Lightweight, ability to reduce water retention and good cushioning are the selling point of Hoka One One Tracer. This shoe was only launched in April 2016, after the launch of Hoka One One Clayton. What is so special about the Hoka Tracer, versus the Hoka Clayton? The team at Hoka One One, apparently decided to move towards a more responsive racing shoe, without sacrificing the comfort and cushioning. Thus, the birth of Clayton and the Tracer. Although the Hoka One One Clayton won the 2016 Runner’s Editor’s Choice Award, I still prefer the Tracer model.

Reason are as below:

The Tracer comes with a medium fit toe box, similar to the Clifton 2, as compared to the clayton, (which is about 3mm wider). Hence, if you have a normal with feet, and enjoy the Clifton 2 fit. The tracer would be the right choice.

The weight of the shoe is phenomenal, just look at the picture below. It only weights 230 grams for my US size 11.

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The technology used is the Early Stage – Meta Rocker (as previously described in my previous Hoka Clifton 2 post). Early Stage Meta Rocker means, the shoe is focused on the transition zone behind the metatarsal head. It is to create a smoother ride and faster transition to the forefoot. Thus, making the shoe more responsive. Especially, if you run with your forefoot, rather than heel stride.

I purchase my Hoka Tracer about 9 days before the Kuching Marathon, held on 14Aug 2016, (I ordered mine from Choi CC).

IMG_4291I managed to clocked about 40km on the shoe before using it for the Kuching Marathon. Here are my first thoughts of the shoe performance upon wearing them on a dry day and in the rain.

  • Comfort:

I felt that the shoe was a nice fit. It snugs your feet in, just like the Clifton 2. The shoe does not feel narrower to me. Although, I think Hoka One One team can improve further on some of the shoe design.

Problem: Shoe upper tongue too flimsy. Only secured on one side.

Suggestion: Consider using an elastic material which secures both sides of the upper tongue to allow a better wrap.

 

Problem: Laces. Restrict feet movement. Very inconvenient.

Suggestion: Consider changing the laces to elastic laces, which allows user to just slip on the shoe and adjust tightness if required.

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Upper tongue of the Hoka Tracer (you can see that the right side of the tongue is stitched, while the left side is not)

 

  • Responsiveness:

Going on flats, you can feel that the Hoka Tracer does have a forward repel when you start to stride. When running up-hill, you do not feel the sluggish effect as per the Hoka Clifton or Bondi. Instead, you can feel that the shoe is actually flexible. As you run downhill, you can sense that the shoe has sufficient grip and cushioning to prevent any unwanted knee and feet injury, due to the impact. It allows your feet to react faster, hence improving your cadence downhill. The grip of the shoe on wet surfaces (down Green Hill, Kuching – opposite Mirage) was great. I was going up and down hill at 4:50-5:00min/km, I could feel that it had sufficient traction. However, on overgrown moss surfaces; (such as pedestrian walkway in front of westwood), the grip was off slightly.

 

  • Water Retentions & Breathability:

As I was running in the rain and puddles of water all around town, I wanted to know if the shoe will be submerged in water and gain weight. Surprisingly, as per advertise, the shoe was pretty dry. All water that got into the shoe, quickly disperse. This is due to the breathability of the shoe design, which is not available on other Hoka models. From this close up photo, you can see that covering these air holes, are just the mesh of the shoe, which allow the shoe to be breathable and light. Therefore, if you are a person who sweats a lot during your runs, or looking for a shoe in wet weather, I would recommend this shoe to you.

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Mesh and the breathability of the Tracer
Upon clocking 40km on these shoe; (after break-in). You actually could feel the flexibility improved. As I used it for my Kuching Marathon, running a full 42.6km. I had no complaints at all. The shoe was dry. I did not feel as if my feet were sweating. Even with water pouring down my costume, it stayed dry. Going up and downhill felt great. It felt like I was wearing a simplified version of the Hoka Clifton2.

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Me in my Hoka Tracer during Kuching Marathon 2016, which I finished in 4:09hrs gun time
The sole of the shoe seemed durable. You can see from the image that there is no significant wear rate on it. For me, I would say that it should be able to last for another 500km. I will update again upon hitting 200km.

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As of now, I think I did make a right choice in purchasing the Hoka One One Tracer as a short distance race and training shoe. I would like to thank Jeff Ooi (Hoka One One Malaysia Ambassador), for giving me his comments on the clayton and tracer before purchasing mine.

As usual, you can get your Hoka One One from the following places:

 

Remember, always Run Happy, Run Smart, and Run Injury free!!

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