Minimal upgrades mean maximal kudos as this is a killer shoe for those tasting the Hoka elixir for the first time, or for those runners who might be considering stepping up to ultra-distances on trail.
Question mark on durability
No rock plate
Foot lockdown can be sloppy
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The Hoka One One Torrent V1.0 was always a classy performer for those seeking the Holy Trail Grail: a lightweight running shoe that offers sumptuous plushness without sacrificing agility. Fortunately, Hoka recognised that they were on to a good thing here, and they haven’t messed around with it too much. The reboot has just tweaked the shoe here and there for minor improvements, so the Torrent 2 retains all the quality of the original incarnation, but it has a reconfigured grip, a new recycled plastic upper (tick for environmental kudos) and not much else. And that’s a positive, as far as we’re concerned.
The original Torrent design was impressive enough to hook me onto Hoka’s magic mushroom marshmallow sauce. As a minimalist, I’d erstwhile resisted donning the plush pillow runners, which feature a mega thick sole with a pronounced rocker, but minimal drop between heel and tow. However, the Torrents were something else: a perfect balance where max cushioning didn’t completely deaden the trail experience. Indeed, these shoes afford a pleasing amount of agility with more intuitive trail feedback than you’d expect from a maximalist design on technical ground.
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• RRP: $120(US)/£110(UK)
• Weight (per shoe): 264g/9.3oz
• Materials: ProFly midsole, Unify REPREVE recycled plastic yarn
• Drop: 5mm
• Compatibility: technical and buffed singletrack; ultra distances
I brutalised the Torrent 1 in the unforgiving desert landscape of the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. And they stood up to almost everything that tough terrain threw at them (bar a sharp stick that managed to go right through that monster sole and into my foot…).
Due to delivery post COVID touchdown, the Torrent 2s were belted mostly around the coastal and hinterland trails of the Surf Coast, Australia, with roughly 220km of wear and no-tear (thankfully) before write-up. They contended with a variable mix of buffed walking trails, clay-based rutted numbers, rocky, rooty and swoopy singletrack and a few wetter forays into a waterfall wonderland of rainforest chasms where creek crossings and slippery rocks threatened ankle catastrophe. None reported. Phew.
This second iteration stays true to the original design, but Hoka have added a reconfigured grip, specifically at the rear, offering more sticky control on big descents. This was a welcome addition. A new, recycled yarn derived from post-consumer waste plastic also delivers what seems to be a more durable upper (the V1.0’s shredded quite quickly when the terrain got nasty). The downside in this subtle upgrade is that the lockdown of the mid foot remains a little sloppy for your average-sized hoof, which impinges confidence on the technical and steep downhill plunges.
Australia-based Chris mastered his outdoor gear reviewing technique as an editor of outdoor and adventure magazines, including Walk (UK), Outer Edge and Trail Run Mag (Australia), and as a contributor to the likes of Australian Geographic Outdoor, Wild, Adventure NZ, and Lonely Planet adventure titles. He mostly knows what he's doing. Apart from that time he was helicoptered out of the Bhutanese Himalayas. Or evacuated from the Australian desert to hospital. Or... well, let's say he tests his gear with gusto.