As someone invested in fitness and staying active, I'm usually wearing a number of different shoes throughout the week. Whether I'm lacing up my gym shoes for an intense strength training session or hitting the pavement for a quick jog in my trusty pair of runners (weather coordinated, of course), there's no lack of performance features and active components in my rotation.
That is, until you look at my daily footwear for running errands or travel.
Don't get me wrong: I'm more than happy to step out for appointments in a pair of Chelseas or go on a date wearing cowboy boots. But in comparison to my normal fitness-focused footwear, these silhouettes definitely favor style and aesthetics over function and support.
That's why when Hoka —a brand I've trusted for multiple running and trail running scenarios — unveiled the new Transport commuter shoe, it piqued my interest. Blending style and performance, this all-new silhouette boasts a CMEVA foam midsole, durable Vibram outsole and a subtle look that seems to favor off-day fits more than your typical workout garb. Would the performance-laden midsole provide that bridge of cushioning and support between my training shoes and dailies? Could this be the sneaker my wardrobe's been missing?
To find out, I strapped into (more on that later) this sneaker for a few weeks, forgoing my normal loafers and boots for these kicks built with the city-dweller in mind. I took note of the underfoot performance across this all-new profile, as well as its ability to mesh with my daily outfits outside of the normal t-shirt and shorts. I also took the Transports on a few neighborhood walks, seeing if they could be solid options for this less-intense fitness discipline in an effort to save my dedicated running shoes for more strenuous cardio days.
Here's what I found.
What's Good About the Hoka Transport?
I'm a big fan of the running shoe look, and Hoka is great at giving each of their silhouettes a sense of vibrancy with bright colors and patterns. That said, though, all that brightness is not always the best accessory to a more minimalist daily ensemble — bright orange and electric blue clash with neutral pants and tops. Thankfully, however, the Transport utilizes a more subtle aesthetic across its Castlerock, Avocado and Black lineup, which meshes much more appropriately with a pair of chinos, joggers or jeans.
I also mentioned earlier that I strapped into the Transports for testing. That's a nod to the shoe's quick-toggle lace structure, meant for easy on-and-off action. While the tech veers away from the traditional bunny ears, it didn't stand out too much or draw attention. Plus, the Transports feature an elastic lace strap at the middle of the tongue, so you can keep the profile tucked away when on the go.
I really enjoyed the simple on-off nature of this component, as it allowed me to quickly get up and go whether hitting the streets for an afternoon walk or rushing out the door to make a weekend appointment. The quick-toggle lace system also has me less anxious about upcoming trips, as getting these sneakers on and off when passing through TSA checkpoints is sure to be a more welcome endeavor.
Editor's Note: Hoka does include a pair of traditional laces in the box, in case you're less enthused about this lazy-friendly lace structure.
The geometry and outsole create a comfortable ride.
Looks aside, the Transport also surprised me in how comfortable and efficient the underfoot felt when pacing through my normal day. Thanks to the CMEVA foam in the midsole, I felt a little bit of responsiveness that was nicely tuned to my normal walking pace.
Additionally, while the foam was more dense than what you'd experience across other Hoka running silhouettes, the shoe still provides a good foundation of cushioning. I also appreciated the rocker-like geometry of the sneaker that allowed for a better heel-to-toe roll without too much stress. This allowed me to stay on my feet longer without hesitation, and alleviated any "dog barking" aches that I'd normally feel after returning home from a night wearing boots or loafers.
The Vibram outsole also adds to the performance baked into this innovative silhouette, creating a sense of traction that's grippy, yet not overly aggressive. With work boots or other hefty profiles, I often worry about having too much tread and tracking in mud and muck. That caked debris can also lead to slipping and sliding, which can result in rather comical and exaggerated entrances to your tiled grocery store (trust me).
While the lugs are present across the Transport's Vibram outsole, I didn't experience any debris following me in from outside. On wood or laminate floors, the traction is still present — you're not left slipping and sliding around.
What's Not Ideal About the Hoka Transport?
The Cordura upper needs time to stretch out.
Another perk of the Hoka Transport is the brand's decision to utilize durable Cordura fabric across the upper. This material has shown to be excellent at defending against scuffs and tears, giving this daily commuter a little bit of muscle across its frame.
As with most durable fabrics, however, there's not a lot of give and stretch — at least at first. In my first few trial runs (walks) with the Transports, I definitely felt a tighter fit across the top of my foot. While the size runs true, as is the case with most Hoka silhouettes, there was a present snugness that I hadn't previously felt with the brand, which I immediately attributed to the Cordura composition.
To get around this, I opted for thinner athletic socks to help create some separation between foot and upper. This gave me some wiggle room as the shoes slowly broke in, and after a few days, I felt that tightness dissipate. I'll also note that I did notice the tightened fit more so when sitting or standing still, so it may be beneficial to keep the shoes unlaced as you wear them around the house for the first few go-arounds.
Now, it's not a huge issue for a sneaker to need some break-in time, but if you're used to Hoka profiles and their "right out of the box" performance, this could throw you for a loop. Just realize that the growing pains are worth it, even if they'll be slightly uncomfortable.
You'll definitely notice the Vibram outsole upon initial wears.
Along with the tighter Cordura upper, there was also another factor at play with my first few wears — squeaking. The Vibram outsole definitely had a lot to say as I paced across my laminate flooring, to the point that it became a nuisance, rather than a sign of freshness. Additionally, there was a lot of tackiness across the tread, creating a sticking sensation on toe-offs. As the shoes wore in, the stickiness and squeaking dwindled, but it's worth calling out.
Given the looks and performance of the Transports, I suspect this silhouette to be popular with workers in retail and medical fields. It might be best to wear these around the neighborhood or house before taking them to work — unless you really want to make your presence (and new shoes) known up and down the hallways and aisles.
The Hoka Transport: The Verdict
While there are some initial issues to get through, I confidently think the Hoka Transports will continue to be my new daily sneakers. The comfort and cushioning is plenty present enough for walking, and the colorways lend themselves to multiple outfits and get-ups. I also appreciate the outsole lug pattern, as this allows for more control and traction across different environments — a great plus for those that frequent dirt walking paths or have to deal with inclement weather.