Hoka Zinal

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Hoka Zinal: Review

“A trailblazing shoe for runners seeking speed and agility on technical terrain.”

Overview


The Hoka Zinal is a trail running shoe that stands out for its agility and speed, designed for runners who seek a lightweight and responsive experience on technical terrain. This shoe is part of the Hoka Zinal family and is a departure from the brand's usual high-cushion offerings, focusing instead on a more ground-connected feel.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight Design: Weighing in at just 241 g for men and 198 g for women, the Zinal is built for speed.
  • Low Stack Height: With a heel-to-toe drop of 4 mm, it provides a stable platform for quick movements.
  • Vibram Megagrip Outsole: The shoe features a high-traction outsole for confident grip on varied terrain.
  • Breathable Upper: Engineered mesh construction ensures excellent ventilation and comfort.

The Hoka Zinal is an ideal choice for trail runners who prioritize a lightweight, nimble shoe for fast-paced runs. Its Vibram Megagrip outsole offers reliable grip, making it suitable for a range of trail conditions.

According to our analysis of prices across the internet, at current rates it's %price_band% of running shoes.

Verdict

The consensus on the Hoka Zinal


The Hoka Zinal is a trail running shoe that delivers on its promise of being lightweight, agile, and fast. It's a significant shift from Hoka's typical cushioned models, offering a closer-to-ground feel and a firmer ride. The dual-density ProFly midsole and Vibram Megagrip outsole provide a responsive and grippy experience, suitable for short, fast trail runs. However, the shoe's narrow fit and minimal cushioning may not be ideal for all runners, especially those looking for comfort over longer distances. The Zinal's breathable mesh upper and low stack height contribute to its nimble nature, but some may find the shoe's durability and protection lacking for more aggressive terrain. Overall, the Hoka Zinal is a specialized shoe that excels in fast, technical trail running but may fall short for runners seeking a more versatile or cushioned trail companion.

Updates to Hoka Zinal


The Hoka Zinal 2 is the latest iteration in the Hoka Zinal line, featuring a lower stack height and deeper 5mm lugs for improved grip. The shoe is lighter than its predecessor, weighing 208 grams (7.3 ounces) for a UK men's size 8.5. The updates focus on enhancing the shoe's responsiveness and traction for technical trail running.

Comparable Shoes




The Hoka Speedgoat 4 is a more cushioned alternative to the Zinal, with aggressive lugs that provide superior traction in wet and muddy conditions. Runners who prioritize long-distance comfort and protection may find the Speedgoat 4 to be a more suitable choice.



For those who run on a mix of road and light trails, The Hoka Challenger 6 ATR may be a better fit than the Zinal. It offers a more versatile outsole that can handle a variety of surfaces, making it a great option for runners who need a shoe that transitions smoothly between different terrains.



Compared to the Hoka Zinal, The Salomon Pulsar offers a lighter and more forgiving ride. While the Zinal is designed for short, fast trail races, the Pulsar may be a better option for runners seeking a shoe that can handle a wider range of distances with greater comfort.

6 Hoka Zinal Pros & Cons


3 Pros

The Hoka Zinal's lightweight design makes it ideal for runners looking to maintain speed on technical trails.
Its breathable mesh upper provides excellent ventilation, keeping feet cool during runs.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole ensures a strong grip on various terrains, enhancing the shoe's versatility.

3 Cons

Some runners may find the fit too narrow, potentially leading to discomfort, especially in the toe box area.
The minimal cushioning may not be sufficient for those who prefer a more protective and comfortable ride on longer runs.
Durability concerns have been raised, particularly with the thin upper material that may be prone to tearing on rugged trails.

In Depth


Upper

The Hoka Zinal's upper is crafted from engineered mesh, providing a breathable and comfortable fit. The gusseted tongue helps keep debris out, while the overall design of the upper ensures a secure lockdown. However, some runners may experience heel slip due to the lower cut ankle, and the shoe's fit runs slightly large, suggesting that buyers may need to size down for an optimal fit.

Midsole

Featuring a dual-density ProFly midsole, the Hoka Zinal offers a firm yet responsive ride. The midsole geometry includes Meta-Rocker technology, which aids in smooth transitions during the running stride. While the shoe is not as cushioned as other Hoka models, it provides sufficient shock absorption for shorter, faster trail runs.

Outsole

The outsole of the Hoka Zinal is equipped with Vibram Megagrip Litebase technology, offering excellent traction on a variety of surfaces. The 4 mm lugs are strategically placed to balance grip and turnover, making the shoe versatile for different mountain terrains. The outsole's durability is also noteworthy, contributing to the shoe's overall longevity.

Size/fit

The Hoka Zinal tends to run big, and some runners may need to order a half size down. The shoe's fit is more akin to a road shoe, with a medium toe box that provides a familiar feel. However, the narrow and straight design may not accommodate all foot shapes comfortably.

Comfort

While the Hoka Zinal is designed for speed, it does not compromise on comfort. The lightweight design, combined with a soft midsole and a thick insole, ensures a comfortable fit. The thin, lightly padded tongue adds to the comfort without detracting from the shoe's breathability.

Cushioning

The cushioning in the Hoka Zinal is lower profile compared to other Hoka models, with a focus on keeping the feet close to the ground. This design choice results in a firmer ride, which may be less cushioned but allows for a more responsive and connected trail experience.

Breathability

The Zinal's upper is made of super thin mesh, making it highly breathable and suitable for hot weather conditions. This feature also allows the shoe to drain and dry quickly, which is beneficial for stream crossings or wet trail conditions.

