— By Daniel Walker
The Hoka One One Tracer is the first lightweight trainer or racing flat developed by the brand, which is known for its maximalist shoes. A far cry from the plush, cloud-like feeling of models like the Bondi or Clifton, the Tracer rides much more like a traditional shoe but offers the protection that the Hoka brand is known for. And with this first iteration, Hoka has really nailed it. The Tracer does a great job of integrating Hoka’s cushioning with the feeling of speed and responsiveness that you need in a racing flat or lightweight trainer.
The Tracer is a non-traditional take on the racing flat. Runners will note right away that it has a much bigger stack height than most flats. This is a major draw for most triathletes who won’t find what they need in a traditional running flat. Being more muscular than most elite runners, triathletes could often use a shoe to race in that protects them from the pounding of the asphalt and concrete.
I took the Tracer out on long runs, track workouts, recovery runs and even races. The shoe never felt out of place during my long runs or easy days, but where it really excelled was during workouts and races. This could be thanks to the Pro2Lite Dual Density midsole which is unique to the Tracer, and not found on the brand’s other models. It’s a very responsive material that offers great protection for such a lightweight shoe. Despite the shoe’s versatility, on my long runs of 25km or more I began to feel like a softer shoe would have been a better choice for me.
So what race distance is this shoe best for? The Tracer is a safe bet for all athletes from the sprint all the way up to the half distance. Throw in a set of lock-laces and you’ve got a race-day ready shoe. The small-ish tongue can make it a little harder to throw these on quickly in transition, but it certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker and after a little practice, it isn’t something you’ll think twice about.
Right out of the box I found the Tracers to be incredibly comfortable. The upper is extremely breathable and features only moderate structure, mostly in the heel, making it a great option for those looking for a neutral shoe. One concern for many looking to try out Hoka for the first time is the width of the toe box. The Clifton 2s and Claytons were notorious for this. But you can rest easy with the Tracers as my flippers fit nicely without any pinching in the forefoot.
The Hoka One One Tracer currently retails for $105 US on Hoka’s website. You can also find it at your local speciality running store.
Weight: 7 oz. (size 9)
Kilometres tested: 85 km