First Impressions of HOKA ONE ONE Zinal – Releasing July 1, 2021

Run Oregon receives and tests running shoes from time to time. This initial post about the new Zinal trail runner from HOKA ONE ONE.

Shoe: HOKA ONE ONE Zinal
Releasing: July 1, 2021
Weight:

  • Men’s 8.5 oz.
  • Women’s 7 oz.

Stack:

  • Men’s: 22mm heel 18mm forefoot
  • Women’s: 21mm heel 17mm forefoot

Expected Cost: $160

Description (from HOKA):

Attack technical terrain with confidence in the grippy, ‘gecko-like’ Zinal. A responsive trail runner geared for shorter distances, this nimble trainer delivers the perfect blend of speed and agility. Made from recycled yarn, a stripped-back mesh upper has been designed with a gusseted tongue to keep debris out. Featuring our PROFLYTM dual-density midsole with ultralight foam on top and rubberized EVA on the bottom, the Zinal is finished with a VibramTM Litebase outsole for maximal traction and minimal weight.

Initial Impressions:

Looks & Construction

I am a big fan of the color styles for the upcoming Zinal – with both the men’s and women’s coming out in a primarily “marine blue-green” color (called Atlantis by HOKA), with the men’s accents in orange and the women’s in purple/pink. The mesh upper looks great and the entirety of the shoes is made from 100% vegan materials. The bottom is adorned with 4mm lugs and a Vibram Litebase outsole, as well as HOKA’s ProFly dual-density midsole construction, made to cushion the footstrikes and also propel runners forward with liftoff. The difference in weight between the Zinal and other, more technical trail shoes, is definitely noticeable.

First Runs

My favorite thing about these shoes is that they seem perfect for a runner like me. Run Oregon has a few runners who put in more miles on the trails in a week (or weekend) than I typically do in a month, and may need heavier duty lugs to have their needs met. However, as someone who doesn’t generally have the ability to put in that many miles offroad, it feels amazing to have an option that can navigate terrain without feeling like I am overdoing it with more technical footwear.

Over the first few weeks of having these, I took them to Willamette Mission State Park, an extremely underrated location for miles and miles of easy trails. While there isn’t much incline It also has a variety of terrains along the way – dirt, bark, mud, sand, and rocks – making it a perfect training ground for breaking in trail shoes. I have no significant complaints about the Zinal’s ability to tackle any of these terrains in short spurts during my runs of 4-9 miles. During the times when I ran on some continued small-medium riverbed rocks, I noticed some slight lateral movement. This leads me to hypothesize that these may not your first choice in more significant elongated technical terrain but, alas, that’s not really even what they were designed for anyways.  I surprisingly didn’t make any mistaken steps that resulted in the protective toe bumper being put into use, but it’s nice to know that it is there.

These shoes performed so well over this time that most runs I didn’t even really think about what was on my feet – something I consider a positive. What I DON’T want to do when running is constantly thinking that I have new shoes on my feet. The runs felt cushioned, but with more ground feel than you’d probably expect from most HOKA shoes (a positive to some and perhaps a negative to others).

The Zinal’s are releasing on July 1st and seem like a perfect option for those like me who run trails in shorter spurts, or for those looking for a sleek trail racer.


 

Thank you to HOKA for providing us with a sample pair. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Matt Rasmussen (1586 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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