Hoka Tor Ultra Review

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The Hoka Tor Ultra is a hiking boot from a company made famous by its massively cushioned running shoes. I was impressed and surprised by how good the Hoka Mafate provided grip on a wide variety of trails, even gripping slick, wet rock surfaces, so I was keen to try this hiking boot. While the Tor has a few shortcomings, it is a huge improvement over every other hiking boot I've tried. If Hoka would only design their footwear so that it would fit a human foot, the Tor would be nearly perfect. It provides a level of cushioning that I think is perfect for a hiking boot. It's much firmer than the best of the Hoka running shoe range, but I believe that's appropriate in a hiking boot. The RMAT foam that is used in the Tor should also provide good longevity, which is just as well given the price tag. The waterproofing is as good as any boot I've tried, but you should expect to have sweaty feet in warmer weather. I wouldn't try to run far in this, or any other boot, mostly because it will limit the natural movement of the ankle. I'm impressed enough with the Tor to give it my "Best of the Best" rating as a Hiking Boot.

Hoka Tor Ultra top
Hoka Tor Ultra outside
Hoka Tor Ultra bottom
Hoka Tor Ultra inside

1 Characteristics

  • Cushioning . The Tor is well cushioned for a hiking boot, but it's more like the firm Hoka Conquest than the soft Hoka Clifton.
  • Drop. The Tor has only 4mm of drop, which is a huge improvement over most hiking boots that have high heels.
  • Structure. The Tor uses both RMAT and EVA foam, but I didn't notice any interference with my walking stride.
  • Flexibility. The Tor has a little more flexibility than most hiking boots, which is not saying much. However, the thick foam midsole has some give that allows the foot to bend reasonably naturally.
  • Outsole. The Tor has both RMAT and Vibram Megagrip on the outsole. Both materials provide remarkably good traction on a wide variety of services. I found remarkable levels of grip even on wet rocks. Rather like the Hoka Mafate the Tor inspires more confidence in the available attraction than any other footwear I've tried.
  • Shape. The Tor is not as bad as many Hoka running shoes, but it's clearly not designed to fit the human foot. This is a particular pain in a waterproof hiking boot, as you don't want to cut it open for fit. I didn't have as many problems as I would in a running shoe, mostly because I typically wear to relatively thick pairs of hiking socks which gives a little more flexibility in terms of fit.
  • Upper. Most of the upper is covered in leather, and I found it took a few hours of hiking for it to break in and mold to the shape of my foot. The upper is broadly comparable to other hiking boots, but is obviously much thicker than you'd expect from a running shoe. I found the upper reasonably comfortable, with no seams to rub, though the very top edge of the boot can bite in a little. I suspect this is an attempt to improve waterproofing by creating a seal against your legs. I think this would probably rub rather badly if you had socks that were short enough to allow contact between the top of your boot and your skin. Like most hikers I tend to wear longer socks, and rely on waterproof trousers coming down over the top of my boot to ensure they don't get filled with water. The waterproof membrane on the Tor is eVent, and it seems to work reasonably well. No waterproof, breathable material is going to breathe enough to prevent your feet getting wet with sweat in warmer weather, but to the eVent is comparable with other materials I've tried like a Gore-Tex.
  • Tongue. The Tor is a tongueless, booty style upper for most of its length, dividing out into a traditional tongue just above the crook of the ankle. This means it's waterproof to around 5 inches.
  • Lacing. The laces are rounded, and are less than ideal, so you have to pay a little more attention when tying them to prevent them coming loose.
  • Heel Counter. As is typical for a hiking boot, the heel area has a rather firm Heel Counter, but I have not had any problems with it.
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Hiking in the North Carolina mountains with the Hoka Tor.

2 200 Mile Update

After 200 miles of hiking (measured by MilestonePod) I still love the Tor Ultra. There are few signs of wear on the upper, though it has stretched very slightly and flex is better with my foot, so it's marginally more comfortable than when I first started wearing it. I've worn the Tor Ultra on a wide variety of surfaces, including asphalt, rocky trails, slick muddy trails, and a few stream crossings. It's proved remarkably comfortable and confidence inspiring on all surfaces. The event waterproof membrane is obviously waterproof, and breathability is not bad, but hiking in hot weather in a boot will leave you with soggy feet regardless of how breathable it is. There is no noticeable compression of the midsole over 200 miles, but there is some wear on the outsole. Mostly this is on the outside edge of the heel, so overall traction is not noticeably impaired. This outsole wear likely to be the limiting factor on the lifespan of these boots, and they are wearing far quicker than other hiking boots I've tried that have a harder rubber outsole. Personally, I'm okay with the trade-off of a reduced lifespan in order to get good comfort and the confidence that comes from outstanding traction.

The heal of the Hoka Tor Ultra after 200 miles. This is the right foot, and the image has been enhanced to make the shapes more obvious. You can see the knobs on the outside edge are virtually gone.
The forefoot is showing far less wear, and is not likely to be the limiting factor.

3 400 Mile Final Update

The Tor Ultra didn't quite make it to 400 miles and is being retired at 387. It was probably at the end of its life nearer 300 miles, but the degradation is slow and so it's easy to overlook how bad things are. At this point the lugs under the middle of the forefoot are virtually gone, as are the lugs on the rear outside edge of the heel. The other lugs are quite worn down, though it's only when comparing them to a new pair that the reduction is obvious. This degrades the grip somewhat, though the material is sticky enough that it's not caused me a problem. The main issue is that along with the worn lugs, the midsole has compressed quite a lot. This means that my foot is twisting more than it should, with the ball of my foot significantly lower than the outside of my forefoot, something my knees do not appreciate. The upper is in perfect condition, and if you're not worried about knee problems or other injury concerns then you could probably get quite a few more miles. So the Tor Ultra has many benefits over a more traditional hiking boot, but other boots are likely to last far, far longer. That makes the Tor Ultra rather a pricy boot, but one that I think is worth it.

An enhanced image showing the worn and new versions of the Tor Ultra.

4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these 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 Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Bondi 5 Review Bondi Review Pending $150 6.1 11.6 18.1 38 42 5 7.1 4
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Altra Escalante Review Escalante Review Pending $130 9.1 8.7 13.5 28 25 -1 7.9 7
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 25 29 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Hoka Hupana Review Hupana Recommended $115 6.1 8.9 13.9 31 36 7 5.4 5
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Altra Instinct 4.0 Review Instinct 4.0 Review Pending $120 6.0 9.8 15.3 29 25 -1 5.9 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
Saucony Nomad Review Nomad Review Pending $110 4.3 10.5 17.2 25 27 2 4.5 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Topo ST-2 ST-2 Highly Recommended $90 8.2 7.3 11.4 20 18 0 6.0 8
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
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.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.