Hoka One One Anacapa Low GTX
$170, 1 lb. 10.5 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-11, all gender M3.5/W5-M14/W15.5
Sometimes it’s the subtle details that make a hiking shoe stand out. From June and October days of hiking 10 or more miles with about 6,000 cumulative feet of elevation gain and loss each day in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range—including hiking up the hardest trail in the White Mountains, Huntington Ravine—with very rocky and sometimes muddy trail and wet snow, to hikes in my local foothills on trails consisting mostly of dry, packed dirt with occasional rocky sections, the Hoka One One Anacapa LowGTX proved to be one of the most comfortable and supportive hiking shoes I’ve come across in a while.
These shoes are so light and comfortable I’ve even worn them on trail run-hikes and for gym workouts.
Like other Hoka One One footwear, the neutral-stability, low-cut Anacapa Low GTX features Hoka’s signature oversized, lightweight, compression-molded EVA foam midsole and extended heel geometry, which delivers substantial, balanced cushioning for dayhikes of any distance as well as lightweight backpacking. Hoka’s mid-cut Anacapa Mid GTX ($185)sports the very same chassis, uppers, and materials, but with a higher cut that provides much better protection for ankles while remaining light and nimble on the trail.
The Anacapa models feature a host of design elements that contribute to their superior comfort and easy yet supportive striding on the trail: enhanced Achilles padding, a supportive heel cup, a 6mm heel-to-toe drop (from 28mm at the heel to 22mm at the forefoot) that’s neither minimalist nor excessive, substantial heel-to-toe rocker, and solid torsional rigidity. The Anacapa Low feel like a trail-running shoe when you slip them on and perform like a light, agile hiking shoe on the trail.
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I found that the lightweight and waterproof nubuck leather and mesh uppers, with recycled polymer in the collar, mesh, and laces, help the shoe conform to your foot, providing a comfortable, all-day fit. Overlays and a toe bumper protect the uppers—and your feet—from the usual scraping and bashing against rocks. The lacing creates a smooth and secure wrap around feet. The laces are very durable for hard use on rocky trails; but they’re also stiffer than some hiking shoelaces, causing them to loosen easily, a problem solved by simply double-knotting them.
The Gore-Tex membrane prevented water penetrating the shoes when I had to kick steps in wet snow up Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine and walked through deep, sloppy mud on other trails in the Presidential Range. Plus, mesh in the uppers and the shoe’s low cut help ventilate heat and moisture from the shoes, keeping my feet from getting sweaty in temps in the high 70s F with high humidity.
The Vibram MegaGrip outsole with widely spaced, multi-directional, 5mm lugs and enhanced grip under the toes for smooth rock, deliver good traction on trails ranging from packed dirt and mud to rock and even scrambling up the steep slabs in Huntington Ravine—but I noticed the wide platform felt tippy just a few times when trying to get good purchase on the inside or outside edge of a shoe while hiking very rocky trails in the White Mountains. These shoes are better on trails of packed dirt or smaller rocks and scree than large rocks and boulders.
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With subtle but very effective design features that simply create an exceptional hiking shoe, the Hoka One One Anacapa Low GTX have great comfort, support, traction, and cushioning dayhiking and ultralight and lightweight backpacking.
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See all my reviews of lightweight hiking shoes and backpacking boots, my “Expert Tips for Buying the Right Hiking Boots,” and “8 Pro Tips for Preventing Blisters When Hiking,” plus all reviews of hiking gear, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside.
You may also be interested in my picks for “The Best Trekking Poles” and “The 10 Best Hiking Daypacks,” which includes my expert buying tips, and all reviews of hiking gear at The Big Outside.
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all reviews and expert buying tips.