I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty excited for the World Cup next month, even though the USMNT disastrously flamed out during qualification. And because my futbol fever is spiking this spring and these shoes look so much like soccer boots, I was pleased to test out the new HOKA ONE ONE Evo Jawz($130), a lightweight trail runner with such aggressive outsoles they may as well be cleats.
When I’m on the trail I feel like I’m running around a pitch, sending imaginary longballs into the box for Mo Salah, or picking clever backheels from Kevin de Bruyne, sending volleys on goal. But no, I’m just huffing and puffing over roots and rocks.
The Jawz are designed for speed-first trail runners who don’t mind feeling the rocks beneath their feet. Though I’ve found them plenty supportive, they’re pliable and very soft underfoot. They’re light, light, light, weighing roughly 7 ounces, depending on your size, and ultra minimal, save the giant, toothy lugs on the bottom. The soles grip like you wouldn’t believe. I haven’t tried it, but Spiderman-like abilities to scale granite walls feel possible with these things strapped on.
Unlike most other HOKAs I’ve worn, especially their cushy road runners, these are not big piles of comfy foam. The midsole is thinly padded, with only a 3mm drop from the heel.
They’re not waterproof, but they drain very well, and the thin uppers do a terrific job keeping grit and bits of discomfort-causing nastiness out of your shoes. They breathe extremely well too, venting heat as well as any shoe I’ve ever worn.
Comfort, for a shoe so thin and minimal, is impressive. Without inches-thick midsoles, they seem to be philosophically opposed to the rest of the Hoka lineup, but they retain the same cozy, supportive fit of their thicker-soled brethren.
There’s very little protection, so kicking a rock is inadvisable to say the least, but I’ll gladly trade a little plastic armor for shoes so breathable, comfortable, and light. After a few dozen miles they’re holding up just fine, with only a few scratches here and there, but they’re so light, I don’t expect them to last forever. While they’re here though, they’re a joy.