Most people are drawn to Hoka One One shoes because of the visually obvious amount of cushioning. However, just like any other shoe brand, there are varying degrees of “cush” in the Hoka lineup and today I’m taking a look at the most cushioned road shoe from the maximalist brand; the Bondi 5.
As usual, I’ll start by looking at the bottom of the Bondi 5. Hoka has used rubber on all but the midfoot for durability. It appears to me (by feel test) be two different rubber compounds; a firmer rubber on the lateral heel and the rest a softer, blown rubber. The midfoot area is exposed RMAT foam.
Now, depending on how you count them, the Bondi has 7 flex grooves which is a lot for a shoe that has barely ANY flex at all. I have run about 60 miles in the Bondi 5 over the last few weeks and there is little obvious wear of the rubber. I have run on roads, sidewalks and chip trail in them. They have great traction in wet and dry conditions (probably not-so-great in snow or ice but I didn’t use them in those conditions).
As I said in the opening of this review, many people were first drawn to Hoka because of their maximalist midsoles – both in appearance and in actual material – and with 31mm of heel stack and 27mm of forefoot stack, this shoe has a good deal of underfoot foam (RMAT) but not quite as much as you’d think. The reason for this because the foot doesn’t simply sit on top of the midsole foam but rather, it sits about a half inch down in the material with the foam kind of wrapping up the sides of the foot (of course the amount of wrap depends on what part of the shoe/foot we’re looking at).
I really like the looks of the Bondi 5. Even though the RMAT foam gives the shoe a high stack, the color scheme is painted onto the midsole giving it a more traditional look. Speaking of the higher stack of this shoe, if you’re worried about rolling your ankle (like my hubs) you really don’t need to be. The midsole of the Bondi 5 is much wider than the profile of the upper and gives plenty of innate stability to the shoe. The shoe is VERY stiff which to me, can seem counter-intuitive. As you may know from other reviews of mine, I run on my forefoot and while I enjoy running in the Bondi 5, I do wish there was more flex in the shoe.
Moving along to the upper, I have to say that this is a good looking shoe. The engineered mesh material is seamless and the support structure is made from Hoka’s “3-D Puff Print Frame”. I’m not sure where the “puff” part of that comes in, but the overlays are printed on by 3D printing in a line pattern that criss-crosses opposing directions in the midfoot. The same 3D puff print reinforces the eyelets which are traditionally placed for the lay-flat laces.
Internally, the shoe is very smooth with seams at the collar (just behind the midfoot) and where the tongue attaches above the vamp. The nicely padded tongue is further reinforced by the 3D-printed material and has a reflective lace loop to prevent tongue slide. The collar also has a good amount of foam which works great for me as I like a lot of foam in that area for comfort. The heel counter is semi-rigid and is backed up by the aforementioned wrapping of the foot by the midsole foam.
I am impressed with the performance and durability of the Bondi’s upper. Having logged over 60 miles in them yet everything is the same as on day one. I have found them to be nicely breathable though, to be fair, we are not into the dog days of summer yet. I have no reason to assume it would get too hot.
While the Bondi 5 is touted as the most cushioned road shoe from Hoka One One (and I can certainly vouch that there is a lot of cushion here) this doesn’t feel like the MOST cushioned shoe in the line to me. However, the cushioning did make for some rather comfortable 20+ mile road runs as I was preparing for the Quad Rock 50 miler. To me, running in a Hoka is a great alternative to running on the soft ground of the trail when you don’t have time to get to an actual trail. As it turned out, a majority of my long runs had to be run on pavement which is not ideal when training for a trail race. The Bondi 5’s allowed me to be able to roll with the punches and get the “job” done. Before my first run in them, I wore them around for a bit. Being such a stiff shoe, I had to get used to the way they felt on my feet. The midsole stiffness doesn’t really turn me off, in fact it adds a bit of pop to my runs. It is a lightweight shoe with a women’s size 7 weighing in a 8.5 oz and men’s size 9 at 10 oz. However, I feel like some may find the stiffness a bit much and catering to a heavier runner whose body weight will be able to torque in a bit more.
The Bondi 5 is a solid distance shoe and has become a big part of my training. I love it for long runs which shows since most of my runs in them are from 10-20+ miles. Although I wouldn’t consider it to be a “life changer”, it’s a great shoe that I have been reaching for lately to get the job done. It is stiff, but comfortable on my foot. I haven’t had any issues with them, I just wish they had some flexibility. If that is an issue for you as well, you will certainly be able to find cushion and flexibility in another Hoka model.
Pricing of the Bondi 5 is steep and $150 but pretty is much in the middle of Hoka’s price range. I don’t think it is a deal breaker, though, and with the you will certainly get your money’s worth with this work horse.