Hoka Stinson Lite Review

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The latest version of the Stinson has evolved to become almost identical to the latest version of the Hoka Bondi. It's not clear to me why Hoka would produce two shoes that are so similar, but I suspect this is part of a wider problem that Hoka has with its range. It seems that as Hoka has become more popular they have created shoes without any clear strategy. The good news is that the update from the earlier Stinson Evo Low has produced a slightly lighter and slightly better cushioned shoe. While the Stinson is a little heavier than the Bondi, it has a better outsole that should wear more evenly. While it's close, I think I prefer the Stinson over the Bondi. However, I much prefer the Hoka Clifton over either shoe, as it has nearly as much cushioning and is much lighter.

Hoka Stinson Lite top
Hoka Stinson Lite bottom
Hoka Stinson Lite inside
Hoka Stinson Lite outside
Hoka Stinson Evo Low top
Hoka Stinson Evo Low bottom
Hoka Stinson Evo Low inside
Hoka Stinson Evo Low outside

1 Characteristics

  • Why you'd buy it. My top Maximalist shoe is the Hoka Clifton, but the Stinson Lite is slightly better cushioned, though it's also quite a bit heavier. I'd recommend the Stinson over the Bondi if this extra bit of cushioning is worth the weight to you.
  • Cushioning. The Stinson is one of the best cushioned shoes available, and is slightly softer than the Altra Olympus or Clifton. While it's not as thick as it looks on the outside, it is much thicker than a traditional running shoe. The latest incarnations of the Stinson, the Hoka Bondi and the Hoka Mafate all have surprisingly similar levels of cushioning.
  • Drop. The Stinson has about s 5mm drop, which is only about half the drop of a traditional running shoe and I typically don't have any issues. The Stinson has slightly more drop than the Bondi, but it lacks the Bondi's abrupt taper under the toes.
  • Structure. The midsole is a single type of foam, so there's nothing to interfere with the natural movement of the foot.
  • Flexibility. The Stinson is pretty inflexible, though the cushioning offsets this a little.
  • Outsole. The Stinson has harder rubber covering virtually the entire contact patch, so it doesn't have the uneven wear that I've found with the Bondi.
  • Shape. The Stinson has the typical Hoka shape, with a tight, narrow toe box. The toe box is so bad that I've noticed a distinctive pattern of blisters from Hokas when I'm working blister repair at aid stations. I believe it is critical to cut open the toe box of any Hokas. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. The upper is thin, with quite a bit of mesh for breathability, but there is no cushioning and there are cutouts in the reinforcement that could cause friction. The padding around the ankle opening is less I'd like in a Maximalist shoe, but it's adequate.
  • Tongue. The Bondi has a classic tongue rather than a tongue-less sock style of upper. The tongue is unpadded, so watch out for problems from the laces pressing on the top of the foot.
  • Lacing. The Stinson Lite has a "speed lacing" system that uses fine laces and a locking system, but they include traditional round laces as well. I generally prefer the traditional laces as it can be tricky to get the tension right with the "speed lacing" system. Like many shoes in the Hoka range, the Stinson Lite has elastic straps that pull the sides together even if the laces are loose, but it's easy to cut these elastic straps off.
  • Heel counter. The Stinson Lite has a mild heel counter with no strongly defined edges, so it should not cause a problem. The heel counter comes as far up the back of the heel as is normal for a running shoe.
helping-hand.jpg

2 Compared with the Hoka Stinson ATR

The Stinson is also available as the ATR that is intended to be more of a trail shoe. However, I'd say the ATR version has little more grip than many conventional road shoes like the Brooks Transcend. If you're after something for muddy trails, look to the Hoka Mafate.

3 Compared with the Hoka Clifton

The Hoka Clifton seems like it's an evolution of earlier Hokas, and I prefer the Clifton. The Clifton has nearly as much cushioning, but is far lighter.

Hoka Bondi 4 top
Hoka Bondi 4 bottom
Hoka Bondi 4 inside
Hoka Bondi 4 outside
Hoka OneOne Clifton top
Hoka OneOne Clifton bottom
Hoka OneOne Clifton inside
Hoka OneOne Clifton outside
helping-hand.jpg

4 Compared with Altra Olympus

The Altra Olympus is a competitor for the Hoka range, and I believe it represents a better shoe. The Olympus has a slightly thinner sole, but its toe box is shaped for the human foot, and it's zero drop. Overall, I prefer the Olympus to the Bondi.

Hoka Bondi 4 top
Hoka Bondi 4 bottom
Hoka Bondi 4 inside
Hoka Bondi 4 outside
Altra Olympus top
Altra Olympus bottom
Altra Olympus inside
Altra Olympus outside
helping-hand.jpg

5 Compared with Hoka Bondi

The Stinson has become closer to the Hoka Bondi as it's evolved. The latest version of the Stinson Lite has remarkably similar levels of weight, cushioning and comfort. It's not clear to me why Hoka would produce two shoes that are this close, but the outsole on the Stinson Lite is better than the Bondi, making it a slightly better shoe. I've run with a Bondi on one foot and a Stinson on the other and I found the differences are so small it's hard to tell them apart.

Hoka Bondi 4 top
Hoka Bondi 4 bottom
Hoka Bondi 4 inside
Hoka Bondi 4 outside
Hoka Stinson Lite top
Hoka Stinson Lite bottom
Hoka Stinson Lite inside
Hoka Stinson Lite outside
helping-hand.jpg

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6 Cushioning and Shoes

It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.

