For a road-to-trail runner or non-technical trail runner or hiker looking for a stable, maximalist shoe to go the distance in comfort.
Trail runners who primarily run on technical, uneven terrain with tight rocks where a lot of agility is required or speed is the focus.
The Stinson 7 is HOKA’s maximum-cushioned trail runner with a heel stack of 40mm and 35mm forefoot and the “all-terrain” sibling to the Hoka Bondi 8.
It is designed to provide stability and comfort when you’re running, hiking, or walking on varied surfaces, including roads, grass, gravel, or singletrack dirt. At $170 per pair, the price is comparable to other maximalist trail runners, like the Fresh Foam X More Trail v3, Altra Olympus, and Brooks Caldera 6.
At 10.8 oz (Women’s) and 12.9 oz. (Men’s), the Stinson 7 is slightly heavier than its predecessor by about a full ounce. The updated version also has a stack height about 2mm higher.
While it’s on the heavier side for comparable maximalist trail shoes, it also has the highest stack compared to its competitors. The result is increased plushness and comfort over mileage without stability compromised.
The Stinson 7’s stability is optimized through the use of new H-frame™ and Active Foot Frame™ technology. H-frame™ is new technology from Hoka that was introduced on Hoka’s everyday stability road runner, the Gaviota 5. Application of this technology into a maximum cushioning road to trail shoe creates the ability to adventure further with confidence.
As mentioned in my first impression, the shoes were extremely high (and wide) stack, but still stylish and lightweight for how bulky they appeared. In my first run on them, I was impressed by the stability on road and non-technical terrain.
I tried these out as everyday shoes on a long flight to Europe and I felt pressure in the toebox after several hours wearing them.
On trails in the Dolomites, the Stinson 7s were sufficient for hiking and running on hard packed dirt; but they were clunky in tight, rockier sections.
There were rare but alarming ankle rolls. On warm, dry Colorado front-range trails, the traction wasn’t as sticky as I’d have liked when climbing on dusty rocks. The lack of Vibram outsole (or a sticky substitute) was a deficiency in both the Stinson 6 and this model, despite the multidirectional lugs.
On smooth trail and road, the Stinson 7 was unbeatable in terms of reliability and comfort. The high stack didn’t slow you down very much. While these wouldn’t be my first choice for speedwork or a fast race, these would be suitable for longer races or as a daily trainer for longer distances or those who need more cushion and stability.
The almost absurdly high stack of the Stinson 7 provides excellent protection from underfoot hazards and shallow puddles (and creeks and streams), as you’re literally a few inches off the ground. There is no rock plate, as it would be completely unnecessary.
The durable rubber toe cap provides additional protection from trail hazards to make these even more bomb-proof. A partially gusseted tongue provides an adequate barrier from debris entering the shoe.
The bottom line is that the Hoka Stinson 7 is a durable workhorse that can stand up to long wears and many miles. So long as you want to wear these, they will take you there; so I would feel fully confident wearing them for a long, ultra distance race.
The Stinson 7 is exceptionally reliable on the road and non-technical terrain. While I wouldn’t recommend this shoe for speedwork, they don’t feel too cumbersome to log road miles.
The cushioning and H-Frame stabilizing technology create an unmatched feeling of security on even terrain; but the energy return is limited compared to other trail runners. This is a shoe that I would wear for long training days where speed is not the goal or a long race with variable terrain that doesn’t get too technical.
The multi-directional lugs are designed to enhance traction. The outsole is sufficiently grippy if the terrain is not too steep or rocky, for example on dirt or gravel paths. However, the sole composition does make the outsole slippery in cold, wet conditions.
The Hoka Stinson 7 fit is true to size. While roomy, it was easy to lock down. The engineered jacquard mesh upper is sufficiently light and breathable in hot weather, yet plush enough to provide support and warmth when needed..
While the toe box is ample, after long efforts or wearing the shoes for extended periods, there was some pressure and rubbing on my big toe. This was more problematic in the first few times trialing these shoes and became more comfortable after a break-in period.
The plush heel cup provides soft cushioning and support all the way around the ankle. The back of the heel cup extends up along the achilles, which felt slightly awkward to me and created hot spots when wearing short socks.
The Hoka Stinson 7 is the most maximalist running shoe on the market and thrives in that niche.
While the bulkiness of these out of the box (and after putting them on) may seem excessive, the stable, plush experience of running in them is truly unique.
The protection, durability, and stability on road to trail terrain are unmatched by any other running shoe that I’ve ever tried. For logging miles from the house to the trail and back again in all seasons, they inspire confidence.
I’m looking forward to trying these out in snowy, wintry conditions, as I expect the large footprint to provide stability and some height above the snow.
The Stinson 7 does have its limitations on the types of terrain that it works well on. As mentioned, narrow, rocky, and potentially slick terrain, cause issues with agility and responsiveness. The high stack can become a liability if the terrain is too uneven, and the outsole material isn’t as grippy as its competitors or other Hoka trail shoes.
A break-in period may be required before these shoes feel as comfortable as they can be. While adequately spacious, the toe box initially created pressure points after wearing the Stinson 7s for a long period of time. Fortunately, the fit gradually improved and can now be worn for as long as needed.
While I wouldn’t recommend these for a road race or technical trail running, the Stinson 7’s versatility runs the gamut of uses from reliable ultra-distance training and racing, hiking, to being comfortably and casually on-trend.