Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 Review

Overview of the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2:

The Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 is an updated model from Hoka that aims to improve on the first version in one key area – the upper. The good news here is that Hoka appeared to have done just that making the second version of the shoe much better than the first. The change to the upper combined with the outstanding, unchanged midsole is so good that I think this might be the best do everything trail shoe currently available. Folks who are looking for a minimal drop shoe with plenty of responsive cushioning in a light enough package will be hard-pressed to find a better option available today.


  • Weight: 230g / 8.1oz (US women’s 8.0); 269g / 9.5oz (US men’s 9.0)
  • Category: neutral
  • Drop: 3mm, 25mm heel/22mm forefoot (I just love this stack height / midsole – bravo!)
  • Upper: mesh with a puff print upper (i.e., printed on overlays to provide structure to the mesh)
  • Midsole: unchanged from version 1; Hokas tried and true RMAT midsole that is softer in the heel and denser in the forefoot
  • Outsole: unchanged from version 1; shallow lugs without full coverage to save weight and no rockplate

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2

Presenting the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2. The improved upper makes this shoe the total package.

Now for more details. In this review, we’ll break things down in to six areas:

  1. What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the shoe.
  2. What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the shoe better.
  3. When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the shoe excels.
  4. How it compares: my current go-to shoes and how this shoe compares.
  5. Should you purchase? My overall recommendation on whether to purchase this shoe or not.
  6. Purchasing Information: where to go to purchase this shoe.

I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. After all, you’ve probably got more running you can do today!

What’s good?

  • Nearly all of the good aspects of version 1 carry over to the updated Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2. The versatility of the shoe, ride, cushion, an even better fit, and the weight are all good. To avoid being redundant please check out the review of the first version here.
  • The improved upper. This is the big change here and it’s really appreciated. Gone are the welded spider web style overlays that over time just felt a little too constricting for me. The mesh seems to be lighter weight as well and breathes better. And while I will have to ask the folks at Hoka I think they added a touch more vertical volume to the shoe. All of these changes to the upper give the shoe a totally different fit for me, in a good way, that just works perfectly. (Note: after a few runs I think the upper stretched a touch making it quite comfy – I hope it doesn’t stretch again!)

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2

Up close look at the improved, 3D-printed mesh upper

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2

The fit is, somewhat surprisingly, accommodating in all the right ways.

  • We don’t see anything superfluous with this shoe. No extra fabric where there shouldn’t be to weigh things down. No unnecessary foam in the heel collar. Lugs that grip without getting in the way of the ride. Shoelaces with some stretch to them – thank you!

What could be improved?

Minor changes suggested here but this includes:

  • A gusseted tongue. The tongue does slide around a little. Mo’ gussets = mo’ fun.
  • Less time at the all-you-can-eat buffet. The shoe gained 0.5oz from the previous version. While 9.5oz in a US men’s size 9 is pretty good I’d love to see the shoe stay at or below 9.0oz. It seems sub 10oz in trail shoes is what sub 9oz used to be a couple of years back…sigh.
  • The style. I’m kind of torn when I look at this shoe wondering whether I like the style or not. I think I’ve settled on the opinion that it could be improved. Perhaps with simple color options or less contrast with the colors of the overlays.
  • Directional lugs for descending in the heel. A little extra support, you know – for the effort, would be appreciated here.

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2

The outsole pattern works but it could be improved for climbing and descending.

  • Drop the price by $10? OK, this is not going to happen but as the Speed Instincts have not exactly been the most durable trail shoes ever manufactured I would love to see the price come down a bit to make the value play stronger. Kudos to Hoka for not increasing the price with this version though (which I’ve noticed they rarely have done in the last few years with all of their shoes – thanks)!

When to use the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2?

  • Fast days on the trail. This is a great trail race shoe for distances up to 50m for most I bet. Also, a great weekly trail workout kind of shoe for hill repeats, trail tempos, etc.
  • Everyday use for tamer trails. The lack of a rockplate shouldn’t scare you from using this shoe in rocky terrain but it does have its limits due to the tread pattern.
  • Door to trail. It rides on the roads well and transitions perfectly to less demanding terrain nicely.

Similar shoes to compare with:

  • Hoka One One Speed Instinct (review here): As mentioned, the improved upper seriously improves this shoe from being good to great. Speed Instinct 2 all day here.
  • Nike Terra Kiger 3 or 4: It’s official, the Terra Kiger has been dispatched as my favorite 50k and below trail race shoe. The Speed Instinct 2 adds just a touch more forefoot cushion in essentially the same fit. Combine the Hoka rocker to improve the transition and the ride is a touch better too. The Terra Kiger does have better grip but that’s about it. Speed Instinct 2 wins here.
  • Salomon Sense Ride (review here): Similar in terms of their versatility, weight, and price. However, the Sense Ride has an 8mm drop which is just a bit more than I find to be ideal. Unless I’m in truly technical, mountainous terrain I’m reaching for the Speed Instinct 2 first.

Should you purchase?

So, the $130 question – should you purchase the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2?

In a word, yes. It’s a great everyday trail runner that serves double-duty as a trail race shoe up to 50 miles in most situations.

Questions, comments, or feedback on this shoe? Please share! And thanks for reading!

Purchasing Information

If you’re interested in purchasing this shoe, please first check availability at your local, independently owned running specialty store. They need your business and are a great resource for the community.

If that’s not an option, please consider using this affiliate link for the men’s shoe or this affiliate link for the women’s shoe for Amazon. The return policy is great, and it’ll drop a few nickels into URP bucket if you decide to keep it. Thank You!

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