By Paul Freary
The HOKA Arahi 6 is the brand’s mild support or stability type running shoe. It’s a lightweight daily training shoe in a style that has now become instantly recognisable from the brand; high stack, rockered geometry running shoe.
It’s one of HOKA’s two support-type shoes, the other, the Gaviota offers more control and support.
Mild over-pronators preferring a lower drop shoe
Mild Support / Stability
Max cushioning – low drop
35 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot
Men’s 9.49oz / 269g
Women’s 7.6oz / 216g
Suggested Retail Price
£130 / $140
True to length (compared to other HOKAs) a little narrow in terms of width
The fit of the HOKA Arahi is similar to that of most of the other models in the brand’s line-up. It’s true to size in terms of length, though a little slimmer fitting in terms of overall width compared to other brands. This is often the case with HOKA and many runners choose the wide fit option because of this.
It’s worth bearing in mind that HOKA uses a half-size conversation from US sizes to the UK size, where most brands use a full-size difference. For example, a men’s US10 in the Arahi becomes a UK9.5 (whereas a Brooks, Saucony or Mizuno US10 is a UK9).
The heel hugs the foot well and the midfoot also hugs the foot into place with a neatly padded tongue, ankle collar and heel tab which flares gently away from the Achilles to avoid any potential irritation.
The Arahi uses a dual-density system of midsole materials to provide the cushioning and support. A ‘J-shaped’ piece of firmer CM-EVA sits around the outer edge of the midsole, with a slightly softer section sitting within this J-shape. The firmer piece acts as a ‘retaining wall’, holding the foot in a more neutral position within it.
This system of support does work pretty well, although the J-Frame doesn’t extend to the full height of the cushioning stack. The softer midsole material sits atop it in the rear foot and allows for a little bit of movement.
The shoe is a ‘mild-support’ type shoe, so bear that in mind. I find that when analysing runners in the shoe with gait analysis, many still continue to ‘over-pronate’.
Okay, ‘overpronation’ is an arbitrary measurement of the foot's movement, but when comparing shoes side-by-side, particularly in runners with injuries, it’s a great way to see the effectiveness of different models.
I regularly run in both support and neutral model shoes. Depending on the speed and how I’m feeling on a particular day, I find my gait can change slightly, but generally, I’d consider myself to be a mild overpronator.
The overall feel of the cushioning is on the soft side and for me, due to this softness I find the 5mm drop can feel lower as, on heel strike, the foot sinks a little into the shoe, thus reducing that 5mm offset.
HOKA talk about their MetaRocker in pretty much all of their models and indeed has trademarked this term. This said it’s hard to find a shoe from any brand nowadays that doesn’t have a rocker to some degree in both the heel and forefoot. Here, it’s an early stage MetaRocker meaning that the way in which the toe of the shoe starts to ‘curl up’ starts from further back, behind the toes. This helps the foot deal with the thick midsole cushioning and toe-off a little easier.
When I pick up the pace just a touch, the shoe instantly feels better. When running at say, slower than 7minute 30seconds per mile, I can feel a little instability in the rear of the shoe. Once I pick up the pace and run at 7-minute mile or quicker I notice I am landing slightly more forward in the shoe and feel instantly more stable.
Of course, this speed is very personal to me as is my foot-strike and gait, so appreciate everyone will have a slightly different experience. This said I think striking with a more midfoot action brings the best out of the shoe.
In the long term, I did find the midsole foam does seem to compress a little and the shoe becomes a little firmer, perhaps seeming to ‘bottom out’. This is often the case with CM-EVA-based foams and I do think that I notice this in some shoes relatively quickly. I think running consistently (6 days per week) gives one a more sensitive appreciation of a shoe.
Comparisons for the HOKA Arahi 6 are a little tricky as it is quite a unique approach to stability in a shoe. That said, it could be similar to a Brooks Adrenaline GTS with its GuideRail control system or an ASICS GT2000-12 as this has now become a ‘mild’ support type model.
When size by side the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 the most noticeable difference is the heel drop; the HOKA being 5mm to the Brooks 12mm. Control comes from ‘cupping’ the rearfoot rather than a medial post and I’d say the Brooks is a little more effective for a wider range of runners without being intrusive.
The HOKA has the higher stack styling than the Brooks and the forefoot rocker is a little more noticeable, but the Brooks wins for me in terms of cushioning durability.
When compared to the ASICS, again the HOKA has the higher stack and obvious rocker, but a lower drop. On the move, both offer a similar amount of control for those requiring a mild level of overall control.
In conclusion, the HOKA Arahi 6 is without doubt a good shoe with a couple of caveats. First up it’s a ‘mild’ support shoe rather than one which offers a more general level of control for a wider range of runners.
It’s also a low-drop shoe and in some cases, especially when dealing with runners with foot stability/instability issues a lower drop can create as many issues as it solves. This said, for those familiar with lower-drop shoes it shouldn’t be an issue and provides a smooth and reasonably balanced ride.
So, for fans of the brand or lower drop shoes in general and requiring just a touch of stability, it’s a great, lightweight daily training option.