allbirds vs hoka: Check 10 Differences Before Buying

The debate of Allbirds vs Hoka is nothing new. Everyone has their opinion, and so do we. Stick along if you want a complete comparison between these two brands.

One of many things that sets apart a great runner from a good one is the pair of sneakers he wears. Yes, running shoes matter that much and for so many reasons. Many factors contribute to selecting a good pair: comfort, cushioning, support, individual feet issues, and personal preferences.

This article is not designed to push you to one brand or another. We call it an academic debate between Allbirds and Hoka. We will discuss these two brands, their unique selling points, and what sets each apart. We will also try to find out some not-so-great aspects you should know. So bear with us because we have a lot to cover.

Allbirds vs Hoka: Brief comparison

When it comes to sneakers, we all have different preferences. Some like the soft cushiony feel under their feet, while others prefer hard, firm support while running.

Both Allbirds and Hoka are one of the best shoe brands. Allbirds is known for their less formal, super comfy, and light feel that we all love. Known for their minimalist looks, these shoes are my favorite, especially if your work involves walking or standing all day. You can easily dump them in the machine or wash them with your hands, which makes them extra convenient. Plus, that extra factor of paying back to Mother Earth because of Allbirds’s commitment to environmental sustainability makes them extra special.

Hoka is a frontrunner when it comes to extra cushioning and support. The brand provides comfort and support and rises above others in catering to the specialized needs of athletes and those who are extra active and are looking for top-tier performance from running shoes.

Let’s take a detailed look at each brand and discuss their specialties.

Allbirds SHoes OverView

Allbirds Wool Runner Sneakers Men

Nobody knows the importance of good sneakers as an athlete. Tim Brown. The New Zealand Soccer player realized the need for a simple, comfortable pair of shoes. Being a professional player, he understands how big brands fail to provide comfort and simplicity amidst flashy colors and logos and needs more responsibility to understand the need for more sustainable options in the footwear industry.

Allbirds have become the symbol of comfort, simplicity, and sustainability. Entering into an established industry was not easy, but Allbirds did that with what Tim Brown called the “reduction of the shoe down to its simplest form”.

Let’s discuss some key features of Allbirds.

1. Comfort

Comfort is the ultimate deciding factor for many of us. Allbirds win hearts as far as comfort is concerned; it’s practically like walking on clouds. The midsoles, upper, and heel everything gives a slipper-like feel. You can even run without socks, though we recommend socks, or you will have to wash midsoles too often. 

Their wool runners are soft, lightweight, and breathable. Even Allbirds’ runner shoes like Dasher 2 are comfortable and properly cushioned without being too bulky. The balance between stability and cushioning provides a secure run along all terrains without compromising comfort.

The SweetFoam soles are made by contouring the biomass of sugarcane. It contours to the feet and gives a bouncy comfort.

2. Breathable

The best part of owning an Allbirds shoe is its breathability. Both the Wool or Tree series are breathable, but the Tree collection is breezier and ideal for wearing in the summer heat. This line of shoes has uppers made from Tencel, derived from Eucalyptus trees.

3. Low Maintenance and Washable

All Allbirds shoes are washable. You can make them look as good as new after washing without losing color or shape. Remove the midsoles and laces and throw them in a bucket of water or even in a machine.

4. Sustainability

Allbirds shoes are made of sustainable material. Sustainable materials like Merino wool, SweetFoam midsoles, and Eucalyptus trees are all sourced without damaging the precious ecosystem of Mother Earth. They are FSC certified, which speaks volumes regarding their commitment to sustainable materials.

5. Disadvantages

  • Their extra cushioning and comfort go against them as well. Athletes and professional runners feel a lack of stability under their feet.
  • Despite being washable, they are not good for a rainy day.
  • They are great for light workouts and gym, but not for strength training or heavy lifting.
  • Not a choice of professional runners or athletes.

Hoka Shoes Overview

hoka clifton 9 images

Hoka sneakers have secured a special appeal among hardcore runners and athletes. With their hefty soles and flashy look, they are praised as a solution to all the aches and injuries of runners. They are known for their extra support and cushioning with gel-filled soles.