7 Visualizing the Attributes of the Hoka Stinson

How Hoka Stinson compares showing rearfoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Hoka Stinson compares showing forefoot cushioning against the performance penalty of its weight. Upper right is better.
How Hoka Stinson compares showing the price against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.
How Hoka Stinson compares showing the loaded drop against the benefit (cushioning/performance penalty). Upper left is better.

8 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

trophy-winner.jpg

If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.

  • Best All Round Shoe. The Altra Escalante is my current all-round favorite. It has plenty of cushioning for its weight, it has a very springy midsole, it lasts well, and it has a shape that's closer to the shape of a human foot than most shoes. It's a great shoe for any runner, including those Starting to run. It's also a fairly easy shoe to find due to its popularity.
  • Best Maximalist Shoe: If you want something massively cushioned, then I'd recommend the Saucony Kinvara 8. It's remarkably light and remarkably cushioned, beating Hoka at their own game.
  • Best Optimal Shoe: For those looking to trade cushioning for speed, the Nike Zoom Streak LT is my top pick. There are lots of great optimal running shoes, which provide just enough cushioning with light weight and minimal frills. The Streak LT doesn't have the best cushioning-to-weight ratio, but it has a shape that's closer to the human foot than most running shoes and it's one of the longest lasting shoes I've found. It's not as comfy as the Escalante above, but it's faster.
  • Fastest Shoe: If you really want speed, then check out the Nike Vaporfly 4%. It's light, massively cushioned, and has a carbon fiber plate. Nothing comes close, not even the now defunct New Balance RC5000‏‎ or New Balance RC5000v2‏‎. There are a number of caveats; it's really expensive, it's really hard to find, and there's a significant injury risk.
  • Best Minimalist Shoe: Merrell Trail Glove. I recommend the trail glove for road running in spite of the 'trail' moniker. It's not a fast shoe by any means, but it's comfortable and will last well.
  • All Terrain Shoe. I don't generally review trail running shoes, but check out the Hoka Mafate if you're after a shoe with remarkable abilities on a wide range of surfaces. If you want a Hiking Boot, then I love the Hoka Tor Ultra.
  • Honorable Mention: It's not really a running shoe, but the Vivobarefoot Ra is comfortable, minimalist and can more or less pass as a dress shoe. I've worn mine to weddings with a suit and they've not looked out of place. You can run in the Ra, but the leather means it doesn't breathe well.

For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review

Brand Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Saucony Type A6 Review Saucony A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 7
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adidas Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 6
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Hoka Bondi Recommended $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 2
Hoka Clayton 2 Review Hoka Clayton2 Highly Recommended $150 9.1 8.3 12.9 23 28 1 7.5 5
Hoka Clifton 4 Review Hoka Clifton4 Worth considering $130 7.7 9.3 14.5 30 35 10 7.2 3
On Cloudracer Review On Cloud Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 7
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Mizuno Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 6
Newton Distance IV Review Newton Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 5
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review Asics DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 5
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Mizuno Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin 2 Review Saucony Endorphin 2 Worth considering $115 8.0 5.1 9.6 15 13 -1 4.1 8
Adidas Energy Boost Review Adidas Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 5
Altra Escalante Review Altra Escalante Best of the Best $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 6
Saucony Fastwitch Review Saucony Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 7
Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review Topo Fli-Lyte2 Highly Recommended $100 6.7 9.1 14.2 24 26 3 6.1 5
Saucony Freedom Review Saucony Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 6
Skechers GORun 4 Review Skechers GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review Skechers GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 4
Asics GT 2000 Review Asics GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 2
New Balance Hanzo S Review New Balance Hanzo Worth considering $110 7.6 6.9 10.7 21 19 2 5.2 5
Hoka Hupana Review Hoka Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.4 4
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Asics Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Altra Instinct 4.0 Worth considering $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 5
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Asics Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 6
Saucony Kinvara 8 Review Saucony Kinvara 8 Best of the Best $110 9.3 8.6 13.4 26 31 3 8.0 5
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review Nike LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 6
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Hoka Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 1
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review Pearl N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Saucony Nomad Worth considering $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 4
Hoka Odyssey Review Hoka Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 3
Altra One 3.0 Review Altra One Recommended $100 6.1 8.8 13.7 23 23 0 5.4 6
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Asics Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review Brooks PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Salming Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 6
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review New Balance RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review New Balance RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 7
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Skechers Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 8
Nike RN Distance 2 Nike RNDist2 Review Pending $120 8.0 9.2 14.3 25 28 4 7.4 7
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review Inov-8 RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 8
Topo ST-2 Review Topo ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 7
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Hoka Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 0
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Nike Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 5
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 5
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Altra Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 4
Hoka Tracer Review Hoka Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 5
Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review Merrell Trail Glove 4 Best of the Best $100 3.4 8.4 23.8 13 13 0 2.8 10
Topo Tribute Review Topo Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 6
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Mizuno Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
Nike Vaporfly 4% Review Nike Vaporfly Best of the Best $250 10.4 7.2 11.2 25 37 8 7.5 2
New Balance Vazee Pace Review New Balance Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 5
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Asics Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 6
Saucony Zealot 3 Review Saucony Zealot3 Recommended $130 8.9 9.5 14.8 29 32 4 8.5 6
Nike Zoom Fly Review Nike Zoom Fly Worth considering $150 8.3 8.7 13.5 29 36 8 7.2 3

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.