After walking Hadrian’s wall in 2019, I found that by day 4 my feet were crying out for something with more cushioning.My boots were soft and light but you could feel every lump and bump through the sole.
We didn’t stock Hoka but the Hoka One One range seemed to offer the cushioning I wanted. I decided to buy a pair of Sky Toa Mid boots to wear on the 2019 TGO Challenge. I now wear Hoka for most of my walking and have added a pair of Sky Kaha bootsand more recently the 2020 Speedgoat Mid boots (review to follow soon).
There seem to be 2 schools of thought for running/ ultralight trekking shoes – those who want minimalist footwear, often with zero drop and the Hoka approach with a deep cushioned mid sole and pronounced rocker. I’m a convert to the latter.
The Sky Toa is aimed squarely at fastpacking and ultralight backpacking.
It’s lighter than the Kaha using a fabric upper instead of leather, a thinner sole unit and a lower cuff height. They are cushioned than most light hiking boots but not quite as plush as Hoka’s Kaha boot. The softness of the Toa means that no break in is required, they are comfortable to wear straight from the box. There are no annoying pressure points on the ankle cuff or tongue.
The sole unit is made up of different densities of foam with a Vibram sole for grip. The sole is wide and supportive which combined with the ankle height make the Toa extremely stable. Grip from the Vibram sole has been superb on wet rock and they are showing little sign of wear after 200+ miles. The softer foam parts of the sole do get scuffed but nothing worse than that. The only issue with the sole is that the lowish height lugs compared with no heel break do makes them inclined to slip on wet grass or loose scree.
The fit is true to size, you might want to go up ½ size on a longer trek to allow for your feet getting bigger for most walking, stick to your usual size.Some Hoka footwear can be narrow fitting but the Toa is generously roomy with a wider fore foot compared to their Speedgoat shoes and mid boots which should suit most people.
I wore a pair of Sky Toa mids on 2019 TGO Challenge and didn’t get any blisters during over 200 miles of walking. The first 100 miles were in unseasonably warm conditions reaching mid to high 20’s centrigrade most days. Not ideal weather to wear waterproof lined boots but I suffered no problems with my feet overheating or problems with breathability. The remaining 100 miles included periods of heavy rain, swollen rivers and streams etc and the only time I got wet feet was when water over topped the boots. The Toas seem to dry surprisingly quickly for a waterproof boot and were usually comfortably dry within a couple of hours or letting them air overnight.
The boots have been reasonably durable for a fabric lightweight hiking boot. There is a rubber toe bumper which wraps right round the front of the boot. They suffered a bit of abrasion to the fabric from bashing through rocky ground and heather but it is purely cosmetic and any similar boot would have been the same after 200 miles across the Highlands.
The Toa’s make a great option for a supremely comfortable trekking boot that won’t over heat when the sun shines but keep your feet dry when the weather turns wet. If you want to lose some weight and treat your feet to more comfort the Toa’s should be on your shortlist.
(My pair were the older version using Event waterproofing and did start leaking eventually after around 250 miles. There have been no reports of the Goretex version suffering from this problem.)