Hoka was founded in 2009 by French Trail Runner Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard. Interestingly, the brand name was originally named Hoka One One. Hoka is derived from New Zealand’s Indigenous Maori, which means to soar or to fly. One One is a noun meaning earth. So, the complete phrase means to fly over the earth. 

However, the brand dropped the One One in 2021 to simplify the name for marketing purposes. The brand’s driving thought was to provide runners with a cushioned feel on almost any terrain.

Mermoud and Diard developed a curious recipe with the help of a Chinese company and came up with a new kind of EVA foam. The shoes were designed to soak up the impact of force while running. They first designed trail running shoes for comfortable, smooth rides in rugged mountains like the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites. 

They use oversized technology that is already used in mountain bike wheels and tennis rackets. Initially started with downhill slip-on overshoes, once footwear was developed, they knew it was not just an over-slip but an advanced running shoe that everyone could use.

The idea got hit because there was a considerable gap for sneakers that provide a smooth ride. Since 2009, Hoka has gained popularity and has been a choice of athletes. It’s been worn by elite runners like Ironman triathlons.

1. Cushioning

As mentioned, Hoka was designed for extra cushioning, which sets them apart from other brands. Hoka Clifton provides maximum cushioning without feeling clunky. Their midsole cushioning is intended to land each foot softly and spring up, helping the speed. So, the midsole acts like a shock absorber, dialing up and down. They used compression-molded EVA(CMEVA) in all lineups, like Bondi, Clifton, with different blends depending on the purpose of the line. 

For shoes like Mach 5, they permeate supercritical fluid into EVA, making it more porous and light. It gives a lighter feel and a responsive cushioning. Their top-tier racing shoes like Rocket X 2 use polyether block amide (PEBA) foam that absorbs shock, giving extra cushioning and pace.

2. Curved Meta-rocker

The soles are engineered to keep up the momentum while running. They call it a Meta-rocker that acts like a wheel with its low drop and a rounded shape that helps propel the feet forward. It gives the stride right boost that is always smooth despite the terrain’s roughness or the runner’s pace.

We can divide the Hoke Lineup into two categories. 

Early or Late stages differ in how they curve up under the ball of feet or closer to the toe. The early stage is designed to boost pace, while the late stage creates a more stable feel.

3. Support with Active Foot Frame

They feature an active foot frame that your feet hug instead of merely resting on them, providing stability and support. Hoka gives a snug and stable feel, wrapping the feet into an active foot frame.

4. Disadvantages

  • Flashy, colorful look
  • Looks bulky with thick soles
  • It takes a while to adjust to the Shoes
  • Expensive shoes
  • Not for everyday walks

Allbirds vs. Hoka: 10 Key Differences

Now that we have noted each brand’s key features, let’s examine how both differ.

allbirds vs hoka: Check 10 Differences Before Buying

1. Comfort

We have already mentioned that both are extremely comfortable shoes, but we cannot compare the level and type of comfort. 

Allbirds are comfortable everyday shoes, but you don’t want them on rough terrains. They provide a cozy, breathable fit from merino wool and eucalyptus fibers. 

Hoka offers great cushioning, but adjusting to the shape of your feet takes a while. The brand designs shoes for good foot alignment, thus limiting the chance of injury. They also have thick, chunky heels, so it takes a while to break in Hoka shoes.

2. Support

Allbirds may provide the plushy merino wool feel but fail to provide the exceptional support and padding of Hoka.

Hoka is designed for serious runners and athletes and has a geometrical construction with arch support. Its low-drop heel gives maximum support while running. A low-drop heel encourages you to land more on your midfoot or forefoot than your heel. Its active foot frame also keeps the heel in place.

3. Running Performance

As we have mentioned, Hoka shoes are designed for long-distance runs. They have thick EVA foam midsoles that support the runner on different terrains and help him keep up the pace. I love running long distances with Hoka Mach 4s, which are responsive for a good tempo. They are certainly reliable for long-distance runs. Shock-absorbing soles keep the joints of feet protected from injuries.

Regarding running performance, Allbirds does not have the extra edge like Hoka. They are good shoes with decent cushioning and stability, but Merino wool fails to give that pace or support while running. These lifestyle shoes can be used for runs but not for long-distance ones. Allbirds lack the curved soles that propel the feet forward while running.