Grip

Despite the smaller lugs, the Hoka Zinal provides a surprisingly good grip on the trails. The Vibram Megagrip outsole ensures reliable traction, even on technical terrain. The shoe's grip is a standout feature, allowing runners to maintain speed with confidence.

Who should buy the Hoka Zinal?


The Hoka Zinal is best suited for trail runners who are looking for a shoe that can handle fast, technical runs with agility and precision. It's an excellent choice for those who value a lightweight design and a low drop for a more natural running position. Runners who enjoy a firm ride and a close-to-ground feel will appreciate the Zinal's performance on shorter, high-intensity efforts.

Who should not buy the Hoka Zinal?


Runners who prefer a more cushioned, protective shoe for long-distance runs or ultra-marathons may want to look elsewhere. The Hoka Zinal's minimal cushioning and tight fit might not provide the comfort needed for extended periods on the trail. Those who frequently encounter wet, muddy conditions might benefit from a shoe with more aggressive lugs, such as the Hoka Speedgoat 4.

Hoka Zinal: What's it good for?


The Hoka Zinal excels in short, fast-paced trail races where responsiveness and grip are crucial. Its lightweight nature makes it ideal for runners who prioritize speed and agility over long-distance comfort. The shoe's design is tailored for technical terrain, making it a strong contender for trail runners who enjoy pushing their limits on challenging courses.

4 Hoka Zinal FAQs


Is the Hoka Zinal suitable for long-distance trail running?

The Hoka Zinal is optimized for short, fast trail runs and may not provide the cushioning and comfort needed for long-distance trail running. It's designed for speed and agility on technical terrain rather than endurance.

How does the grip of the Hoka Zinal perform on wet terrain?

The Vibram Megagrip outsole of the Hoka Zinal offers reliable traction on a variety of surfaces, including wet terrain. However, for extremely wet or muddy conditions, a shoe with more aggressive lugs might be preferable.

What is the weight of the Hoka Zinal?

The Hoka Zinal weighs 241 grams (8.5 ounces) for the men's version and 198 grams (7 ounces) for the women's version, making it a lightweight option for trail running.

Does the Hoka Zinal have a vegan-friendly construction?

Yes, the Hoka Zinal features a vegan-friendly construction, making it a suitable choice for runners who prefer products without animal-derived materials.

Hoka Zinal alternatives



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productAthletes
Pro athlete users

+10
Sage CanadayJim Walmsley

Jan MargaritClare Gallagher
Weight
Weight
M: 241 g
W: 198 g
M: 215 g
W: 181 g
M: 221 g
W: 176 g
11 g
M: 241 g
W: 213 g
M: 459 g
W: 391 g
Forefoot
Forefoot
M: 18 mm
W: 17 mm
15 mm
23 mm
18 mm
16 mm
Heel to toe drop
Heel to toe drop
4 mm
4 mm
8 mm
6 mm
4 mm
Heel
Heel
M: 22 mm
W: 21 mm
19 mm
31 mm
24 mm
20 mm
Terrain
Terrain
Trail
TrailRoadTrailMudSnow/iceTrailTrailTrail
Brand
Brand
Hoka
Xero ShoesLa SportivaSalomonMerrellMerrell
Strike Type
Strike Type
Fore/Midfoot strike
Fore/Midfoot strikeFore/Midfoot strikeFore/Midfoot strikeHeel strikeFore/Midfoot strikeHeel strikeFore/Midfoot strike
Shoe Type
Shoe Type
BreathableLightweightLow drop
BreathableLightweightLow dropZero dropLightweightLow dropLightweightMaximalistLightweightLow drop
Breathable
Breathable
Rocker
Rocker
Rock plate
Rock plate
Orthotic friendly
Orthotic friendly
Removable insole
Removable insole
Techs
Techs
Vibram
Gore-Tex
Vibram
Waterproofings
Waterproofings
Waterproof
Environmental Characteristics
Environmental Characteristics
Vegan Ⓥ
Vegan Ⓥ
Vegan Ⓥ
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Hoka Zinal: 3 Expert video reviews

Hoka Zinal characteristics and specifications

Characteristics
SportsRunning (+1940)
TerrainTrail (+512)
BrandHoka (+99)
Support TypeNeutral (+1520)
Pronation TypeNeutral pronation (+1500)
Strike TypeFore/Midfoot strike (+1075)
Arch TypeHigh arch (+1447)
Shoe TypeBreathable (+342)Lightweight (+422)Low drop (+279)
FitMedium toe box (+841)
FeaturesBreathable (+964)Rocker (+148)
MaterialsMesh (+880)Rubber Sole (+61)
TechsVibram (+72)
Environmental CharacteristicsVegan Ⓥ (+243)
ColorwaysAtlantis / Outer Space, Blazing Orange / Persimmon Orange, Blue, Deep Lake / Ceramic, Evening Primrose / Blue Coral, Festival Fuchsia / Bellwether Blue, Fiesta / Black Olive, Impala / Flame, Paradise Pink / Blazing Orange, Radiant Yellow / Camellia
Specificationsvs Average
Released
Jul 2021
Measurements
Weight
M: 241 g
W: 198 g
Heel to toe drop
4 mm
Heel
M: 22 mm
W: 21 mm
Forefoot
M: 18 mm
W: 17 mm

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AuthorTom Green
Tom is the founder of geerly. Based in West London, he found his passion for running in his mid-30s. He’s best at longer distances, and is a regular at the London Marathon, where he's edging closer to sub-2.40. He started geerly because he found it frustrating when shopping for running shoes spending ages trying to find the best deal in his size, and wading through verbose, waffling reviews clearly designed to appeal to search engines rather than be helpful to users. For geerly he's passionate about writing reviews that get straight to the point, and helping runners find the right gear at the best price.
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