By Paul Freary
The Gaviota 5 is the latest stability running shoe from HOKA and features a brand-new design element, the H-Frame. This new stabilising feature has allowed the brand to use softer midsole foam for cushioning in a deep stack while still being able to provide sufficient control for over-pronators.
The Gaviota 5 offers similar levels of cushioning to the Bondi which is the brand’s range-topping, maximal cushioned neutral model. The Gaviota retains a maxed-out feel with the addition of the new H-Frame to head up the support line of shoes from the brand.
My First Impressions of the HOKA Gaviota 5
From the first step into the Gaviota, you are welcomed with a soft cushioned feel. The deep stack of EVA feels a little softer than the previous version, yet at the same time, it’s more stable.
Often when a support category shoe gets a softer midsole, it can lead to it losing some of its inherent stability. That’s not the case here as HOKA has developed their new H-frame support system.
The H-frame support has gone under the radar a little and HOKA hasn’t made a big deal about it. The frame itself is a little more like the number 8 in shape, but that perhaps wouldn’t fit as neatly in the brand’s naming convention following on from the other support model with a J-frame!
The H-Frame (think of it more like a number 8) is a slightly firmer EVA that encloses the softer cushioning material. So, when your heel strikes the ground, it sinks a little in the recess created by the different foam materials and is naturally cradled. The same applies to the forefoot, so we have a very supportive ride, but at the same time nicely cushioned.
A billowed design to the midsole also helps to absorb impact and keep things under control.
Of course, with that deep 36mm stack of midsole, the Rocker geometry is most welcome and it does a great job of helping the foot roll smoothly down the road.
HOKA Gaviota 5 - The Wear Test
I took the shoes out for a steady 5-mile run for the first test. An easy pace run at the end of my usual training week. It’s at this time of the week when my legs are usually feeling a little tired from a couple of longer runs as well as a midweek speed session. On this occasion, the easy run was the day after an interval session totaling ten miles at around 10k to 10m effort.
It’s true to say I was a little stiff and knew the pace would be slow to steady. The Gaviota was a surprise package, the soft cushioning helped soak up every little bit of impact and the stability coped well. I usually wear support-type shoes, but most recently have been using some of the latest ‘super-shoes’. These super shoes, while feeling great can encourage you to push the pace and this run was one where I was feeling the effects of such efforts the previous day.
At a slower, easier pace I feel like I do overpronate a little more than running at faster paces but when running in the Gaviota that feeling was managed perfectly well by the shoe.
My next outing in the shoe was my weekly long run. I’ll alternate these from week to week during a marathon build-up. One week I’ll run at half marathon effort for around 15 miles, the next week will be a little steadier at around 7-minute mile for up to twenty miles.
In the Gaviota, I covered 18 miles at an average of around 7-minute per mile. Not slow, but for me, not super-fast. Clipping along nicely, the shoe was everything I asked of it, soft and cushioned, perfectly stable without being intrusive and responsive enough to handle the pace.
Ok, so the Gaviota is not meant to be a highly responsive shoe, but at a steady pace it’s ok, it does a reasonable job. The shoe is a stable, high-mileage model for those everyday miles.
HOKA Gaviota 5 Sizing
The fit of the shoe is true to size for HOKA models both in terms of width and length. I know some runners have issues with the width of HOKA shoes in general, but for me, I have a relatively slim foot and no such issues.
For UK-based runners, as always, HOKA sizes run a little small compared to other brands. Brooks, Mizuno and Saucony for example use a one-size difference between UK and USA sizes. A USA 10 is a UK9. HOKA use just a half size difference from USA to UK sizes, so bear that in mind, a HOKA US10 being a UK9.5
Will the HOKA Gaviota 5 Help With My Injury?
For those suffering from certain injuries, the Gaviota is a great choice.
Plantar Fasciitis sufferers will find the 6mm drop helps to take some of the strain off the tendon, while the support H-frame helps retain shape in the arch and reduce excess strain on the tendon.
Those with Achilles issues may be advised to wear a support category shoe to reduce overpronation. Again, the Gaviota works well in this instance as it helps to reduce the rate of pronation thanks to that supportive framework and the 6mm drop reduces the overall stretch on the Achilles.
Being one of the most highly cushioned shoes on the market, the Gaviota is also a great choice for those at risk of shin splints. While this is typically an overuse type injury, it is often due to the fact runners are using shoes with either insufficient or worn-out cushioning. No such chance here with the deep 36mm stack.
HOKA Gaviota 5 - The Tech
With a deep 36mm of cushioning, the Gaviota features a 6mm drop into the forefoot. This is a little more than many of the brand’s models which sit at the 4 or 5mm height. On the run, this small difference isn’t too noticeable but it should open up the shoe to a broader range of runners that may have previously been put off the brand due to the lower drops.
H Frame to J Frame
Previous generations of the Gaviota featured a J-shaped frame that was shared with the Arahi, the brand’s other support model. The latest version of the Gaviota is now making use of a H-shaped frame. Imagine if you will, a firmer, H-shaped framework sitting along both the medial and lateral edges of the shoe’s cushioning. Held together in the midfoot by the cross-section of the ‘H’.
The firmer H-frame sits around the new, softer EVA cushioning and essentially provides stabilisation for the foot sitting in the centre of the cushioning.
A familiar MetaRocker forms the midsole geometry and helps the deep stack of cushioning roll smoothly along the road, complementing the stability nicely for a natural ride.
The sole of the shoe has excellent coverage, so unlike some shoes from the brand, there’s very little exposed EVA that will actually come into contact with the ground. In the heel area, the rubber outsole is particularly good and a welcome feature especially as many of the users of this model will be heel strikers.
A creel jacquard upper forms a very neat fit and has a premium feel about it, which is fitting as this is one of the brand's more expensive models. There’s plush cushioning around the heel collar and the tongue, both of with add to the premium fit and feel.
As with many of HOKA’S and indeed many brands' latest shoes, there’s an effort to use materials that are more environmentally friendly. Here elements of the laces, midfoot braces and board of the shoe use at least some recycled content.
The upper of the Gaviota, while not the most stylish, does have a very neat finish and is very well made. It does have a more premium feel to it than other shoes from the brand. It fits neatly around the foot and the heel and tongue help provide a plush fit.
While many will use the HOKA Gaviota 5 purely as a running shoe, it is a model that has always proved popular with walkers as well as those that wear the shoe simply on a daily basis, be it for work or pleasure.
The ample cushioning and stability make it a great option for those looking for a comfortable shoe that can cope with the demands of daily life while at the same time remaining supportive.
In summary, the HOKA Gaviota 5 is a great high mileage, supportive and very well-cushioned running shoe capable of daily use from runners to the everyday man in the street simply looking for a supportive and cushioned running shoe.