4. Grip

Hoka shoes have thin outer soles that grip the road. The reliable traction on the road keeps them from slipping, and you can use them in rainy seasons, even on muddy or icy surfaces. 

Allbirds shoes also have good grip. Sneakers like Mizzles have reinforced grip, but still, they lack the traction of Hoka shoes. We don’t recommend wearing it on ice or slippery surfaces. They are also not for strenuous hiking.

5. Style

There is no comparison between the two brands regarding style. Allbirds stands for simplicity with their monochrome looks and minimalist design. Hoka shoes have a more daring look with colors and patterns that make them stand out. They even look like performance-oriented sneakers designed for professional players. We can’t judge one another as some of us like to stay minimalistic, and others like it trendy.

hoka speedgoat 5 shoes

6. Versatility

When it comes to variety, Hoka takes the lead. The brand has something for all levels and types of athletes. Allbirds provide a decent amount of choices regarding everyday gym wear, but compared to Hoka, they need more versatility.

7. Price

Hoka takes the lead in being more expensive shoes. Though Allbird is not cheap, it seems more affordable, especially compared to Hoka. This price difference seems reasonable if we compare both brands. Hoka has a more trendy look and uses advanced cushioning technologies.

8. Support

Allbirds is all about comfort, and yes, we get a decent amount of stability, but not for rough terrains or uphill use like Hoka. Hoka shoes are designed to provide stability underfoot and are engineered to keep up the momentum of pace.

9. Shock Absorber

Hoka uses EVA gel-infused midsoles designed to absorb shock and transfer minimum force impact to feet while running. Allbirds midsoles are simple merino wool that fails to absorb any shocks.

10. Lightweight

Both brands manufacture lightweight footwear that feels like walking on clouds; however, Allbirds takes the lead. They are simple shoes without thick soles and extra padding. 

Hoka shoes, being a performance-oriented brand, look bulky. But again, the difference is due to the main purpose behind their engineering. You may need lightweight footwear for a morning jog, but thick and padded soles are much more needed for long-distance runs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Allbirds vs. Hoka: which one lasts long?

Nobody can answer the question accurately as too many factors are involved, like level of use, care, and the terrains they have been used on. Still, you can typically spend two happy years in Allbirds. However, you can extend the use by using removable soles.

Since Hoka is for more extensive performances and is designed for long-distance runs, it is easier to mention their lifespan in miles. You can get 300-500 miles on running these shoes before you notice the wear and tear of soles.

Do they fit true to size?

Allbirds fit mostly true to size, while Hoka is a bit on the snug side of true to size.

Where are Allbirds and Hoka shoes manufactured?

More than 80% of Hoka shoes are manufactured in China and Vietnam. While for Allbirds they are manufactured in South Korea, Busan.

Can I machine Wash Hoka and Allbirds?

All Allbirds shoes are machine washable. However, Hoka shoes should not be thrown in a washer as it can affect their construction.

Some Pro Tips on How to Get the Best Fit

Here are some pro tips to help you get the best fit if you are looking for footwear.

  • Do some research on your feet and gait before buying shoes
  • Consider your foot type while selecting the shoes
  • Knowing whether you have flat feet, neutral, or a high arch is important
  • Make sure to measure your feet from the longest toe to the ankle and add your thumbnail’s width to get the perfect size
  • The shoe should match the width and shape of your feet as well
  • Make sure you check whether the brand produces true-to-the-size footwear and you know your size before ordering online
  • While trying, raise your heels and walk a bit to ensure they are comfortable.
  • Try shoes later in the day as some have their feet get larger or fuller towards the end of the day

Final Words

Both Allbirds and Hoka are popular brands and have their separate fan following. If we look closer, both have separate markets. The comfort, simplicity, and ease of Allbirds shoes are great for those with minimalist taste. Those who need shoes for all-day wear and prefer contributing to buying sustainable products.

Hoka is great for professional athletes, long-distance runners, or adventurers. Those who love exploring different sports like a secure and well-padded feel underfoot. Those who like trendy shoes with flashy color contrasts are bound to go to Hoka.

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