame. This used to be on the outside of the upper, it has now been placed under the engineered mesh.
You can see it on the pair I reviewed if you look for the light blue tabs in the lacing system. The H-Frame allows you to adjust the fit of your midfoot area.
This has improved since I last reviewed the Gaviota. It blends in better along with being easier to use.
The H-Frame assists in the stability of the Gaviota because of the ability to adjust the lacing system in a simple and effective manner providing the best fit on the first time.
You will find a medium amount of cushioning throughout the upper. Along with the medium amount of cushioning you will also experience a medium fit from heel to toe throughout the upper.
In the back there is a heel pull tab making it easier to slip them on for your run.
Let’s start from the ground up. The outsole of the Gaviota is covered with Durabrasion Rubber. It has two different colors and thicknesses, which identify where the high abrasion areas are.
Durability is the name of the game with this midsole. The thickness of the outsole doesn’t deter from the flexibility. The outsole is meant for hundreds of miles and the traction it provides handled all the conditions I ran in.
The Gaviota 4 has a stack height of 40 mm in the heel and 35 mm in the forefoot. This makes the midsole one of the tallest ones on the market. It has a big midsole without feeling bulky. THis is a result of the foam they use, CMEVA foam. . It has a balanced ride that leans on the plush side of feeling. Initially the bounce stands out from the ride.
Underneath all the bounce is a hint of firmness that gives the midsole structure. These two sensations come together to provide a comfortable ride. Since the midsole is big, the Gaviota works best on recovery and long runs.
The stability of the Gaviota is provided by Hoka’s tried and true J-Frame.
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. One small change to the 4 is you will notice a softer J-Frame material.
As you look at the Gaviota you can see where the J-Frame is because they use a different color foam. This technology is similar to Brooks Guide Rails. It blends in nicely with the rest of the midsole .
While I ran in the Gaviota it engaged and made small stability adjustments when I needed..
The Late-Stage Meta Rocker Geometry is incorporated in the midsole of the Gaviota.
The Meta Rocker Geometry is utilized in most Hoka trainers regardless of whether they are neutral or for stability. It is a combination of a 5mm heel to toe drop along with a uniquely shaped midsole.
The forefoot slightly curves upwards to encourage more momentum on toe offs. This proves beneficial especially late in high mileage runs because it helps keep you going. It also added to the comfort of the ride.
There is a reason you have seen Hokas on more and more feet, they make a comfortable and durable shoe and Gaviota 4 proves that. It is a balanced trainer built to take care of you mile after mile.
Its midsole is one of the biggest out there. Usually this would mean the trainer feels heavy or bulky, this is not the case with the Gaviota.
The J-Frame provides dynamic stability, only engaging when you need it. It provides comfort because of the amount of cushioning.
One drawback is there is a small adjustment period because of the 5 mm drop.
The redesigned upper was a strength of the Gaviota. It was breathable, flexible and durable. The amount of cushioning was ideal for the type of trainer.
Moving the H-frame under the engineered mesh was an improvement. It made it more effective in providing a secure yet adaptable fit.
The Gaviota 4 stands at the top of the class of maximum cushioned stability trainers.
Is it going to excel at speedwork or help you PR? No. Would I recommend it for someone who needs a trainer for marathon or ultra training? Absolutely!
I added it to my rotation as a long run and recovery trainer because it provides a comfortable ride.